Super Rugby Pacific’s playoffs format will undergo a dramatic change in 2025, as the competition adjusts to the loss of the Melbourne Rebels.

While on the field this season has generally been well received, criticism of the way the finals are structured remains constant.

At present, despite the competition being made up of only 12 teams, the top eight advance to the knockout stage for quarter-finals, semifinals and a decider.

In 2022, the Highlanders advanced to the quarter-finals despite winning only four games all season. Last year, the Reds did the same with only five wins.

This season, the Melbourne Rebels are the eighth qualifiers with a 5-9 record, and enter the playoffs off the back of six successive defeats.

But, as Super Rugby moves towards an independent commission from next year, the Rebels’ exit has sharpened the focus on the playoffs. If eight from 12 teams was too generous, eight from 11 can hardly be viewed any better.

As a result, the Herald understands there are two options on the table to come into place in 2025.

The first would have a top six qualify from the 11 teams, eliminating two qualifiers and the quarter-finals system as a whole.

Instead, the teams who finished first and second on the ladder would be afforded a week’s rest at the start of the finals, while teams three to six play off against each other.

The two winners of those matches would then advance to play teams one and two, in effectively semifinals. This system isn’t without precedence, and can be seen in football’s A-League, which also has 12 teams take part.

The Herald understands this would be the preferred option for the Super Rugby commission to implement.

The second option, though, follows the playoff model of the NFL’s conference finals system.

Consisting of 32 teams split into two conferences, the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference, the NFL has the top seven from each advance to playoffs.

In that system, the top qualifier is afforded a week off, while teams two to seven play off.

That results in four teams who face one another again in a semifinal-style format.

At present, there is no timeline for when a decision will be made, but confirmation is expected as Super Rugby locks in its schedule for the 2025 season.