Rugby Netherlands has been searching for the their ideal competition format in their highest tiers. Several different options have been tried in the past. Rugby is a very injury sensitive sport, player welfare plays a large role in choosing the right set-up. Players can only play a limited amount of matches per year. The competition format should meet both the wishes of the clubs and of the federation. Rugby Netherlands is very ambitious and hopes to raise the level of Dutch rugby in the coming years to a higher level. The project involved the three highest tiers of Dutch Men’s rugby.
Hypercube involved many stakeholders from Dutch rugby in the research in several rounds of meetings. In addition, Hypercube performed an extensive data analysis, in which various options for the competitions were examined. Both the conversations and the analyzes quickly showed that the current number of 16 clubs is not desirable. The differences in strength are too great, which causes a high number of big score differences in the results and invokes injuries due to the disbalance of strength on the pitch. In order to increase the number of competitive matches, Hypercube proposed a format with 12 teams for all three highest levels. In this, all teams play against each other in a single round, after which the top 6 say goodbye to the bottom 6 and then both groups play again in double rounds. The format will be concluded in the Ereklasse with play-offs and a championship final between the best teams. This format turned out to perform best in terms of competitive balance, match tension, top matches, big results, injuries and balance across the pyramid as a whole. In addition, the format received the most positive reactions amongst the stakeholders. Hypercube also provided advice on the topics of a smart calendar layout and a possible licensing system for the future.
The proposal of Hypercube has been put to vote to the clubs and has been approved. As of 2022/23 the new pyramid will be put into place.