With three teams having left the 18-team four-conference competition is now a 15-team, three-conference format.Gone are South African sides the Southern Kings and Cheetahs, who have joined the European Pro14 competition, and Australian team the Western Force.Next year each team will play 16 conference matches, with eight matches within their own conference home and away, then four matches against teams from each of the other two conferences.The change means South African team and this year’s losing finalists the Lions, who didn’t play any New Zealand team during the regular season in 2017, will play four New Zealand sides next season.The 2018 competition starts on February 17th when the South African Conference kicks-off with the Stormers hosting the Jaguars in Cape Town. The Lions, runners-up the last two years, host the Sharks in Johannesburg, while Bulls have a bye.The Australian and New Zealand Conferences will kick-off a week later in round two. Defending champions the Crusaders opening the defence of their title at home against the Chiefs and the Highlanders hosting the Blues. The Hurricanes begin their season with a clash against the Bulls in Pretoria.The Brumbies, last year’s Australian Conference winner, open the season against the Sunwolves in Tokyo who are now positioned in the Australian Conference.The Lions and Crusaders will play a rematch of this year’s final in Johannesburg on April 1.There will be 120 regular-season matches, then eight teams will qualify for the finals. The final is on August 4.
Spokesmen for the 80 Filipino construction workers terminated by Imperial Pacific International last week say they were discriminated against by on-site managers of the company’s Imperial Pacific Resort in Saipan and told to do jobs that were outside the scope of their skillset.Speaking to the Saipan Tribune on Monday, one of the workers – who asked not to be identified – said they were yet to be told the real reason for having their contracts terminated and that he was determined to give his side of the story. RelatedPosts Load More Imperial Pacific adds to Board of Directors as regulator looks to impose US$375,000 fine for late license fee payment Imperial Pacific pays remaining US$10.5 million balance on annual license fee Calls for 10% gaming tax renewed as report reveals Imperial Pacific tax payments of just US$21,000 in 2019 “We can’t defend ourselves and they [IPI] have been telling us different reasons,” the worker said. “Some are saying that we’re not qualified for the job or that we’re hard-headed.”Another worker claims they were hired to fulfil specific tasks but then asked to complete other jobs that they weren’t qualified to do, including the “dangerous” assembly of scaffolding.“There’s one mason who has yet to do mason work and was tasked to sweep the area while there’s a plumber who was asked to do carpentry,” he told the Saipan Tribune. “On top of this, we assemble scaffolding, which we’re not qualified to do. There are certified workers who assemble scaffolding because it is very dangerous.”IPI said in a statement over the weekend that it was prioritizing the employment of local construction workers over foreigners as well as scaling back the scope of construction after being granted a two-and-a-half year deadline extension last month through to 28 February 2021.“The purpose of the reduction is to adjust the level of labor supply based on the demand of the construction project,” the company said.“The adjustment is in line with effective workforce planning and efficiency improvement of the project. IPI plans to hire local construction workers who are released by Pacific Rim (IPI’s former contractor) to ensure their continued employment.”It has been rumored that IPI is preparing to release another 100 foreign construction workers.