Super Rugby 2017 Playoff Preview

in #steemsports7 years ago


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The 2017 Super Rugby round-robin has been completed in somewhat farcical fashion, leading onto a more farcical situation. Let me explain…

The Farce


The round-robin consisted of 17 rounds whereby the designers of the draw had to have been on something highly hallucinogenic when they drafted it. All Australian and NZ teams played 16 of the 17 rounds prior to a break for the International season (where South Africa, Australia and NZ all hosted northern hemisphere sides), all South African sides played 15 of 17 rounds. After a 4-5 week break, the teams reunited for the final one to two rounds. Any team with momentum going into the break would be severely disadvantaged.
Then we have the conference system made up of 2 South African , 1 Australian and 1 NZ conferences. I believe the draw was for all teams in a single conference to play each other twice with the remainder of the games randomly selected against teams from other conferences. The randomness meant for example the Lions from Jo’burg didn’t play a single NZ team in the round-robin, giving them the easiest of rides to the top of their conference. It has also resulted in an Australian team hosting a quarter final to a team that scored 70% more competition points.

The Confusion


Going into the final rounds, calculating the final matchup permutations required the processing power of a super-computer such was the confusion of the mad-capped conference system. The top team from each conference would advance and host a quarter final. The remaining 4 wildcard teams would be selected from the next top qualifier from the two South African conferences and the next three top qualifiers from the Australian and NZ conferences. A single result could make the difference between a team staying in South Africa or having to travel the long distance to NZ or Australia for their quarter final. The same naturally applied the other way. After many weeks of head scratching, we have finally arrived at the conclusion of the round-robin and thus now know the make-up of the playoff matches.

The Playoffs


The draw for the 2017 quarter-finals are as follows (round-robin points in brackets):
Lions (65) vs Sharks (46)
Crusaders (63) vs Highlanders (51)
Stormers (43) vs Chiefs (57)
Brumbies (34) vs Hurricanes (58)
Only the first two games have the hosts scored more round-robin points than their opposition. The Chiefs travel from Hamilton to Cape Town despite scoring 14 more points. The Hurricanes vs Brumbies situation is even more bizarre. Had the playoffs been decided on competition points alone, the quarter-finals would be (final points table below):
Lions vs Blues
Crusaders vs Stormers
Hurricanes vs Sharks
Chiefs vs Highlanders
A totally different result with all five NZ teams qualifying despite playing in arguably the toughest conference. It should be remembered that not one Australian side beat a NZ side this year, however the structure of the conference system allows the Brumbies to host a quarter-final virtue of being top in the Australian conference.

Final Standings - End of Round-robin




The Predictions


I’ll give my opinion as to how the quarter-finals would be expected to pan out based on recent form. Being playoff football though it can often be the team that turns up with the most desire on the day that triumphs.

Lions vs Sharks


The Lions beat the Sharks 27-10 at sea level in Durban last weekend. Up on the high veldt on home turf in Jo’burg, you’d expect the Lions to easily account for the Sharks in front of 50,000 screaming Lions fans.

Crusaders vs Highlanders


In recent years there has been little between these two teams. In their last encounter the Crusaders won in the 82nd minute with a speculative 45m drop goal. The Crusaders will be seeking redemption for their first loss of the season last week. Expect a close game separated by single digit points.

Stormers vs Chiefs


Despite the 14 championship point deficit, the Stormers host this match due to the vagaries of the competition structure. The Stormers beat the Chiefs 34-26 in Cape Town back in April, however the Chiefs have proven to be one of the best teams on the road in recent years. Expect another tight one.

Brumbies vs Hurricanes


On form you’d expect the power and pace of the Hurricanes to be too much for the Brumbies. However never write off home advantage which the Brumbies have. The forecast is for sub-zero temperatures in Canberra which would nullify the expansive game of the Hurricanes and play into the Brumbies hands of wearing teams down in a tight tussle. Expect the Hurricanes to win this comfortably.

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Thank you for the analysis

Yes, crazy stuff. I trust they will change the competition rules soon.

So does everybody involved, lets hope the cream does rise to the top.

Thanks for sharing dear :)
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Thanks very much for sharing this post... upvoted

Lions all the way!

You'll have to wait another 4 years but they're epic for the few weeks they're together.

Why do you say that? LOL

whoops, alzheimers playing up - was thinking of British/Irish Lions. Yes Jo'burg Lions every chance, semi should be an entertaining game vs Hurricanes on a hard dry track.

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