Perhaps it’s merely the over-exposure to the Super Rugby competition with its ridiculous structure and play-off rules, but one cannot describe the standard of rugby that has been produced to date in the 2019 series anything but mediocre.
Of course, the Crusaders, despite a defeat and a draw, are not part of this generalisation, and the Hurricanes are also a cut above the others with one or two other matches also producing some good rugby.
But the excitement (really?!) that 14 of the 15 sides are still mathematically in with a chance to make the play-offs should have compensated the fans for the poor play. It didn’t.
♦ Yes, only the Sunwolves are without any chance to make the play-offs, with even the 14th side, the Blues, still hoping for a shot at more gate income from a play-off if not a chance realistic chance to grab the honours.
The Blues have won four matches so far. They still have five to play and have been competitive throughout.
It would be more than far-fetched to back them for a play-off berth, but on 21 log points they have a match in hand over the Sharks (29), the Highlanders (29) and the Chiefs (23). The topsy-turvy form of these sides could perhaps give the Blues the gap they need – and their bad luck with close losses could, who knows, turn around.
♦ The Waratahs, 13th and seven points adrift of the leading Australian team, the Brumbies, have a match in hand and could conceivably advance as the Australian Conference winner. However, their two close losses in South Africa against the Bulls and the Lions probably cost them that chance.
The Bulls, with 28 points from their 11 matches, now have four matches on the road in Australasia; the 10th placed Stormers have 24 points from 11 matches.
But, as in the case of what follows, the above are only possibilities. In reality the play-off probables, not only based on their log points and position, are most likely limited to the first ten sides as things now stand.
Included are all five the SA Conference sides, the two leaders on points (Crusaders and Hurricanes), the top Australian side the Brumbies, and the Rebels.
The first sides in each of the three conferences qualify for the play-offs, and the following five regardless of which play-off the competed in are the other play-off franchises.
The sides with matches played and log points:
1 Crusaders (Q) 12 47
2 Brumbies (Q) 12 29
3 Sharks (Q) 12 29
4 Hurricanes 12 24
5 Highlanders 12 29
6 Rebels 11 28
7 Bulls 11 28
8 Jaguares 11 28
9 Lions 11 26
10 Stormers 11 24
11 Reds 11 23
12 Chiefs 12 23
13 Waratahs 11 22
14 Blues 11 21
15 Sunwolves 12 12