Friday, June 27, 2014

Leins-TAH! Leins-TAH!

HoR pro logo blueDon’t tell anyone, but I have been watching some of the roundy-ball World Cup and *quickly looks around before whispering* actually some of it hasn’t been all that bad. 

Not to worry though - I’m still making the right amount of “harrumph” noises when players writhe on the ground in agony and of course I take every opportunity to point out to non-believers everything negative that happens that you wouldn’t see in rugby so hopefully my street cred remains intact.

Still though…I wonder how soon we’ll see one out of rugby’s equivalent of Costa Rica & Greece reaching the RWC quarterfinals?  A debate for another day, perhaps.

Anywho…despite the sporting distractions in both Brazil and London SW19, to keep our rugby-blogging hand in over the summer months we have decided to “adopt” a Super Rugby team for the remainder of the competition and what better team to choose than the NSW Waratahs.

My reasons for choosing them are threefold :

  1. A chance to keep a close eye on new Leinster signing Kane Douglas.
  2. Their squad has a high concentration of the best Wallaby talent at the moment with the likes of Michael Hooper, Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Adam Ashley-Cooper and promising young lock Will Skelton, who could well be a big reason for Douglas moving on.
  3. Just how cool would it be for Michael Cheika to add the Super Rugby title to his CV?  He’d surely be the first coach to win the provincial title in both hemispheres, wouldn’t he?

So over the coming weeks, the Monday morning writeups will continue here at HoR - we’ll follow the Tahs until they go out of the competition then we’ll pick the best match on weekends they aren’t playing.  Then after a week off in August we’ll feature the first Bledisloe Cup match, one in which the Wallabies should have a lot of confidence after the June internationals.

Here is the exact schedule of matches we’ll be featuring on Mondays…

June 30 Waratahs v Brumbies

July 7 Waratahs v Highlanders

July 14 Reds v Waratahs

July 21 Super Rugby Playoff

July 28 Super Rugby Semifinal

August 4 Super Rugby Final

August 11 BREAK

August 18 Australia v New Zealand

August 25 Northampton v Leinster (preseason)

September 1 Leinster v Ulster (preseason)

…and here are the current standings in Super Rugby after the Reds won at the Rebels earlier today.

 

Position Team Pld Points
1 Sharks 14 45
2 Waratahs 13 43
3 Crusaders 13 41
4 Brumbies 14 40
5 Highlanders 14 38
6 Hurricanes 14 37
7 Force 13 36
8 Chiefs 14 35
9 Bulls 14 33
10 Blues 13 31
11 Stormers 14 28
12 Reds 14 23
13 Lions 14 22
14 Rebels 14 21
15 Cheetahs 14 20

A lot of people are understandably thrown by the Super Rugby conference system.  It’s all about making sure the playoffs have at least one team from every region.

The top teams in each conference get seeded 1-3 for the playoff, then all the other clubs are ranked based on their points.  This means that a team in 4th place could have more points than a team in 3rd.  Yes, that looks odd, but think of the Pro12 and the way three Irish clubs made it to the playoffs last season.  This Super Rugby system is designed to ensure there remains an interest in all regions.

As you can see, with the Brumbies just 3 points behind the Waratahs in the Aussie conference there’s much at stake when the two meet in Sydney tomorrow morning Irish time.  The Canberra-based franchise had a great season last time out under Jake White but with injuries especially at hooker (Dublin-born Ruaridh Murphy lines out in the absence of both Moore and Mann-Rea) they’ll do well to repeat their 28-23 win over Cheika’s men back in March.

So although we’ll be scaling back our day-to-day output over the summer, stay in touch because there’s a lot of quality rugby to enjoy & write about.  Go Tahs!  JLP

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