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Thread: Draft Super Rugby Draw From The Australian - Let us see if this occurs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Draft Super Rugby Draw From The Australian - Let us see if this occurs

    Western Force must have a more favourable draw than this year’s
    THE AUSTRALIAN12:00AM JULY 18, 2016

    Wayne Smith

    Senior sport writer

    And so the regular Super Rugby season comes to a predictable end in Australia, with the Brumbies downing an unlucky but also outclassed Western Force side in Canberra.

    Surely, now the Australian Rugby Union has taken over the Perth club, the 2017 Super Rugby draw couldn’t possibly be as unsympathetic to the Force as this year’s.

    Don’t bet on it. According to a draft Super Rugby draw leaked to The Australian, the Force has been handed as tough a draw imaginable in a season in which it is their turn to play eight matches at home and seven away.

    Teams regard the front half of the draw as vitally important, given it sets the tone for the season. Get off to a good start and the season builds its own momentum. Make a poor start, and it’s exceedingly difficult to play catch-up.

    Take the current season, for instance. The top eight after eight rounds are identical to the teams that eventually made the playoffs, save for the Sharks nudging out the Bulls (who dropped to ninth). Otherwise the finalists were, in finishing order (with their eighth-round placings listed in brackets), the Hurricanes (3rd), Lions (7th), Highlanders (5th), Chiefs (1st), Stormers (4th), Crusaders (2nd), Brumbies (8th) and Sharks (10th).

    So how do the Force begin their 2017 season? With four games out of five away from home. Worse, it almost seems that SANZAAR has deliberately done them no favours by giving them a season-opening match against the Waratahs in Sydney, followed by a home match in Perth against the Reds, before they have to backtrack to the east coast to play the Brumbies.

    There is a knock-on effect in every change of schedule and, remember, this is only a draft draw, but why must the Force make an extra return trip across Australia in order to play matches in Sydney and then Canberra, which are just 286km apart?

    The Force then head to New Zealand for back-to-back matches against the Crusaders and Blues for their fourth and fifth matches, which threatens to further put a dent into their season. At least they play the Highlanders and Hurricanes at NIB Stadium, although — aggravatingly — those two home games are again separated by a trip to Brisbane to play the return match against the Reds.

    Then there is the trip to South Africa. Except this time, it’s not just a trip to South Africa to play the Sharks. There is also a trip the following week to Argentina to play the Jaguares. Not one continent but two.

    The draw eventually evens itself out in 2019 but who knows whether the Perth club will still be a going concern by then?

    The other four Australian franchises appear to have been treated reasonably fairly by the draft draw, though some are a little like Orwell’s pigs. The Brumbies, for instance, will travel no further than Christchurch for the first 12 weeks of the competition, always a massive benefit, though they will play three Kiwi teams during this period. Still, like the Force, they will have to travel to two separate continents to play the Kings and the Jaguares.

    The Rebels will play New Zealand teams four times in their first five matches, which is anything but desirable since Melbourne lost all five trans-Tasman fixtures this season, while the Reds’ matches against the Kiwis are all spaced out evenly. Still, they too will face the Lions in Johannesburg one weekend and the Jaguares in Buenos Aires the next.

    As for the Waratahs’ draw, there look to be no major hurdles. They play the Lions and Sharks on weeks two and three of the tournament but happily will host the Argentinians in Sydney. Still, the only time they have consecutive matches at home all season, to play the Blues and the Rebels, there is a bye in between.

    If there is a recurring theme to Super Rugby, it’s that the teams doing more travel ultimately fare the worst. Yes, there are other factors at play but travel is the ultimate killer. It certainly happened this year where a Test-strength Jaguares placed 13th, the Force 16th and the Sunwolves of Japan stone last.

    The 2017 draw ensures the Argentinian and Japanese teams play their away games in blocks, and their home games in blocks — through it surely must be messing with the Sunwolves’ heads having to alternate between Tokyo and Singapore as home base.

    But the Force are simply treated as if Perth is on the Australian east coast. It’s not and someone needs to show SANZAAR officials an atlas. Better still, put them on a plane. It’s almost as far to fly from Perth to Brisbane as it is to fly from Perth to Singapore.

    The fortunate thing is, of course, that this is only a draft. Perhaps in its final form, it will be more sympathetic.

    Meanwhile, there are still this season’s finals to attend to and it would have to be said the final match of the competition, Lions versus Jaguares, was a curious affair. Lions coach Johan Ackermann chose to send a Currie Cup team to Buenos Aires while resting his top side. Given that Argentina predictably won, 34-22, it meant the Lions finished second, not first, which almost certainly costs them the chance to host the final.

    Perhaps it made sense to give his players a breather ahead of the quarter-final clash with the Crusaders this weekend, but effectively it said the Lions were more prepared to stack their chances to make a semi than go for broke to reach the final. That’s sad. Only champions are remembered. Semi-finalists fade into history.

    But there are other quirks to consider first, such as the Australian conference winners, the Brumbies, hosting the Highlanders in Canberra on Friday night, despite managing only 43 competition points while the team from Dunedin finished with 52.

    Still, the Kiwis might have the last laugh. Although only one quarter-final will be played in New Zealand next weekend, there is every chance both the semi-finals and final will be all-Kiwi affairs.

    Given the season they’ve had, that would only be fair ... although wouldn’t it be nice if the Brumbies have saved their best rugby to last.

    1 Not allowed! Not allowed!

  2. #2
    Veteran chibi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Chinatown, Roe St
    Wayne always with the keen eye on the Force's draw. Good to see someone noticing and mentioning it.

    3 Not allowed! Not allowed!

    Japan and the Pacific Islands for Aussie Super 9's!

    Let's have one of these in WA! Click this link: Saitama Super Arena - New Perth Stadium?

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