Super Rugby Round 15 Forecast

Super Rugby Rd 14 - Highlanders v Waratahs

Last week, it was a full platter of Super Rugby. And fans and followers were ‘well fed’ on the spoils of nine matches. Some great games too, as the heat was applied nearing the business end of the season. With the Super Rugby Round 15 forecast set to continue to cook, there will be a ‘fresh course’ this weekend.

Even while the June International window opens, it might feel like it has removed some of the emphasis. True, South African and South American teams have been re-focused on their International preparations, but the Australia group are ready to perform. Five pivotal games, most of which have an impact on leading sides standings…….and fans know that will boost the standards again.

So, with that to look forward to, a brief reflection on Round 14 results, and standings.

Top Performers Make a Claim

They say ‘when the going gets tough’ and the saying is true of Super Rugby. When asked, teams are showing their true potential. Players are too, and there were sublime performances.

In Dunedin, a tough match was turned around in the home teams favour, to deny the Waratahs yet another win. Ben Smith (see main picture) made his Super return, and the talents of Richard Buckman and Liam Coltman driving a well oiled-machine. Poor form across the Tasman has had an affect on the Australian game, and had seemed to derail the Brumbies chances, but they redeemed their conference lead with a determined run in Buenos Aires.

Nothing seemed to be able to stop the Crusaders though. Equaling their all-time season record of 13 victories [in Super 14 competition] their was applause across many social media platforms. Their streak is closely mirrored by the Highlanders [9], and the Hurricanes were also cementing their high placing.

In the republic, the big mover was the Sharks. Sitting in the same conference as the Lions, they have played their hand late, and in beating the Stormers showed that any wildcard would be earned. And the Lions demolished the last resolve of the Southern Kings.

Imbalance in Competition Points

Some New Zealand fans will still be heard complaining ‘how can a team that has less points than our fifth best side [the Blues] still lead their conference?’ Legitimate, but quite redundant as the system is in place. No spilled milk, as Tana Umaga reflected post-game as his team drew 16-16 against the Chiefs.

“It’s another learning curve for us, it’s a young side and we need to get that ruthless streak that winning teams have.”

The Blues lost all their other local derby games, and while they might feel hard done by; in terms of points accumulated, five into four possible finals series places does not go.

In the next two rounds, the exact finishing places will be set, but that will be an exciting period too–even with Internationals disrupting the weekly competition.


Now, to look at the forecast ahead for Round 15. The official match packs from SANZAAR show that there is a switch between the conferences. Africa 1 and 2 take a break, so this round is only inclusive of the NZ and Australian sides. And with that, five games take fans attention.

Super Rugby Round 15 Forecast

Friday Night Delight in Samoa

The second match of 2017 held in the Pacific Islands, where the Blues will host the Reds in Apia. As crucial as this match is to promoting Pacifica rugby and the Samoan Independence anniversary, and generate wide support for Super Rugby. The Blues have held development sessions with the injured Jerome Kaino present, so there to inspire as well.

In essence, the two combatants are now ‘out of contention’. All mathematical equations aside, they each failed to take any chances available. Even the forecast got that one wrong.

Melani Nanai of the Blues runs the ball during the round 10 Super Rugby match between the Brumbies and the Blues at GIO Stadium (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

It will certainly be an occasion, players like Murphy Taramai and Melani Nanai (pictured above) will be incredibly proud, as will the 10 players in the Queensland team with a Pacific heritage, but the winner only has bragging rights. And with many leading-lights missing–Stephen Moore, Sonny Bill Williams–the star factor may make this feel like a publicity exercise (with respect to the fans in Apia).

Note: the forecast for the next few weeks see’s a change in Friday night clashes. On June 9, two Women’s fixtures are held that day, before the big June 16 double-header at Eden Park.

Super Saturday June 3

Four matches will hold the attention this weekend [with the World Rugby U20 Championship played Sunday]. And with the touring British and Irish Lions game at 7:35pm, that see’s a rare afternoon game in New Zealand. As rare as an Aussie win on Kiwi soil.

So anticipated, a ‘Match of the Round’ occurs in Christchurch and Last Word on Rugby will be present.  In the light of day, some say the game is a ‘degree hotter’. The players will likely agree, and with that inspiration, the Crusaders v Highlanders is going to be a feast of footy.

Both of winning streaks, it will be a highly charged match, and the repercussions of a win could elevate one closer to the best finals pathway–while a win for the visitors does many things. It promotes the ‘Landers. It boosts their players confidence, before the lull in gametime during the International window. It also diminishes the Crusaders chances.

The Lions will be interested viewers, as will the Chiefs, who sit just in touch, and play the late afternoon fixture at 5:05pm. Hosting the Waratahs, it is a tricky game because another slip-up could spell the end of their ultimate hopes. The ‘Tahs have little chance to enter the finals and might be more angry. An angry Aussie team needs to be respected.

Stephen Donald Celebrates 100 Super Rugby Caps

Stephen Donald of the Chiefs celebrates with teammates after scoring a try during the match between the Chiefs and the Reds. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Known for his legendary entry into the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, the modest hero still holds the respect of his peers. The senior player, coach Dave Rennie joked that he is the only white guy to have played 100 games. But jokes aside, he still has the passion; scoring two tries against the Reds before a head knock held him back–but you can’t keep the ‘Beaver’ down.

With several other players already bringing up 100 caps, every player in the game knows that performance is primary. That is key too when the Brumbies host the Melbourne Rebels. In a local derby, the chance to tip-over the Australian Capital team is a key driver, but if the Brumbies want any momentum, successive wins are crucial. Looking at the Crusaders or Highlanders, several commentators say they are still struggling to find rhythm.

Over in Perth, the Western Force managed to diffuse the Reds finals chances, and if anything can be gained from playing the Hurricanes, it is ‘how can we topple a big team?’ That question will see the home town support out in full, with three matches in a row to round out 2017.

Hurricanes Welcome Back Nehe Milner-Skudder

A lot was expected when the World Cup winning outside back returned to the Hurricanes. That was a short-lived hope, as he fractured bones in his foot. So sitting out yet more rugby, fortunately his team have been traveling fantastically. Now repaired, Milner-Skudder returns, as does Beauden Barrett. The first-five suffered an unknown headache sympton last week, so ended up just ‘running water’ instead of running the backline.

Western Force captain Matt Hodgson (C) leads his team out to start the Super Rugby match (Photo credit should read GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

This ‘Canes team are not a one-horse wonder. Without Barrett, or Milner-Skudder or even captain Dane Coles, the team have rolled up their sleeves and ‘got on with it’. Chris Boyd and especially John Plumtree have coached quality into the ‘Canes, and the forecast says a predictable finish in Perth.

An exciting game, too. Possibly a 50+ point result, but favouring the Canes who still have plans to top the tough NZ conference–if the Highlanders contribute their part–by Round 17, it could be winner takes all.


This Week In Rugby History

A surreal Super 14 final was won by the Crusaders, who beat the Hurricanes 19-12 in Christchurch, but the game was more memorable because of the thick fog which at times reduced the contest to near farce. Conditions worsened as the match wore on and sections of the crowd in the multi-storied Western Stand were reportedly forced to leave the ground because they couldn’t see the field.

Infamous ‘fog final’ played on 27 May 2006 at Jade Stadium (photo credit Super Rugby)

The inaugural IRB Sevens Series reached its climax in Paris where New Zealand beat South Africa in the final to take the title with 186 tournament points.

For the second year running Wasps came through the play-offs to win the Zurich Championship without ever leading the league table.

British Lions skipper Phil Bennett called for the length of future tours to be reduced from 25 matches to around 15. “It’s the greatest honour to play for the Lions, but the modern player is under tremendous pressure to get 14 weeks off work,” he said.*

(*the current British and Irish Lions tour is a 10 match schedule)

The ‘Week in Rugby History’ is sourced from the ESPN UK ‘on this day’ webpage.


“Main photo credit”