RE: Why I hate the new Super Rugby Format
July 18, 2012, 10:12:02
Once again a violation of the merit principle leads to diatisfaction and a sense of injustice.
However some folk think it has been great.
Say what you want about Super Rugby’s new format, but warts and all – and for the second year running - it has given us a gripping finale to its regular season.
Last year it was the addition of two extra playoff spots that added the needed spice to the last match of the league phase between the Bulls and the Sharks. This year it was the Reds edging out the Brumbies for conference honours that had fans reaching for their calculators and the remaining teams scrambling for bonus points (or, perhaps, regrettably scoring them).
For now the bulk of the permutation fixation is gone. We know who will play who in the first round of the fancily named Finals Series (yes, there are two Ss in the middle), and we know who will do the hosting in the round after that.
The only thing all of us have left to do this week is the rather risky business of predicting which of the four teams in action this weekend will go through to the semifinals. And, perhaps, what will happen thereafter.
And if that is what you’ve been doing, you’ve come to the right place, haven’t you?
Like the professional fans we are here at the SuperWrap desk, we decided to have a look at the playoff records of the six teams still in contention. There must surely be some trends to have emerged from the 16 previous editions of this competition that could help us help you in this regard.
And the good news is that there was. There are definitely some historical trends in Super Rugby playoffs that will come to the fore once more this year. The bad news is that none of those trends are good news to us.
But decide for yourself. Here are the playoff records of this year’s top six:
Stormers: Played five, won one (0/2 away)
Chiefs: Played three, won one (0/2 away)
Reds: Played five, won two (0/1 away)
Crusaders: Played 24, won 19 (2/7 away)
Bulls: Played nine, won six (1/4 away)
Sharks: Played ten, won three (1/7 away)
(History though is history oaks so dont get carried away with this analysis)
The first thing that springs to mind when reading that list is that the top two teams are probably pretty relieved that they’re sitting out this first round of knockout action (So would anyonebe actually!!!) They’ve shown us this year that they know how to collect log points throughout a season, but quite evidently they’ve done so before. The real question for both of them is: what now? (Well watch the other other teams battle it out for the honour of playing them. Note their points of weakness etc)
The second thing that catches the eye is this: if upsets are your thing, then you couldn’t have asked for a better bottom half. The only teams on our list to have ever won playoff matches away from home are, as luck would have it, the three qualifiers that are likely to travel the most between now and the final.
In fact, if you have some money lying around, things are pretty clear-cut. The Reds will beat the Chiefs in Hamilton in two weeks' time, while the Crusaders will do exactly what they did last year and beat the Stormers at Newlands. Neatly, as only in a statistician’s world, we’ll have a repeat of last year’s final.(Hahahhahahahaha let this serve as a warning to all our budding staticians!!)
Except for this. If historical team stats had anything to do with it, the Reds had no business winning the title last year, did they? In fact, this time last year they’d never won a single playoff game! (Hahahahhaha the oak saves himslef at the last minute)
Same goes for the Bulls. Before the miracle of ’07, they’ve only known knockout misery. How come they’ve never lost a playoff game since then?
Well, here’s the thing: team stats are tied to teams, and teams tend to change. New personnel, new ways of thinking, new circumstances. Team stats count for nothing.
The trend that does count is this: it is almost impossible to win a playoff away from home. That has nothing to do with who is playing for you and what it is you’re thinking about. It has everything to do with travelling across more time zones than you’ll ever have the energy to count and then, without proper preparation, take on a team that has been performing better than you all season. (Hoor Hoor)
From the four away wins listed above one was in the same country, one was in the same year the game turned professional, one was a one-point miracle in Canberra and the other -- well, the other one was the Stormers inexplicably losing yet another a home playoff.
Once again it looks all done and dusted. And it probably is.
Except for this: there is another way of looking at these stats.
The one time the Sharks did manage an away playoff win, it was against Queensland in Brisbane. Surely that’s an omen?
Also, the Bulls and the Crusaders have met in four playoff matches previously, and three times it was the South Africans that came out on top. It has to count for something?
Yes, we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, but like you, we refuse to believe there’ll be nothing worth watching this weekend.
The Bulls and the Sharks will know that the stats aren’t backing them this weekend. But hopefully they will also know that all of us will be. And that nothing in this world is set in stone. (Is this guy quoting Beeno!!!)
I still think on balance of probability it will be the sharkies and Crusites who win.
Any one think other wise?