SA conference the weakest?
Herman Mostert - Sport24
Cape Town - As we head into Week 9 of Super Rugby, the perception is growing that the South African conference
is the weakest of the three in 2014.
Since the inception of the conference system in 2011, the Australian conference has been frequently described as being the weakest - which led to criticism as to why the top-ranked team in each conference automatically occupies a Top 3 spot.
By way of example, the Reds finished third in 2012, despite having fewer log points than the Crusaders (4th), Bulls (5th) and Sharks (6th). However, because they finished top of the Australian conference, they were granted the No 3 position on the overall log.
As things currently stand in 2014 though, South Africa appears to have the weakest conference.
Through Round 8, the Australian teams have accumulated 85 points in total, with the New Zealand conference next best on 80 - with both conferences having played the same number of matches - and two FEWER than the SA conference.
The SA conference sides currently have 70 combined points.
While we may not have to worry about our top team finishing in a similar position to the Reds class of 2012 (the Sharks look certainties for a Top 3 spot), the log positions of Nos 2, 3, 4 and 5 leave much to be desired.
While the Bulls currently find themselves in sixth position, they are in the midst of their Australasian tour - which got off to a losing start against the Hurricanes.
With all due respect to the Lions, their lofty position of seventh at present isn't a true reflection of their form to date with critics pointing to a couple of "fortuitous" referee decisions in their favour. With matches against the Sharks and Stormers (away) upcoming, as well as their overseas tour looming, expect to see the men from Johannesburg plummet down the standings.
The Cheetahs (14th) and Stormers (15th and last) currently bring up the rear in the overall log.