Super Rugby playoff picture: SA sides scrambling!
Town - Time is running out for those Super Rugby sides who have not yet managed
to get themselves into the playoff mix.
There are just a few weeks of
action left, and with attention now turning to the Springboks for the whole of
June, this is a good time to take stock of where we are.
Remember, the three Conference
winners qualify for the playoffs while the next five teams on the overall log
(positions 4-8) also secure a quarter-final spot.
As things stand, the Lions are
still clinging onto top spot in the SA Conference, though Argentina's Jaguares
are not far behind.
For the rest of the South African
teams, things are not looking so good.
Here, we examine the playoff
chances of every team in the South African Conference at this stage of the
Remaining fixtures: Sharks (a),
While the Lions are not the side
they were in 2017, they have done enough to lead the charge in the Conference
so far. The Jaguares, though, are not far behind and if the Lions do not secure
a home quarter-final, they will be disappointed. They have a tough trip to
Durban after the June internationals before finishing their regular season at
home to the Bulls. You would expect Swys de Bruin's men to win at least one, if
not both of those matches. The Lions will be in the playoffs, but how deep
they can go into the competition remains to be seen.
Jaguares (7th overall)
Remaining fixtures: Stormers (h),
Bulls (a), Sharks (a)
The Jags have been the surprise
package of the tournament so far, and their win over the Sharks on Friday night
was their sixth in a row. As things stand, they are in the playoff positions,
but they have three matches against South African sides remaining. They host
the Stormers after the international break in what they will consider a
must-win match before travelling to SA for trips to Loftus and a potentially
make-or-break playoff decider against the Sharks in Durban. Where the other
South African sides have struggled to find consistency, the Jaguares have and
it would be harsh on them if they missed out on the playoffs from here.
Remaining fixtures: Lions (h),
Stormers (a), Jaguares (h)
The Rebels currently occupy 8th
on the Combined log and the final playoff spot, two points ahead of the Sharks
having played a game less. The Durbanites have been nowhere near consistent
enough this season and that is what has hurt them most. Their loss in Argentina
this past Friday hurt their chances badly, and they have three tough fixtures remaining.
The Sharks are out of chances now and, if they are to secure a spot in the
playoffs, they cannot lose again. They must the Lions at home after the
international break to get the ball rolling. Defeat there will make qualifying
Remaining fixtures: Jaguares (a),
It's been a woeful season for the
Stormers, and their chances of making the playoffs from here are slim, to none.
It is still mathematically possible, though. The most the Stormers can finish
on is 35 points, and if the Jaguares and Rebels struggle then they could sneak
in. It is completely out of their hands, though, and in truth the Stormers have
not done enough to deserve a place in the quarter-finals. A trip to Buenos Aires
after the international break is up next, and on current form the Jaguares will
be expected to win that match in what would be the final nail in a forgettable
Remaining fixtures: Sunwolves (a),
Jaguares (h), Lions (a)
The Bulls have flirted with
getting it right this season on a number of occasions but, like the Sharks,
consistency has let them down. With one more game in hand than the Stormers,
the Bulls can potentially finish on 39 points which would throw them straight
into the playoff mix once more. They are also out of time, though, and another
loss would make things incredibly difficult for them. A maximum haul of five
points away to the Sunwolves is an absolute must after the international break.
The playoffs might not happen for the Bulls in 2018, but the plan in Pretoria
is a long-term plan.