Confrence title once again proofs to be down fall of SA team
The South African Vodacom Super Rugby conference title has once again proofed to be the down fall of its winner. Since the inception of Super Rugby’s conference system in 2011 the winner of the South African Conference has not been able to progress to the final.
In 2011 the Stormers won the title and had a home-semi-final. They proceeded to lose to the Crusaders at Newlands. The Crusaders finished 3rd and had to beat the Sharks before they proceeded to beat the Stormers 10-29. The Reds from Australia went on to win the final against the Crusaders.
Last year the Stormers once again took the Conference Title. This time they also topped the over all log. The Sharks had to first beat the Reds before they faced the Stormers in the semi. They beat the Stormers 19-26 and went on to lose the final against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
This year the Bulls won the SA Conference and looked set to go through to the final against the Chiefs. They however lost a close game to the Brumbies 23-26 at Loftus in Pretoria. If history does repeat itself that means the Chiefs are set to win a second consecutive title.
It is also interesting that in all three these instances the South African team had home ground advantage. The only time since 2011 that a South African team progressed to the final they finished 6th on the log and had 3 weeks of travelling first to Australia, then back to South Africa before going to New Zealand. Had it not been for that type of travel schedule the Sharks would probably have won the 2012 title.
It will be interesting to see if the Brumbies can defy the odds next week and beat the Chiefs. Not only would they have travelled halfway round the world twice in two weeks, but they also have history against them. Not only has the title not gone to an away team since 2011, the team beating the SA Conference winners has not won it either.
It looks like it is better for an SA team not to win the conference title if they want to win the over all title. Either that or they should not have home ground advantage in the semi-final.
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