Brumbies form helped by draw
I am a parochial beast. Being the baby brother of the Waratahs makes every Brumbies supporter one. So it hurts when I say the Brumbies success this season may be undeserved, especially after the result against the Reds.
That is not to say Jake White and his coaching staff haven’t done wonders with the youngest squad in the competition. Rather, the Brumbies draw has been extremely advantageous compared to the other sides in the Australian conference.
The Super season is long, stretching from February to August. So, to ensure that it doesn’t become any longer, each team only plays four sides from the other two conferences. In the Brumbies case, they avoid playing the Stormers and Crusaders – two of the leading contenders for the title.
On the other hand, the Reds avoid playing the Cheetahs and the Hurricanes. While there would be a guaranteed five points from these two games for the Reds (assuming a four try victory against the Cheetahs), no points could be guaranteed in the two games the Brumbies avoided.
The Super competition is not alone in their scheduling mismatch.
NRL teams either play each other once or twice, while NFL teams, in the US, miss playing teams entirely. These mismatches are down to practical realities of large sporting competitions. The season is not long enough to fill in every possible game and sometimes games need to be forgone in order to fit within the allotted timeframe.
This season the Brumbies have been fortunate to miss two tough teams and the Reds have been unfortunate to miss some easier ones. That being said, the Super competition is beginning to get to the point where one team can beat another on any given day, with the odd exception.
Because of these mismatches, and the Reds’ victory over the Brumbies last weekend, the cynic could argue that the achievements of the young Brumbies are unrepresentative. Any success they might have is tainted because they haven’t played the Crusaders and Stormers and they have lost to the Sharks, Chiefs and Bulls. However this argument neglects three points.
Firstly, the losses to the Sharks, Chiefs and Bulls were all within seven points and the team from the ACT earned four bonus points in these three losses. If the Brumbies truly were beneath these sides they should have been blown out of the water.
Secondly, although it’s a sporting cliché, it’s true that a champion team do make their own luck. In the American NFL conference system some teams don’t meet at all during the regular season, yet every year the same teams emerge during the finals.
This is because it doesn’t matter who you play – a successful team will always win. It’s true the Brumbies have lucked out, avoiding the Stormers and Crusaders but they’ve beaten teams the Reds haven’t (Force) and come closer to others (Bulls). At this stage they deserve to still be on top of the Australian conference.
Thirdly, at the start of the season pundits predicated, quite rightly, the Brumbies would be in the group of also-rans. They had Jake White but changes wouldn’t happen until at least the third year of his tenure. Unfortunately they kept on winning and, despite the loss to the Reds, they might make the finals for the first time in eight years.
Regardless of which teams they have missed out on playing, this young outfit should be applauded for proving everyone, including this parochial beast, wrong.
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