Australia has seemingly lost a club vs country battle with Japanese employers of Samu Kerevi and Sean McMahon, with both players now out of the spring tour, according to a news report.
Super Rugby has been suspended, likely for the year.
In the hypothetical that each team would make a pitch to SANZAAR as to why they should be given the title, here’s what they’d claim.
A couple of weeks back, there was a clear gap between the top nine sides and the remaining six. Since then, the Reds have bridged that gap to draw level with the Rebels on competition points.
Outside of this top ten, no-one could really lay claim to being most deserving. So let’s start.
Fair point: On top of the table, overachieved on tour, four-game winning streak.
Counter point: Were smashed by the Hurricanes 38-22.
Fair point: Second on the ladder, despite having a game in hand.
Counter point: Lost to the Highlanders from a position where they shouldn’t have lost. Also, the schedule to date has been weak.
Fair point: Top of the toughest conference, currently chasing a four-peat, with no reason for them to fall short.
Counter point: Lost by ten to the Chiefs, severely putting their status as best team in New Zealand in doubt.
Fair point: Four from four away from home, including going undefeated in South Africa. Currently in a position where they’d host a finals game. On a four-game winning streak as well.
Counter point: Lost to the superior (ladder-wise) NZ sides, the Crusaders and Chiefs at home. Can they match it with the big boys?
Fair point: While they’re third in their group, they’ve beaten both NZ teams above them, including the defending champion Crusaders.
Counter point: A weak home record, having lost to the Brumbies and Hurricanes in Waikato.
Fair point: Edged out the Jaguares in Argentina, Chiefs in Waikato, and thrashed the table-topping Sharks.
Counter point: Were thrashed by the Stormers, and lost to the Blues in Wellington. Not as good as in past seasons.
Fair point: Have the best defence in Super Rugby, even taking into account the bye. Defence wins championships.
Counter point: They’re historically strong against SA conference rivals, and their opening games reflected that. However they’ve lost two on the trot without picking up bonus points. And their scheduled tour is gruelling.
Fair point: While they’re a tough sell at this stage, a couple of winnable home games coming up could’ve seen them much higher on the ladder in three weeks.
Counter point: Extremely inconsistent, having alternated between winning and losing since season’s start. Still with a Trans-Tasman tour to come.
Fair point: Beat the Highlanders in New Zealand, and haven’t been blown out of the water by any team, unlike the Stormers, Hurricanes and Blues.
Counter point: The only properly good teams they’ve played so far are the Brumbies and Sharks. They lost both games by a margin.
Fair point: With a couple of big wins under their belt, the Reds have come close almost every time they didn’t get it done. They were edged out by the Brumbies and Lions, and put up a fight against the Sharks and Crusaders.
Counter point: They don’t seem to know how to win, and their flaws, such as goalkicking, are quickly becoming deal-breakers.