With the northern hemisphere season coming to a close, I thought it would be a good idea to give the Aviva Premiership fans a guide to which team they might most empathise with in Super Rugby. So Aviva Premiership fans choose a team and those few barren weeks until the Internationals kick in won’t be spent in total boredom.
I’ll be honest, I do have an ulterior motive. 70% of my readers are from the UK and this week my Aviva Premiership predictions have had nearly 6 times as many views as my Super Rugby predictions. With the end of the Aviva Premiership season drawing near I’m staring into the abyss of no readers and irrelevance until the RWC. This is a fun attempt to get Aviva Premiership supporters interested in Super Rugby teams. (If I was technically savvy then there would be violins playing during this bit)
I’m going to run through the Aviva Premiership teams one by one and give you the best cultural match to a Super Rugby side. This is all just a bit of fun so please give me your pairings and the reasons. Here we go in alphabetical order:
Bath – Chiefs
Two successful sides with exciting back play orchestrated by their international fly halves. But the main thing that they have in common is that they are home to two super star ex-rugby league players in Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams. These two players are both used to success as NRL Premiership winners and will be looking to achieve the same this season with their clubs.
Exeter Chiefs – Lions
Exeter Chiefs are a team that has exceeded the expectations of pundits and fans alike. For several seasons they have been referred to as a team without big names. Similar can be said of the Lions this seasons as well, both sides are challenging for their respective playoffs but might find it a challenge too far.
Gloucester – Brumbies
Both these sides have a rich history and have gone sometime without success. But we are seeing a return to challenging for silverware. Gloucester picked up the European Rugby Challenge Cup this year. The Brumbies have made at least the last 4 of Super Rugby for the last two seasons and again are challenging for the playoffs.
Harlequins – Reds
Reds won Super Rugby in 2011 and Quins won the Aviva Premiership in 2012, so both sets of fans have tasted recent success. Unfortunately for both they have also been in decline since those heady days. Also Quins fans can get a preview of Horwill (when he’s not red carded) who will be moving from the Reds to Quins next season.
Leicester Tigers – Crusaders
With 7 Super Rugby titles the Crusaders have more than twice as many as any other team. Similarly Leicester Tigers have 10 Premiership titles meaning they are well clear of their closest rivals. Both sides though aren’t the all conquering champions of old and they might both miss the playoffs this year.
London Irish – Blues
Both these sides have had their glory days but it’s in the long and distant past. Neither of these sides have troubled the top of the table for a few years. Both though have the ability to play some attractive attacking rugby and pull off good victories but they are inconsistent and often struggle to put a full 80 minutes together.
London Welsh – Cheetahs
The amount of player turnover at London Welsh has been amply documented, if often with inaccurate or a total lack of explanation why. The Cheetahs also saw a large turnover in personnel in the off-season. This has led to both side struggling this term with the Cheetahs doing marginally better with 4 wins.
Newcastle Falcons – Rebels
This has been a breakthrough season for both teams, Falcons have laid their 4G pitch and played a better attacking brand of rugby. The Rebels have moved on from hiring star names and have achieved their first overseas win, first win in Canberra and have now recorded wins over every NZ Super Rugby side. This hasn’t led either club challenging for the playoffs but is a step in the right direction.
Northampton Saints – Hurricanes
The Saints have had success recently, being the reigning Aviva Premiership champions whilst the Canes are hunting for their first title. But put simply these are the two run away leaders in each of their tournaments.
Sale Sharks – Sharks
Clearly these two teams have similar names but by that reasoning I could have put the Exeter Chiefs with the Chiefs. So there has to be more than that. These two teams are sat in mid-table and are unlikely to challenge for the playoffs. I’ll be honest this is one of the weaker pairings with the Sharks disciplinary record something that the Sales fans won’t recognise. However both sides do perform much better at home.
Saracens – Stormers
Maybe the Sharks would have been a better fit for Saracens with the Smit link. But from a performance view they have been miles a part. Neither Saracens or the Stormers have lit up their respective competitions but look like being there at the pointy end of the season. As they say once you’re in to playoff rugby anything can happen.
Wasps – Highlanders
Finally we come to Wasps who everybody expected to be part of the mid table chasing pack. However with two games to go they are very much in the fight for a playoff spot and could be called favourites for 4th place. This has all been off the back of some amazing attacking rugby from their backs. With the Highlanders you have another over performing team that has an exceptionally dangerous back 3. Also Wasps captain Haskell, played a season for the Highlanders.
That leaves three teams that aren’t going to have a massive influx of new fans over the next few days. I must apologise to the Bulls, Force and Waratahs for that lack of extra merchandise sales.