The Super Rugby season is almost here, the post Rugby World Cup for the southern hemisphere is over. We have more teams in a new format but let’s worry about that another day and enjoy the rugby. Here are my round 1 predictions.
First here is a link to my season preview.
Blues v Highlanders
There is a new era dawning at the Blues or at least that is the official story. There has been a large turnover of players and a new coaching setup. The preseason games went well but they are only preseason games and different teams will have been using them differently. Maybe it’s all true and will happen but this game will be a test too far and too early. The Landers are the champions and one of the most settled sides. They are one of the favourites to win the whole thing and should start with a victory.
Highlanders by 5
Brumbies v Hurricanes
There is a real feeling that this is time for the Brumbies. Already several players have announced that they are leaving at the end of this season. The Canes were finalists last season and whilst they have kept most of their team together they are weakened by key losses. I expect them to be there or there abouts but this will be one of their harder games.
Brumbies by 5
Cheetahs v Jaguares
The Cheetahs struggled last season and this the loss of players again in the offseason it looks like another struggle. We get to see the new Argentine franchise for the first time in a competitive game. They have a good squad and on paper this is a game they should win. We have to see the reality though and I think later in the season they would struggle with the travel but for this one they should be fresh so I’m backing an early away win.
Jaguares by 3
Sunwolves v Lions
The Sunwolves have been brought together late and with key Japanese national team players at other franchises don’t have the quality. This lack of preparation and quality means it should be an easy away win. The Lions have a lot of travel to do as they head to New Zealand after this but should be fresh enough for the first game.
Lions by 15
Crusaders v Chiefs
Two sides that are used to fighting it out at the top end of the conference that have had a large turnover of playing staff. I think it’s a rebuilding season for both these sides and we have to wait and see which one will click soonest. This early in the season I’m backing the home side to take the win.
Crusaders by 5
Waratahs v Reds
The Tah’s topped the Australian conference last season and will beginning for it again. The toll of playing in Japan for key players will be a tested. The Reds though are a franchise in a mess. There’s been a turnover of players and the same failing head coach is still there. This should be an easy win for the Tah’s to get rid of some early season rust.
Waratahs by 10
Force v Rebels
The Force are promising a more expansive style of rugby but do they have the players to execute it? Without a coaching change I think they’ll struggle again. The Rebels are looking to build their break out season and after another good NRC I’m backing a narrow away win.
Rebels by 3
Kings v Sharks
The Kings are in utter turmoil and at one point it wasn’t clear that they would make it to the starting line. There are still reports of of players not being paid and this has to be distracting at best for the players. The Sharks had a limited game plan and have lost key players but even so against the Kings they should start the season with a a moral boosting away win.
Sharks by 10
Stormers v Bulls
Perhaps the tie of the round sees the top of the South African conference take on the Bulls who are used to being up there. The Bulls though have lost players over the offseason and also to injury. This is a changing of the guard season for them. The Stormers did have some distractions as they lost Eddie Jones to England but that aside are relatively settled with an internal promotion to head coach. So they should be gunning to be the top South African side and that will start with winning their home games.
Stormers by 10
Super Rugby Prediction League
Super Rugby starts soon, join in the predicting fun by clicking here for my SuperBru prediction league.