Super 15 Rugby is very difficult to predict with so many tight matches and top rugby players spread across all fifteen teams in the competition. Here are six factors for picking Super 15 Rugby results.
1) The New Zealand conference is the least predictable with all five teams capable of defeating each other. The donation of some quality players from the Hurricanes to other teams has helped build the quality of the New Zealand teams. The Hurricanes have the opportunity to give their young talent some gametime alongside their old heads.
In the Australian conference the Reds and Waratahs rule the roost. These teams are hot favourites to beat the other Australian teams whenever they play. The Bulls and Stormers are the best South African teams, while the Sharks have lost to both of them, but are still a good side. The Lions and Cheetahs will probably lose to the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks, but should get some victories over some of the Australian teams.
2) 67 percent of matches have had a margin of seven points or less. This means that when in doubt pick a small margin. Round 1 was the most amazing with six matches decided by less than seven points.
3) The home team has won 57 percent of matches (12 out of 21). Home ground advantage is no longer what it used to be with the Blues and Hurricanes both winning in South Africa already, while the Hurricanes have also won in Australia.
4) Injuries and squad selection can help or harm results and sometimes this isn't obvious until kickoff. The Chiefs were a prime example of this against the Highlanders when they ended up losing both props, halfback and wing to injury in one match. This can strongly affect performance. Gareth Anscombe's selection is helping the Blues perform better (finally!).
5) Luck is another factor to take into account. With so many matches The Israel Dagg finger charge down of Piri Weepu's drop kick in the Crusaders vs Blues match or the last minute penalty for the Brumbies against the Cheetahs can be match defining moments and the difference between being the only person picking an upset and the only person to get the result wrong. Things like referee calls or kicks hitting the post or being charged down can change the result from a two point win to a one point loss.
6) With an average of three upsets per round, you can pick the winner correctly four out of seven times by playing it safe. The only problem is if you have a shocker like me this week and pick upset wins for the Cheetahs, Waratahs and Hurricanes and only one of them comes off, while the Chiefs and Blues were also involved in upsets.
What factors do you look for when making your Super 15 Rugby picks?