Can the Chiefs make it a three-peat?

Date published: March 20 2014

With the 2014 Super Rugby tournament underway, there is huge expectation that the quality of rugby will continue to rise.

With the 2014 Super Rugby tournament underway, there is huge expectation that the quality of rugby will continue to rise as fifteen clubs across the Southern Hemisphere battle for supremacy and the right to lift the iconic sterling silver trophy.

The largest professional rugby union tournament is poised for more big hits and superb tries, with teams across Australia, New Zealand and South Africa hoping to overturn the dominance of double Super Rugby champions the Chiefs, who look to make it three consecutive titles in a row.

The first round of fixtures in the South Africa saw the Cheetahs nicking a close-fought match against the Lions 21-20, and the Sharks making their intentions clear with an impressive victory over the Bulls, who finished fourth in 2013 and were crowned champions in three of the four seasons between 2007 and 2010 when the tournament consisted of fourteen teams.

The Super Rugby tournament follows a traditional pattern that emanates throughout many rugby union competitions in keeping with making the format interesting and more exciting for managers, players and the fans.

It also makes for a wonderful betting market on as the fixtures against domestic opponents and cross hemisphere rivals heighten the unpredictability factor that mean any of the fifteen teams stand a chance of going all the way to the final.

For rugby union fans that are new to Super Rugby, the tournament is based upon three domestic conferences in which five teams from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – the top three ranked IRB nations in world rugby – play home and away internal matches against each other.

Cross conference matches are also included throughout the group stages, with each team playing two games home and away against four teams from the other countries which can throw up some intriguing fixtures.

The domestic fixtures determine the highest rank teams in their respective country, with the top six in the overall standings of amalgamated results from the internal and cross conference matches making their way to the play-offs en-route to a potential semi-final and final match.

As the Reds prepare for their opening fixture against the Brumbies, the team will be buoyed by another successful Fan Day which helps to create a unified and special relationship between the players and their fans.

The club invited thousands of fans from across Australia to meet their favourite players, which is particularly poignant for younger fans who get to see their role models up close and are suitably accommodated through a range of fun activities, such as an obstacle course and face painting, to make for a thoroughly memorable experience.

Fan days perfectly illustrate the special relationship teams across the Super Rugby franchise share with its fans as they show the depth of their appreciation for their loyal support and considerable money spent on coming to the stadiums every week.

Last season's runners-up, the Brumbies are expecting a tough start to their 2014 Super Rugby campaign with the Red the visitors.

Stephen Larkham's side have held a considerable advantage over the Reds in the past, although the last three seasons has seen a considerable shift in power which will make for an interesting internal conference showdown.

The Brumbies' cause will not be helped by the absence of loose-forward Fotu Auelua who could be on the injury list for up to three months with a medial ligament rupture suffered during their 67-0 warm-up victory against the ACT XV.