With the Super Rugby semi-finalists now decided we take a look at the teams who missed out on the final four. Next up, it’s the Brumbies.
The Brumbies were the best team in a disappointing Australian conference during this year’s Super Rugby tournament and it was no surprise that they were eliminated from the competition in the quarter-finals with a 15-9 defeat against the Highlanders in Canberra on Friday.
The Canberra-based franchise were able to take points off their fellow Australian conference rivals with ease as they recorded six wins out of six against local opposition and managed to add to their win tally with victories over the Hurricanes, Bulls, Cheetahs and Sunwolves. However their real title credentials were put to the test when they faced up to the New Zealand teams and after beating the Hurricanes 52-10 in the opening round they went on to lose five games against kiwi opposition, which included that quarter-final defeat at the hands of the Highlanders.
The Brumbies were disrupted by injuries to key players throughout their 2016 Super Rugby campaign as the likes of David Pocock, Joseph Tomane, Ita Vaea and captain Stephen Moore spent a number of weeks on the sidelines.
The two-time Super Rugby champions will need to improve their efficiency in the set-piece if they are to challenge for the Super Rugby title next season as they finished the regular-season ranked at number 14 for their scrum sucess rate which stood at 88%.
The most pleasing aspect to the Brumbies’ season has to be their accuracy of 91% at the line-out, the best of any team in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
The Brumbies have a proud Super Rugby history having won the tournament in 2001 and 2004, however they ran out of ideas on how to breach a well organised Highlanders defensive unit in their last-eight clash with the defending champions. The Brumbies coaching staff will have to work hard on both the forwards and the backs skill sets in pre-season training if they are to make some ground on the teams from New Zealand.
Looking ahead to next season’s prospects, the Brumbies will have their work cut out with the likes of experienced hooker Moore, centre Matt Toomua and winger Tomane having left the club at the end of the season while flanker Pocock is taking a 12-month sabbatical before returning to the Brumbies in 2018.
Best player: Hooker Stephen Moore finished the season as the Brumbies’ top try-scorer with seven from 15 appearances and his leadership skills helped his team win the Australian conference, however Aidan Toua gets our vote for the Brumbies player of the season. The full-back caused all sorts of problems for opposition defences with his good footwork and pace at the back. Toua is tricky to defend against as he is able to find the outside gap and he also has the ability to run hard and straight at the line.