Planet Rugby

Super Rugby permutations

10th July 2013 16:54

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SKY_MOBILE Morne Steyn Bulls

Pole position: The Bulls

Once again the Super Rugby knock-out fixtures are set to be decided by the final game on the final day of the regular season. We take a look at the possible permutations.

The play-off berths have already been decided - the Bulls, Chiefs, Brumbies, Crusaders, Red and Cheetahs having cemented their places - but the race for automatic semi-final qualification (the top two) and home play-offs (3rd and 4th) is still very much on.

The Bulls and Brumbies are guaranteed a spot in the top three having won their respective conferences but if the Crusaders bag a four-try win at home to the Hurricanes then the Chiefs will need to get at least one point from their trip to Auckland to face the Blues to secure the New Zealand conference.

Only the Cheetahs are not in contention for a home fixture - four points from their bye on the last weekend will take them provisionally above the Reds into fifth.

Current standings (with final fixture)
1 Bulls 63 (away to Stormers)
2 Chiefs 61 (away to Blues)
----------------
3 Brumbies 59 (away to Force)
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4 Crusaders 56 (home to Hurricanes)
5 Reds 54 (away to Waratahs)
6 Cheetahs 50 (bye)

The top of the table will be decided by the final game of the regular season in Cape Town. The Bulls will arrive at Newlands knowing exactly what they need to secure a home semi-final and a potential final at Loftus. Frans Ludeke's men have more wins than the Brumbies, meaning a single bonus point would be enough to book a home semi-final even if Jake White's team win with a bonus point.

The equation is simple for the Chiefs, who play before both the Bulls and Brumbies: they must win at Eden Park to keep the Brumbies at bay for that all-important second spot. They need the Bulls to lose if they hope to host the final for a second consecutive year.

The Brumbies will expect to beat the Force, but need the results in Cape Town and/or Auckland to go their way to avoid having to play again next week (most likely against the Cheetahs).

Although the Crusaders can still top the Kiwi conference, they can't finish higher than second and need both the Chiefs and Brumbies to lose to sneak into the automatic semi-finals places. Five points against the Hurricanes is the target - that would put massive pressure on the Chiefs, who play 24 hours later.

The Reds can't win the Aussie conference. But if the Crusaders lose on Friday, Quade Cooper and co. will head to Sydney with a chance of gaining home ground advantage in the play-offs via victory over the Waratahs.

Bulls:
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Third

Chiefs:
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Fourth

Brumbies:
Best possible finish: First
Worst possible finish: Third

Crusaders:
Best possible finish: Second
Worst possible finish: Fifth

Reds:
Best possible finish: Fourth
Worst possible finish: Sixth

Cheetahs:
Best possible finish: Fifth
Worst possible finish: Sixth

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1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954