Here we are – the final round of Super Rugby before the finals start. The structure of the top 8 is still yet to be decided, with results this week affecting the finishing order and finals structure. The only completely secure team is the Crusaders, who cannot be caught at the top of the ladder, while the Waratahs are also guaranteed a home quarter final whatever happens – although a win would give them a more favourable draw and a home semi as well.
The three teams that were in the race for 8th place last week (the Rebels, Sharks and Brumbies) all lost, so the Rebels remain in 8th with all three a mathematical chance of playing finals rugby. A win for the Rebels will secure their place, and if the Jaguares lose they could jump into seventh. A bonus point win for the Rebels will see them overtake the Highlanders and come either 6th or 7th.
The Sharks will be on a plane to Christchurch if they win and the Rebels lose, while the Brumbies need the Rebels to lose without a bonus point, the Sharks to just lose and to beat the Waratahs by at least 3 tries and 24 points themselves to sneak into the 8. The final round of Super Rugby really is volatile!
The Jaguares, depending on other results, can come 3rd, 6th, 7th or 8th thanks to the peculiarity of the conference system. If they win and the Lions lose they will take top spot in the SA conference, and 3rd overall. However, they cannot catch the Chiefs and Hurricanes for a wildcard spot – but they can overtake the Highlanders if they lose to the Rebels, or finish in 8th if they lose and the Rebels win.
The Lions will guarantee themselves a home quarter final by beating the Bulls, and if they win and the Waratahs lose they will take second place. A loss will make them vulnerable to losing 3rd place and the advantage of a home quarter final to the Jaguares, who play the Sharks. The final round of Super Rugby is still live, with three teams battling for finals spots while the makeup of the ladder and the finals draw is still to be decided.