NEW YORK, NY- We promised in the most recent Weekend Recap that we would have a preview of the Southern Hemisphere – often referred to as SANZAR. And we’re here to deliver with our Southern Hemisphere Fall Rugby Preview. Included are New Zealand’s ITM Cup, South Africa’s Currie Cup, Australia’s National Rugby Championship and Argentina’s Campeonato Argentino de Rugby.
Okay… Now that you’re done staring, let’s break it down quickly…
Country: New Zealand
League: ITM Cup (Formerly the National Provincial Championship)
Defending Champions: Canterbury and Manawatu Turbos
Season Length: August 14, 2014 – October 25, 2014
Thoughts: Two conferences with two separate championships. The higher division is the premiership with a 2nd division called the championship. although for some reason inter-conference play is allowed. Within all of this there is a prize some would call even greater than the ITM Cup itself, The Ranfurly Shield. The Shield is based on a challenge so regardless of conference or any other factor a team can request and often be granted a challenge for the shield. This led to stuggling teams last year like the Hawke’s Bay Magpies holding onto it before it was taken by current holders Counties Manakau coached by All Black legend Tana Umaga and based out of Pukekohe. Taking a stab at the winners, it will see a return to glory for Auckland as they snap Canterbury’s 7-year championship run in the Premiership Conference and Hawke’s Bay as Championship Conference winners. Here is the list of teams:
|2013 Placing||2013 Division|
|Auckland||Wayne Pivac||Hadleigh Parkes||3rd||Premiership|
|Bay of Plenty||Kevin Schuler||Willie Ripia||7th||Premiership|
|Canterbury||Scott Robertson||George Whitelock||1st||Premiership|
|Counties Manukau||Tana Umaga||Fritz Lee||4th||Premiership|
|Hawke’s Bay||Craig Philpott||Mike Coman||2nd||Championship|
|Manawatu||Jason O’Halloran||Nick Crosswell||5th||Championship|
|North Harbour||Liam Barry||James Parsons||7th||Championship|
|Northland||Derren Witcombe||Rene Ranger||6th||Championship|
|Otago||Tony Brown||Paul Grant||3rd||Championship|
|Southland||David Henderson||Jamie Mackintosh||4th||Championship|
|Taranaki||Colin Cooper||Kane Barrett||6th||Premiership|
|Tasman||Kieran Keane||Shane Christie||1st||Championship|
|Waikato||John Walters||Matt Vant Leven||5th||Premiership|
|Wellington||Chris Boyd||Jeremy Thrush||2nd||Premiership|
Country: South Africa
League: Currie Cup
Defending Champions: Lions (Natal Sharks)
Season Length: August 9, 2014 – October 25, 2014
Thoughts: Much like the ITM Cup, Super Rugby has caused this once great domestic comp to be altered. During the years of South Africa’s isolation from international sport, this competition was everything to SA rugby fans and players. Going into its 76th season, it has been revamped once again. Its premier division now consists of 8 teams and the second division has 6 teams. The 8-team premier division will consist of: 5 teams that form the base of the S15 franchises; the #6 team from the 2013 contest; the 2013 first division team that was promoted; and the winner of the playoff between the remaining 7 first division teams for the second playoff spot.
As per Wikipedia, currently, South Africa is divided into 14 unions. Of those unions only four draw players from an entire province: Here are the unions in the premier division and where they draw from:
Griquas – Northern Cape (home matches in Kimberley)
Natal Sharks – KwaZulu-Natal (home matches in Durban) – S15 franchise
Free State Cheetahs – central and western (home matches in Bloemfontein) – S15 franchise
Western Province – Cape Town metropolitan area – S15 franchise known as the Stormers
Golden Lions – Johannesburg and municipalities to its west (home matches in Johannesburg) – S15 franchise
Blue Bulls – Pretoria, the two Gauteng municipalities to its east, and Limpopo Province (home matches in Pretoria) – S15 franchise
Eastern Province Kings – western (home matches in Port Elizabeth) – 1st division playoff winners
Pumas – Mpumalanga (home matches in Witbank) – 1st division champions
With all that said, we feel that it is a two-horse race between the Sharks and Western Province. It is tough to see anyone upsetting the balance though the Blue Bulls may just be the team to do so.
League: National Rugby Championship
Defending Champions: N/A
Season Length: August 30, 2014 – November 1, 2014
Thoughts: For only the second time in its history, Australia will have a nationwide premier rugby tournament. The first time was a few years back and that ended up a huge failure due to budget overruns. This time, new ARU CEO Bill Pulver has it all worked it with a big budget TV deal and loads more sponsors to make it feasible. There will be 9 teams with 6 of them split between rugby union heartland provinces New South Wales and Queensland. The remaining three will be in Perth, Melbourne and the capital city Canberra; all 3 have Super Rugby franchises so that makes sense. Here is a list of teams:
|Team||Licencees and associated clubs||Head coach||Captain|
|Brisbane City||QRU / Reds||Nick Stiles||Curtis Browning|
|Greater Sydney Rams||West Harbour, Penrith, Parramatta, Southern Districts *||Brian Melrose||TBA|
|Melbourne Rising||VRU / Rebels||Sean Hedger||Nic Stirzaker|
|NSW Country Eagles||Easts, Randwick||Darren Coleman||TBA|
|North Harbour Rays||Manly, Warringah, Gordon, Norths||Geoff Townsend||TBA|
|Perth Spirit||WA / Force|| David Wessels &
|Queensland Country||QRU / Reds||Steve Meehan||Anthony Fainga’a|
|Sydney Stars||Sydney University, Balmain||Chris Malone||Pat McCutcheon|
|University of Canberra Vikings||ACT Rugby / Brumbies, University of Canberra, Tuggeranong Vikings||Dan McKellar||TBA|
With no history to go on, best to go based on rugby history and figure that it will be Sydney versus Brisbane in the final. Flip a coin to decide the winner.
League: Campeonato Argentino de Rugby
Defending Champions: Tucumán
Season Length: November 1 – 29, 2014
Thoughts: The inter-provincial rugby tournament in Argentina is called the Campeonato. It is also the name of the division that is considered the major tournament and is played between the 1st and 29th of November. The tournament is divided into 3 divisions, the“Campeonato”, “Ascenso”, and “Desarollo.” The Campenonato is played in November and features the top 6 regions in the country. The regions are Tucuman, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Salta, Alta Valle and Rosario. All the teams, in particular those from the big cities, have a rich history. It will likely be a three-horse race between Tucuman, Buenos Aires and Cordoba. It is anyone’s guess who will win it all.
That’s it for now. Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: RugbyWrapUp,Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Karen Ritter , Jamie Wall, Jake Frechette and Declan Yeats, respectively.
….And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.