The Super Rugby format is a mess; that is universally agreed. But, somehow, we have ended up with the four semi-finalists having the most points in round robin play.
We have a typically Super Rugby situation where three of the semi-finalists have played each other, and in most cases twice, yet the Lions have not faced any of the other three, which makes predicting what might happen for here on in more than a little tricky.
It is not the Lions’s fault as such that they have not played any New Zealand sides; they have just played what the draw has presented them.
So the only way of comparing them against the remaining New Zealand sides is to compare the results for matches played against sides all semi-finalists have faced. They are the Australian sides, and the African pool that includes Japan. It is not perfect, but that is all you can do. Those nine teams are
Incidentally the only loss suffered by the semi-finalists against any of these sides was the Chiefs going down to the Stormers. Much has been made of the New Zealand sides sweeping Australian opposition, but so did the Lions.
When you total up the average points for and against for the semi-finalists against the Common Nine the results come out like this.
|Semi-finalist||For (Ave)||Against (Ave)||Difference|
Write the Lions off as Lucky to be there at your peril.
Incidentally, Super Rugby has led the way for over-bloated confusion when it comes to international franchise based rugby tournaments. But look what’s happening with the Pro12; soon to be Pro14, then Pro 16.
In its future formal it will have teams from Ireland (4), Wales (4) Scotland (2), Italy (2), South Africa (2; the discarded ones) and … the USA (2).