Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Super 14 preview

January 24, 2006

The southern hemisphere's premier provincial tournament begins February 10 when the Auckland Blues host the Wellington Hurricanes to kick-off the inaugural Super 14.

The tournament brings together the best rugby players and teams from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The Canterbury Crusaders are the defending title-holders.

The format for Super 14 is basically the same as the Super 12 tournament held the past decade. This years' tournament sees the expansion of two teams, one the Western Force from Australia, and the other the Southern Spears of South Africa.

You can get details of the Super 14 competition from the official website here.

Wikipedia also has a solid overview.

There is a full draw of the tournament here; or you can download a .pdf file here.

Here is a breakdown of the representative teams [via Wiki] franchise areas and team previews written by hardcore fans at the Silver Fern website.


South Africa operates its Super 14 system in basically the same manner as in New Zealand, with each franchise linked with one or more unions in the country's domestic competition, the Currie Cup.

The country has six franchises; however, only five will actually compete in the Super 14 in any given year. The four franchises from the Super 12 era (Bulls, Cats, Sharks, Stormers) will be joined in 2006 by the Central Cheetahs. Starting in 2007, a new team from the Southern and Eastern Cape region, the Southern Spears, will join the Super 14. To make room for the Spears, a promotion/relegation process will be instituted in 2006 to determine which team will not participate in the following season's Super 14.

The unions linked to each franchise are:

Blue Bulls — (Pretoria and Limpopo Province; home matches in Pretoria)
Falcons (East Rand; home matches in Brakpan)

Silver Fern preview: Bulls

Golden Lions (Johannesburg)
Leopards (North West Province; home matches in Potchefstroom)
Pumas (Mpumalanga; home matches in Witbank)

Silver Fern preview: Cats

Central Cheetahs:
Free State Cheetahs (central and western Free State; home matches in Bloemfontein)
Griffons (northern Free State; home matches in Welkom)
Griquas (Northern Cape; home matches in Kimberley)

Silver Fern preview: Cheetahs

Natal Sharks (KwaZulu-Natal; home matches in Durban)
Southern Spears
Border Bulldogs (eastern Eastern Cape; home matches in East London)
Eagles (Western Cape east of Cape Town; home matches in George)
Mighty Elephants (western Eastern Cape; home matches in Port Elizabeth)

Silver Fern preview: Sharks

Boland Cavaliers (northern Western Cape; home matches in Wellington)
Western Province (Cape Town)

Silver Fern Stormers preview pending.


In Australia, the four franchises each represent a substantial geographic area:

Western Force — Western Australia

Silver Fern preview: Western Force

Queensland Reds — Queensland

Silver Fern preview: Queensland Reds

New South Wales Waratahs — most of New South Wales, including metropolitan Sydney

Silver Fern preview: New South Wales Waratahs

Brumbies — Australian Capital Territory and Southern New South Wales, including the Riverina

Silver Fern ACT Brumbies preview pending.


In New Zealand, each of the country's five Super 14 franchises is linked with several provincial unions in the country's domestic competition, the National Provincial Championship. Each franchise is entitled to draw players from any of its member unions without any player draft or negotiations with another franchise. The specific unions linked to each franchise are:

North Harbour

Silver Fern preview: Auckland Blues

Bay of Plenty
Counties Manukau
King Country
Thames Valley

Silver Fern preview: Waikato Chiefs

East Coast
Hawke's Bay
Poverty Bay

Silver Fern preview: Wellington Hurricanes

Mid Canterbury
South Canterbury
Tasman (formed by merger of Marlborough and Nelson Bays)
West Coast

Silver Fern preview: Canterbury Crusaders

North Otago

Silver Fern preview: Otago Highlanders

Before the tournament kicks off, I'll try to get a map up ...


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