Super Rugby will kick off its 25th year with three fixtures on Friday, including a South African derby in the evening.
The Blues host the Chiefs in the season opener, with the action beginning at 8:05 SAST. The Brumbies and the Reds will follow at 10:15 with the Sharks and the Bulls wrapping up the day’s action at 19:10.
The silver anniversary of the competition will lack a bit of shine, though, with several players who lit up the World Cup a few months ago missing in action.
Some, like All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett, have extended holidays written into their contracts. Others, including several of the World Cup winning Springboks side, have opted to play in Europe or Japan, rather than a confusing conference competition that straddles too many timezones to count.
Regardless of Super Rugby’s complications, though, fans will surely keep a beady eye on the action to see whether the next generation of players wriggle their way through the system as the next four-year cycle kicks into gear.
South Africans will get their first taste of just that with Friday night’s derby where Sikumbuzo Notshe, James Venter and Ox Nche will make their Sharks Super Rugby debuts when they host the Bulls in Durban.
Part of the fun of any tournament is gazing into your own crystal ball and risking a prediction.
So, we’re here to give you just that starting with Friday’s fixtures. Predictions for Saturday will be published on Thursday.
Prediction methodology explained
The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team’s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on.
The predicted points margin draws on calculations from by a New Zealand statistician.