The New Super

In a few weeks the new Super 15 competition begins.

Reduced to 15 teams by axing the Kings, Cheetahs and Western Force, the tournament is at least more balanced than last season.

However, the NZ conference still looks the toughest to emerge from.

This link shows how the new format will work –

http://m.sarugbymag.co.za/?postslug=/blog/details/watch-super-rugby-format-explained#/watch-super-rugby-format-explained

This interview happened before the cull and also offers insight into the improvement –

 

I still think it should go back to Super 12 where every team played everyone else (home and away) and the best 8 teams made the play-offs – no matter where they were based!

 

 

 

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Last Lap in the Pools

With only Leinster so far confirmed in the last 8, there is much to play for and be decided in the last weekend of the pool stages.

It is entirely possible, even likely that there will be no representation from the premiership in the knockout stages.

Last week I salvaged a 50% prediction on the Sunday having been at just below 17% after the Friday and Saturday games. I hope to do better this weekend, but, if you’re thinking of having a punt (ha ha) don’t take any notice of the following – it’s almost certainly nonsense

La Rochelle to knock over Quins

Wasps scrape past Ulster

Clermont to defeat Ospreys

Saracens get by Saints, but may miss out on a much needed bonus point

Glasgow go down at home to Chiefs – but again a bonus may elude the visitors

Montpellier manage to hand Leinster a first defeat, but a losing bonus will guarantee Leinster the number one seed spot

Tigers to lose at Welford Road to Racing 92

Munster get through beating Castres

Bath get a bonus point at Benneton – but it may not be enough

Scarlets fall at home to Toulon

A great weekend for us armchair sloths!

Bowe-ing Out

Tommy Bowe has announced that he plans to retire at the end of the season.

Following his outstanding career for Ulster, Ospreys, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions he sent an open letter to all his fans –

As the saying goes, time stands still for no man (or sportsman). And so, 14 years on from signing my first professional contract with Ulster Rugby, I feel very fortunate to be able to say this will be my final season.

I could never have imagined the career professional rugby has given me and I am so grateful to my close friends, family and agent Ryan Constable for their incredible support throughout the highs and lows.

My beautiful wife Lucy has been my rock and little daughter Emma my newest inspiration.

I want to thank everyone involved in Ulster Rugby, the Ospreys, Ireland and the British and Irish Lions for giving me the chance to live a dream I never thought possible. I’d also like to thank all those at Royal School Armagh, Queen’s University and Monaghan RFC minis, where it all began.

To my teammates; the bond of going out onto the field together and the most special feeling in a changing room after a win are what I am going to treasure in the last few months as I will miss them most. I’ve met some incredible people and made friends that will hopefully last a lifetime.

Lastly to you – the supporters – thank you for your backing throughout my career. From my singing Black Velvet Band (never again I promise!) to your continued messages of kindness and unwavering support, despite my injuries in latter years, I am eternally grateful.

Who knows what the future will hold…

Definitely not singing!

– Tommy Bowe, 16th January 2018.

Ulster Rugby prepared this fitting tribute –