After the conclusion of the thrilling Six Nations campaign, all attention has turned to the upcoming Lions tour of New Zealand. So, which Super Rugby sides can be most easily compared to an Aviva Premiership outfit?
In the mid-2000s these teams were the greatest to ever grace their respective competitions, however a sudden spate of retirements resulted in uncharted waters, with lower table battles becoming the norm.
Both teams are making strong comebacks as of late, with Wasps currently five points clear in the league whilst Brumbies are in fourth position in the overall Super Rugby standings.
This pair always have a mix of established quality individuals and up-and-coming young stars, yet other than infrequent successful seasons, such as impressive 2014 campaigns, they tend to just miss out on honours at the end of the season.
These sides equally prove the theory that money doesn’t buy happiness. Fortunes don’t seem to be looking up either, with Bristol looking like making a swift return to the Championship and the Rebels having shipped 237 points in their first five games of the 2017 season.
Rarely the worst, never the best, these two teams have decent players, budgets and facilities but just don’t have the cutting edge or tradition that tends to breed winning sides.
If only expectation reflected results. Whilst they are without a doubt one of the best teams to watch as a neutral, both teams seem to flatter to deceive. Fantastic sides in 2012 and flashes of form since both sides have struggled to make a real impact on their respective competitions as of late.
South African Conference
A traditional national rugby stalwart, these teams will always have a big fan base, a solid side and again without fail will struggle to produce genuine success. Every now and then they have a strong season but then swiftly return to mediocrity, shockingly neither side have won a championship
Ten years ago, both sets of fans were resigned to dreaming of challenging for honours. However, they now find themselves with sides possessing a plethora of exciting players, performing fantastically and with scary amounts of potential generated by an extremely strong academy. So much success must be contributed to the work of two supremely under-rated head coaches working wonders
Very strong teams at the turn of professionalism both sides suffered a dip in form. Both sides always ravaged by larger clubs with higher aspirations poaching their finest fledgling talent. Nevertheless, fortunes have improved recently with the Cape town based side having a dynamic side that remains unbeaten in Super Rugby in 2017. Meanwhile, Newcastle have avoided the relegation battle with several muscular performances this season.
New Zealand Conference
The most successful Super Rugby and Premiership teams, regardless of era, playing style or the individuals they have at their disposal. They consistently compete for silverware every season, with 7 and 10 titles respectively. As well as being able to boast producing some of the greatest players to represent the respective national teams, including Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Martin Johnson. The Crusaders have started powerfully this season being unbeaten so far, registering several impressive comeback victories
Neither traditional rugby giants they have until recently rarely challenged for honours. However, through seismic culture changes and brilliant signings have become powerhouses in their respective countries. Saracens are now the dominant force in Northern Hemisphere rugby, and with statement signings such as Liam Williams seem intent on conquest.
Unbelievably successful in the amateur era, both sides dominated their national championships until the game turned professional. Both are now making comebacks in their respective leagues through big money spending and impressive academy graduates. Further statements have been put down recently with the acquisition of two hugely talented coaches
Beauden Barrett, Tana Umaga, Julian Savea, Jonah Lomu, Christian Cullen, quite simply put no English Premiership side can compare. The nearly boys for so many years they now have a squad that puts fear into the opposition, they win with flair, they win ugly, they just win