The Pro 12 is back in full swing this week after a European break, with all attention turning to who will qualify for the playoffs. Super rugby is now 6 rounds in and with the first British and Irish Lions game less than two months interested has never been hotter.
Which begs the question: which Pro 12 side matches a Super Rugby team?
Ulster – Waratahs
Big budgets, big players, mediocre success they flatter to deceive more often than not. A destructive and clinical performance one week followed by a clumsy and calamitous one the next. Being a supporter must be both exciting but also infuriating. Nevertheless, any team that contains Israel Folau or Charles Piatau just cannot be written off
Leinster – Crusaders
Simply put the two most successful sides in their respective competitions, with 7 Super Rugby, 3 Heineken Cup and 4 Pro 12 victories their spoils. Legends of rugby union both sides of the equator have cut their teeth and honed their skills amongst these two teams. Think Dan Carter, Richie McCaw and Brian O’Driscoll. Both sides continue to impress and develop with young squads. They are topping their respective leagues this season and continue to look imposing
Connacht – Lions
Neither traditionally successful franchises in the tournament. However, that all changed drastically last year after two breakout seasons, Connacht victorious and Lions valiant finalists, losing to a powerful Hurricanes squad. Despite this the West Irish province have struggled this season in the Pro 12 whilst the Lions are again the leading South African side. The loss of both sides innovative and highly rate coaches next season comes as a major blow to respective sets of fans. Emphasis must turn to replacing these tacticians in order to continue development
Munster – Chiefs
Think a cold rainy scrappy night and your mind instantly goes to Thomond Park or Waikato Stadium. Fanatical fans and a never say die spirit installed in their players makes these two opponents nobody wants to face. Equally powerful they both consistently challenge for honours and often succeed. Mutually impressive this season expect silverware to be in both camps by the conclusion of this season.
Scarlets – Blues
Traditional powerhouses of the national leagues back in the amateur era they have struggled in recent years. Both won the inaugural competition with flair and champagne rugby but laboured to mid table finishes in the years that followed. One thing that has never been questioned about these two is their ability to score tries out wide and entertain the neutral. Yet fire has been breathed into the sides of late with a return to the top table of club rugby on the horizon.
Cardiff – Stormers
Rugby strongholds are rarely stronger than in the shape of these two provinces. Before franchises were formed Western Province and Cardiff registered multiple victories over the Wallabies and the All Blacks. These unbelievable achievements have unfortunately not been matched in the professional era. Shockingly despite dominance in the amateur era neither side have won their league despite providing multiple international players.
Ospreys – Brumbies
Star quality, large fan bases and a history of success yet these two teams are consistently strong. Always have a sprinkling of international stars and a virtuous mix of young academy starlets. However, their abilities to churn out tough results in recent years must be questioned. Regardless of this they are pivotal players in the competition every year steeped in heritage and pride
Newport Gwent Dragons – Force
Neither side have ever threatened the league contenders in any season since the respective competitions started. Minimal budgets and an inability to attract the top-quality stars have caused these two sides to languish in mediocrity. With no substantial signings of international class or a bolstering of facilities this trend with long continue
Glasgow – Highlanders
Historically neither strong sides in their respective competitions in their infancy, however in recent years have become a force to be reckoned with. Victorious in the 2015 season these two outfits possess impressive rosters, including some of their national sides finest weapons in Stuart Hogg and Ben Smith to name a couple. Might miss out on challenging for honours this season but expect intricate attack and innovative moves from anywhere with these sides.
Edinburgh – Sharks
These teams representing the two massive rugby cities have laboured through their separate tournaments since the competition started. Even with performing in magnificient stadiums the club’s best showings have been valiant final showings, ultimately resulting in losses. Edinburgh and the Sharks are again labouring through 2017 in the Pro 12 and Super Rugby.
Treviso – Rebels
These two teams were founded in 2010 and have been whipping boys since their inception. Equally embarrassingly weak and horrendously under powered the two franchises either need to improve rapidly or expect to have their positions in the competition seriously questioned.
Zebre – Southern Kings
They came, they saw, they did not conquer. Neither side has made any impact at all on the league since they joined, both currently lying down the bottom of the pile in 2017. With league restructures talked about in both competitions these two sides must surely be the first to go.