The southern hemisphere rugby season begins in earnest this weekend with the first full round of the 2013 Super XV taking place over Friday and Saturday. The competition kicked off with two Australian derbies last weekend, with the Brumbies and the Rebels getting their campaigns off with a victory. The Super XV schedule is a bit congested this season owing to the mid-season British and Irish Lions’ tour to Australia, but teams looking to contest the final on August 3 will quickly have to learn to adjust.
The odds below are taken from Bet365.com, the best and most reliable sportsbook for betting on rugby online. Bet365.com will offer markets on every game in the competition, as well as long term markets and the always popular in-play options.
2013 Super XV Regular Season Odds
Perennial favourites the Crusaders head the odds list at this early-season stage. The Crusaders have not lifted the trophy since Robbie Deans left in 2008. They will be without the services of Richie McCaw this season, but any team with the pedigree of the Crusaders, and any team that can count on the services of Daniel Carter, Kieran Read and Israel Dagg, just to name a few of the stars in this champion side, will always be there or thereabouts come the end of the competition. But they will face a stiff challenge within the New Zealand conference itself, not to speak of their Australian and South African counterparts. More on this below, as we look at the individual conferences.
The Stormers almost unbelievably topped the log at the end of the regular season last year without picking up a single bonus point. A feat that would have brought worrying signs for the team going into the knockout phases of the competition, with an eventual defeat at the hands of the Sharks in the semi-finals after falling behind early on and being unable to create any try-scoring momentum to get back into the game. They have looked to rectify this problem this year by bringing in flair at the back, with the likes of Springboks Jaco Taute and Elton Jantjies being drafted in from the out-of-competition Lions. If they can create a balance between their rock solid defence and inject some forward momentum into their play, expect them to be near the top of the log again this season.
Australian Conference Odds
Comfortably the weakest conference last year, this season does not promise to bring much more from the Australian sides as a lot of the focus in Australian rugby will be on the Lions tour. Several players will likely be rested as the tournament progresses to accommodate the interests of the national team. The Reds were unconvincing in their defeat to a growing Brumbies side last week, and without Will Genia in the side – who misses the first six weeks of competition though injury – do not look the same side that won the competition two years ago. The Brumbies look to be much stronger this season as Jake White continues to instil a sense of vision in this team. The signing of David Pocock is a great boost to their chances of topping this conference. The Waratahs are a bit of an unknown this year. They have several big names in their squad, but new coach Michael Cheika will have to bring some cohesion to this squad in order for them to improve on their underachieving last few seasons.
New Zealand Conference Odds
The New Zealand conference will provide much excitement this season as the defending champions Chiefs and a strong and much-promoted Highlanders team look to wrestle the Crusaders from a throne they have made their home for the last decade and a half or so. The Chiefs have lost mightily influential Sonny Bill Williams to rugby league as well as energetic prop Sona Taumalolo, and with already a few injured men in their ranks, face a difficult start to the campaign. Former All Black Jeff Wilson has come out and touted the Highlanders as potential favourites for the conference, as well as potential finalists. Time will tell, but with a strong off season recruitment campaign, which included the signings of Ma’a Nonu, Brad Thorn and Tony Woodcock, it is easy to see why Wilson is so confident of his former team’s chances. The Hurricanes will have to be more consistent this year, while the Blues will struggle to repeat their poor performance from last season. It is difficult to see these two sides challenging for this strong New Zealand conference.
South African Conference Odds
This is the conference that will most likely be the most closely contested of the regular season. The Stormers’ win in the Currie Cup last year will hopefully for them bring the much needed belief that they can handle the big pressure games, and with a host of new exciting attacking options, as well as a seemingly rejuvenated Brian Habana, in his last season for the Stormers before heading to France next year, will look to make it to the final of this year’s competition at least. Last year’s runners up, the Sharks, can again count on the mercurial talent of Frans Steyn, who captains the team in the absence of regular skipper Keegan Daniel, in their midfield. Just looking at the side at their disposal, notwithstanding injuries, they will certainly be out to prove that they can go one better than last year and lift their elusive first Super Rugby title. The Bulls are the dark horses in the South African conference. They have a promising combination of experience and youth in their ranks, but of the three leading South African sides, look least equipped to take the conference, although a play-off spot is decidedly not out of the question. The Cheetahs can cause an upset on their day, but lack the depth that the leading sides boast, and the Kings, in their first year in the competition, will struggle to make any positive impact.
How To Bet
Visit the official Super XV website to keep out the event.