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URC Team by Team Review 2021/22

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URC Team by Team Review 2021/22 Empty URC Team by Team Review 2021/22

Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 11:47 am

As per the header here's my take so far on URC rugby on a team by team basis.  Granted not all teams have finished recruitment just yet but here is what we have so far.  Will update as further recruitment happens.

Leinster

In: Michael Milne promoted from Academy, David Hawkshaw promoted from Academy, Nick McCarthy from Munster,
Michael Ala'alatoa from Crusaders, Tom Clarkson promoted from Academy

Out: Michael Bent, Cian Kelleher, Greg McGrath, Hugh O'Sullivan, Rowan Osborne, Scott Fardy, Paddy Patterson, Sam Illo

Comments: Not much movement this season so far.  Ala'alatoa is the big addition at Tighthead.  Will be available for them all season and possibly is the long term replacement for Furlong who only signed for a 12 month contract and is probably leaving Ireland after that.

Predicted League Position: 1st.  Easy starting prediction.  The Champions have a quality squad throughout and that hasn't changed going into next season.  With the new format switching to 15 games and teams outside of Ireland only facing Leinster once (either home and away), I do expect it to be harder for them as teams will most probably start fielding full strength sides especially at home.  That said they are one of Europe's best for a reason.  I don't think anyone else really can oust them.

Munster

In: Jake Flannery promoted from Academy, James French promoted from Academy, Seán French promoted from Academy, Ben Healy promoted from Academy, John Hodnett promoted from Academy, Rowan Osborne from Leinster, Thomas Ahern promoted from Academy, Jack Crowley promoted from Academy, Jack Daly promoted from Academy, ason Jenkins from Toyota Verblitz, Josh Wycherley promoted from Academy, Simon Zebo from Racing 92,Paddy Patterson

Out: Nick McCarthy, Billy Holland, Alex Wootton, CJ Stander,  JJ Hanrahan, Tommy O'Donnell, Rhys Marshall, James Cronin

Comments: Lots of Academy promotions this season for Munster.  Notable signings are Zebo and Jenkins, both of which should feature heavily.  They do have some big names finishing however so Stander & Cronin probably offset the improvements from the signings.  Also some key older heads retiring as well who played key roles for Munster.  

Predicted League Position: 2nd.  I think Coombes will replace to void by Stander and with the bulk they have added in Jenkins will see them in a good spot during the winter months.  I think Thomond will still be a fortress for them although away wins next season will be harder to come by although that's the same for everyone.  Still a quality outfit.

Ulster

In: Aaron Sexton promoted from Academy, Nathan Doak promoted from Academy, Tom Stewart promoted from Academy, Ethan McIlroy promoted from Academy, Callum Reid promoted from Academy, David McCann promoted from Academy, Cormac Izuchukwu promoted from Academy,


Out: Hayden Hyde, Adam McBurney, Alby Mathewson, Kyle McCall, Matt Faddes, Bill Johnston

Comments: No incoming signings so far.  Outbound are only fringe players but the lack of additions at this point won't see them improve from last seasons outings unless some Academy players do manage to add to their squad.  

Predicted League Position: 5th.  So I know they finished last year on an overall table in second place and Ravenhill will still be a key factor to wining a lot of their games.  But a lot of this will be determined by how the fixture list falls.  I don't think this Ulster side will win as many away games as they did last year.  Main reason is with a reduced number of matches and only playing some of these sides once, I'd imagine a lot of teams will be fielding full strength sides.  It's going to be close though and I while I only have them ranked at 5th they could easily finish higher as they have had form on their side.

Connacht

In: Oran McNulty promoted from Academy, Cian Prendergast promoted from Academy, Dylan Tierney-Martin promoted from Academy, Alex Wootton from Munster, Mack Hansen from Brumbies, Leva Fifita from Grenoble, Shayne Bolton from Shimlas, Greg McGrath from Leinster, Sam Illo


Out: Quinn Roux, Stephen Fitzgerald, Seán O'Brien, Stephen Kerins, Conor Dean, Colm de Buitléar, Paddy McAllister, Cillian Gallagher, Conor Kenny, Seán O'Brien

Comments: Wootton isn't a new signing really as he was on loan with them last season.  Roux is a big loss for them.

Predicted League Position: 10th.  Ok based on last season this seems a totally unrealistic prediction but not without reasoning.  First major drawback for Connacht will be they will be playing Munster, Leinster and Ulster home and away.  They have it harder compared to some of the other sides who simply will have some weaker opposition.  Add into the fact Connacht will be coming up against some quality teams away from home outside of Ireland and wins could start getting hard to come by.  Looking at how other sides have recruited as well won't help Connacht.  I also expect every single team in the league to fight tooth and nail to get HC spots.  Something I think Connacht may miss out on next season.


Scarlets

In: WillGriff John from Sale Sharks, Carwyn Tuipulotu promoted from Academy, Morgan Jones promoted from Academy, Tomás Lezana from Western Force, Dom Booth promoted from Academy, Kemsley Mathias promoted from Academy, Iestyn Rees promoted from Academy, Scott Williams from Ospreys, Tom Price from Exeter

Out: Jake Ball, Werner Kruger, Jac Morgan, Uzair Cassiem, Osian Knott, Harri Doel, Paul Asquith, Dylan Evans, Will Homer, Ed Kennedy, Joseph Miles, Tom Phillips, Pieter Scholtz, Danny Drake

Comments: Some big players leaving Scarlets this year.  Ball and Cassiem don't look like they have been replaced with equal or better players.  On paper their starting 15 looks weaker.  Lezana is a bit of a unknown quantity and he may turn our to be brilliant or poor.  Hard to tell until we see him in action.  My main issue with them is they look light weight in the front 5 and that may not help things for them in the Winter period.

Prediction: 6th.  I think they will finish behind Ulster but they still have to much for around half of the league.  That said i suspect the may be displaced next season as the best welsh region, mainly due to the lack of forward fire power.  Still have one of the best back lines in the league though so will be dangerous regardless.

Ospreys

In: Tomas Francis from Exeter, Jac Morgan from Scarlets, Ben Warren from Cardiff, Osian Knott from Scarlets, Michael Collins from Highlanders, Jack Regan from Highlanders,
Elvis Taione from Exeter, Alex Cuthbert from Exeter

Out: Guido Volpi, Cory Allen, Ben Cambriani, Rhys Davies, Gareth Evans, Garyn Lloyd, Bradley Roderick, Rhys Thomas, Jordan Walters, Caine Woolerton, Luke Price, Scott Williams, Shaun Venter, Jordan Lay, Nicky Thomas

Comments: No major losses for the Ospreys as Allen and Williams never really worked out for them.  They were on big salaries too so Booth has clearly free'd up budget by releasing some under performers.  Francis heads the major signing columns but Cuthbert & Morgan are both major coups for the region.

Prediction: 3rd.  On paper at least the front 8 look like they can hold their own.  The major reason for the improvement and why I think they will be the top region is Booth.  He has clearly been the right man for the job.  He has strengthened his squad in the right areas and the Ospreys look like will have a fairly potent backline.  But Francis has been key for them.  At home I don't see many teams beating them (maybe Leinster or Munster at a push).  Aside from that they will also be helped with the fact unlike the Irish they will have to play the Scarlets, Blues & Dragons which will more than likely result in more points gained from those encounters than any of the Irish provinces will be able to bank on.  


Cardiff

In: Immanuel Feyi-Waboso promoted from Academy, Rhys Priestland from Bath, Matthew Screech from Dragons,

Out: Ben Warren, Ioan Davies, Ethan Lewis, Ioan Rhys Davies, Cory Hill (unconfirmed)

Comments: Hill will be a big loss although its not officially been announced yet (heading to Japan) but Screech had a great season last year with the Dragons.  I still don't think they have gained if at all in this area.  Priestland is not an inspiring signing has his best rugby is behind him.  Will play a back up roll to Jarrod for sure.  Not other major signings which leaves the squad similar to last year.

Prediction: 8th.  I think they will finish above Connacht but only just.  The new signings and outgoings haven't made me think they will be able to compete with the Scarlets or Ospreys.  I think form has made me place them at 8th but in all honesty as a Dragons fan they may have problems against us and it's not totally inconceivable that they finish bottom of the Welsh Regions.  Granted for that to happen Dragons would have to play the season of their lives so I'll stick with my 8th place prediction.

Dragons:

In: Will Rowlands from Wasps, Evan Lloyd promoted from Academy, Mesake Doge, Aki Seiuli

Out: Lewis Evans, Matthew Screech, Arwel Robson, Connor Edwards, Ed Scragg, Carwyn Penny, Luke Baldwin, Joe Goodchild, Brok Harris, Rhys Lawrence, Deon Smith,  Dafydd Howells, Ryan Bevington, Tom Griffiths to Coventry (season-long loan),

Comments: Screech was playing well last season but I think Rowlands will be a great signing and a improvement on what we have.  Harris was key for us as well last term but Ryan hasn't finished recruitment yet so potentially will see me adding to this list at a later date.

Prediction: 12th.  I'd love to see us be further up the table and maybe depending on our home form this would be possible.  That said I think the top teams have all recruited and improved as well so it's hard to place us higher.  So I think we may still be 4th placed welsh region unless Ryan really pulls of some more great signings.  Given our budget compared to the other welsh regions though the odds are stacked against us.

Glasgow

In: Duncan Weir from Worcester, Jamie Bhatti from Bath, Ross Thompson promoted from Academy, Simon Berghan from Edinburgh, Lewis Bean from Northampton, Jack Dempsey from NSW Waratahs, Josh McKay from Crusaders, Ollie Smith promoted from Academy, Sione Tuipulotu from Yamaha Júbilo, Ally Miller from Edinburgh, Domingo Miotti from Western Force, Sebastián Cancelliere from Jaguares XV, Tom Lambert promoted from Academy

Out: Adam Hastings, Chris Fusaro, Fotu Lokotui, Nikola Matawalu, D'Arcy Rae, Mesu Dolokoto, Dylan Evans, TJ Ioane, Lee Jones, Ian Keatley, Paddy Kelly, Robbie Nairn, Aki Seiuli, George Thornton, Leone Nakarawa, Huw Jones, Alex Allan

Comments: Lots of movement going on from Glasgow for next season.  Hastings will be a loss to them but they have recruited well at 10 edging their bets on bringing both Weir and Miotti into the side.  Nakarawa and Matawalu never really came back at their second stints and played at the same level as the first time at Glasgow.  So probably was wise to cut them.  Some of the signings are unknown as of yet so will be interesting to see how Tuipulotu goes for them as a replacement for Huw Jones.  That said Dempsey is a quality signing and they have added serious bulk to their pack as well.

Prediction: 4th.  Major advantage over every other nation with playing the Italians twice.  I also think they will be the top of the Scottish sides.  All round though just looking at their recruitment, they will be a major threat I think.  Not enough to worry Leinster or Munster but everyone else in the league for sure. I'd be very surprised at this stage if they didn't end up in the top 4.

Edinburgh

In: James Lang from Harlequins, Glen Young from Harlequins, Ben Vellacott from Wasps, Luan de Bruin from Leicester, Adam McBurney from Ulster, Pierce Phillips from Agen, Henry Immelman from Montpellier, Cameron Hutchison from Heriot's, Ben Muncaster promoted from Acedamy, Nathan Chamberlain promoted from Academy, Emiliano Boffelli, Ramiro Moyano

Out: Duhan van der Merwe, Andrew Davidson, Simon Berghan, Ally Miller, Mike Willemse, Jamie Farndale, Murray McCallum, Dan Nutton, Eroni Sau, Lewis Carmichael, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Rowe, Andries Ferreira, Charlie Jupp, Scott King, Shaun Gunn Jack Mann

Comments:  van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland are big losses for Edinburgh.  Signings look a bit underwhelming although Immelman could be a good addition.  Cockerill has managed to make Edinburgh play above their ability in the past though so I don't expect them to be a roll over for any side as they tend to graft hard and the forwards will supply them with ball.  

Prediction: 9th.  I can't see them placing above most of the others in this list.  I still have them better than the Dragons and Connacht thought as they do have an advantage with 2 Italian sides in their pool so that is a major plus for them.  But the top 8 sides i'm predicting simply have better players which can't be understated. With Cockerill leaving and Mike Blair coming in things have changed...I'm not convinced that they can finish 9th.  They have picked up some good Argentinian backs but I fear Blair may be a little inexperienced at this level.

I'll post the second half of teams as a follow up post....


Last edited by Welshmushroom on Fri 27 Aug 2021, 12:46 pm; edited 9 times in total

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 12:31 pm

Ok starting with the Italian and finishing with the saffers next....


Treviso

In: Rhyno Smith from Cheetahs, Carl Wegner from Cheetahs, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro from Bristol, Andries Coetzee from Kintetsu Liners, Riccardo Favretto from Mogliano, Manuel Zuliani from Mogliano, Tomás Albornoz from Jaguares XV, Lorenzo Cannone from Petrarca, Lorenzo Pani, Leonardo Marin

Out: Marco Riccioni, Jayden Hayward, Tommaso Allan,  Derrick Appiah, Angelo Esposito, Alberto Sgarbi,  
Marco Barbini, Charly Trussardi, Nicola Quaglio, Paolo Garbisi, Leonardo Sarto

Comments: Allan, Riccioni and especially Garbisi are all massive losses for Treviso.  Looks like they will be going into the new season with a fairly unknown set of 10's.  That in itself will make it difficult for them as the league is filled with quality 10's in most teams.  The coaching staff have done a amazing job with them though so it's hard to write them off.  Looking forward to see how Coetzee at Full back goes for them.

Prediction: 11th.  It's hard to write them off completely.  But I do think next season away wins will be really hard to come by for most teams.  And that means unfortunately for them the bigger teams will be targeting this fixture.  I still think at home they will give people a game but without a seasoned operator at 10 they might struggle to close out big games.  Loosing both 10's really could have crippled them.


Zebre

Ins: Jacopo Trulla from Calvisano, Gabriele Venditti from Calvisano, Andrea Zambonin from Calvisano, Luca Andreani, Ion Neculai, Alessandro Fusco, Cristian Stoian

Out: Ian Nagle, Charles Alaimalo, Jamie Elliott, Mick Kearney, Lorenzo Masselli, Samuele Ortis, Alexandru Țăruș, Josh Renton, Federico Mori

Comments: Mori and Trulla have been with them on permit last season so this just confirms their placement at Zebre full time.  Not much happening elsewhere and it's hard to know if more recruits are planned.  But based on what we have on movements I would say the side looks a little weaker than last year in terms of depth.  

Prediction: 16th Much like Leinster this is about my only certain pick.  With the recruitment and current squad its hard to see them placing any higher.  Won't be helped by the fact that all 15 other teams will target this fixture for a win especially as an away fixture.  So their job will be even harder than it has been in previous seasons.  


Bulls

Ins: Jacques du Plessis from Montpellier, Johan Goosen from Montpellier, Ruan Combrinck (Free Agent), Lionel Mapoe from Nice

Out: Ivan van Zyl, Marco van Staden, Jan Uys, Tim Agaba, Marnus Potgieter, Nizaam Carr, Travis Ismaiel, Clinton Swart

Comments: Resource wise Bulls will be the strongest SA side joining.  They have big money backers and it is unclear at this point if recruitment has stopped for them heading into next season.  Du Plessis is a good addition with plenty of top level experience.  Goosen never really lived up to the hype in the past.  Remains to be seen how good he will be for them.   Imagine he will only be a backup 10 for them. Van Staden and Van Zyl are big losses for them though.

Prediction: 7th.  Ok was really hard to place them without really having any league history of NH teams.  That said in SH at home the conditions alone will give them a massive advantage.  They are the strongest of the SA sides I can see them winning a good amount of home games.  That said 7th will be about as high as I see them going as the top 6 just simply have more seasoned internationals and better squads.  Unless Bulls are planning on bringing in some current Springboks I don't see this changing.

Sharks

Ins: Marnus Potgieter from Bulls, Bongi Mbonambi from Stormers, Lionel Cronjé from Toyota Verblitz, Cameron Wright from Sharks (Currie Cup), Tinotenda Mavesere from University of the Western Cape, Gerbrandt Grobler, Eduan Keyter, Ben Tapuai, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Olajuwon Noah

Out: John-Hubert Meyer, JJ van der Mescht

Comments: Mbonambi is the only top level signing for them so far.  No major change from last season.  They do play an attacking style of rugby but defence is the main problem.  Have a habit of letting to many soft tries through which won't help them moving to the NH as this is area of the game all of our sides tend to do well. Grobler, Tapuai and Bonilla all look like useful signings.

Prediction: 13th.  Placing them as the second highest SA side.  Main issues centre around defence.  All the SA sides will be really tested in the first season.  They will adapt no doubt given time but I suspect only the Bulls are really equipped to handle this new challenge in the coming season.  Granted I will admit I may totally be wrong but this is where I place them.

Lions

Ins: None so far

Outs: Marnus Schoeman, Jan-Henning Campher, Len Massyn, Hacjivah Dayimani, Gianni Lombard, Courtnall Skosan

Comments: With no new signings announced so far and Massyn & Dayimani leaving they don't look stronger than last year.  Would have placed them lower than Stormers but there are possible movements which might  affect the Stormers even more. Skosan going is another loss for them.

Prediction: 14th.  Given their squad and not knowing opposition, plus defensive issues I'd say a 14th place finish is on the cards.  Probably only better than Zebre and Stormers by a small margin.  

Stormers

Ins: Juan de Jongh from Wasps, Deon Fourie from Grenoble, Hacjivah Dayimani from Lions,

Out: Juarno Augustus, Bongi Mbonambi, Abner van Reenen

Comments:  Augustus and Mbonambi are losses to the Stormers.  The signings they are bringing in all have their best days behind them (with the exception of Dayimani).  Main issue for them is that Malherbe and Pieter-Steph du Toit are heading to Japan although nothing was confirmed as of yet.  Losing those 2 will really hurt the Stormers.

Prediction: 15th.  I'm basing this on Malherbe and du Toit both leaving for Japan as was reported in the early part of the year.  I may revisit this ranking if by some miracle they manage to keep hold of them both.


Last edited by Welshmushroom on Fri 27 Aug 2021, 12:56 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 12:40 pm

So overall finish for my predictions look like this:

1 Leinster
2 Munster
3 Ospreys
4 Glasgow Warriors
5 Ulster
6 Scarlets
7 Vodacom Bulls
8 Cardiff Blues
9 Edinburgh
10 Connacht
11 Benetton
12 Dragons
13 Cell C Sharks
14 Emirates Lions
15 DHL Stormers
16 Zebre


Feel free to post your own comments on how you see things going.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Thu 15 Jul 2021, 1:04 pm

The Irish pool will take points off of each other to the extent that they'll all drift back down the table.
Bennetton might not be an 'easy' Italian side anymore but you are right about their outhalf predicament.
Zebre in the pool, and Zebre on the road should be banker 5 points for any team lucky to get the fixture.
These SA sides will be far different beasts to the Cheetahs and Kings when they come playing next season.
If the powers that be let this set up bed in for more than 2 seasons it might have a chance of truly being a 3rd viable league.


So for Europe the following season, you'd be saying (?) Leinster, Munster, Ulster, Osprey, Scarlets, Cardiff, Glasgow, Bulls (?).
What if the mix was SA 3, Scot 1 (get zebre twice remember), Irish 2, Welsh 1, Italian 1 (get zebre twice remember). CVC and the tv powers upon high will probably like 3 SA teams in Europe.

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Post by Old Man Thu 15 Jul 2021, 1:10 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:So overall finish for my predictions look like this:

1 Leinster
2 Munster
3 Ospreys
4 Glasgow Warriors
5 Ulster
6 Scarlets
7 Vodacom Bulls
8 Cardiff Blues
9 Edinburgh
10 Connacht
11 Benetton
12 Dragons
13 Cell C Sharks
14 Emirates Lions
15 DHL Stormers
16 Zebre
 

Feel free to post your own comments on how you see things going.

Yeah, nah, you are basing the Bulls flop against Bennetton to cloud your prediction of the SA teams. It might be their first season in Europe, but it won’t go down like that.

From my perspective and knowing SA rugby that Bulls performance has done us more favours than harm. The SA teams should have at least three teams in the middle of the pack (6-10) and maybe the Lions as stragglers

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 1:19 pm

Your probably not wrong with some of the banker points and I can see a outcome where you could throw a blanket over the top 10 in terms of points spread.

Your scenario is totally possible. My issue around the South Africa side is they have been playing Super Rugby for a long time and my opinion here is that the league over there was more about chucking it about than defenses. Our sides up here are far superior in terms of that aspect of play.

I think the SA sides will need time to bed in and within a season or two will provide much tougher opposition. I concede there is a possibility they may come out of the blocks storming but we saw how long it took the Cheetahs to get a handle on the difficulty of the league. The shorter format wont make it any easier.

I know SA have said they will work on bringing some internationals back to SA to play in this league but with the current rosters the odds are stacked against them. The beauty of predictions though is no one really knows how it will all turn out. What I will say it will be amazing to see how it all plays out.

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 1:29 pm

Old Man wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:So overall finish for my predictions look like this:

1 Leinster
2 Munster
3 Ospreys
4 Glasgow Warriors
5 Ulster
6 Scarlets
7 Vodacom Bulls
8 Cardiff Blues
9 Edinburgh
10 Connacht
11 Benetton
12 Dragons
13 Cell C Sharks
14 Emirates Lions
15 DHL Stormers
16 Zebre
 

Feel free to post your own comments on how you see things going.

Yeah, nah, you are basing the Bulls flop against Bennetton to cloud your prediction of the SA teams. It might be their first season in Europe, but it won’t go down like that.

From my perspective and knowing SA rugby that Bulls performance has done us more favours than harm. The SA teams should have at least three teams in the middle of the pack (6-10) and maybe the Lions as stragglers

Do you think though the Stormers won't be hampered a fair bit if they don't keep hold of their best 2 players?

I think to be honest and more than probably the bottom half of the table could look like anything. But its hard looking at all the SA squads and making a case for anyone other than the bulls to make the top 8. I'm basing most of my analysis on the recruitment of each team. All of the ones I ranked in the Top 8 have made some big signings with maybe Cardiff being the exception. I could see the Blues drop out of the top 8 quite possibly and while I'm sure there is a possibility of a SA side replacing them, its equally plausible that Connacht or Edinburgh have great seasons as well.

Any side that has realistic hopes of a top 8 finish will need to bank all of the home games at which point it will come down how well they all perform away from home. Clearly that straight away gives the Scots advantage at this point. So any side above them will have to make up the shortfall on away wins which wont be easy.

It's totally possible our Welsh Clubs implode and end up not getting anywhere near the top 8 as well. But nobody knows at this point which is part of the fun.

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Post by Old Man Thu 15 Jul 2021, 2:18 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:
Old Man wrote:
Welshmushroom wrote:So overall finish for my predictions look like this:

1 Leinster
2 Munster
3 Ospreys
4 Glasgow Warriors
5 Ulster
6 Scarlets
7 Vodacom Bulls
8 Cardiff Blues
9 Edinburgh
10 Connacht
11 Benetton
12 Dragons
13 Cell C Sharks
14 Emirates Lions
15 DHL Stormers
16 Zebre
 

Feel free to post your own comments on how you see things going.

Yeah, nah, you are basing the Bulls flop against Bennetton to cloud your prediction of the SA teams. It might be their first season in Europe, but it won’t go down like that.

From my perspective and knowing SA rugby that Bulls performance has done us more favours than harm. The SA teams should have at least three teams in the middle of the pack (6-10) and maybe the Lions as stragglers

Do you think though the Stormers won't be hampered a fair bit if they don't keep hold of their best 2 players?

I think to be honest and more than probably the bottom half of the table could look like anything.  But its hard looking at all the SA squads and making a case for anyone other than the bulls to make the top 8.  I'm basing most of my analysis on the recruitment of each team.  All of the ones I ranked in the Top 8 have made some big signings with maybe Cardiff being the exception.  I could see the Blues drop out of the top 8 quite possibly and while I'm sure there is a possibility of a SA side replacing them, its equally plausible that Connacht or Edinburgh have great seasons as well.  

Any side that has realistic hopes of a top 8 finish will need to bank all of the home games at which point it will come down how well they all perform away from home.  Clearly that straight away gives the Scots advantage at this point.  So any side above them will have to make up the shortfall on away wins which wont be easy.  

It's totally possible our Welsh Clubs implode and end up not getting anywhere near the top 8 as well.  But nobody knows at this point which is part of the fun.

I realise we have lost a lot of players, but the Sharks in the 2019 season were leading the Super Rugby tournament whilst having already completed their overseas trip of four matches with six wins and one loss for the season.

They have been recruiting a number of players and haven’t really settled due to player injuries and covid.

I expect them to prbably out perform the Bulls in the URC as they had been historically our best travelling team. The Bulls aren’t a great travelling team.

The Stormers historically over at Super Rugby had been the most conservative team whilst also being the best defensive SA team.

Yes there will be a period needed for adjustment, but to be fair the teams travelling to our shores will also need to adjust.

The Cheetahs has historically been the Franchise who lost the most players to other SA teams due to not being able to retain their best players and also to overseas clubs.

In the last five years of participating in Super Rugby the cheetahs came last of the SA teams every year bar in 2013 they came second.

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 2:32 pm

Yeah its pretty intriguing to see how it will all pan out.

Ifs fair to say it could end up going any direction. I suspect starting the league and gaining confidence early will probably have a big say on how sides finish up in the league. Some sides will no doubt come under pressure quickly if the results don't follow while others without the weight of expectation end up building confidence and going on a run. So many variables at play.

I could even see a scenario where positions 2-10 are split by less than 10 points for example. I still don't think anyone will touch Leinster mind you. I'm looking forward to what is shaping up to be a fascinating season.

Also worth noting where sides end up won't actually determine the winner. Three rounds of knock out rugby and in one off games that could be anyone who ends up qualifying. So i can see teams pushing right up to the end to make the knock out stages.

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Post by Old Man Thu 15 Jul 2021, 2:38 pm

I am looking forward to the season for a number of reasons.

Firstly to see whether this tournament is actually going to help us bring back crowds and increase revenue.

Secondly whether we will be able to lure back players.

The performances doesn’t concern me that much as I know if we can get back our top players we will be ultra competitive, if we continue to have young inexperienced squads with few top players, well then expectations will be less.

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 2:55 pm

Yeah I really hope the money coming in keeps increasing the ability for SA to bring back stars as well.

If they can do that they will no doubt be serious competition no to mention they will weaken some of the other Pro14 sides who have recruited from them.

Generally Irish, Welsh & Scottish sides are not poaching players from each other. Come to think of it they don't poach Italians either. So if those sides can refrain from poaching from SA then that at least will help stem the tide of overseas players. Granted England and France will continue as normal but we can't really control how they recruit.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 15 Jul 2021, 3:52 pm

My stab at this

1 Leinster

2 Munster
3 Vodacom Bulls
4 Ulster
5 Ospreys
6 Scarlets
7 Glasgow Warriors

8 Cell C Sharks
9 DHL Stormers
10 Connacht
11 Edinburgh
12 Benetton
13 Cardiff Blues

14 Dragons
15 Emirates Lions
16 Zebre

As you will see I have left gaps.
This is to because 2 to 8, 9 to 13 and 14 to 16 are too close to call but I do see those gaps as significant
differences in chances.
Essentially if Glasgow top Munster, Cardiff top Sharks or Zebre top Dragons I would not be surprised
I should add I would except Stormers and Sharks to move up a level in Year 2

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Post by profitius Thu 15 Jul 2021, 7:46 pm

Bulls didn't look too good vs Benetton and that might have made people rethink the strength of the SA sides but we can use the Cheetahs as a barometer.


The Cheetahs won about half their games in the pro14. If they were weaker than the other 4 then you'd think the others can all finish in the top half and challenge for the title. That's an overly simplistic way of looking at it but hard to judge the SA teams on one match which they were missing their best players and thought they just had to turn up.


Maybe it was a good thing for SA fans because they'll know it's a good standard now and might be more enthused to follow it.


I must have a look at the transfers to get an idea on which teams have strengthened or weakened.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_2021%E2%80%9322_United_Rugby_Championship_transfers
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Post by Brendan Fri 16 Jul 2021, 10:01 am

From a numbers point of view I discount 20/21 season for NH (plus Cheetahs) due to Covid Bubbles and discounted 2020 SR for SA but included the 12 week domestic games played between Unlocked and Currie. I took the last 3 seasons each team had played.

I went with Loss percent so draws didn't affect the results so lower % the better
Leinster 19%

Munster 30%
Glasgow 30%
Ulster 33%

Edinburgh 37%
Scarlets 39%

Sharks 43%
Bulls 43%
Lions 43%
Benetton 46%
Stromers 48%
Cheetahs 51%
Cardiff 51%
Connacht 53%
Ospreys 56%

Dragons 72%
Zebre 75%

So that makes 4 groups with the line between group 2 and 3 being small and Scarlets and Edinburgh on the line.

Bulls and Ospreys are stronger than their numbers suggest.  Glasgow & Benetton may be weaker than their number suggest.

As Cheetahs had 26w 1d 28l you would expect Lions to be no worse.

Benetton beating Bulls is the best thing that could have happened as the SA teams will be fully focused and have a point to prove while most of the NH teams won't be intimidated by the SA teams

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Post by Old Man Fri 16 Jul 2021, 10:08 am

That bears put my suggestion the SA teams should hang around 6-10th place.

That should improve over the next few seasons as they will hopefully. retain higher quality players

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Post by Brendan Fri 16 Jul 2021, 10:45 am

I would also break teams up into 4 groups of style

Physical or Running doesn't matter
Leinster
Ospreys
Stormers
Benetton

All phyiscal
Munster
Bulls
Edinburgh

Running over Phyiscal
Ulster
Sharks
Glasgow
Scarlets
Blues

Running at all Costs
Connacht
Lions
Dragons
Zebre

I thing the teams in the last group except Connacht will make up the bottom three as teams will be able to physically out muscle them and the winter games won't be great.  If Connacht keep their best players fit they can compete physically but key injuries and they could go on a losing streak as we saw at the end of this season.

Benetton and Stormers might end up not being good enough at one specific thing so could end up being out muscled by the physical teams and out run by the more running teams who still have the phyisicallity.

My prediction
Aiming for 90 pts with 5pts per game but realistically will be about 70-75
1. Leinster - their biggest problem will be squad rotation with less games and stronger opposition.

Aiming for 70pts (3.8 per game) range 50-75.
2. Munster - Only Leinster can out muscle them and they are good at what they do. Not much BPs
3. Ulster - might take second due to BPs. Young enough team so young players all improving
4. Bulls - will revert to type and just bully teams like Munster but not as defensively strong.
5. Ospreys - back to themselves and will be hard to play against. Could finish second but think need a season to gel everything together

Aiming for 60pts (3.3 per game) range 45-65
6. Sharks - showed up poorly against the Bulls and will struggle against Munster, Leinster & Osprey packs. Everyone else will be find it hard as they will be strong at the breakdown
7. Glasgow - Heading in the right direction. Like the Sharks will struggle against the big packs but great at the breakdown and ball in had.
8. Scarlets - Their pack isn't strong enough so the attack and breakdown will struggle

This is where it gets tricky and any of these can and will beat each other and it will come down to BPs and winning runs. Aiming for 50pts (2.7 per game) range 30-50
9. Connacht
10. Cardiff
11. Edinburgh
12. Stromers
13. Benetton - they have a young team that is growing well and plenty potential.

Will get some wins a close losses but be aiming for 30pts (1.6 per game) range 15-30pts
14. Lions - like the Cheetahs it will all be on their home form with away games including some car crashes in the first year as they adjust to wet windy muddy pitches.
15. Dragons - lots of close games but getting over the line away from home will be difficult
16. Zebre - where they play the Dragons and Lions will be important.

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Post by Old Man Fri 16 Jul 2021, 10:48 am

Brendan, the Sharks had the best win rate of all the SA teams in Super Rugby over all those seasons, they also in my opinion has been the most balanced in terms of set piece, and attack.

To my mind they might be short on recruitment compared to the Bulls, but I suspect in the next few years they will surprise many.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 16 Jul 2021, 10:50 am

Yeah the stats no doubt prove your predictions probably more accurate than mine.

Granted I am basing a lot on player movements as I get the feeling Glasgow and Ospreys both will be much better than next season.  What I haven't accounted for is how quickly players bed in which might be a problem for Glasgow in particularly.  Clearly though they were not happy with last season and have recruited heavily again.

I just get the sneaky feeling that next season will be very different from previous years for SA and the Pro14 sides.  Playing 12 of the teams only once will change the dynamic a lot.  Previously we had scenarios where sides would send weakened sides to away fixtures.  I think any side with true top 4 aspirations will be less likely to follow that format and will need to field its best side as often as possible because I can see a lot of sides winning at home but the key to breaking into the top 8 will be determined by the amount of away wins they can muster.

Going to be really interesting to see how teams approach it.  From a Dragons perspective I hope we ignore the challenge cup entirely and only send second/third string teams to those fixtures.  I want to see where we can end up if we can manage to field our best side for the 18 league matches.  Might see us upsetting some sides along the way as most will still view us as cannon fodder.  I'm quietly confident though...

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:03 am

Whats everyone's take on how many wins it might take to top the league and what is possible? Would imagine 9 home games with 4 away wins would probably push you quite close. No doubt though bonus points could play a major factor as well.

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Post by Old Man Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:07 am

How does the match points work?

4 points for a win
How does the try bonus point work?

We had two scenarios in Super Rugby, first is was four tries for the try bonus point, but then it changed to try bonus point for scoring three more trires than the opposition.

Losing bonus pojt if you lose within 7

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Post by Brendan Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:07 am

Old Man wrote:That bears put my suggestion the SA teams should hang around 6-10th place.

That should improve over the next few seasons as they will hopefully. retain higher quality players

The NH teams are use to going down to SA but the SA teams aren't use to coming up.  The Cheetahs won nearly all their home games the first season but lost all the away ones. By year three though even the Kings got smarter at playing up North.  That could count against the SA teams.  Add in that they will play in front of packed stadiums in Ireland, Glasgow and Scarlets that will be fairly intimidating and not what the players will be use to with fans right on top of the pitch.

Going to certain teams in France were they have massive passionate support getting a LBP is seen as a good result.  If the SA teams can fill those stadiums they will pick up alot of home wins which are key for finishing in the top half and top 4.  If the stadiums are quite or half empty then picking up those key home wins against rivals becomes harder. If the NH teams see SA away games as getting a LBP then half the battle is already won.

Finally how good the SA teams can adapt to each ref is key.  The league's strenght is the breakdown and it is bow the teams are able to compete against the bigger French and English packs when it comes to Europe if the ruck looks vulnerable it will be attacked.  This is because each ref does it differently so adjusting how they do the breakdown has to be flexible.  Some refs will let it be a free for all while others will look for specific things and whistle.  If the SA teams are trying to play legally but the ref is allowing a free for all it won't end well.  If the SA teams don't get quick ball then the defence is set and it will be a long day.  That was in part why Bulls struggled against Benetton because Bulls just tried to run at them so ball back was slow and defence had set, Benetton on the other hand were quick to recycle ball so made more progress up field.

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Post by Old Man Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:09 am

Yes the biggest issue I saw with Cheetahs and Kings were the breakdown interpretations by nh referees, they were blown off the park.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:11 am

Old Man wrote:How does the match points work?

4 points for a win
How does the try bonus point work?

We had two scenarios in Super Rugby, first is was four tries for the try bonus point, but then it changed to try bonus point for scoring three more trires than the opposition.

Losing bonus pojt if you lose within 7

Unless it changes before hand it will be bonus point for 4 tries or more regardless of win or loss.

Another bonus point if you lose within 7.

So the maximum point range will be 5 points for a win and the maximum points for a loss will be 2 (assuming your score 4 tries and lose within 7).

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Post by Old Man Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:17 am

Welshmushroom wrote:
Old Man wrote:How does the match points work?

4 points for a win
How does the try bonus point work?

We had two scenarios in Super Rugby, first is was four tries for the try bonus point, but then it changed to try bonus point for scoring three more trires than the opposition.

Losing bonus pojt if you lose within 7

Unless it changes before hand it will be bonus point for 4 tries or more regardless of win or loss.

Another bonus point if you lose within 7.

So the maximum point range will be 5 points for a win and the maximum points for a loss will be 2 (assuming your score 4 tries and lose within 7).  

In that case I would suggest based on the Super 12 (ten years of single round robin) you would need to get at least 2.5 points per match to end in the play offs. So minimum of 45 points.

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Post by Brendan Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:25 am

Welshmushroom wrote:Whats everyone's take on how many wins it might take to top the league and what is possible? Would imagine 9 home games with 4 away wins would probably push you quite close.  No doubt though bonus points could play a major factor as well.

Since the Pro 14 we really saw alot of tighting of the teams.  Alot more will be looking at 9 wins and 9 losses.  Top 3-6 will be looking at 12 wins and 6 losses while Top two will be 14 - 4 I think.  BPs will be bigger than ever

I think we will be looking about 55pts to make the playoffs.

Most derbies tables will be
1st 5 - 1
2nd 4 - 2
3rd 2 - 4
4th 1 - 5
With the other 12 games its about winning more than you loose.

Ireland's derbies could finish with all the teams around the same or at least the top 3.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:28 am

Yeah that's probably not to far off. Obviously Leinster generally do well on 5 point wins. Wonder how that will impact the rest of the league in terms of chasing tries. Imagine the opening rounds most teams will focus on wins first. Granted some sides do tend to throw it around so will have an easier time to get max points.

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Post by Welshmushroom Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:33 am

I get the funny feeling Brendan it could end up a lot tighter than than prediction. I'm not so sure anyone is going to pull off 14 wins (even Leinster). I'd be more inclined to agree with Old Man on this one in terms of play off points (around 45).

Just looking at the Dragons for example I wouldn't think to many sides will get win down the Parade and we're not one of the stronger sides. I can see a lot of points being taken off each other next season from the top 8 sides.

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Post by Brendan Fri 16 Jul 2021, 11:44 am

Old Man wrote:Yes the biggest issue I saw with Cheetahs and Kings were the breakdown interpretations by nh referees, they were blown off the park.

One of the issues with SR that held it back was that the Oz and NZ refs where more or less the same so few teams had to adapt or adjust for games.

I don't think it will take the 4 SA teams as long to adapt as perception is everything. Cheetahs and Kings were always on the back foot so always looked to be losing at the breakdown, the bigger stronger packs won't have that issue. All the SA teams need to do is have a simple breakdown plan and just adjust it for each game but allow the players themselves to adjust it to improve their smarts.

Whatever happens the SA teams will come out of the end of the season stronger than they went in which real8stically is what it is all about. They will improve the league and the league will improve them.

Europe will be another learning curve but finishing in the Top 8 or the URC will make you as strong as most of those teams. It will tie in nicely with the WC cycle too as this year all the players will have to up a level and the year after they will need to go up again just before the WC and players may even have played some games in France and be better able to play the conditions.

If only one team quailifed for the Champions Cup all would not be lost as any team who finishes 9-12 in the URC should be looking to win the Challange Cup and those playoff games will be a good standard.

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Post by Brendan Fri 16 Jul 2021, 12:21 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:I get the funny feeling Brendan it could end up a lot tighter than than prediction.  I'm not so sure anyone is going to pull off 14 wins (even Leinster). I'd be more inclined to agree with Old Man on this one in terms of play off points (around 45).  

Just looking at the Dragons for example I wouldn't think to many sides will get win down the Parade and we're not one of the stronger sides.  I can see a lot of points being taken off each other next season from the top 8 sides.

I think that is why it's so exciting.  We really have no clue.
I know last season was a bit off due to Covid Bubbles  but if you take a team being compeditive in any game they won drew, or lost by 7 or less the table looked like this
Munster 16/16
Leinster 15/16
Ulster 14/16
Connacht 14/16
Scarlets 12/16
Ospreys 11/16
Glasgow 10/16
Edinburgh 10/16
Cardiff 9/16
Dragons 9/16
Benetton 7/16
Zebre 5/16

So if you take Connacht who finished 20 pts behind Ulster and Munster they were only a few scores here and there to have matched them.  The year they finished second and won the final they basically turned those losses from the previous year into wins.  Same with Edinburgh when they topped their Conference.

The number of try bonus points I think will deciede playoff spots which is why I think Ulster,  Scarlets and Sharks will make it aswell as the Conference leaders.  My one worry from a Munster point of view is that if Munster pick up less than three wins they might not get enough points to make up the ground.  Ospreys could face a simillar problem if they don't win the Welsh Conferece as they only picked up one TBP last season.  Because Cockers only believes you can use 10 men in attack it is why I don't think they will pick up enough BPs to make the playoffs.

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Post by Brendan Fri 16 Jul 2021, 12:29 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:Yeah that's probably not to far off.  Obviously Leinster generally do well on 5 point wins.  Wonder how that will impact the rest of the league in terms of chasing tries.  Imagine the opening rounds most teams will focus on wins first.  Granted some sides do tend to throw it around so will have an easier time to get max points.

In the English Championship in soccer you see alot of teams yoyo up and down the league as the pressure goes away and comes back. Connacht and Cardiff seem to be two teams like this where they go on runs and pick up great wins only to be talked up and then crumble under the pressure and lose a few games they shouldn't. I think teams that feel they are out of the running will play with more freedom and enjoyment but those around 7th and 8th will be conservative in their approach as they try stay in one of the spots. The affect will probably be that the teams in 7th and 8th early on could miss out. The two exceptions to the rule will be Zebre and Lions who will throw it around regardless.

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Post by profitius Fri 16 Jul 2021, 8:25 pm

My prediction. I'm just going on a hunch. The SA teams are a wildcard. The Irish teams won't be as dominant either because there will be less games in the international windows.


1 Leinster
2 Munster
3 Vodacom Bulls
4 Ulster
5 Glasgow Warriors
6 Cell C Sharks
7 DHL Stormers
8 Scarlets

9 Benetton
10 Ospreys
11 Emirates Lions
12 Connacht
13 Edinburgh
14 Cardiff Blues
15 Dragons
16 Zebre
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Post by Welshmushroom Mon 19 Jul 2021, 2:45 pm

Bold call - I'm not convinced that the Irish sides will make 3 of the top 4. I just think they will drop points playing against the other Irish sides. I know previously they have dominated. Its probably less of an issue for Leinster but the other 3 will need for fixtures to fall kindly because for that prediction to happen they would need to beat the nearest sides challenging them which might be a tough ask if that fixture falls away from home.

Probably have to see what the fixture list looks like this year.

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Post by Brendan Mon 19 Jul 2021, 4:01 pm

Ireland's strenght has always been the second and third person in each position.  It meant Munster and Ulster could lose/rest the first team player but the replacement would be nearly as good.  Other teams seemed to have more of a drop.

Losing 3/4 games meaning less players needed will the smaller squads mean that the Irish lose their advantage.

The Irish teams did better under the Pro14 setup than the Pro12 even though they had to play each other twice while others got easier games.  Unless the other squads improve playing each other won hurt the Irish and more than during Pro14.  I would expect Ulster to win all their non Irish home games (like in Europe generally) and pick up plenty away wins and BPs.

The two teams that would worry me are Ospreys and Bulls who won't be bullied the same way Scarlets and Glasgow have been over the years.

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Post by profitius Mon 19 Jul 2021, 7:12 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:Bold call - I'm not convinced that the Irish sides will make 3 of the top 4.  I just think they will drop points playing against the other Irish sides.  I know previously they have dominated.  Its probably less of an issue for Leinster but the other 3 will need for fixtures to fall kindly because for that prediction to happen they would need to beat the nearest sides challenging them which might be a tough ask if that fixture falls away from home.  

Probably have to see what the fixture list looks like this year.

Leinster are certainties.
Munster have RG Snyman who is like a new signing plus Springbok capped Jason Jenkins, Zebo is back and a few youngsters with promise.
Ulster I'm less sure about but they've some good talent and have one or two slots for new signings.

It depends on how strong the SA sides are. Bulls beat SA A at the weekend which was a very good result. Not sure about the others once they get their springboks back. They'll be knocking points off each other too as will the Welsh regions I'd say.


That leaves Glasgow and possibly benetton as potential top 4 contenders. The Glasgow signings look good on paper. Benetton however have lost Riccioni to Saracens and Garbisi to Montpellier. Just when you think they look good. Italys U20s have been good in recent seasons so those players which we don't know about could boost Benetton.


I'm expecting the matches to be tighter than last season. Who knows, a team gets a lucky win or two and they have momentum. Another lose a few close matches and they can struggle to get going.
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Post by Brendan Mon 19 Jul 2021, 10:07 pm

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theoffsideline.com/10-questions-for-mark-dodson-as-he-unveils-a-three-year-strategy-for-scottish-rugby/amp/

Comments from Mark Dodson SRU.  Says that Edinburgh have sold a tone of season tickets.  Also mentions Malander will be holding the two teams to account if performances aren't good enough.

Good to see but let's see if it results in improvement on the field.

Bulls with Goosen didn't took to bad so more to look forward too.  We also need to remember that none of the internationals are playing with the 4 SA teams so don't judge them by their poor Lions showings.

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Post by doctor_grey Tue 20 Jul 2021, 12:28 am

profitius wrote:My prediction. I'm just going on a hunch. The SA teams are a wildcard. The Irish teams won't be as dominant either because there will be less games in the international windows.


1 Leinster
2 Munster
3 Vodacom Bulls
4 Ulster
5 Glasgow Warriors
6 Cell C Sharks
7 DHL Stormers
8 Scarlets

9 Benetton
10 Ospreys
11 Emirates Lions
12 Connacht
13 Edinburgh
14 Cardiff Blues
15 Dragons
16 Zebre
This discussion is part of what makes the league a really cool experiment.  No one really knows how the SA teams which played quite well in the first halves against the best B&I players will fare.  Not criticising anyone's predictions, because, bloody hell, I can't make one worth a toss (excepting maybe Leinster).  But I hope this really works, in part because I think the Kiwis and the Aussies gave SA a royal screwing, and partially because a GMT+ league makes so much sense it has to work.  

Every non-Covid year for the last ten years my Rugby club has taken what some of my club mates consider a pilgrimage to Munsterville in January to play a local club and then attend a last round Heineken Cup mismatch between Munster at Thomond Park and their last round victim.  I keep wondering how Munster keep dodging Saints.  I am hoping for 2022 we get back over and see Munster against one of the SA clubs in full on rampage mode with, hopefully, the Bulls channeling their inner Bakkies.  Or maybe the Sharks channeling their Bismarck.
Will be great fun.  Absolutely no doubts for me the new league will have growing pains, but will be f*ck-all great.  

Last time we were there, in January 2019, my younger 21 year old son son was properly laid low by some Irish girl(s?) the night before our club game.  But as a proper young man he vomited when he woke up, again during warmups, and again at half time.  I gave him fluids after the game (which he turned into round two with the evil lass, bless him).  My other son scored a brace which could have been a hat trick if his old man wasn't a such ball hog with (muddy) white line fever.   Looking forward to all of it next year: Munster, the SA teams, the club match, the evil lass, the whole effing thing.  Only problem is if my old man comes over to join us, then all women between 18-80 will need to protect their honour..

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Post by Old Man Tue 20 Jul 2021, 8:47 am

[quote="doctor_grey"]
profitius wrote: Only problem is if my old man comes over to join us, then all women between 18-80 will need to protect their honour..

This reminds me of the movie, Dirty Old Grandpa


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Post by Welshmushroom Tue 20 Jul 2021, 9:49 am

I'm making bold amendments as further signings are made. Dragons for example have now added Fiji international tighthead prop Mesake Doge. Bit of a weird one as I thought were pretty well stocked at Tighthead so maybe someone is on their way out. It's a loosehead we need. Maybe Ryan will move him there.

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Post by Welshmushroom Tue 20 Jul 2021, 9:51 am

I probably need to redo my predictions purely based on Edinburgh letting Cockerill leave. He was responsible for so much good they did over the last few years. Unless they get a quality replacement, which given the names being thrown about doesn't look like, my prediction for them would change. They probably will end up in the bottom end somewhere between 12-16th.

Big loss for Edinburgh.

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Post by Old Man Tue 20 Jul 2021, 10:22 am

Having the SA teams coming into the URC provides a multitude of new factors that complicates predicting how the season will go.

Yes the Pro14 teams have all travelled to SA and has a bit of experience in that, however travelling to play the Kings, who lets face it have been atrocious won’t count for much in experience.

So the only real reference they have of touring SA is the Cheetahs.

The Cheetahs have had their fair share of troubles with finances, recruiting top players and worst of all retaining their good players.

Essentially the Cheetahs are very much in the same boat as the Pumas, who’s coach acknowledges that his role is to prepare the players coming through this system for bigger honours and if they didn’t lose players for higher honours, he wouldn’t be doing his job.

The reality is that the SA teams are behind the eightball, they have a much smaller budget, have been losing top players for nigh on a decade which means the loss of leaders, experience and knowledge to overseas clubs have negatively affected their performances.

There are positive signs where players who have been playing overseas are returning, which means some of that intellectual knowledge, experience and leadership is coming back into the fold.

I think it is crucial for youngsters to have those senior players as role models.

There is also another positive which should start bearing fruit, and it is starting to show already, and that is the transformation within the teams are becoming more evident.

Afrikaners are big lumps of meat, they grow up playing the physical game better than most, however few of them learn the ball skills, vision and smarts to run for space, offload in contact etc. I am not saying they aren’t skilled, but when you look at other ethnicities it is clear as daylight that players like Kolbe, Mapimpi, Fassi, Jordan Henrickse and a plethora of others have the abilities and skills to change our rugby, if not the fundamentals of our rugby dna, but the way we counter attack, find space and vary our attacking play.

So from the SA teams’ perspective, we won’t know their base level performances until the season is well under way, they will have a steep learning curve in the beginning, on 1) how the European teams concentrate on set piece, ruck and defence. 2) How they attack and use the kick as an attacking platform.

What I do expect is that they will improve from one season to the next, purely from experience in playing the European teams, but also due to the teams morfing into more skilled based players, and ultimately retaining the new generation of young stars within their teams.

From my perspective the European teams and where they stand on the expectational ladder is roughly set, what I mean is the Irish teams have been on top mostly for the last couple of years, the rest hovering around their positions on the ladder.

The main question is where will the SA teams fit into that ladder and how will they affect the log going forward.

It will also be interesting to see which European teams travel best to SA, as that will determine who can challenge the status quo of the “old pro 14”

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Post by Welshmushroom Tue 20 Jul 2021, 12:34 pm

I just hope they don't end up doing what they did to the Cheetahs. Cheetahs after a good season ended up losing a lot of key players to Pro14 sides. Some of the Pro14 sides have a particular habit to recruit from teams they directly compete with, which just weakens those side in the following seasons.

My particular hope is that Welsh & Irish sides don't just start targeting those players. My hope is SA can bring some stars back as well to further help them be competitive. Munster for example would not be anywhere near as strong this season if they didn't have 3 SA internationals in their squad.

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Post by Brendan Tue 20 Jul 2021, 6:51 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:I just hope they don't end up doing what they did to the Cheetahs.  Cheetahs after a good season ended up losing a lot of key players to Pro14 sides.  Some of the Pro14 sides have a particular habit to recruit from teams they directly compete with, which just weakens those side in the following seasons.

My particular hope is that Welsh & Irish sides don't just start targeting those players.  My hope is SA can bring some stars back as well to further help them be competitive.  Munster for example would not be anywhere near as strong this season if they didn't have 3 SA internationals in their squad.

I think one difference with Cheetahs and these teams is getting picked by the Boks. Players like Mapimpi who left Cheetahs to go to the Sharks to secure SA selection. Other than the Lions who seem to lose alot of players the other three will have the financial clout to keep most of the SA players filling squads like Sale (Stormers need to sort some things). This is based on the reduction of the English cap and the reduced living costs in SA and the ability of the Bulls to bring back players already.

The key to SA teams success will very much be in the value of the deals they sign with TV and sponsership. If it matches SR expect the drain to still happen. If it is bigger as expected expect more players to stay. Add in the Euro money in a year and they could easily find an extra €1-1.5m laying around per team. Lions CEO said euro games would be more the SR could ever be able to compete with.

The two big unknowns are Japan and the TT. The TT is bringing in less than SR was so those players get more affordable. Plenty players in NZ and Oz must look at the top fijians and wonder why they aren't in Europe getting big payday and then turning out for 1 of the PIs. Japan is all down to how big their actual budget is. If you listen to some people they are talking J league figures which I don't believe. I also think Japan will affect the TT more than Europe.

Many in the TT think that the two PI teams will look like the Fiji team that played the ABs but will be much more like Tonga that played with semi pro standard players. This is backed up by the signing of the Fiji player by Dragons as back up rather than play for the Dura. This player played in Romania and Brive so can't be the most expensive yet choose not to sign with the Dura.

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Post by Old Man Tue 20 Jul 2021, 6:59 pm

I assume you mean the Fijian Drua team that played in the Aussie local comp?

The talks I last heard in regards to the TT moving to 12 teams that has been suggested by the NZRU has been stalled by RA. Most likely Fijian players aren’t certain of having a contract to play in the TT.

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Post by Brendan Tue 20 Jul 2021, 7:25 pm

Old Man wrote:I assume you mean the Fijian Drua team that played in the Aussie local comp?

The talks I last heard in regards to the TT moving to 12 teams that has been suggested by the NZRU has been stalled by RA. Most likely Fijian players aren’t certain of having a contract to play in the TT.

Oz government has put up funding for the Fji team and as far as I know the debate currently is over what the TT is going to be. Oz want two conferences of 6 and then a TT kind of like a playoff. This allows them to grow their domestic game value which realistically is the only thing that can make the TT keep on the coat tails of Europe and Japan.

I know you said you use to be on the roar. They are locked in some good one eyed looking especially from NZ who think people want to pay for a 10 team league with only 3 Oz teams. They overlook the terrible TV deals they got in Europe and America because of lack of interest in it. They are also ignoring the value of the URC to SA and think that SA will be worse off than in SR.

I know you mentioned it before but it shocks me how many of the NZ fans forgot that the NZRU commissioned a report before Covid whose results came out just after lock downs started, which called to scrape SR and run a TT comp with 5 NZ 3/4 Oz and 1/2 PIs. They hids behind covid and SA walking away when the NZRU said they were implementing the report and the 3 Oz teams just needed to apply without RA approval. RA seemed to have grown a spine since NZRU tried to sideline them, and are now looking to finally fix the issues of grassroots development.

I hope that the two PIs teas work out and the TT forms a Pacific cup with Japan MLR and SLAR but NZ seem to only want Oz teams (but only 3). My fear though is the TT teams will reduce in standard to the PIs as the money reduces.

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Post by Brendan Tue 20 Jul 2021, 7:31 pm

I hope to be doing a topic on the way WR is looking to improve the professional level in the T2/3 nations.

It was just announced last week that there will be a Euro Super Cup with 8 teams growing to 16. Clubs must sign up for two years and Franchises for 4. There will be 6 group games plus semi and final.

It is being funded by Rugby Europe and WR. Georgian team is looking to use this and their SA competition games to run a fully professional squad. The two Russian teams are looking as a way to top up wages.

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Post by Old Man Tue 20 Jul 2021, 7:31 pm

yeah, there has been a complete turnaround in attitude towards SA rugby.

Blame only going one way.

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Post by Brendan Tue 20 Jul 2021, 9:22 pm

Old Man wrote:yeah, there has been a complete turnaround in attitude towards SA rugby.

Blame only going one way.

Its better to have an ex that hates you & a girlfriend that you want rather than a girlfriend who you don't want & an ex who wants you back.

SARU seem to have played their hand fairly well and have found something that will grow.  They have aligned with a new political block that can provide them with support if they need anything. The 5 Nations plus their work with Georgia would give them 16 WR votes (Rominia, Argentina and the regions of Europe and Africa also attainable 8 votes) as opposed to the 12 they had with SANZAAR.

NZ and Oz are quickly becoming a 6 vote block with their actions and words towards Argentina and SA.  They are stuck with the RC because without it they have no money but can't count on SA or Arg votes for things they want such as WCs.  With Russia and Oz bidding for the 2027 WC is it in SA interest to build ties with Russia to help Cheetahs, Griqas and Pumas get a meaningful, finacial tournament and tap into their money and Pro-league or Oz with the RC.

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Post by PhilBB Wed 28 Jul 2021, 2:45 pm

Fair play for making predictions before you've seen a fixture list, so you've no idea of who will play who when which team is missing what players because of the international game.
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Post by Brendan Thu 29 Jul 2021, 8:46 am

Sharks sign Ben Tapuai (Quinns) Eduan Keyter (Griquas) and lock Gerbrandt Grobler (Stade)

Tapuai (32) is a SR winner with the Reds and Prem winner with Quinns. He played 100 games in 5 years in England (also Bath) so will be a good squad player.  The kind of player RA would have wanted returning to Oz but shows that SA now seen as a better place to go.

Grobler (29) has played with Racing, Munster, Glaws, Stade while in Europe. Played 12 times for Stade last year when they finished 6th.

Keyter (25) has impressed in the Currie Cup.

I think good squad signings.

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Post by Brendan Thu 29 Jul 2021, 9:05 am

PhilBB wrote:Fair play for making predictions before you've seen a fixture list, so you've no idea of who will play who when which team is missing what players because of the international game.

Not really that hard.  Don't know the Prem and T14 fixtures but top 3 in the Prem will be Sarries, Exeter, and Bristol., T14 will most likely be Toulouse, La Rochelle and either Racing or Bordeaux. Good teams rise to the top because of their squad rather than their star players.

It's not like Zebre or Leinster are going to move massively because of the fixture lists. The middle will be tight and I am sure every team will get good and bad fixtures that even themselves out.  Is it better to play Munster the week before a champions cup knockout game or the week after an international, people will view it differently.

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