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Super Rugby Pacific 2022

The 2022 Super Rugby Pacific competition (known as Harvey Norman Super Rugby Pacific in Australia and DHL Super Rugby Pacific in New Zealand) is the 27th season of Super Rugby, an annual rugby union competition organised by SANZAAR between teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the previous seasons were replaced with Super Rugby Unlocked, Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU in 2020, and Super Rugby Aotearoa, Super Rugby AU, and Super Rugby Trans-Tasman in 2021.

The 2022 edition will revert to a 12-team competition on 18 February, with a single pool replacing the geographical conference system, Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua added in place of South African and Argentinian teams, as well as introducing a new name for the reformatted competition.

Each team will play 14 regular season matches made up of 11 round robin matches and 3 derby/rivalry matches.

Golden point will be used in the event of a game ending in a draw. Two 5-minute periods will be added. The first point scored will decide the winner. If no point is scored in extra time the game will be declared a draw.

The top 8 will play a playoff series. 1 v 8, 2 v 6 down etc. The winners will proceed to the semi-finals, the semi-final winners playing in the Grand Final on June 18th.

Week One Results

– Feb 18th Moana Pacific v Blues (cancelled due to covid)
– Feb 18th Waratahs 40 v Fijian Drua 10
– Feb 19th Chiefs 26 v Highlanders 16
– Feb 19th Crusaders 42 v Hurricanes 32
– Feb 19th Reds 23 v Rebels 5
– Feb 19th Brumbies 29 v Force 23

Apparently, there’s a cloud hanging over New Zealand’s forwards after both Ireland and France dismantled them at the end of last season. Selectors will be monitoring performances with greater scrutiny this season, asking the questions…

Are New Zealand’s tight five tough enough? Is the balance in the back row productive enough? Who is the ideal choice as captain?

One thing is for sure The New Zealand derbies and rivalries will produce some riveting clashes.

Pre-season preparation is now a forensic examination of how we can play the game. Most teams play the same way, with a pre-dominance of second man plays. Defences have reacted accordingly with the outside defender coming up quickly to tackle the deepest looping attacker. There are some interesting variations at the line-out to watch out for.

NSW Waratahs easily disposed of a Fijian Drua side who were strong in contact but weak in the basics. Good and bad passes were dropped, and key lineouts close to the line lost!

The Waratahs were well organised and offered some creative play especially at the lineout. Early days but already their win loss record is an improvement on last season. The next two games against the Reds at home and the Brumbies away will define the Waratahs season.

The Chiefs and Highlanders provided instant skill and accuracy. Most teams have played two trial games so no excuse for poor quality. The role of the second man into contact in both defence and attack a key feature for both teams. The expectation is that both backs and forwards are multi-skilled.

If both teams play in a similar way, who breaks the deadlock? X factor players who bring their special skill set.

The Crusaders and Hurricanes produced long periods of multi-phase skilful rugby. But such is the mobility of the modern-day player in defence, penetration was difficult to execute. Step forward the X factor player, Will Jordan. He sees what others don’t. He has rapid acceleration and is unselfish. In a whisper the scoreboard is turning, and the Hurricanes are beaten!

Last season’s Australian champions the Reds always looked secure against the Rebels. Brad Thorn has this young squad developing nicely. Scrum half Tate McDermott is surely the next Wallaby half back. I love his aggression around the ruck and his willingness to run into the dark spaces. Elsewhere there is presence across all positions, and this may be the season when Jordan Petaia establishes himself as a world class player?

The Brumbies and Force played a win-loss game. With less than 3 minutes to play the Force took the lead. Then a decision to kick the ball and keep it in play proved reckless and the Force conceded a last-minute try. The coach will be on anti-depressants. This game was sprinkled with periods of excellent play, but poor game management, especially in the opposing 22 let both sides down.

All in all, a weekend of good individual and team performances. Disciplined intensity may be a phrase for Mondays, review meetings.

Mike Penistone
Coaching thought. “Always expect a support runner, because one is always there at training sessions.”

About Mike Penistone

Mike has coached at all levels of the game, from under-7's through to elite international players at the highest level, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A few notable positions include serving as Head Coach for Great Britain Students (Rugby League), Head Coach at Nottingham RUFC and Head of Elite Player Development at Leicester Tigers Academy. Mike also served as the U21's Coach at the NSW Warratahs and Director of Coaching at Eastern Suburbs Sydney. He continues to coach across the globe running his consultancy. Check out his website: here. View all posts by Mike Penistone

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