2023 Brumbies Rugby vs Melbourne Rebels

Super Rugby Pacific, Round 15: Decision Day To See Chaotic Battle

Super Rugby Pacific, Round 15: Decision Day To See Chaotic Battle

Decision time in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season, whether the clubs are ready or not, finally is here. The playoffs are right around the corner.

Jun 2, 2023 by Briar Napier
Super Rugby Pacific, Round 15: Decision Day To See Chaotic Battle

Decision time in Super Rugby Pacific, whether the clubs are ready or not, finally is here.

As one of the most exciting weekends in all of club rugby – the opening weekend of the Super Rugby playoffs – begins next weekend, six of the eight teams that’ll be participating in the knockouts (Chiefs, Crusaders, Blues, Brumbies, Hurricanes and New South Wales Waratahs) have been confirmed and clinched. That leaves seeding, and the possibility of a home playoff match for some, as the only things to fight for in the regular season’s final week.

The bottom-half of the table, however, is where things get really interesting.

Five of the six non-clinched Super Rugby teams will be grappling between each other for two available playoff slots, with scenarios and what clubs need to avoid the drop zone out of the playoffs quite literally being able to change within minutes. 

For those two who survive and advance, they’ll be starting their journeys toward a possible Super Rugby Pacific title next weekend. For those who don’t, they’ll be watching from home as others try.

All loose ends will be tied up in Round 15 – and it’s time to see where the end of the line leads.

Here’s a look at the Super Rugby Pacific matches to watch for in Round 15 of the 2023 season, with numerous fixtures (including all listed below) being streamed live on FloRugby.

Brumbies Vs. Melbourne Rebels

Both of the Aussie clubs above could use some points Friday, but for very different reasons. 

The fourth-place Brumbies, safely in the playoffs, will clinch a top-4 seed – and, therefore, the right to host a quarterfinal game – with a win or a draw against the Rebels, which would end what’s been a bit of a late-season slide (three defeats in the past five matches) for Australia’s top-placing Super Rugby club with a strong, emphatic result to set them up well for the knockouts. 

They’ll get a Rebels side they’ve beaten four straight times on the trot, yes, but Melbourne is backed into a corner and has a window with its season on the line, making it a dangerous final foe to have to close the regular season. 

The Rebels’ 52-14 victory over the Western Force last weekend was a massive result to get, both for the fact it kept the team’s slim postseason hopes alive, and it bettered their scoring differential to minus-62 – the second-best of the five teams with their postseason fates in the balance entering Round 15.

That gives 11th-place Melbourne a key advantage against most rivals in the standings, if there’s a deadlock on points. 

They’ll need a momentous win over the Brumbies, and some help elsewhere, to do it, but the Rebels getting into the quarterfinals by the skin of their teeth would make for one of the most epic final days of the regular season in Super Rugby history, and it’s not super far-fetched of an idea, either. 

The Brumbies have dropped two straight games, after all, including one to the same Force team Melbourne crushed the previous round.

Wallabies and Rebels fly-half Reece Hodge (who is slated to play his 100th Super Rugby game for the club this weekend) has scored five tries against the Brumbies in his career, tied for his most against a single opponent.

Fijian Drua Vs. Queensland Reds

If you’re looking for the match with the largest potential for drama, and supporters hanging on every pass and kick, look no further. 

Of the five teams whose postseason fates still hang in the balance entering the final weekend of the regular season, the Reds hold the most leverage toward qualification – they sit seventh on 24 points, two points ahead of the ninth-place Force (who take on the top-seeded Chiefs in the weekend’s finale).

The Reds have the best point differential, minus-36, of any squad still fighting for a playoff spot. 

It makes the goal rather simple for Queensland: get a result (win, draw or losing bonus point), and its chances of getting to the quarterfinals go up. A victory would clinch it, and a draw likely would do it, too, as the Force probably would need to grab a shock bonus-point win over the title favorites, considering their wide gap (minus-124) to the Reds on differential, to advance in that case.

That is much, much easier said than done, however, especially against a motivated Drua side that will be jumping to try and get a defining moment in the club’s young history.

Fiji’s Super Rugby club is currently 10th with 21 points, and considering its lopsided point differential of minus-146, the Drua must beat the Reds and hope the clubs around them in the table drop points, if they’re going to make the quarterfinals. 

They barely scraped by to get to this moment in the first place, after fending off an upset from Pacific Islands rival Moana Pasifika in a 47-46 thriller last weekend, but they’ll be rewarded for their fight by getting the Reds in Suva, where the Drua are unbeaten in two prior games this year – including a stunning win over the Hurricanes in Round 11. 

Hurricanes Vs. Crusaders

While the Brumbies are trying to hold onto their top-4 spot, the Hurricanes are, on the other end, trying to crack into the fold. 

It’s been a bit of a weird year for the ‘Canes, who started the Super Rugby campaign 6-1, before fading around the midway point, going 2-4 since Round 7. 

That poor run of form has seen quarterfinal hosting rights dash away to near-disappearance as a result, and despite being the most try-heavy team in the competition (66 tries scored entering Round 15), missed points and opportunities have sunk the Hurricanes more than once. 

A victory against the four-time defending champions, however, would be just the spark they need at just the right time – yet it most certainly is not a guarantee, even at the Sky Stadium. 

The Crusaders haven’t quite been able to catch the Chiefs, losing to the Hamiltonians twice this season, while being unable to take the top spot in the table for the playoffs, but four straight victories with at least 41 points scored in three of them have given other Super Rugby teams dreaded flashbacks to a Crusaders team that peaks late and hums along on its way to silverware, just like it familiarly has done over the past few seasons. 

Expect a fast pace and a lot of scoring.

The teams are the only ones in Super Rugby this season to average over five tries per match in May, and even though coach Jason Holland’s side likely will be the underdog in its own stadium, if there’s any time for his team to return to make good on the early-season promise that it showed, it has arrived. 

And, if it gets help from the Rebels in Canberra, too – with the fifth-place Hurricanes needing to win and hope for a Melbourne victory, plus no Brumbies bonus, to reach the top 4 on scoring difference – it’ll critically get to start off the knockout rounds in front of home support.