New Zealand Conference
Blues (C): The Blues are on the bottom of the New Zealand Conference but they aren’t out of contention. In fact, they only sit three points out of a playoff spot at the moment. Plus, Piri Weepu is coming back.
Chiefs (A): The Chiefs only have one loss on the season but are also the only team with two draws. That just shows that even when things don’t go their way they are finding results. Could it be a three-peat? It’s a definite possibility.
Crusaders (C): By the end of the season the Crusaders will most likely be in the playoffs but it won’t be an easy road. They have lost some matches they should have no business losing this year.
Highlanders (A): They are the current holders of a playoff spot. That is a complete reversal of a year ago where they only one three games the entire season. They have already exceeded that tally this season with four.
Hurricanes (C): Historically the Hurricanes have high expectations but if you take their recent form into mind that they are doing average this season.
Brumbies (B): The Brumbies haven’t been as dominant as last year but they are right there at the top of the Australian conference and are still favorites to make a deep run in the playoffs. Losing Jake White has hurt but they have the talent to go far.
Rebels (C): We were tempted to give the Rebels a higher grade but in the end they still have five losses compared to two wins. Despite an opening night victory their season is going downhill.
Waratahs (C): They are doing just enough to have a winning record but not enough to make people have a lot of confidence that they can do damage this year. Israel Folau has been outstanding but the drama with the ARU isn’t helping.
Reds (D): The Reds can still have a very strong season but they are going to have to turn things around quickly. 16 points still puts them in the race for the playoffs but they have played a game more than most of the other teams in Australia. Given the talent they have they should be better.
Force (A+): Whatever the Force have been eating lately they need to keep at it. The team has won five in a row, including matches over very tough opponents, and now sit only three points behind the Brumbies in Australia with a match in hand. This may be their year to make a big move. Nick Cummins is league MVP so far.
South African Conference
Bulls (C): The Bulls are right there in playoff contention so that gives them a passing grade but they should be better than how they’ve played. That said, they are the only team to beat the Sharks this year.
Cheetahs (D): Maybe last year was an anomaly. The Cheetahs look nowhere near their strong form from a year ago and instead look like the Cheetahs team we have seen for the last decade.
Lions (B): The expectations surrounding the Lions were very low to start the season. Given how they had a year off from the competition and lost a few key players the fact that they are even with a 4-4 record is a surprise.
Sharks (A): The Sharks were expected to do well and that’s just what they’ve done. With 27 points on six wins and one loss they lead the overall standings and have a huge nine points margin in South Africa with a game to play.
Stormers (F): By their standards it’s been a dreadful season for the Stormers. They look completely lost with only one win in seven matches. Sitting at the bottom of the table they have no playoff hopes this year.