Super Rugby Pacific returns this weekend with the 29th edition of the competition. The format is the same as the 2023 edition, with 12 teams returning to battle for the title. They will play 14 matches each before the finals, playing every other team once and three additional ‘rivalry’ matches.

Here is a look back at last season and a preview of what will come.

2023 Super Rugby Season Recap

The 2023 Super Rugby season ended in familiar fashion, with the Crusaders winning their 12th title. It was not a wire-to-wire victory for the Christchurch side, as they lost four of their 14 matches before the finals and finished second on the log behind the Chiefs (13 wins, one defeat).

The Crusaders – as is often the case – moved through the gears as the season progressed. They smashed the Drua and the Blues by a combined score of 101 to 23 as they marched to a Grand Final date with the Chiefs in Hamilton. While the Chiefs were at home, the wealth of experience in the Crusaders ranks was enough to nudge them over the line in a 25-20 win.

Not counting the 2020 season cancellation and the 2021 regional coms, the Crusaders have now won five Super Rugby titles on the bounce.

2024 Super Rugby Season Preview

2024 Super Rugby Odds To Win (BetXchange)

Unsurprisingly, the Crusaders are the favorites with BetXchange to repeat as Super Rugby champions in 2024. However, it will not be smooth sailing with talismanic fly-half Richie Mo’unga on sabbatical in Japan, where he plays for the Toshiba Brave Lions. His absence will be felt, and the quality of the team drops dramatically without his talent in the No. 10 shirt.

The Chiefs also lost a number of All Black veterans. Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick, and Brad Weber have all moved on, and while they will be missed for their defensive effort, the three combined aren’t nearly as big of a hit as losing Mo’unga.

The Blues are an interesting team. They weren’t nearly the force in 2023 that they were in 2022, and a rebuild has been taken on. They will need young players to step up to compete with the Crusaders and Chiefs, with Cameron Suafoa and Zarn Sullivan being important from Round 1 onward.

I like the Chiefs to break the Crusaders’ stranglehold on this comp finally. In Damian MacKenzie, they have the best playmaker of any team in the field (with Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett in Japan), and he will prove to be the difference in the Grand Final.

2024 Super Rugby: Round 1 Preview

Chiefs VS. Crusaders

  • Chiefs – 5/10
  • Crusaders – 18/10
  • Draw – 25/1
  • Spread – 5.5

The 2024 Super Rugby season could be bookened by matches between the Crusaders and the Chiefs. Will Jordan (shoulder surgery) is another huge name missing for the season for the visitors here, while Sam Whitelock is in France, and Codie Taylor won’t be back until later in the year. This is as vulnerable as the Crusaders are ever likely to be, and the Chiefs will come up with a statement win by 10+ points on Day 1 in Hamilton.

Western Force VS. Hurricanes

Ardie Savea is another All Black in his prime who will be spending 2024 playing in Japan. Money talks – as it should for players only one bad tackle away from the end of a career – but losing Savea is a massive blow to the ‘Canes chances of competing at the top end of the log. However, it won’t matter in this game as they smash the Western Force by 14+ points.

Highlanders VS. Moana Pacifika

I have highlighted this as Moana Pasifika is one of the more interesting stories entering 2024. Tana Umaga is the new coach for the Auckland team, which won just once in 2023. Umaga’s job is vast, but he has bought some huge names in the backroom staff to help. Adding Julian Savea at No. 12 is intriguing, and I think they can cover against the often point-shy Highlanders in Dunedin.


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