Gruelling travel schedules await SA teams, which will face a logistical nightmare when it comes to deploying their players.
Stormers coach John Dobson struggled to contain his delight after his side’s 29-23 win against the Sharks in Cape Town, as talk of the team’s second-half failings made way for a contextualisation of the result.
The Stormers will take the high road to the playoffs, while the Sharks – and the Bulls for that matter – look set for an especially challenging schedule in the United Rugby Championship (URC) and Champions Cup postseason.
The Stormers have taken an unassailable lead at the top of the South African Shield standings, and have qualified for the next instalment of the Champions Cup. The result against the Sharks has strengthened their bid for a top-two finish in the URC, and ultimately the right to host a quarterfinal, semifinal and possible final.
Perhaps most importantly, they are now in a position to rotate their squad in the final three rounds of the URC, and their top players should be fresh for the most demanding playoff fixtures across the URC and Champions Cup.
By contrast, the Bulls and Sharks find themselves in a do-or-die situation on…