The prospect of all four New Zealand teams making the semifinals is still alive after the Highlanders edged past the Brumbies in Australia last night in the first Super Rugby semi-final.
The complete makeup of the semifinals will be known tomorrow morning after the Hurricanes play the Sharks tonight, and the Crusaders and Chiefs battle with the Lions and Stormers respectively in South Africa tomorrow.
The Chiefs will travel to South Africa and face the Stormers, who have yet to encounter any Kiwi opposition this season, while the Crusaders will be heading the same direction, visiting Ellis Park to encounter the second-placed Lions, whom they beat 43-37 in the Republic in April.
If all three New Zealand teams do the business on the road, the semifinals will be in Wellington, where the Hurricanes would host the Crusaders, and Dunedin, where the Highlanders would welcome the Chiefs.
Here's what you need to know:
- Remember, the eight teams who qualified for the playoffs were ranked 1-8 based on the Super Rugby format (conference winners were ranked 1-4 and wildcards handed to the best-placed team in the two South African conferences (Sharks) and the three best-placed finishes in the Australasian conferences (Highlanders, Chiefs, Crusaders).
- The semifinals will be determined by the highest qualifier at the end of the regular season hosting the lowest-ranked team still alive.
- The next-highest qualifier will then host the second lowest-ranked side in the other semifinal.
- Both games will be played next weekend.
- The highest-ranked winner will host the Super Rugby final the following weekend.
- If the New Zealand teams won, and that's a big if given two teams were playing in the Republic, the semifinals would look like this:
Hurricanes v Crusaders
Highlanders v Chiefs
Saturday night: Hurricanes v Sharks (Wellington)
Sunday morning: Lions v Crusaders (South Africa)
Sunday morning: Stormers v Chiefs (South Africa)