The Blues' 48-21 humiliation at the hands of the Sunwolves is officially the biggest Super Rugby upset this century.

Data collected by the Herald has uncovered odds on every Super Rugby game since 2000, and the Blues' humbling in Japan ranks as the most unexpected at the bookmakers.

"We were probably favourites going into that game," lamented Blues coach Tana Umaga - phenomenally understating the near-certainty that punters and bookies alike had in a Blues victory.

The Blues were installed as 29.5 point favourites - a points spread at which no Super Rugby side had ever lost before. It was a historical day for the Sunwolves in many respects, but perhaps no more than how they bucked one of Super Rugby's longest trends.


Of the 1783 Super Rugby games played since 2000, the Sunwolves became the first team at $15-1 odds to win. By averaging out the odds from 49 bookmakers, the Sunwolves were priced at $15.52 to beat the Blues, and those odds even seemed unappealing.

Most of Super Rugby's biggest upsets consist of a juggernaut being toppled. For instance, the 2002 Brumbies, winners of 13 straight games and unbeaten at home since 2000, losing to a mediocre Hurricanes side, or the 2008 Crusaders losing just their second game of the season, at home to the 2-10 Highlanders.

Things were different on Saturday, where a middling Blues side took on the last-placed Sunwolves. While Umaga called the Sunwolves' defence "relentless" after the match, their recent form didn't show any reasons for concern. Filo Tiatia's side were coming off a 94-7 shellacking at the hands of the Lions, and a 52-15 defeat to the Stormers, and more of the same looked possible as they fell into an early 21-7 deficit.

Then, the Sunwolves piled on 41 unanswered points, recording their highest ever points total, biggest margin of victory, and undoubtedly the greatest win in the team's history.

Umaga believes his team weren't able to handle the expectations of favouritism.

"We can't take anything for granted in this competition.

"It's fronting for games that we're actually meant to do well in. That's attitude and preparation and mindset and we've just got to keep pushing on that.

"How does that sit with us, and being able to handle those pressures which come along with [favouritism]?"


The margin of victory made matters worse for the Blues.

Since 2000, 44 teams have won when greater than 5-1 underdogs. The Sunwolves' 27-point margin of victory was the second-largest win of those 44 upsets, behind a stunning Stormers 28-point victory as 7-1 underdogs in 2004.

The opponents the Stormers stunned that day?

The Blues.