Super Rugby seedings, Crusaders miss out as match-ups confirmed

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The Christchurch-based Crusaders have won seven Super Rugby titles in the past seven years, but this year’s playoffs will be notable mainly for their absence.

The Crusaders’ last-ditch bid for a quarter-final berth failed as they crashed out of the competition in a thrilling battle for the last eight on the final weekend of the regular season.

Beating Mona Pacifica at home Friday lifted the Crusaders up to eighth, but they dropped to ninth when Pigeon Trua defeated the Melbourne Rebels for the first of four matches in Ladoga on Saturday.

As a result both Trua and the Rebels went into the playoffs, Trua for the second consecutive season and the Rebels in their last year in Super Rugby for the first time in their 14-year history.

Rugby Australia announced the Melbourne team’s license to compete in Super Rugby on Thursday, ahead of the Rebels’ trip to Fiji. Will not renew next year Due to financial instability. That means the Rebels club will disband once their playoffs are over.

That was one of the many lazy notes from the weekend round. A number of notable careers ended with the Crusaders’ relegation: All Blacks props Joe Moody and Owen Franks and center Ryan Crotty retire at the end of the season. All are World Cup winners.

Franks, 36, heads to Japan where he will coach the Japan national team’s forwards under Australian head coach Eddie Jones. Moody, 35, will return to farming if the Crusaders are not confident of giving him one more season. Crotty’s plans are unclear.

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„I feel like there’s a little bit of life left in these bones to get through another footy season,” Moody said before Friday’s game. „If that doesn’t happen at the same time, you can catch me in the back blocks somewhere playing with some cattle or sitting on a tractor.”

Mona Pacifica also bid farewell to players who were a key part of its three years in Super Rugby. Former Wallabies prop Segobe Gebu and flyhalf Christian Leliifano are also retiring from Super Rugby. Capu won a Super Rugby title with the New South Wales Waratahs and is expected to continue playing at provincial level in New Zealand.

The Crusaders organization announced a review of the 2024 season shortly after the final whistle blew in Ladoga, ending the team’s playoff chances.

„Regardless of the result or position in the table, we are proud of the tremendous mahi (work) put in by our team, our club and the whole organization to deliver the season,” chief executive Colin Mainsbridge said.

„A lot of results didn’t go our way and at times our Anfield performance wasn’t up to our expectations. Fine margins define results and table position, and we’ve lost six of our games by less than seven points.

The Wellington-based Hurricanes finished top of the table after picking up a bonus point from their last regular-season match against the Dunedin-based Highlanders. The Hurricanes and Auckland-based Blues entered the final round of the regular-season standings on 51 points, but the Blues missed out on top spot after a last-minute effort by the Hamilton-Chiefs denied the Blues a bonus point.

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The Blues, who have home interests throughout the playoffs, were disappointed to miss out on top spot. But head coach Vern Cotter saw the bright side.

“If you had given me that score at the beginning of the season, I would have taken it over the premiers,” Cotter said. „The danger in finishing first is that suddenly your feet aren’t on the ground.

“We know we have a lot of work to do. It is not a complete performance.

The standings and quarter-finals have now been confirmed with the Hurricanes first, Blues second, ACT Brumbies third, Chiefs fourth, Queensland Reds fifth, Highlanders sixth, Dhruva seventh and Rebels eighth.

The Chiefs play the Reds in Hamilton on Friday and the Hurricanes play the Rebels in Wellington. On Saturday the Blues play Truva in Auckland and the Brumbies play the Highlanders in Canberra.

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AP Rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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