Top 14 rugby betting
Some early thoughts up for this weekend’s TOP 14 semi finals. There’s an overall lack of pattern but some interesting history there nonetheless.
First, a table of results from the past 5 years of TOP 14 semi final playoffs. The middle column contains the semi final lineups for that year, the third colum shows the previous results that season for teams contesting those semi-finals.
[table id=35 /]
As you can see, there’s not many patterns other than the lack of an overall pattern.
In general though Look at Clermont’s results after winning in 2010 – they just don’t seem to have the hunger anymore after those many years waiting – look at 2012 for example – they had Toulon beaten well home and away in the season and then lost the semi at home.
There seems to be a certain amount of keeping the powder dry in March when teams play away from home – Probably because the hard work has been done and they have a plan on where they are going to finish. Also, there must be an element of not wanting to show your full hand against a potential playoff contender.
In general ( i say general as one or two out of kilter on this) but the teams that tend to win the semi’s are the teams that did well in the shit in winter against each other.
You get the feeling that Castres were building a side, and there is a clear progression to winning last year’s semi final, and then of course final.
Toulon have been in the semi-mix since 2012, and the progression suggests they are on here. I have also been saying from the start that this is what they want this year after coming so close, and so many big names in the side want it in their trophy cabinets. However, this is where their big names let them down I think – and their LACK of French players. I feel like the Bouclier means so much more to the teams with more frenchies, and I think this is a passion that the mercs in Toulon find it hard to counter each year at the crunch end of the season. The European cup is a different story unless you’re playing an Irish side in their prime, which neither Munster or Leinster were this season.
Racing Metro might seem like a foreign squad too, but check this out, it’s nearly all Frenchies, with a driven Irishman in Sexton the main man. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racing_M%C3%A9tro_92#Squad_2013.2F14
Sexton is likely back in Ireland next year for my money, and his motivations here are unquestionable – not many Irishmen have won the TOP14.
As you can see I’m spit-balling alot here. But in general some trends are pointing to Castres being happy with last year, and Racing being in with a major shout v Toulon ( a side they’ve had no fear of in recent years too).
Look how poor Clermont went in the league playoffs after winning it in 2010. Look how utterly static Toulouse have gone since the 2011 and 2012 wins, plodding along and underperforming. Stade Francais and Biarritz in a similar vein from the years before.
Castres beat Montpellier in the Barrage last year 25 – 13 so there’s a BIG element of revenge here for Monty. Racing Metro were knocked out in the Barrage last year by Toulouse 33-19 – they were not going to let that happen again this year and look what happened – they won this time around last week. They also have last year’s winning coaches on board, who masterminded a shock Bouclier win last year ( though some people in the forum kept saying Castres were being underestimated).
In 2012 in the Barrages, Castres yet again knocked Montpellier out by the 25 – 12, and Toulon knocked Racing out by 17-13.
Both Monty and Racing are coming into these games with arguably more french hunger, and with major chips on their shoulders.
We’re not set in our bets on this yet, but hopefully the above will help, and some of you can help narrow the meaning of it all.
There’s a list of Free Rugby bets here
And lots more top 14 info and opinion in our Rugby Betting forum here, with the current thread in the private contributing members area, to be released on Friday at 4.