Super 15 Rugby 2013 Fixtures: Schedule Ahead of Crucial Playoffs

Ben Snowball@@BenSnowballContributor IJuly 19, 2013

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 16:  Ben Lucas takes on the tackling bags during a Queensland Reds Super Rugby training session at Ballymore Stadium on July 16, 2013 in Brisbane, Australia.  (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

No more second chances. One poor performance will wreck 20 weeks of hard work as the Super 15 Rugby rolls out its knockout phase with the dreaded playoffs.

The Canterbury Crusaders, Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies and Central Cheetahs have impressed in reaching the latter stages, but no one will remember their season if they fail to progress to the final four.

Lying in wait for the two victors are the Waikato Chiefs and Blue Bulls, who stormed the league to be rewarded with automatic semi-final spots and a week off for good measure.

After losing a tight series to the British and Irish Lions, Australia now face the prospect of having no representatives in the last four. The pressure is firmly on the Reds and the Brumbies to make sure they avoid the embarrassment of seeing sides from only New Zealand and South Africa left in the tournament come Sunday evening.

With the tournament ready to heat up, here’s a look at the playoff schedule.

Canterbury Crusaders vs. Queensland Reds

When: Saturday, July 20

Where: AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand

Start Time: 3.35 a.m. ET/ 8.35 a.m. BST

Watch (US Viewers): Direct TV Channel 480 and 481

Watch (UK Viewers): Sky Sports 1

ACT Brumbies vs. Central Cheetahs

When: Sunday, July 21

Where: Canberra Stadium, Canberra, Australia

Start Time: 2.10 a.m. ET/ 7.10 a.m. BST

Watch (US Viewers): Direct TV Channel 480 and 481

Watch (UK Viewers): Sky Sports 1


The Crusaders are the most distinguished side in Super Rugby history, with a total of seven titles, but they face a Reds side that pipped them to the 2011 title.

They’ve not won a tournament since 2008 and their reputation as New Zealand’s finest side is under threat if they don’t win on Saturday.

The Brumbies must handle the pressure of being overwhelming favourites to progress to the semi-finals. They come up against a Cheetahs side with nothing to lose after the South African side progressed to the playoffs for the first time in their history.

All four playoff sides have struggled for consistency this season, and it will take three huge performances for them to even have a shot of Super 15 glory.

Even if they progress to the next round they must face the Chiefs or the Bulls, who will have home advantage and the extra confidence after topping the group stage.

But before these four sides can even contemplate the semifinals, they must first go to battle in the playoffs in the knowledge that one small slip could end their tournament dreams.