Super Rugby Education: The First Half Tells The Story

The 2017 Super Rugby season saw a record low conversion rate for halftime leaders going on to win games with the winner of the opening stanza converting just 71.32% of the time.

It is the only time in the last five years halftime leaders have failed to convert at less than 75%. The 2016 season, by contrast, saw the team leading at the break go on to win the match a remarkable 84.85% of the time. The 2015 season also topped 80%.


Such a drop in conversion rates presents a likely opportunity on two fronts in the 2018 Super Rugby season: pre-match halftime/fulltime action and in-game live betting.

The theory on the first is simple. If you fancy a team, you can confidently bet a portion of your overall stake on same to win the halftime/fulltime double, adding extra value to your overall outlay.

The second is to take the short odds on the halftime leader to go on and get the win in live betting. Often these odds will be very short – you are, of course, betting a team in front with only half the match to play. There are occasions though when an outsider is leading by a small amount where there is a chance you can get odds-against.

We can narrow these opportunities down though by sticking with proven finishers, teams that get a lead and don’t let it slip.


New Zealand teams, probably not surprisingly, are the best finishers by region. When New Zealand teams lead at halftime in a Super Rugby encounter, they go on to win 84.56% of the time. The Hurricanes lead the pack with a 30-2 record over the last three seasons with the Highlanders (29-3) and Crusaders (28-3) all superb and reliable finishers. The Chiefs also convert at above 82%. The Blues are the only Kiwi team who have shown any semblance of flakiness over the last three seasons, converting at just 60% from 25 halftime leads.

South African teams have converted at 76.69% since 2015. The Lions are far and away the best South African closers with a 27-2 conversion record with the Stormers also reliable with a 23-3 strike rate. The Bulls are 17-3-1 from their 21 leads and could also be considered highly reliable while the Sharks are 16-5. The now-defunct South African teams of the Cheetahs (9-9) and the Southern Kings (4-3) certainly helped drag the overall South African strike rate down.

It is certainly the Australian teams that statistically appear to be the most vulnerable when leading at the break. Australian teams convert a halftime lead at just 75.28%. The Waratahs are the one Australian side that can be relied on with a 17-3 conversion rate. No other Australian team hit at over 80% with the Reds 7-2, the Brumbies 21-7 and the Rebels a particularly ordinary 11-6-1.

New additions the Jaguares and Sunwolves certainly don’t fit into the reliable status yet. The Argentinean-based Jaguares are 7-5 with a halftime lead in their two seasons while the Tokyo-located Sunwolves have led just five times at the break in two season, winning just one of those matches.

Where the Value Is

In Super Rugby, halftime leaders win. Off a season where that strike rate was down, there will be more value. If you can stick with the reliable finishers then you will grind out a profit over the season.

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