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[Article] The NZ Cup Contenders: Div 1 Teams

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[Article] The NZ Cup Contenders: Div 1 Teams

Post by Bren on Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:54 pm

With the first of the human-human cup matches just around the corner: here's part two of our cup preview. ivelostmysparky provided us with a preview of the top 12 division two teams yesterday and today we take a look at the cream of the crop: the division one teams. [split]

It's tough to survive in division one; especially if you're burning energy in pursuit of the Cup. Very few teams have the ability to compete both for the league and the cup (only two teams (Magratheans and the Millennium Falcons) in NZ BR history have managed to win the double). For most teams, league success and cup success is mutually exclusive. It can be a tactical decision to go for one and not the other. Nevertheless, these are the best teams New Zealand has to offer. Expect to find the winner amongst these teams.

Melville RFC
Managed by Chewy
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 1st
Cup performance last season: R4
League performance last season: 2nd in I.1
Average 1st XV CSR: 293,722
Melville RFC (formerly Crack Smokin Monkeys, shootfirstthenreload, and more...) currently sits at the top of the New Zealand rankings at the moment after a fantastic opening round win against league champion Sparker at Sparker's home base. So, can they go all the way in the Cup? A better question might be, do they actually want to? Out of all the division one teams, it seems most likely that Chewy will be the one to make the tactical decision to focus on the league and leave the cup to others to spend energy over. The strategy -- while technically sound -- hasn't seemed to paid off yet as Melville is yet to get a division one trophy in their cabinet.

Managed by Sparker
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 2nd
Cup performance last season: R10 (Semi Finals)
League performance last season: 1st in I.1
Average 1st XV CSR: 299,019
Sparker must be hungry for it. They've been around since season 2 but it wasn't until Season 18 that they made people sit up and notice them. After seasons spent toiling in division three, they promoted to division two, won it, and jumped up to division one where they've stayed since. They've won two division one trophies but have never managed to find the magic when it comes to the cup. Will this be the season that all changes? They've certainly got a squad that can do it. Particularly their towering locks: Cristobal Spilimbergo and Louis Pittard. It's hard to get anything past them.

Hercufleas United
Managed by robelix
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 3rd
Cup performance last season: Runner-Up
League performance last season: 3rd in I.1
Average 1st XV CSR: 316,722
Hercufleas United is probably one of the rare clubs that appear to value the cup more than the league. How else do you explain the fact that 4 cup trophies show proudly in their trophy cabinet with only one division one trophy to share with. One I might add that was picked up in Season 4. Yes, get ready to hear some epic "we walked 200 miles in the snow" stories from robelix. That was a long time ago. Interesting to note however, that the last two times that Hercufleas won the Cup they won it from the relative comfort of division two. This suggests that the modern Hercufleas squad doesn't quite have the depth to go all the way in the Cup while staying competitive in division one. Expect them to go for both and come short both times. With no less than six internationals in their squad (including newish All Black Renee Ranger) the Hercs are always worth a watch.

Managed by Matt
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 4th
Cup performance last season: R8
League performance last season: 1st in II.1
Average 1st XV CSR: 301,049
Season 24 was a horror season for Excelsior fans. A 7th placing saw them auto-relegated to division two: a position they haven't been in since they promoted to division one way back in Season 12. But, a successful season in division two sees them back where they belong. It's early days but they've been riding high so far this season and currently sit on top of the table of division one. But the question we want to ask: can they win the cup? I mean, sure. They won back in Season 21. They could do it again should the cookie crumble in their favour. A lot of faith will be going into the talents of Steven Johnstone. The 26 year old flanker was bought just last week for $2.3 million and currently ranks as Excelsior's top player when you measure by CSR. One to watch.

Millennium Falcons
Managed by nands
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 5th
Cup performance last season: Winner
League performance last season: 4th in I.1
Average 1st XV CSR: 334,098
The Millennium Falcons have been the most dominant team in New Zealand BR history. A couple of seasons ago I probably would have ended that sentence with a "since Magratheans" but I don't think that really applies any more. Since Season 15, they've won 7 division one titles and another 7 cup titles -- winning the double three times (Season 19,20, and 22) and not going a single season without picking up one of those two titles. That's outstanding. There's no shortage of talent on the squad. Nands has been dropping big dollars on signings like Patrizio Santello ($3.4 million) and Lorenzo De Winter ($2.8 million) but I wanted to take a look at the behemothic Jordan Pace. The 207cm/114kg Lock has been a major feature of the Falcons line out since Season 20 and is a German legend with 211 NT caps to his name. Expect him to play a big role (again) this season -- the Falcons should go far.

FRuity Oenological Gastronomes
Managed by gdbfc99
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 6th
Cup performance last season: R7
League performance last season: 5th in I.1
Average 1st XV CSR: 248,218
New Zealand's French imports have been a fixture of the division one scene since winning promotion for the second time in Season 19. Unfortunately most of that time has been spent in the 4th to 6th position. It seems a strong push in the cup will probably cost them their division one spot: a risk they're probably not willing to take. Former All Black Rob Tollner (71 caps) is the best known of their players but is starting to experience the pitfalls of life on the wrong side of 30.

Hautapu Hopefools
Managed by PTT
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 7th
Cup performance last season: R6
League performance last season: 1st in II.3
Average 1st XV CSR: 226,576
The Hopefools have been yo-yoing between Division One and Two in the last few seasons and like the FROGs above probably don't have what it takes to compete in the cup without tanking their division one chances. They've never won the cup and haven't picked up a division one title since Season 6. As much as I'd like to see the Hopefools rise again, this isn't the squad that will do it. All Black Fionn MacIlrea is a class player who is on track to join the 100 cap club.

New Lynn Red Sox
Managed by Buccaz
League: I.1
NZ Rank: 8th
Cup performance last season: R8
League performance last season: 6th in I.1
Average 1st XV CSR: 272,054
After picking up a smattering of division two titles over the seasons (6 in all), the New Lynn Red Sox have been a fixture of division one since Season 18 when they won the title by absolutely smashing the Millennium Falcons 64-7. They've never quite matched those heights since though -- a Bronze trophy in Season 19 followed by a Silver one in Season 21 marked the last time they featured on the podium. Their record in the Cup is a bit more bleak though with exactly zero appearances in the Cup final. It's been a few seasons since the Red Sox hit the transfer market seriously but their last big purchase was Canadian Fly Half in Season 24 for $2.7 million.

So, who to pick? Obvious favourites would be the Millennium Falcons and Sparker. But you should only pick them if you're boring -- Hercufleas United and Excelsior could also go all the way. I personally have my eye on the Norse Viking's from division two (see yesterday's article). They're a class above their division two opponents and could devote a lot of energy to the Cup without harming their chances of coming away with first place in division two.

Song of the day: Yo La Tengo have just released a new album and a cover of The Cure song Friday I'm In Love is a classic Yo La Tengo cover (and the music video has some wonderful moments). Bonus Yo La Tengo song.


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Re: [Article] The NZ Cup Contenders: Div 1 Teams

Post by robelix on Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:17 am

cool stuff Bren.
The Falcons and Melville would be my 2 favs. Both are not using team training this season, thus energy for the cup and league shouldn't be an issue.

I'll give the double a go, but we know how that usually ends.... affraid

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Re: [Article] The NZ Cup Contenders: Div 1 Teams

Post by harryjynx on Tue Sep 01, 2015 12:42 pm

Enjoying the news articles mate Smile bring the fun back into BR

What you think the chances are of a bolters article? maybe Div 3 teams who could potentially cause an upset? am always curious to see whether my team will ever make an article Razz haha


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Re: [Article] The NZ Cup Contenders: Div 1 Teams

Post by humantool on Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:51 pm

He does have a point. Mercury Bay missed out on a final 16 in the cup last year after losing by 1pt to gunslingers in round 7 who were 15 rating points higher (& losing in overtime). Hadn't made past round 4 any other year. It really is the luck of the draw though as we had an easy run up to round 7 which was very very lucky. Especially when 2 top teams can meet in earlier rounds.


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Re: [Article] The NZ Cup Contenders: Div 1 Teams

Post by Bren on Tue Sep 01, 2015 2:51 pm

Laws surrounding random chance would probably suggest that you'll get some division three teams sneaking into the top 16. Example: Bennis from last season or Gunslingers in the season before.

It seems unlikely that division three teams have a chance of actually winning the cup though -- which was primarily the focus of the articles.

I'm more than happy to write about actual bolters this season. Maybe an in-depth profile of the lowest ranked team to make the top 16? As a division three manager myself, I'd like to do more to highlight division three teams but it can be hard when there are 128 of them, that's literally dozens.

Anyway, cause an upset in the cup this season, let me know, and I'll happily write about it.


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Re: [Article] The NZ Cup Contenders: Div 1 Teams

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