The RaboDirect PRO12 champions, in line with all other professional rugby union tournaments throughout the world, will be decided by a Play-Off. The competition is one of the latest tournaments to adopt this method of choosing their champions – South Africa’s Currie Cup final was first contested in 1939, whilst the French can trace their Play-Offs back to the inception of their league in 1892.
The RaboDirect PRO12’s newest members , Aironi Rugby and Benetton Treviso, will also be familiar with the concept as the Italian champions have been decided this way since 1988 , whilst the English Premiership adopted the system in 2003
Leinster and Osprey have already been assured of home Play-Offs, but their opponents are yet to be decided. Munster are guaranteed to finish in the top four, but whether that is in 3rd or 4th spot is still unknown, whilst the final Play-Off place is still up for grabs with Glasgow Warriors, Scarlets and Ulster still vying for the spot.
Glasgow Warriors are in pole position to claim the final Play-Off spot; 2 match points from their game against Connacht will extend their season into the knockout stages. Should they falter, Scarlets and Ulster will be keen to make up the numbers.
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Ulster require a bonus point win and other results to go their way to progress and should Scarlets fail to pick up 5 match points from their game, then, dependant upon other results, the number of wins and even points difference could come into play to separate the teams.
It all means that we are in for an exciting finish to the regular season, and with all Round 22 games kicking off simultaneously on Saturday evening, it will be a nervous time for some fans.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF RULES
If two or more Teams finish with the same number of league points, their placings will be determined by the following criteria in descending order:
number of matches won;
the difference between points for and points against;
the number of tries scored;
the most points scored;
the difference between tries for and tries against;
the fewest number of red cards received;
the fewest number of yellow cards received.