Super Rugby Tipping and Betting Guide 2012

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With the Rugby World Cup a long forgotten memory (especially if you're English or South African) it's on to Super Rugby 2012 and more chances for mug punters and tipsters to test their prowess against the experts and hopefully make a small fortune in the process (though not if you're betting a large fortune to start with). With that in mind, the Rolling Maul is proud to present its Tipping and Betting Guide for 2012 and finally answer that age old question, 'Who does have the worst hair in Super Rugby?'.

WESTERN FORCE
Toby Lynn - Comb not included
After scraping along the bottom of the table for much of 2011, a couple of late morale boosting wins promised rosy horizons for the Force in 2012. Then their only real playmakers James O'Connor signed with the Rebels and Willie Ripia was caught stealing from his teammates and was sacked. He'll now have to satisfy his gambling problem the good old fashioned way, by losing it betting on his former team.
2011 Position  12th
Worst Hair Toby Lynn
Free stuff on website  A couple of crappy wallpapers otherwise "There are no current competitions. Check back again soon!"
Odds and Value  At $41.00 could be worth a bet each way. Oh yeah, these are winning odds. Ignore.
Prediction   7th



CHEETAHS
Adriaan Strauss -
That 'just woke up' look
or just woke up?
The revelation of 2011, the Cheetahs put together some impressive performances against some truly unimpressive opposition (just ask the Waratahs) to at one-time threaten to make the semis. Then they fell apart and normal transmission resumed. 2012 promises no different, but probably without the impressive performances. It's hard to get any insights though from their website, it's mostly in Afrikaans.
2011 Position  11th
Worst Hair Adriaan Strauss
Free stuff on website  Cheerleader profiles (always good - especially when they list their 'Favourite Party Plek' whatever that means) and the usual wallpapers, plus a competition "Hardloop voor die span uit saam met jou kind!" which Google translates as 'Run for the team with your child'. Odd recruitment system but hey, whatever works.
Odds and Value  For $41.00 you may as well waste your money on the Force.
Prediction  7th



LIONS
Cobus Grobbelaar -
Worst haircut or no haircut?
The Lions won the Currie Cup and on the back of that shock betting agencies are predicting them not to come last in the Super Rugby. That's especially brave of them considering this statement front and centre on their website; "There is absolutely no truth in the media inferences that the Golden Lions Rugby Union is facing liquidation." Much like the reassurances given to the coach of a losing team, Lions supporters should be afraid.
2011 Position 14th
Worst Hair  Cobus Grobelaar
Free stuff on website Nothing really - just the usual wallpaper and 'galleries'.
Odds and Value  $34.00. Forget it.
Prediction  7th



REBELS
Adam Byrnes -
Just because you play for Russia
doesn't mean you need to
look like Rasputin
There's no victory like one that is bought. The Rebel's audacious swoops on James O'Connor and Kutley Beale will go down in either legend or infamy depending on results achieved during the year. If it pays off they will be celebrated the length and breadth of the one tiny corner of Melbourne that gives a stuff about Rugby. Lose, and no one will notice. A win-win really for Rod Macqueen and his team.
2011 Position  Last
Worst Hair  Adam Byrnes
Free stuff on website  Nothing. Not even wallpaper.
Odds and Value  $31.00 could seem good if Cipriani, Beale and O'Connor click. Unfortunately you might be better off just shouting them a drink at one of their favourite watering holes.
Prediction  7th




HURRICANES
Nick Crosswell -
One for fans of the Brady Bunch
The Hurricanes have a tendency to blow hot and cold, but at the end of the day do little damage and are largely forgotten. Being usually more breeze than gale force, it's no surprise therefore that The Rolling Maul can't find anything of interest on their website, or any insights into their likely plight for 2012. Mid-table finishes are their speciality, too low to get excited about and too high to fret over. Don't expect anything different this year.
2011 Position  9th
Worst Hair  Nick Crosswell
Free stuff on website  Wallpapers (of course), e-diary, videos (bad ones - the best sort), events and competitions (still to come alas), this site has it all for cheapskates.
Odds and Value  At $31.00 even the bookies are looking at a mid-table finish. Only the truly bravehearted (and deluded) would dare go there.
Prediction  7th


BRUMBIES
Sam Carter -
Too young for the beard and
too old for the hair
The departure of Matt Giteau and Rocky Elsom from the Brumbies and the arrival of new coach Jake White has been designed to stimulate a new start for the club. The injection of fresh new blood can often lead to new ideas and an exuberance that older jaded colleagues may have lacked. But not always. The Brumbies are largely a team of no names. Come season's end and these no names may return to the obscurity from whence they came.
2011 Position  13th
Worst Hair  Sam Carter
Free stuff on website  The Fan Zone has links to a fantasy comp and a tipping comp. Supposedly these are the official Super Rugby comps so why is no other club linking to them? Also, the Brumbies Front-Rowers Union's reviews of local restaurants are worth the price of admission!
Odds and Value  $26.00!!! Worst odds for a team of no-ones since New Zealand played a cricket test match against Australia in Hobart. Oh yeah that's right.
Prediction  7th

HIGHLANDERS
Dunedin, at the southern tip of New Zealand, about an hours drive north from Mawson's Hut if you built a six-lane highway between Antarctica and Dunedin, was always an intimidating place to play Rugby. Teams visiting the 'House of Pain' weren't worried about potential pain inflicted by the Highlanders but frostbite. Highlander home success was built on the sleet and slush of Antarctic gales. But now the 'House of Pain' is no more. The new indoor Carisbrook Stadium removes any home-ground advantage the Highlanders had. The Highlanders are now likely to struggle when they play at this new 'House of Pillows'.
2011 Position 8th
Kurt Baker -
Stop getting your Mum to cut your hair
James Paterson -
Bon Jovi would be proud with that 'do
Worst Hair  Can't pick between Kurt Baker's spiky bowl designed by his mother and James Paterson's teen wolf.
Free stuff on website  A photo gallery and that's it. A new website and new content is promised but don't hold your breath (or your hand out).
Odds and Value  At $19.00 it'll be a cold day in hell (also known as Dunedin) before you get value betting on the Highlanders.
Prediction  7th

CHIEFS
Not SBW but Liam Messam -
Faux-hawks are so 2008
Sonny Bill-Williams. It's all you'll hear about the Chiefs this season, good or bad. So, just to get you used to it: Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams Sonny Bill-Williams...
2011 Position  10th
Worst Hair  Liam Messam
Free stuff on website  Lots of stuff for kids but what about us adults? Where are the Cheerleader shots for starters?
Odds and Value  $15.00  If SBW clicks and takes his teammates along could be a wise choice.
Prediction  7th



BULLS
Akona Ndungane -
Men with receding hairlines
should not get dreads (or have ponytails) 
If it seems like only yesterday that the Bulls were the form team of Super Rugby, Crusaders-like in the their dominance and winning three titles in four years, then you may forget (or remember it like last week) that they were also once the also-rans of the competition, regularly propping up the table and being a general laughing-stock. So it was uncharacteristic of the team to finish mid-table last year, a bit of here and there rather than all or nothing. So for 2012 expect either Jekyll or Hyde. For their sake you'd hope Victor Matfield going straight from player to specialist coach will have more success than Justin Harrison did when he did likewise at the Brumbies last season.
2011 Position  7th
Worst Hair  Akona Ndungane who disproves the theory that all black men look good in dreadlocks
Free stuff on website  Competitions, video gallery, the funky (for nerds) virtual stadium tour and the Bulls Babes (although no profiles just some dull images). Also something called SuperBru which is broken.
Odds and Value  $15.00  They aint what they used to be, but that can go both ways. Betting on them would be a gamble!
Prediction  7th

SHARKS
Odwa Ndungane -
Really, someone should tell them,
probably their mum.
Interesting Shark facts:
  1. In one of the greatest branding failures of all time, in 1995 the Sharks renamed themselves from the Banana Boys (seriously). Great cross-promotional opportunities with the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour and with Bananas in Pyjamas have been lost, and any affection for the team in New South Wales is now non-existent. 
  2. A Sharks jersey was launched into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery during a mission to the International Space Station in September 2010 (seriously - again). The shuttle did not blow up and headlines such as 'Sharks hopes go up in smoke' avoided. Alas other headlines such as 'Bananas in space' not possible. 
There is no relevance between these facts and the plight of the team in 2012, just thought you should know.
2011 Position  6th
Worst Hair  Odwa Ndungane
Free stuff on website  There's some competitions and downloads and stuff but where is the Flasher Girls page? Come on Sharks, the girls are the only reason to stay up late watching Shark home-games. Is this political correctness gone made in South Africa? Next thing they'll be serving mid-strength beer, banning braais and burning bras.
Odds and Value  $12.00. Showed glimpses of potential last season and with a mix of experience and youth, especially Patrick Lambie who is poised to take over the planet, may represent the best value of the middle-runners. Oops sorry, was that too serious?
Prediction  7th 

WARATAHS
Brendan McKibbin -
Should stop putting his fingers
into powerpoints
New coach. New players. New hope. The Waratahs are the great deja vu team of world Rugby. Each year a new playing style is paraded before the media, inevitably involving flowing backline movements and a plethora of spectacular tries. The team will have a great spirit, the forwards will be united in a common cause, the sky will have no limits, money will fall from the trees and they'll serve decent full-strength beer at the Sydney Football Stadium. And for a while all will seem rosy as the competition pacesetters blitz opposition or grind them into dust (the beer will still be crap though). Then the injuries hit, the deer gets caught in the spotlights, old habits like panic and kicking return, and the team limps into the finals or just misses out. But not this year. So we're told. 
2011 Position  5th
Worst hair  Brendan McKibbin
Free stuff on website  Nothing really unless you count a newsletter and Tah Man. The Facebook Fan Page is OK but mainly for the history lessons.
Odds and Value  It takes a brave man to back the Tahs. At $9.00 it also takes a deluded one.
Prediction  7th

STORMERS
It's a brave Rugby club that states 'Join fans from around the world, pledge allegiance from behind enemy lines, & become part of the global storm' when its website has no player profiles (hence no haircuts). How anyone can support a team that is afraid to show the world what its players got up to last time they visited a barber is a mystery. So in protest at the lack of humour opportunities provided by the Stormers, the Rolling Maul has decided to boycott the club, starting... now.

REDS
Radike Samo -
Of course
Quade Cooper is unique as he is the only player in history whose absence from the field can have more impact than his presence on it. Just look at the change in the demeanour of the Wallabies when he got injured, let alone the change in playing-style, confidence and footwork. For better or worse, the Wallabies opened up during their last couple of matches in the World Cup and on their European tour and notched up some impressive victories. Cooper's loss was comfortably accommodated for, a bad sign for him but a good one for the Wallabies. So what are the implications for the Reds? No idea, but a bored, non-playing and newly single Quade may attract enough (good and bad) media interest to take the pressure off the team's on-field activities. It's crazy, but it could work.
2011 Position  1st
Worst hair  Radike Samo
Free stuff on website  Wallpapers and images but nothing of particular interest. Yawn.
Odds and Value  At $6.00 the Reds aren't the bookies favourite, but now the monkey is off their back (not a reference to Quade Cooper) they may play even more freely than last season. Also Ewen McKenzie has signed on till 2014, so he has a legacy to establish. Could be worth a punt.
Prediction  7th

BLUES
Liaki Moli -
Sometimes selecting 'worst hair'
is just too easy
The Rolling Maul is gushing over the Blues website. Contrary to popular belief, the Rolling Maul doesn't spend all day watching reruns of famous Matt Dunning moments and Waratah failures (they're much the same thing of course) but has a day job developing and maintaining website content. So speaking from a professional perspective, the Blues website is by far the best website of all the Super Rugby teams from a design, navigation and functionality perspective. And if you like stats then the Blues site has them in buckets. Want to know how many tackles Troy Flavell made in Round 8 vs The Bulls in 2006? Well neither does The Rolling Maul but the answer is 7. The relevance of all this interactive perfection to the Blues chances on the field in 2012 is unknown, but if their attention to detail and investment in online products is any guide they should romp it in.
2011 Position  4th
Worst hair  Liaki Moli
Free stuff on website  Is this the best website or what? Videos of the 'Skycity Cheer Team' (women in skimpy clothing with pom poms), competitions (well, one) and a tonne of social media stuff.
Odds and Value  At $6.00 would like to come up with some allusion to the website but can't think of one.
Prediction  7th

CRUSADERS
Tyler Bleyendaal -
The 'worst' of
a very clean-cut lot
Someone needs to tell the Crusaders to stop living in the past. Sonny-Bill Williams is still featured on the homepage of the team's website, the crappy game featured on the website is set during Super 14, and even the 'Story of the Crusaders' makes no mention of earthquakes. OK, so maybe the team and the support staff have been a bit distracted by last year's events and had other priorities (like finding somewhere to live), but this is a new year and the Crusaders need all the marketing help they can get. The Crusaders were fuelled on emotion in 2011 and it took them all the way to the final, but between that emotional toll and the evident administrative oversights, it's a big ask to expect the Crusaders to back up with another over-performing season.
2011 Position  2nd
Worst hair  Except for Tyler Bleyendaal the Crusaders seem to be frequent visitors to the hairdesser. Tyler needs to get his act together if he wants to fit in.
Free stuff on website  Out-of-date competitiongame and photo gallery (2009!). Can't blame the earthquakes for that.
Odds and Value  They may be the bookies favourite at $4.50 but between a World Cup hangover, tired old legs (McCaw, Carter et al) and last year's emotional drama save your dough and look elsewhere.
Prediction  7th (really)

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