Seeking opinions regarding the shift in procedure that represents the 2018 Super Rugby competition is not difficult work. Everybody is weighing in, many with some keen observations.
The Queensland Reds served up the perfect example.
With the way the rules have been jiggered, the Reds did not even have to prove equal to the challenge of one of the teams in the New Zealand Conference in order to qualify for the finals.
Yet, the Reds seemingly have managed to shoot themselves in the boot by losing their first game of the 2018 Super Rugby League to the Melbourne Rebels and now face the prospect of taking the road to Brisbane for a match against the ACT Brumbies in Suncorp Stadium Friday evening coming.
The way the regulations now shape up, beating an opponent in the Australian Conference is more significant than in seasons past, while losing to one is a decidedly different, perhaps more significant, than winning.
The Reds, all off-field drama aside, have been dismal against derby rivals over the past two seasons – winless in 2016 and just 2 – 4 last season.
It would not be possible to hang all of that around the neck of Quade Cooper.
Those who specialize in the math of prediction claim that 11 victories could clinch the Australian Conference for the Reds, but based on the past two seasons, those 11 wins will require about five more seasons, which would in all probability put the fork into new Reds Coach Thorn.
The 11-win scenario, under the new Super Rugby format, would necessitate a win in all of the eight derbies the Reds have on the fixture this season, win three from South Africa, and still permit them the luxury of being soundly beaten by every Kiwi.
Beginning to sound a bit like American sports, where almost any team with anything near a .500 record is talking about a spot in the finals down to the waning days of the season.
Losing the first game out 45 – 19, however, might cause the prognosticators to shift scenarios.