Why the EP Kings Ascension to the Premier Division Looks Impossible

The Eastern Province Kings cemented a home semi-final after thrashing the Griffons 60-19 in Port Elizabeth last Friday night to move to 55 points – eight points ahead of the second-placed Ford Pumas with just two rounds remaining.

The EP Kings meet the Pumas at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday 21 September. Kick off is at 7:10 pm.

The First Division EP Kings are vying for a place in the Premier Division which is currently populated by 6 teams; Lions, Sharks, Western Province, Griquas, FS Cheetahs and Blue Bulls – the Lions are the current log leaders with the Blue Bulls guarding last place.

Some of the EP Kings achievements to date:

  • The EP Kings are the ONLY side in both divisions to be unbeaten
  • The average ratio of tries scored against the Kings is the lowest in both divisions at 1.91 tries against per match
  • The EP Kings have the highest average ratio of try bonus points in both divisions at 0.75 per match (shared with the Leopards also on 9 points)
  • The EP Kings have the lowest number of points scored against them per match out of both divisions at 16.67 points per match (the Pumas have scored the most points out of both divisions and are currently 4 points ahead of the EP Kings on 470)
  • The EP Kings have scored the most tries per game out of both divisions – an average of 4.83 tries per game (shared with the Pumas and Leopards who also scored 58 tries)

Lets examine some of the hurdles making ascension to the Premier Division by a First Division side difficult (some would say as well nigh impossible as parting the waters!):

  • There are 8 teams in the First Division and 6 in the Premier Division
  • The Premier Division sides get handy breaks in the season for Super Rugby
  • First Division sides have each played 12 games to date as opposed to 6 each by the Premier Division sides
  • A First Division side vying for promotion will play 3 more games with the last being against the last placed side in the Premier Division
  • A team such as the Blue Bulls, depleted as it is now by call ups to the Springbok team can fall to the bottom of the log and then become a powerhouse when it’s Springboks return.
  • The promotion relegation game will take place on 13 October 2012 – 6 days after the Springboks return from their match against Argentina.

Based on the above it could then happen that the winners of the First Division, (most pundits predict the EP Kings to win) will have to play against the last placed side (could be the Blue Bulls) newly bolstered with a plethora of Springboks returning from Argentina to represent their home unions?

My pea brain thus recognises that the present promotion/relegation format is heavily biased against any First Division team looking to be promoted.

In fact when last was any team promoted to the Premier Division without some form of ‘manipulation’ to the rules?