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, while 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, while the English Premiership adopted the system in 2003
Leinster and the Ospreys have already secured home advantage in the RaboDirect PRO12 play-offs, but their opponents are yet to be decided.
Munster are guaranteed to finish in the top four, but whether that is in third or fourth place is still unknown. The final play-off position is still up for grabs with Glasgow Warriors, the Scarlets and Ulster still vying for the spot.
Glasgow Warriors are in pole position to reach the semi-finals as two match points from their round 22 game against Connacht will extend their season into the knockout stages.
Should the Scottish club falter, the Scarlets and Ulster will be keen to make up the numbers. Ulster require a bonus point win away to Munster and other results to go their way to progress.
Should the Scarlets fail to pick up five match points from their clash with the Cardiff Blues, 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 fixtures kicking off simultaneously on Saturday evening, it will be a nervous time for some fans.
* 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
RABODIRECT PRO12 – ROUND 22 FIXTURES:
Saturday, May 5 –
Edinburgh v Benetton Treviso, Murrayfield, 7.30pm
Glasgow Warriors v CONNACHT, Firhill Stadium, 7.30pm (live TG4/BBC ALBA)
MUNSTER v ULSTER, Thomond Park, 7.30pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC 2 Northern Ireland)
Newport Gwent Dragons v LEINSTER, Rodney Parade, 7.30pm
Scarlets v Cardiff Blues, Parc y Scarlets, 7.30pm (live S4C)
Aironi Rugby v Ospreys, Stadio Zaffanella, 8.30pm local time (live Rai Sport 2/BBC 2 Wales)