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3. Special goals are many

Suliasi Vunivalu's red card against Drua was one of the strangest cases in the history of the competition: one trip was so bad, but to do it again defied belief.

Reds winger Suliasi Vunivalu (left) tackles Fiji Drua's Kitioni Salawa during Queensland's loss in Suva.

Reds winger Suliasi Vunivalu (left) tackles Fiji Drua's Kitioni Salawa during Queensland's loss in Suva.credit: GT

The urge to self-destruct was clearly contagious, because there is no other way to describe the Brumbies' decision not to get three points in the final quarter against the Crusaders.

A successful penalty would have given them a 13-point lead, but they elected to kick for touch and almost put the Crusaders back in the game with a series of fouls.

The end of the game – and Quentin Strange's decision to drop the ball looking like a clear infringement – meant the Brumbies' decision was not a costly one, but they had certainly learned their lesson.

There's a lot to like about the Brumbies this season, not least the impressive counterattacking and strong play of Rob Valetini, but the big concern remains the crowd. New Wallabies expert Mike Cron will be working overtime to find solutions in the chaos.

4. The Brave Rebels deserve a spot in the finals

The Rebels could reach the finals on the back of six straight defeats, with tough encounters in Canberra and Lautoka in the final two rounds.

This will once again put the spotlight on the eight-team playoff system, although there doesn't appear to be any mood for change on both sides of the ditch. However, you can't begrudge the Rebels a spot in the finals.

Aside from the deflection in Christchurch, they have been fighting back from several of their losses, including another gutsy performance against the Chiefs on Friday.

This week's Cali team

  1. Harry Hubert (Power)
  2. Jordan Oiles (Rebels)
  3. Santiago Medrano (Strength)
  4. Isaac Rodda (Power)
  5. Josh Canham (Rebels)
  6. Nick Frost (Brumbys)
  7. Brad Wilkin (Rebels)
  8. Rob Valetini (Brumbys)
  9. Nick White (The Power)
  10. Noah Lolessio (Brumbys)
  11. Ollie Sapsford (Brumbys)
  12. Hamish Stewart (The Power)
  13. Lin Ikitaw (Brumbys)
  14. Andy Muirhead (Brumbys)
  15. Tom Wright (Brumbys) – Player of the week

They have remained militant in unusual circumstances, although self-interest may also play a role. Players play under contracts, a smaller pool of which will be available if the Rebels do not regain their license.

There are a few guys on the Rebels squad, perhaps more, who are in the best form of their careers – and have likely secured their futures elsewhere on the back of their performances.

5. What do the Crusaders' woes mean for the Wallabies?

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The collapse of the Crusaders looks to be great news for the Wallabies, with the Christchurch side having provided a steady stream of All Blacks over a long period. However, history shows a more complex picture.

Their dynasty in the Scott Robertson era did not translate into a dominant All Blacks side, and the All Blacks' victories in the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups came in a period when the Crusaders had not won any Super Rugby titles.

It was a similar story in the Robbie Deans era in the 2000s – the Crusaders' dominance in Super Rugby, and a lack of success in the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and 2007.

This is the opposite of Leinster's influence in Ireland, and suggests that in New Zealand at least, the All Blacks actually benefit from a wider spread of teams and players who understand what it takes to win at Super Rugby level, rather than having the same at the smaller level. The group succeeds time and time again.

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