In to the third installment of the ATJ 2012 Year in Review and today I have a look at the top teams of the year. Sport is a moment that can often be defined by individual brilliance, but sometimes in sport the collection is greater than the individual. Now please note the lack of bias in the list as Arsenal, the Cheetahs, Kaizer Chiefs, the Titans and Mclaren do not make the list. Here are the Top 10 teams of 2012.
10. Red Bull
In 2004 when Jaguar was bought out by Red Bull, few would have thought that the Austrian-licensed team to dominate the sport the way they have over recent years. This year saw Red Bull secure their third successive constructors titles and in the process becoming only the fourth team in history to win 3 in a row after Ferrari, Mclaren and Williams. Having secured Vettel and Webber’s drives for 2013, few would argue on the chance of a fourth title next year.
9. Manchester City
Well it had to happen eventually, but Manchester City don’t make this list merely for winning the Premier League, but rather for the nature of the win. After an incredible season, Manchester City trailed United by 8 points with a six games left. No team has ever been able to overtake United in the final stretch like that, but City did not wilt to the Ferguson Mind-games and won 6 out of 6 to claim their first title since 1968.
8. Spain Football Team
Have an International ever dominated as much as this Spanish team? A simple answer would be no. Comparisons with the 1950’s Brazil will persist, but this Spanish team deserve all the plaudits they are currently getting. They now have won the last 3 international competitions they have competed in and won Euro 2012 with a fantastic romp to victory. They may have been fortunate to get through on penalties against Portugal but the classy Spaniards were incredible in the final victory against Italy.
7. Waikato Chiefs Rugby
SupeRugby has become a precision of Crusaders and Bulls winning in previous years, but this year the Chiefs emerged from the New Zealand conference as the top team and were able to finish second in the overall pool. They beat the usual champions the Crusasders in the semi final and then gave the Sharks a hiding in the final to win the Super Rugby title, the first of their history.
6. Western Province Rugby
Being someone who supports a few teams that have had droughts longer than most, I know what the Western Province fans have been feeling like. This year that stopped. Province emerged victorious in the Currie Cup after a fantastic season. This was their first win since 2001 and was coupled with a dominating season in SupeRugby that saw them win the South African conference. You have to wonder if WP having now learnt how to win can take the final step up to claim the SupeRugby prize in 2013.
5. Baby Boks
The IRB Junior World Championship has been dominated by New Zealand. They won the first 4 events and when it got to the 5th event to be hosted in South Africa, the Junior All Blacks were once again favourites to win. That was until a South African side decided to change things. The Baby Boks started with a loss to Ireland that pretty much made things look dire, but an incredible victory against Italy and then against England, who have twice beaten SA in the semi’s, meant SA made it into the Semi-finals. Argentina were the next team to receive a klap before the Baby Bokke took on NZ in the final. The final was an epic encounter, but once the Bokke took the lead, they refused to relinquish it. World Champions.
4. West Indies T20 Team
In 1979 West Indies won their second World Cup and stood atop the cricketing world. Since then they have blemished and spiraled to a team more a laughing-stock than fear inducing. They did win the Champions Challenge in 2004 but not many like that anyway. But 2012 was a return to the top for the Caribbean kings as they won the World T20 with some style. After scraping through the group stage, they made the semi-finals due to wins over England and New Zealand. They then smashed Australia in the semi’s and comfortably beat favourites Sri Lanka in the final.
3. Proteas Test Team
To write in one paragraph how well they have done is nearly impossible. But the team have been sensational this year. 10 test matches played 0 lost, with the last 9 being outside of South Africa. The Proteas beat NZ in NZ, England in England and of course famously Australia in Australia to become and then retain the number 1 test team in the world. They have not lost a series since 2009 and the team is incredibly well-balanced with Kallis, Amla and Smith complimented by Philander, Morkel and Steyn.
2. Orlando Pirates
It pains me to do this, but Orlando Pirates are an incredible team. In 2012 they took it to a new level when they changed manager but won a second treble in consecutive years. They won the PSL thanks to their own form and an implosion by Sundowns, they won the MTN 8 thanks to a victory against Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs thanks to an extra time winner by Oupa Manyisa. They completed the treble with a win in the Telkom Knockout against Bidvest Wits. It pains me to do this, but Orlando Pirates thoroughly deserve their place in the top teams of 2012.
1. European Ryder Cup Team
The only team that could seriously stop Pirates from this title was surely the European, Seve Ballesteros inspired, Ryder Cup team. The 2012 Medinah hosted Ryder Cup produced the greatest comeback ever by the Europeans and the biggest comeback ever on foreign soil. It also was the biggest lead that USA had surrendered since the 2 shot turnaround in 1927. Europe fought through an incredible day to win the singles 8.5-3.5. And with that win they also secure the All Things Jabu Team of the Year for 2012.