(Not so) Super Rugby Review

The Super 15 has come to an end after what seemed like 2 years of rugby. The Reds won against the Crusaders in a cracking final, but what do I think of the whole Super XV competition? Well, I don’t think its all good to say the least.

Format

The format sucks. Its stupid and pointless and favours certain teams. From a local point of view, how unfair is it if you get to avoid the Crusaders and Reds in one season? What about the flip side of that statement? What about a team that missed out on playing against the Rebels or the Chiefs? I also love the Currie Cup in South Africa, but this is watered down slightly now by the fact that the teams now play twice against each other! Now this definately would favour the Reds who get 4 games against the Force and the Rebels and disadvantages the SA Boys who have to play more physical games than other teams. The Playoff system is stupid too. If we have 15 teams, why not have a quarter final round to involve more teams? That being said, its just too much rugby and something has to change. My proposal would be to get 3 more teams and make it the Super 18, with a top 9 premier league and a bottom 9 1st Division. This would surely lead to a shorter more impact making tournament. 21 weeks is just too much.

Referees

This season saw the announcement that referees could cover games featuring teams from their own countries. This was a decision that would ultimately lead to many tweets of frustration over the super rugby season. Some of the calls were blatantly biased. Some were just downright shocking. Two performances that stick out are from some of the stronger ones were Jonathan Kaplan and Bryce Lawerence in games earlier in the season. Sport officialdom has dropped to a new low level this year and even though there is technology there are many many flawed decisions still being made!

The Rugby

The Super Rugby tournament is the toughest competition in world rugby and the rugby is really just that. Super tough. Ultimately there is no tougher rugby in the World, which is why it feels like such a disadvantaged thing that South Africa, New Zealand and Australia spend 21 weeks playing each other plus a further 6 weeks in the tri nations. That cant bode well for World Cups and the tiredness that would obviously result in this.

The teams

Speaking only of the South African teams here, the disappointment is quite comfortable the Lions. Big things were expected from the Egoli boys as they had investment and time to use it. They ultimately avoided the wooden spoon with two surprise wins, however they will not look back at the season with any joy at all. Once again the call for the inclusion of the Southern Kings in place of the Lions is a call that is gathering noise. The Lions cant fill a stadium, they cant win games and they cant play rugby for 80 minutes.

The Cheetahs decided to turn it on for a few games and were comfortably the form team of the Super Rugby for a period. They have a habit of forgetting to defend unfortunately, but that led to many exciting games for the Bloemfontein Boys. Finishing 11th doesn’t show how well they actually performed in the season and will definately look to grow on that next season.

The Bulls were very disappointing. They forgot to play for much of the opening rounds and ultimately left themselves with too much to do in the final rounds before the qualifiers. That being said, they did still turn it on for a period where they reminded people why the have been the best side in World Rugby for the past 5 years.

The Sharks are a strange team (not because my girlfriend supports them). They never really make you feel like they are World Beaters, but every year they are there and there abouts. They are a good team, that plays good rugby. They just don’t appear to be a team that are going to win the big games (Yes I know they won the Currie Cup last year, but one trophy in a decade doesn’t make you great again. See Orlando Pirates)

The Stormers are getting there. They are fast becoming the best side in South Africa. I also think that in World Cup winning coach Alistair Coetzee, they have developed into the best defensive unit in South Africa. They were undone by the brilliant Crusaders in the end, but there are enough positives there for them to look at it as a season of growth towards being the best.

Match of the Tournament

The Cheetahs beating the Waratahs in Australia, the Lions beating the Highlanders in New Zealand, the Crusaders dismantling the Stormers in Cape Town and the Final of the Super season all stuck out in my mind, but none of them win the match of the tournament award from me. That goes simply to the Sharks beating the Bulls in Pretoria 26-23 in a true humdinger of a game! It was a capacity crowd and the game flowed from side to side. A superb effort by the Sharks that kept them in the tournament for a week more

Player of the Tournament

Many are not fans of this man. I am one of the many that aren’t, however you cannot take away from the monumental impact Quade Cooper had on the season for the Reds. His running and distribution were world class and he could be very proud of his season. Of course we hope that form is not repeated in the World Cup!

Breakout player of the tournament

This will be a shared award. The first player is one that I don’t rate as highly as most, but due to the press he generated, there must be something special about him. Sonny Bill-Williams. He was a huge impact player for the Crusaders this season and apart from the game against the Cheetahs, caused many problems for the South African sides.

The other player that was my breakout player was none other than the ridiculously talented Sarel Pretorious. He was a catalyst for all that was good with the Cheetahs and a try scoring scrum half! Him being overlooked by the Springboks has cost the country badly as he will now be plying his trade in Australia with the Waratahs. If anyone can tell me how Charl Macleod is better than him, I will quickly direct you back  to the bar to get yourself a refill you drunk bum!

Jabu’s one to watch

At the start of the season he was not even sure of a place on the bench for the Cheetahs. By the end of the season he became the pivot in all the Cheetahs play. He has always been a few years behind his twin brother in terms of development. This year he has closed the gap drastically. Watch out for Sias Ebersohn!

Overall Summary

Good rugby + stupid format + too long + stupid format = (Not So) Super Rugby

A few tweaks here and there and this tournament will be back as the best in the World. True Story

JABU

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