February 27, 2012 in Uncategorized
What an exciting start to the 2012 Super Rugby season we had! If every weekend can produce at least four of the close matches played this weekend Super Rugby will have no equal in terms of excitement and quality.
Just a few points I picked up over the weekend.
1.) 1.) The Crusaders are the early pace-setters for 2012. It can’t be overstated how important it is for the title contenders to win their home games. A loss at home will mean that you’ll have to make up for it by winning an away match against another title contender. An away win against another contender, as was the situation with the Crusaders on Friday, is a huge bonus. By beating the Blues in Aukland on Friday the Crusaders have given themselves a huge advantage over the other title contenders.
2.) 2.) The teams will again have to adapt to the officials’ new law interpretation or suffer the consequences. The referees were given instructions by SANZAR to make sure that the ball is available within three seconds at the breakdowns. No calls for hands off or roll-away. If a player slows the ball down he must be penalized. This created a situation where defending teams do not commit more players to the ruck other than the tackler, tackler assist and perhaps a fetcher. Although the call came to ensure quick ruck ball and more attacking opportunities, the result at the moment better organized defenses due to defending teams not committing players to the ruck. It will be interesting to see how this situation develops over the course of the season.
3.) 3.) There’s no such thing as a guaranteed win. Although one can expect the title contenders to win their home matches, no team can afford to rest too many players for matches against the lesser teams. Especially away from home. All of the weekend’s matches could have gone either way, although I feel that the Stormers could have put their result beyond doubt at half-time if it weren’t for some bad decision making either due to rustiness or a flawed gameplan.
4.) 4.) The Bulls can regroup faster than most people thought they would. It’s still early days and a lot can still happen, but the truth is that the Bulls are a lot closer to being the force they were by beating the Sharks than they would have been if they have lost that match.
5.) 5.) There’s work to be done at Newlands. The Hurricanes seemed uninterested in winning Saturday’s match from the get go and it was only the Stormers’ mistakes that made that game as close as it was. It may just be rustiness on the part of the Stormers or it can be that the Stormers are using a more helter scelter approach to make up for their lack of a specialized fetcher. Either way, they should rectify the situation before they play the Sharks, because the Sharks have proved on Friday how dangerous they can be on turnover ball. And their defense wont leak tries as easily as the men from Wellington’s.
6.) 6.) My newcomer of the week goes to Stormers replacement Siya Kolisi. Losing Schalk Burger is a huge blow any side, but Kolisi more than made amends with his good runs and a well deserved try on debut. Honorable mention must go to Juandre Kruger. Playing lock for the Bulls must have been pretty frustrating for any other player than Matfield, Bakkies or Rossouw, but Kruger took his chance with a lineout steal at the death that Victor would have been proud of.
That’s it for my conclusions for this week. You are welcome to add your views below. And, by the way, how much fun is it to finally be able to report on actual rugby for a change?! It was fun speculating about who the new Bok coach will be or bashing SARU about their cockups, but no sideshow comes close to watching some good rugger!