After a short hiatus due to the pressures of work, we’re back albeit briefly this week as we have a quick look at Super Rugby’s latest action. Also by reflecting on the past, we start our buildup to the Lions Tour of New Zealand which kicks off in a mere two weeks. So as Super Rugby gets to the business end of the tournament and with the buildup to the upcoming Lions tour to New Zealand as well as the June Internationals, we along with every other rugby fan out there have plenty to look forward to next month.
The action is really starting to heat up as Super Rugby heads towards its conclusion in July, and braces for a month-long hiatus as the June Internationals take over the rugby world in the coming weeks, including the highly anticipated British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand. To be honest the competition is so far turning into a mirror image of last year’s, as three New Zealand teams, the Crusaders, Chiefs and Hurricanes are utterly dominating proceedings with only South Africa’s Lions offering any genuine threat to the New Zealand triumvirate. New Zealand teams are clearly the sides to beat with even the two bottom placed outfits in the New Zealand conference the Blues and Highlanders providing plenty of fireworks.
The Australian conference sadly seems to have become the tournament’s laughing-stock this year, with even the top placed Brumbies posing little or any threat to the rest of the tournament’s teams, even though due to the vagaries of the conference system they are guaranteed a play off spot, which seems a trifle unjust as their standard of play has been far from stellar and mediocre at best.
In the African conferences, as mentioned above it is only South Africa’s Lions and Sharks who have made any kind of impact on the tournament, with the Sharks having done better than last year in terms of consistency. The Cheetahs and Bulls are languishing in Super Rugby’s no man’s land much like the five Australian teams. The Stormers have shown some real promise and flair at times, but an inability to perform away from their home field at Newlands in Cape Town has proved a serious handicap. Perhaps the talking point of the tournament so far has been the Southern Kings. Their recent run of form has enabled them to suddenly turn from one of the worst teams in the competition to one of the most exciting. Beating the Waratahs in Sydney and the Sharks at home has certainly turned some heads and they clearly have some talent that could well be some solid building blocks for a much-needed revitalization of a battered Springbok cause. Lastly Japan’s Sunwolves continue to remain firmly camped on the lower rungs of the tournament standings ladder, despite giving some of the big teams a few nasty scares at times, while Argentina’s Jaguares started the tournament looking the real deal, but already seem to be running out of puff at a rate of knots as the tournament wears on, much as they did last year. The last few rounds before the summer internationals next month will be key if the Jaguares hope to stand any chance of a sniff at a playoff spot.
The amazing inspirational speech from the legendary Jim Telfer on the 1997 Lions Tour to South Africa provides the soundtrack to this video and as the title says – are you ready? We certainly are and can’t wait. More to follow in the coming weeks!