We’re only two weeks into this season’s Super 15 and it’s already starting to take on a familiar ring.
The Lions are as brittle as ever and are willing to hand over rugby games to any opposition team that asks in a rather stern voice if the Lions wouldn’t mind rolling over for them. The Shark’s look unimaginative (cheerleaders aside) with loads of potential that they somehow never live up to. And where the Stormers should have a quality flyhalf, they have Brock “Twinkle Toes” Harris at first receiver. Jeez, if I was inside centre for the Stormers I would have knee-capped Harris a long time ago if I wanted to have any expectation of getting the ball in open play. Things looked better for the Stormers on Saturday when Grant came on, but you suspect until that they settle their flyhalf question they’re not going to put away quality opposition in tight games.
The Bulls are throwing their weight around like a 300 pound wrestler taking on a bunch of kindergarteners armed only with popsicles, but their true mettle will only be tested on the road. It still remains to see whether they’ll be able to step up to the legacy left by Meyer’s later squads, or if they will be one of those squads that are unbeatable at home but totally sh$t on the road in New Zealand and the land of Oz.
We’ve been here before, right? If you’re a Lion’s or Cheetah’s supporter you’ve got that feeling that opposition cricket teams used to have when they toured Australia. First morning of the series, first session of the day and Hayden and Langer are already carting you all over the park. Hell… you’re not even 120 minutes into a long series and you’re hoping like hell that you can somehow ride this out and come out on the other side still looking like some sort of half decent sports outfit. Pre-season boasts about Jantjies and Brussouw are proving very regrettable.
Until the Saffer teams cross the Atlantic we won’t really know if Bulls, Stormers and Sharks have realistic knockout hopes (because the Cheetahs and the Lions sure as hell don’t). As someone who grew up watching rugby in the ’90s I’m a firm believer, that what you do at Newlands or Loftus doesn’t count for much until you’ve been tested on the turf in Auckland, Christchurch and Sydney. The Cheetahs are first up for tour and it’s a formality that they will be getting their asses handed to them. For me, I’m reserving all judgement until the top three South African teams go on tour.