South African writers share some of their most cherished memories about 25 years of Vodacom Super Rugby action.
“One of my favourite Super Rugby memories was from 2009 when the Vodacom Bulls played the Chiefs in the final at Loftus Versfeld,’ recalls former rugby writer Clinton van den Berg.
‘For some reason I wasn’t working that day. I was sitting in the stands with my 10-year-old son. There were the usual predictions about what was going to happen. Then the Vodacom Bulls just arrived in one of their moods, and it was beautiful to watch. The Bulls just absolutely turned it on. They were magnificent. They scored 61 points (beating the Chiefs 61-17). It was one of those days where the roars from the crowd just kept on coming.’
For rugby writer Liam del Carme, one of the standout matches he ever witnessed was between the Lions and the Chiefs in 2010.
‘The Chiefs ran up this massive lead in the first half, then the Lions came back and they were within seven points of overturning the result, but still lost 72-65, which I think is still the highest aggregate in a Super Rugby game. That was a bizarre game. It was a perfect example of a game of two halves.’
Journalist Marc Lewis recalls some of his fondest Super Rugby moments as happening before he even worked as a journalist covering the game.
‘I remember being in high school and going to the Keg when I was not of age, and booking a table in the front seat in front of the big screen, because the following day on a Saturday afternoon you wanted to arrive at the Keg, eat those horrible ribs and wings basket, and watch three Super Rugby games in a row. You spent almost the whole day there watching Super Rugby as a fan. It was so true and we had such a passion for rugby.
‘I remember being at the Keg when the Sharks blew that 2001 final against the Brumbies in Canberra. It was 6-6 at halftime, and everyone thought maybe the Sharks can win this. Then they blew it horribly and the Sharks lost 36-6.
‘For me, 25 years of Super Rugby has been more about where you were during particular games, and in a particular time in your life. What I love about this competition is the context it has given my life. I’ll remember those moments forever.’
Renowned rugby writer Cobus Claassen recalls those early-morning wake-up calls for the overseas matches.
‘I remember as a youngster waking up at 4:30am to see the South African teams play overseas. It was such exciting rugby. You know, you can’t throw away 25 years of tradition and history like that. I think we’ll miss it. For 25 years, this was a part of our lives.’
And for Ken Borland, the most memorable match of his career was the one he never attended.
‘One of the matches I am sad, to this day, at having missed was the Vodacom Bulls’ last pool game against the Reds in 2007. I’d given up on the Bulls and put in my leave, believing they wouldn’t be involved in the playoffs. And I remember sitting in the Kruger National Park in Punda Maria and turning on the radio, and I couldn’t believe my ears that the Bulls were on their way to winning 92-3 to win on points difference to get into the semi-final. When the Bulls turned it on they were unbelievable.’