It’s been a weird Vodacom Super Rugby campaign for South Africa’s four franchises in 2019, but Boks boss Rassie Erasmus will still take a lot of positives from the competition ahead of the World Cup, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
It’s fair to say South Africa’s Super Rugby teams have been a bit bipolar as far as their performances are concerned. Consistency has been a bit of joke, as teams seldom managed to string top performances together.
It’s been picanha steak one weekend and instant noodles the next.
It’s no surprise that the top performing team in the South African conference have been the beef-eating Jaguares, who go into the final round of fixtures 10 points ahead of the second-placed Vodacom Bulls.
Continuity has certainly helped the Jaguares do the business, as most of the players have been playing together for a few years for franchise and country.
They haven’t been hit as hard by the European exodus as South Africa and New Zealand. They will be more than a handful at the World Cup in Japan, because they have developed quality players in almost all the positions on the park.
However, while the Jaguares have run away with the SA conference title, South Africa will have a minimum of three teams contesting the playoffs, while New Zealand are likely to have only two teams in the knockout rounds. The Brumbies will probably be Australia’s sole representative.
Obviously, the conference system has helped the South Africans, as the New Zealand conference is a lot tougher. But the teams from Africa gave a much better account of themselves, especially away from home, against Kiwi opposition.
There were plenty of ties, and few matches that South African teams should have won. The Crusaders were held at home by the Sharks before they shared the points with the Stormers at Newlands. The Bulls left New Zealand without defeat after sharing the points with the Blues and the Highlanders.
The Lions didn’t have a great tour Down Under, but they managed to beat the Jaguares in Argentina, which was no mean feat this year.
In the process, South Africa also developed a lot of depth, with many young players having good campaigns, while some senior Boks also managed to find some form at one stage or another.
Players such as Curwin Bosch and Carlu Sadie have blossomed against Kiwi opposition, while Bok captain Siya Kolisi looks refreshed.
All in all, there have been a lot more positives than negatives as far as South Africa’s Super Rugby teams are concerned, and this bodes well for Erasmus and his Springbok side.
This is a massive year for the Boks. A World Cup year. Things are looking up, despite the Jekyll and Hyde performances we have witnessed over the last couple of month.