In the second part of a segment from the latest SA Rugby magazine, WADE PRETORIUS looks back at a selection of iconic moments from the competition’s 25-year history.
SCORING ‘FOUR’ FUN
As many as 18 players have bagged four tries in a single match with Stefan Terblanche (Sharks vs Chiefs ’98) joining Gavin Lawless (Sharks vs Highlanders ’97) and Lions duo Courtnall Skosan (vs Reds ’17) and Madosh Tambwe (vs Stormers ’18) on the list. Some eye other-catching names on four tries include Joe Roff, Malili Muliaina, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Joeli Vidiri, and Doug Howlett.
SIZZLING IN SOWETO
2010 was a year South African fans will never forget and for the Vodacom Bulls faithful, it only got better. With the Soccer World Cup taking over, the all-South African final shifted to Soweto’s Orlando Stadium and was duly sold out. The Stormers outscored their hosts two tries to one but once again the ruthless physicality of the Bulls’ pack and the boot of Steyn ensured a 25-17 victory.
One of the game’s more divisive characters, Australian international Israel Folau’s talent and ability to burst clear of the defence is unquestionable. In seven seasons with the Tahs, Folau scored a record 60 tries to move past Kiwi duo Doug Howlett (59) and Caleb Ralph (58).
Before the start of the ‘Sanzar’ era, the Queensland Reds were the kings of ‘Super’ competitions with three wins in 1992, ’94 and ’95. The Brumbies era of dominance faded as quickly as it blew before the Reds once again climbed to the top and shocked the Crusaders in 2011. The Wallabies-laden Tahs edged the Saders three years later in a thrilling 33-32 finale to ensure no match would ever start with a overwhelming degree of certainty.
PRIDE OF JOBURG
The Lions, winners of the ’93 Super 6, albeit as Transvaal, were axed from the competition in favour of the Kings in 2013 and many felt the union would never recover. Instead, the franchise bonded like few squads have ever done and re-emerged in the competition as a force to be reckoned with. From the outskirts to finalists three years in a row from 2016 onwards. It’s a fairytale story that unfortunately did not get the ending it deserved.
SADERS HIT DOUBLE FIGURES
Vodacom Super Rugby was at its most competitive between 2008 and 2016 when the Bulls and Stormers built momentum and the Chiefs and Hurricanes refined their all-out attack approach to put a halt on the Crusaders seemingly endless march towards the trophy. Without a win since their 2008 victory, the men in red and black regrouped and have now won three championships in a row. The Crusaders’ win over the Jaguares in last year’s final saw them clinch their 10th Super Rugby title.
Looking through the history books, Dan Carter’s feats will no doubt remain for some time. One of the most gifted players of his generation, the Crusaders No 10 ranks one in all-time points, conversions and penalties part and sits as a three-time championship winner.
QUICK OFF THE MARK
Trying to stop Bryan Habana in a full-flight is no easy feat and the predatory poacher moved hastily to put his name in the record books when he took just eight seconds to score for the Stormers against the Cheetahs in 2011. Unsurprisingly, the mark has not been troubled since.
ENIGMA OF ELTON
Much maligned at international level he may be, but there’s no denying Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies’ class this level. Already fourth on the all-time points list and safely in the history books with his nine penalties in a single outing (vs the Cheetahs in 2012), Jantjies freely attacks the gainline as the conductor of the Joburg-side’s attacking gameplan, and was central to that team reaching three consecutive finals.
Ngani Laumape’s 15 tries in the 2017 tied a long-standing record shared by Joe Roff (Brumbies – 1997) and Rico Gear (Crusaders- 2005). It was a mark that lasted just one more year as Hurricanes flyer Ben Lam, a convert from sevens, went clear at the top with a staggering 16 during the 2018 season.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
However the politics played out, Sanzar’s approval for the Jaguares and Sunwolves’ elevation to Super status has not entirely suited South Africa. The Japanese union famously did not vote in favour of South Africa to host the 2023 World Cup and playing both teams has seen the travel demands increase. Oh, and the Jaguares have proven to be a formidable side and easily topped the SA conference last year in another blow to the local best intentions.
To play 100 consecutive games in this sport is a masterful achievement with form, injury and new rivals always in play. Only one player can claim the honour with Caleb Ralph’s 100 in a row for the Blues and Crusaders a unique achievement. Spare a thought for Bulls’ flank Pedri Wannenburg who managed 99.
Only one player has reached the milestone of 200 appearances and to do it as a prop makes it a worthwhile cause for celebration. That honour falls to Crusaders stalwart Wyatt Crockett, who served his side with distinction for 13 seasons.
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