Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Five talking points for the new Super Rugby season

Super Rugby returns on Friday with 21 straight weeks of competition until the July 6 final. Here are five talking points for the 24th year of the southern hemisphere club championship.

Try, try and try again

There is enough pressure already on World Cup hopefuls to be at their best, physically and mentally for nearly five months, then hold their form through the Rugby Championship before peaking again when the global showpiece starts in September.

Not satisfied with that, Coastal Sharks coach Robert du Preez has added to the heat on his side by demanding four tries per match, blaming wasted opportunities for finishing second-to-last in the 2018 try-scoring stakes.

“We could have scored more tries, and that is what the aim will be this season, to score four tries in every game,” he decreed.

Did you see that?

One of the biggest gripes in recent years has surrounded inconsistent refereeing over mid-air collisions, high tackles, time-consuming use of the television match official — and looking after Australia’s favourite son David Pocock.

The whistle-blowers say they thrashed out all the issues at a January get-together and believe they are now all on the same page, even to the point of protecting Pocock whose feats at the breakdown leave him susceptible to the horrendous neck roll.

“There has been a very clear understanding from the referees around managing that situation a lot better,” said competition boss Andy Marinos.

“You don’t want to take away a player’s ability to clean him out, but it’s about can someone clean him out in a less damaging way.”

This means war

Former All Blacks enforcer Brad Thorn took no prisoners in his playing days and now that he’s coaching the Queensland Reds he’s instilling the same toughness in his players.

After finishing a disappointing 13th last year, Thorn subjected his charges to a three-day Australian army bootcamp to get them fighting fit for this season.

“We walked miles and miles, I don’t know how many,” said Samu Kerevi.

“We pushed trailers, we carried people, injured combatants that we had to carry for ages … there was nights where we’d think we’d sleep but we wouldn’t.”

Centre of attention

The World Cup distraction will have coaches debating when best to use their marquee players with reputations on the line at every outing.

The Auckland Blues have already decided not to play Sonny Bill Williams rather than risk both him and Ma’a Nonu in Saturday’s clash with the star-studded Canterbury Crusaders.

The Melbourne Rebels, though, have wasted no time displaying their new halves combination of Will Genia and Quade Cooper in an all-Wallaby showdown against the ACT Brumbies pair of Joel Powell and Christian Lealiifano.

World against Crusaders

The Crusaders may start the season as title favourites but history says World Cup years count against them.

They are chasing a third successive title, a feat only managed by one other team and that was an earlier vintage Crusaders in 1998, 1999, 2000.

Of their nine titles, 1999 is the only time they have won in a World Cup year as demands to ease up on the work loads of Test players has cost them dearly.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Agency
External source

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against the...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

Micro-hydropower lights up an Eastern Cape village

There is hidden potential for small hydropower plants in South Africa

More top stories

Bail hearing of alleged crime boss Modack begins in Cape...

The state alleges Modack ‘managed’ illegal operations between October 2019 and September 2020

Pandemic accelerates decline of printed news, but trust in media...

Covid-19 has forced newsrooms to find new business models, but the public has turned to the news more in the last year

Gigaba says it was ‘an unfortunate coincidence’ SOEs were captured...

The former public enterprises minister says he was deliberately removed from state companies' dealings and could not have learned of the looting

SIU freezes R22-million in Digital Vibes accounts

The Special Investigating Unit said it would ask the tribunal to declare the health department’s contract with the company unlawful
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×