This could have been extended to the 100 most memorable moments such was the number of things that happened this year. But we are so lazy we stopped at 50.
01 Rieko Ioane’s Opening Night Hat-Trick
Good old Sanzaar made a quite appalling decision to launch the 2017 Super Rugby competition in Melbourne, with a game between the respective weakest teams in the Australian and New Zealand Conferences...on a Thursday night. Genius.
Thank goodness then for Rieko Ioane who brightened what was threatening to be a dismal occasion, played in front of thousands of empty seats, by scoring a brilliant hat-trick.
02 Nehe MilnerSkudder Injury Drama Part I
Having missed virtually all of 2016 with a dislocated shoulder, Nehe Milner-Skudder made a welcome return to action with the Hurricanes in round two of Super Rugby.
He was just beginning to find his rhythm when, unbelievably, on the same weekend that he’d damaged himself the year before, he broke his foot and was ruled out until early June.
03 Charlie Ngatai Returns
Having missed much of 2016 due to prolonged concussion symptoms that were still plaguing him in early 2017, hope was fading that Charlie Ngatai would ever play again.
There were rumours he would have to give up the game for good. But in mid-April he managed to turn out for his club and in early May he was named to start for the Chiefs against the Reds in New Plymouth. It had been 11 months since he had played Super Rugby and in that time he had been picked as an All Black but forced to withdraw from the squad. He played well enough in his comeback and thankfully now seems to have put his concussion troubles behind him.
04 Scott Robertson Works His Routine
It remains arguably the oddest yet most endearing thing that Scott Robertson, a man in his early 40s, can credibly breakdance.
Razor has gained world renown for his love of celebrating major trophies by performing his well-worked routine and he outdid himself at Ellis Park, where he flipped and spun miraculously well after his Crusaders team won their first title since 2008.
He became the second coach in five years to win a title in his first year in the job.
05 Vaea Fifita’s Try in New Plymouth
The big Hurricanes flanker had unusually high expectations placed upon him by Steve Hansen before the game against the Pumas.
The All Blacks coach said he rated Fifita as one of the best natural athletes he’d ever seen and suggested that the potential was there for the Tongan-born flanker to sit alongside the likes of Jerry Collins and Jerome Kaino.
After such a big build up, Fifita was under pressure not to disappoint. And he didn’t. He scored a try midway through the second half where he stood up the Pumas right wing and then blasted past him to score in the corner.
It was incredible – a 1.96m, 113kg flying machine.