Rugby – the year that wasn’t
Highlight of the year: The Lions making the Super Rugby final. Sure, losing to the Hurricanes in the final was gutting, but the rugby that took them there was everything South African rugby was not about. The plan was lucid, the players were allowed to play heads-up rugby, and the combination of flair and dynamism was often breathtaking. Given that they were relegated from Super Rugby in 2013, it was a comeback from the ends of the earth.
Lowlight of the year: As if losing six of their 10 tests before the Italy game hadn’t made moegoes of us all, the Springboks had to take it down a notch with a defeat to the Italians.
Significant moment of the year: SA Rugby deciding to increase the private stakes in the provincial unions to 74%. For years, South African rugby has been held hostage by a bunch of relics who were only in it for the free brandewijn and Coke.
Give that man a Bells (performance of the year): Elton Jantjies’s performance against the Highlanders in Super Rugby was the most dominant by a South African halfback since Fourie du Preez’s in the Boks’ 36-0 group stages win against England in 2007. Jantjies scored 22 points – from a try, four conversions and three penalties – in a 42-30 win.
Summary of year: We should have known when an unnecessary Currie Cup “qualifying” competition running parallel with Super Rugby was foisted on the public that the administrators were losing their marbles. Then came the late show with Allister Coetzee’s appointment, his patchwork support staff and the Bok results that suggested the powers that be wouldn’t know a hard decision if it hit them in the face.
Unsung hero(es): The poor Bok fans who kept turning up and tuning into their TV sets in spite of the team’s results.
Look out for: Ox Nché, Raymond Rhule and Nico Lee from the Cheetahs; Jean-Luc du Plessis from the Stormers; Curwin Bosch from the Sharks; Hanro Liebenberg from the Bulls; and Dylan Smith from the Lions.
What the sport needs for Christmas: Jesus.