Rugby – the year that wasn’t

CityPress - - Sport - SIMNIKIWE XABANISA sports@city­

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.

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