Mud-slinging tainted Super Rugby start
Last week’s opening round of Super Rugby matches evoked mixed emotions for various reasons. The three teams who immediately stood out were three-time defending champions the Crusaders, the Stormers and the Chiefs, and maybe to a lesser extent the Jaguares.
In the early stages of the season, there already seems to be no stopping the incredible Crusaders who despite losing a host of All Black stars looked very organised in their first game of the new competition against the Waratahs.
The Chiefs also looked impressive, despite trailing the Blues 19-5 at the break. They were ruthless in the second half, marking a dream start for new coach Warren Gatland.
Among the SA teams, the Stormers were the most impressive in their 27-0 demolition of the Hurricanes, and the zero behind their name on the scoreboard would not have gone down well with the proud Kiwi franchise.
The mud-slinging afterwards, however, was something the game could have done without.
Stormers coach John Dobson was unhappy about the late charge on his captain, Siya Kolisi, with the Bok skipper expected to be sidelined for almost two months by a knee injury.
Was Kolisi targeted? That’s a question for which we will probably never have an answer.
Flank Pieter-Steph du Toit apparently got some fingers in his eye, and flyhalf Damian Willemse struggled to get up after a dangerous charge in the air.
The Canes hit back by saying that the glass at Newlands must be thick, hinting that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
The other three SA teams had a stuttering start, with the Sharks edging the Bulls in Durban.
Both teams’ true value will become clearer today, however, when the Sharks play away to the Highlanders and the Bulls get a chance at Newlands to prove whether the Stormers are really that good or if the Hurricanes were just poor.
It is nonetheless too early to start raving about the Stormers or the Sharks after just one match.
It’s also too early to write off the Bulls, and especially the Lions.