BUFFALO, NY – Happy Good Friday, Passover and Easter! I am in Buffalo doing research on the Autobiography Of Short Matt, Founder of Rugby Wrap Up and it’s American father, Meet The Matts. Yet, I digress…
The Super 15… Granted, most mid-term examinations of a season wait until after said season’s official midway point. Here on RWU, however, we do things a bit differently; we like to pioneer. Further, some of you might protest, saying my prognostications to this point have been shite… That I’m no clairvoyant and should stop making predictions or reviews or anything, for that matter, when it comes to rugby. And to those protesters I say this: You’re right. But RWU insists I continue – they clearly need columnists and I’m available. So pffft!!! to all you protesters. That won’t stop me.
So… Here’s what I predicted the standings would like like a month ago vs today’s stark reality:
If you’re still with me, you can clearly see why matches are played on the field and not on paper. The 2012 season has been full of surprises. In an attempt to redeem myself (or cream thyself), here are the reasons I chose as I did.
New Zealand Conference: Pat Lam must be fired as coach of the Blues and Andy Dalton, head of the Auckland RU, must fall on his sword. The team has not shown any tactical knowledge and appears rudderless. Meanwhile, Dave Rennie of the Chiefs and Jamie Joseph the Highlanders have shown what fresh ideas, energy and young players can do. Their respective clubs are playing a fast-paced expansive game, lead by young mobile packs with hungry attack minded backs… Mark Hammett of the ‘Canes has shown that he can coach a young team as opposed to last year, where it was proven he could not coach established stars. Todd Blackadder’s Crusaders are known for slow starts, so they are par for the course right now but may turn it on the second half of the season. It must be recognized that this conference is the strongest of the three.
Australia Conference: Take a bow, Jake White. He came under heavy criticism for considering the England job after signing to coach the Brumbies but it is amazing how winning shuts up critics. The Force and Rebels for the most part prove that Australia still has a long way to go to develop enough talent for 5 teams. The Reds and Waratahs are struggling with a mix of injuries and inconsistency. This is still the weakest conference and don’t be surprised if only the Brumbies make the playoffs.
South Africa Conference: The Stormers finally have the forwards to take them very far. Their backline is still a bit meh but they are grinding out results. The Bulls lead by gym rat and flat track bully, Pierre Spies, are remaining physical and doing the basics of good defense and goal kicking to keep themselves winning. The Sharks are not to be slept on. They are remaining in touching distance and as they click, more and more could pour it on. The Lions have shown they are just a bit too young to really make a go of it this year. The Cheetahs are doing just enough to avoid bottom. I believe of all the SA franchises, they will be most likely replaced with the Easter Province Kings next Super 15 season (we can get into that debate in the comments section).
As for my predictions for the second half, you’ll be relieved to know that I’ve decided to shut up for now. I’ll watch a few more matches, scribble diligent notes and get back to you when I’m more informed – in theory at least.
Til’ then, take care and remember… stay low and keep pumping those legs!!