Ladies and Gentleman, please welcome the newest member of the RWU team, Jamie Wall. Jamie will be our Super Rugby tower of power for the course of the season and going forth. He makes our second Kiwi, JWB from South of Stewart Island and Jamie, a true black and gold Wellingtonian living in JAFA-land!!
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND: Happy Valentines Day from the land of the long white cloud!
Here’s a bunch of ‘S’s coming at you: The staggered start of the Super Rugby season kicks off Saturday in South Africa. Try saying that fast 10 times.
The action has a distinctly regional feel with the Cheetahs taking on the Lions in Bloemfontein and the Bulls heading to the Shark Tank in Durban.
The form book and common sense says that the Cheetahs and Sharks should take these matches out. But it’s a new year and, as they say, the problem with common sense is that isn’t that common.
For the returning Lions to pull off an upset over last year’s surprise package Cheetahs they’ll not only need to overcome their abrasive forward pack but also a boisterous home crowd. The one key area (among many) in the Lions shameful demotion a couple of seasons back was atrocious defense, which would hemorrhage points on a grand scale. Hopefully coach Johan Ackermann has had the tackle bags out over summer, otherwise it’s going to be a long and painful 80 minutes for the Lions and their fans. The Cheetahs should take this easily and their main concern is that balsa-wood first-five Johan Goosen can get through unscathed. He’ll be a key man this season if they are to feature in the playoffs.
Down the road in Durban, the four-time championship bridesmaid Sharks will look to put a disappointing 2013 being them. They’ve certainly got the men in charge to do it in head coach Jake White and new skipper Bismarck du Plessis, who will most definitely taste the blood in the water of a Bulls side that’s suffered major personnel changes over the off-season. So much so they’ve dragged Victor Matfield away from his microphone and back out onto the paddock at age 36. Hopefully he can inspire a young and inexperienced Bulls side to a credible showing, albeit off the bench.
These two games are a bit of an underwhelming start to the premier domestic Rugby competition in the world (sorry Heineken Cup), with the two other markets probably blissfully unaware of these two matches even happening until Sunday morning when they feature in the sports news. We’ll preview the competition starting properly next week when all three conferences will be in action.
Until then you might want to start making excuses as to how you’re going to get out of mowing the lawn, cleaning the garage and generally spending time with your loved ones when you’ll really want to be off watching another long and glorious Rugby season.
Feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter @: RugbyWrapUp, Junoir Blaber, DJ Eberle, Nick Hall, James Harrington, Cody Kuxmann, Jaime Loyd, Jamie Wall and Declan Yeats, respectively.