Classy Crusaders' achievements are tarnished by a flawed league system
Crusaders are a world apart
The men from Christchurch are without doubt the greatest Super Rugby team in history, if not the best club/provincial/franchise side in the world. They will again be hard to beat this year after topping the overall log, losing just twice this season and once last year, en route to winning the title; that is three defeats in 34 games under coach Scott Robertson. Who said a coach must be afforded time to build a team?
Lions fly SA flag
They have plenty of critics but the Lions are also still South Africa’s best franchise by some margin and deserve credit for making it into the play-offs for the third year running. They also won their conference in 2016, 17 and 18 ... and remain the leaders in SA rugby. The Lions lost two key coaches in Johan Ackermann and JP Ferreira, and a few players last year, with more to leave, yet they continue to play, and win, against the best.
A big salute to the Jaguares
The men from South America got their chance a few years ago and while they had a topsy-turvy start, they have come good in 2018. They’re not likely to win the competition, but they’ve got into the play-offs and that alone is a win for Argentine rugby. They were sensational at one time this season, winning on the road and rocking big teams at home, and will give the Lions a big scare this weekend. Well done to them.
A look at the Super Rugby log, and trying to understand it, would leave any non-follower bemused and shaking their head. How do the Lions (2nd with 46 points) and Waratahs (3rd with 44 points) finish higher than the Hurricanes and Chiefs, fourth and fifth respectively, with more log points and number of wins? And, in a 15-team competition, how do the Sharks, who finished eighth with less than a 50% win margin, get into the playoffs? It’s a joke and must change.
The rise and rise of Akker, Marco
A year ago Akker van der Merwe announced he would be joining the Sharks in an effort to get more game time - even though he’d be competing with Franco Marais and Chiliboy Ralepelle. Yet he took the gamble because at the Lions he had to play behind Malcolm Marx and Robbie Coetzee. How that gamble has paid off - he’s become a Springbok and is a man on a mission; just like the Bulls’ Marco van Staden, who continues to impress as an openside flank.