For the South African Super Rugby franchises, Super Rugby Week 16 provided us with a few thought provoking moments.
Super Rugby week 16
We take a look at the past week. Some of our thoughts might cut a little across the grain of popular opinion, but if we have to ask uncomfortable questions that is what we will do.
No player is bigger than the team
The Lions had to do without their talisman flyhalf Elton Jantjies this week. He was stood down for the game against the Stormers for breaching team protocol. No official details have been released, but it is rumoured that he ignored a call from the sideline to kick for posts for an almost guaranteed 3 points. Instead, he kicked for the corner and the Lions came away with no points.
It is further rumoured that this argument continued in the change room after the game. This issue points to a leadership issue in the Lions camp. Why did stand in captain Kwagga Smith not tell the referee what the decision was? Jantjies was left to make his own decision, which ended up being the incorrect one for the team.
This controversy and the absence of Jantjies made no difference to the Lions though, who hammered the Stormers in Johannesburg.
South African teams kick poorly
Week in and week out, the same issue raises its head. Poorly executed kicks out of hand seem to be the order of the day. Good possession is kicked away without a fair return. The very slow execution of box kicks from the base of the ruck is a problem in itself. This is compounded by the fact that they are generally not contestable by the chasers.
It beggars belief that these kicks are not practiced during the week, so why are they executed to poorly?
The Stormers are remote controlled
The Stormers were very poor in their loss to the Lions in Johannesburg. Instructions being issued from the sidelines is nothing new in professional rugby. What we saw on Saturday was at a new level though. Professional rugby players looking to the sideline in desperation for what to do next is more than a little concerning. However, it possibly points to a deeper issue within the Stormers setup.
Are the Stormers allowed to play the situation or does the coach control every minute detail?
The Jaguares are the real deal.
Forget what Phil Kearns had to say. The Jaguares have been developing this squad for four years. The complicated conference system aside, they hold a legitimate third place in the competition. The Crusaders have 52 points. The Hurricanes follow them on 44 points. The Jaguares have 41 points.
We all knew that this could happen. The Jaguares centralized their talent and used the opportunity to keep their talent on home shores. The same cannot be said of the Japanese Rugby Football Union. They have treated the Sunwolves as an extension of their rugby and not an integral part of it. The Sunwolves have been a failure in the tournament and will be cut after 2020. A huge missed opportunity.
The Sharks cannot catch a break home
— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) June 1, 2019
The Sharks home record this season has been exceptionally poor. This Saturday was no different, with another loss recorded in Durban. They were on the wrong side of the result against the Hurricanes in a very temperamental game. Referee Nic Berry was unable to take proper control the situation and emotions boiled over far too often.
One wonders if it was not a deliberate ploy by the Hurricanes to draw the Sharks into the niggle. The Sharks would have been in with a shout if they were able to hold onto the ball on attack. They lost possession on attack far too many times, costing them try-scoring opportunities.
The Bulls face the Highlanders in Otago on Friday. On Saturday, the Lions host the Hurricanes in Johannesburg, the Stormers host the Sunwolves and the Sharks travel to Argentina to take on the Jaguares.
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