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Super Rugby – Conclusions from week ten

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This sure is worth watching the game for ten minutes!

I cant believe that just over two months ago we were all craving for a bit of rugby action. One would think that a five day weekend like the one we just had would be perfect for watching every live match one can and then spend the rest of the weekend watching replays.

No this time though. This weekend I decided to take a break and we almost spent the entire weekend watching the best 3D animation on offer from Disney and Dreamworks with our three year old son. Good times indeed. So, I didn’t watch a single match, but I least managed to see a few repeats and I read match reports on every Super Rugby match that was played. Hence the short conclusions list for this week.

There are only two.

1.) The Lions are looking more and more like relegation candidates as the tournament progresses. At the end of last year I posted an article on MyNews24 where I compared the Lions team of 2011 with Heyneke Meyer’s Bulls in 2002. Both teams had a dismal Super Rugby tournament for the umpteenth time, but both also managed to win the Currie Cup against the odds later in that year.

Unfortunately it seems, this is where the similarities end. The Bulls didn’t actually cover themselves in glory the following Super 12 season, but they did a lot better in 2003 and 2004. They also won the Currie Cup in 2003 & 04. (Maybe Mitchel’s men might achieve this, who knows?) They later reached the playoffs in 2005 & 06 and finally won the title in 2007. The rest, as they say, is history.

What was evident of this Bulls side though was the fact that they have showed constant progress following their Currie Cup success. Although they were constantly reminded about how different Super Rugby in compared with the CC with losses to the Sharks and Stormers, teams they would consistently beat in the CC, they also struggled when they went on tour. But their hard work paid off once they made the play offs in 05 and they became the world beaters they are today.

For the Lions, however, things doesn’t look as rosy. The only thing standing between them and the bottom of the log is the worst Blues side in the franchise’s history. They play like a team devoid of any motivation. Their fans are not coming to the stadium again and the season is looking bleaker and bleaker with every passing weekend. Jake White stated how important the Lions is in SA rugby and he talked about their proud history. Although I can agree with his sentiments, I don’t think his sentiments is applied to the correct tournament.

The GLRU is older than most unions and clubs in the world and they have a long and proud history, but Super Rugby started in 1996. That was sixteen years ago. (I don’t count the Super 10 or preceding tournaments in this because these amateur tournaments does not resemble the tournament in it’s professional guise) The Lions, as a franchise, is ten years younger than this after they split from the Cheetahs in 2006. (If you count the three years Transvaal competed at the start of the tournament you can call it a seven year absence)

I will be hard to imagine Johannesburg not being a part of the Super Rugby cake and Baylion already made an extensive list on just how they contribute to SA Rugby at club and junior level. But SARU made promise to the Kings and, if they want to save face, they must keep this promise. SANZAR wont change the format before 2016, so the only remaining options are either mere the Lions with another union, or scrap them.

2.) The officials have finally lost the plot. There are many things that have changed since the amateur days and many people are still calling for their return, but one thing that isn’t suppose to have a place in our game is getting away with punching like in the days before TV cameras.

These days, just a mention from a touch judge about a possible spear tackle result in a red card for the offender. A review after the march might vindicate said offender, but the fact remains, drop a player on his head and you are off!

But, punch a player in the face, you get ten minutes in the bin and you get to help your team to a win afterwards. Now, I know about the dangers of spear tackling and I am all for this being a red card offence. I am also aware that a fist to face is not nearly as dangerous as being dropped on your head after being lifted off his feat.

Nine out of ten times the review after a spear tackle has shown no intent by the offender to hurt his opponent. Spear tackles, like shoulder charges, are most likely to be a result of bad timing rather than an intention to seriously injure your opponent. The same can not be said about punching though. When you decide to connect your fist with an opponent’s face, you pretty much want to instill some pain.

What then, is a red card offence and what is a yellow card offence when it come to landing a punch? Is it intent or execution? Whether you aim for a player’s face, but hit his shoulder or you land one smack on his nose, the intention stays the same. The only difference is in execution.

My opinion is that a punch is a red card offence. It isn’t even supposed to be open for debate. If the AR sees a punch being thrown, the only thing he is supposed to do is to tell the ref about it and then the player must be shown a red card without hesitation.

The message that is being sent out to players at the moment is that, although there are cameras everywhere, you can still land one in an opponent’s face and get away with it.

Cheers!!!
Bloues

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