CAPE TOWN - Following the start of the 2018 Super Rugby season this weekend, Mark Keohane shares some of his Rants and Raves!
1. It’s a good thing the Stormers are in Australia next weekend because they’d have been lucky to attract 10 000 to Newlands on the basis of an insipid second half performance against the most ill-disciplined team in the tournament. The only consistency about the Stormers is inconsistency.
The pretty boys of South African rugby again promised so much in the first half and delivered so little in the match context.
2. The Sharks need to find a tight five who can scrum and a collective eight who want to scrum. They have a back division the envy of most teams in this competition but they have a tight five that collectively don’t belong in the competition. They got humiliated in the opening scrum of the tournament, just as was done to them in last year’s opening scrum of the Currie Cup final.
There is a bigger national plan with transforming Thomas du Toit from loosehead to tighthead. On the evidence of Saturday’s performance it’s going to require patience and patriotism because currently it’s all risk with no reward for Sharks coach Robert du Preez.
3. The Stormers lack of respect for the ball in contact situations and disregard for the principle that you offload to create a stronger attacking situation.
There is a skill to playing a high tempo offloading game but there has to be functional rugby intelligence in when to hold it and when to let it go. The Stormers are into their third season as a unit, yet they played as if it was their first outing together, while the Jaguares played as if they’d never been together.
1. In Johannesburg, talk that the Lions were dying was grossly exaggerated. There is life after Johan Ackermann’s departure to Gloucester. Swys de Bruin’s transition from assistant coach to head coach appears seamless. De Bruin’s rugby philosophy emphasises the expansive and the intuitive. He encourages freedom of expression from his players.
We saw that with the 23 year-old Super Rugby debutant winger Aphiwe Dyantyi, who scored a sensational individual long range effort. There was no fear of failure with Dyantyi and he was gloriously about risk and reward.
The Lions were expressive with ball in hand but their forwards don’t compromise on the core fundamentals of the set piece, especially when it comes to the scrum. The Lions pack crushed the Sharks.
2. Individually there were some brilliant cameos in Johannesburg, with Sharks winger Sbu Nkosi and Dyantyi dynamic in their finishing and Kwagga Smith seizing the moment to score the match-defining try.
Smith is an explosive ball carrier and his Sevens experience means he never hesitates in transferring his thinking to an action. Sevens requires instant reaction to a situation to maximise space and try-scoring potential. Smith does that for the Lions in Super Rugby. He can also be lethal for the Springboks as an impact player. His rugby brain is his biggest asset.
Robert du Preez (at flyhalf) has the raw makings of a Test flyhalf. He is physical, plays flat on attack and can split a defence. He had his moments, as did many of the Dick Muir-inspired Sharks backs, but the player who towered above the rest was Lions and Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx.
He has presence with everything he does. He is colossal.
3. Stormers captain Siya Kolisi providing the big moment plays, on attack and in defence. Kolisi is the best in his position but more than that he is a leader of men. His intensity and energy are contagious and every time he plays he makes a statement that South African rugby can transform and win.
* Mark Keohane is an award-winning rugby journalist, former Springbok Communications Manager, founder of Keo.co.za and the author of five best-selling rugby books.