Eben Etzebeth charges into Sharks No 8 Dan du Preez at Kings Park on Saturday. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – While these Super Rugby results are a mess when it comes to your credibility as a Superbru master, it’s good for the Springboks.

Or, at least, to spark a few around-the-braai topics as we get closer to the World Cup.

Few would have predicted the South African results Round Three delivered as both local derbies at the weekend ended in upsets.

You’d have had to be a die-hard Stormers fan blinded by loyalty or a punter looking to cash in by betting on the unlikely if you gave the Stormers a realistic chance of beating the Sharks – unbeaten in the first two rounds – at Kings Park.

After the Stormers played the leading role in that horror show at Loftus, where the Bulls hammered them 40-3 in their opener, the fact that they beat the Lions the following week didn’t do enough to suddenly take them out of the boiling-point pressure situation they found themselves in.

And at Ellis Park, the Lions – who would have been desperate to bounce back after the Newlands debacle – went one out of three with a 30-12 defeat to the Bulls.

Now, it’s obviously still early days, a lot can change from Round Four onwards. We shouldn’t read too much into the weekend’s results – positive or negative – but I do think it means something, especially in a World Cup year.

Maybe it’s a good thing that the Lions have been humbled by a fellow South African team on home soil.

Maybe it’s good that the Sharks’ early results didn’t turn into a proper unbeaten run.

And maybe it’s good that they top the SA conference, with the Bulls in second spot, while the Lions are at the bottom for a change.

It makes things interesting, and that’s a good thing. 

The Lions not running away on the log and leaving the other SA sides covered in dust, and the Sharks and the Bulls fighting it out for the early top spot, will only add to the competition among the SA Super Rugby teams.

While Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus should by now have a good idea of who he wants to take to Japan, the pros that come with an ‘open’ South African Super Rugby contest are real.

There would be no sole focus on only one team, and no sole focus on only one team’s players.

The Lions will now want to make a major step-up after their two losses, the Sharks will want to stay put in that top spot and Stormers will want to build on their Durban win.

That would ensure that the competition remains tight, at least for now.

Sure, things might ‘normalise’ in two or three weeks. The Lions might become pack leaders again or the Sharks might drop down on the log. Who knows?

But even if that’s the case, all four SA Super Rugby teams will be able to reflect on their early results and know what they can achieve, or remember that you can’t count any team out.

@WynonaLouw


Cape Argus

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