DURBAN - When it comes to Super Rugby, the more things change the more they stay the same, particularly for the South African participants. Change the format, change the composition of the SA challenge as much as you want, but one indefatigable fact remains - in general, South African teams are abysmal on the road.
This season is worse than ever. With just one round remaining before the play-offs, our four teams have played a total of 20 matches overseas - five apiece for the Stormers, Bulls, Lions and Sharks - with a return of just two wins, or a win ratio of 10 percent. If we want to be masochists and rub in the misery, 18 matches have been lost away from the green, green grass of home.
At the risk of harping on, an uncomfortable handful of those away losses occurred at venues where SA teams have previously been reasonably comfortable - Buenos Aires, Singapore and Hong Kong. The sole victories overseas were in Sydney, where the Lions prevailed 29-0, and in Auckland, where the Sharks shook off a 50-point pasting in Melbourne to stun the Blues by 60 points.
This record is not going to have the All Blacks, Pumas and Wallabies quaking in their boots when the Springboks visit Wellington on September 15, Mendoza on August 25 and Brisbane on September 8. Also distressing for Bok coach Rassie Erasmus is the trend this year of SA teams travelling badly in the confines of our borders.
While local derbies are more often than not won by the home teams, this year has been worse than ever for visiting sides. The Lions beat the Stormers and Bulls away, and the Bulls beat the Sharks in Durban, but that is it. Sadly, the Stormers lost all eight of their away games in 2018; the Sharks, traditionally good travellers, had a disappointing season on the road in winning just one from eight; the Bulls had the same return as the Sharks, and the Lions were the best tourists with three from eight.