The Blue Bulls huddle up before the start of their Super Rugby opener against the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Photo: Catherine Kotze/BackpagePix

JOAHNNESBURG - It would be premature to stand atop Loftus Versfeld and Ellis Park and pronounce how great the Bulls and Lions are and that they will certainly win this year's edition of the Super Rugby.

It takes a lot to win Super Rugby and it is certainly not won in February but rather through consistency in results and performance.

The Lions have continued from where they left off last year in their victories over the Sharks and Jaguares and once again look like the kind of team that will cruise into the knockout stages.

The success of the Johannesburg-based side has been hugely beneficial to its players with many of them becoming Springboks and being in demand abroad.

However, their Super Rugby success has not necessarily translated into positive results for the Springboks or even consistent performances as was the case in the heydays of the then Transvaal in 1993 and the Bulls teams of 2007, 2009 and 2010.

But the Lions can’t be expected to lift the standard of South African rugby alone and the other teams must come to the party.

The Bulls have given their long suffering supporters some hope after kicking off the season with an inspirational win against the Hurricanes on Saturday and look to be the side to join the Lions in challenging for the title if they can get better by the game.

There can be no doubt that a strong again Bulls team will help the South African cause in the competition but more importantly it could reignite the Springboks into becoming a force in world rugby again.

It is no secret that the Springbok team that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup and went on to dominate southern hemisphere rugby by winning the Tri-Nations in 2009 along with being victorious in the 2009 British and Irish Lions series had the successful Bulls team as its spine.

While the Lions have been able to make the Super Rugby final for two consecutive years, it has been their inability to get their hands on the trophy that might be a mental impediment to rekindling belief among South African players that they are the best in the business and so too their national team.

One can only imagine how strong the Springboks will be if the Lions and Bulls continue to be as ruthless as they have been even though it is still in patches.

It is a scary thought for New Zealand and Australian franchises to think that the Lions and Bulls can get better and probably a more daunting task for those teams to now travel to the Highveld to face these two giants.

There is also an air of excitement in Gauteng ahead of the Bulls and Lions derby on Saturday at Loftus, a feeling that has been absent in the competition for a very long time.

With that feeling comes the hope that both teams will live up to expectation with the rugby they produce but also with them going all the way in the competition and ultimately breathing new life into the ailing Springboks.

Pretoria News

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