Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day!
World rugby’s most illustrious and entertaining sports competition is back. Rumour has it that the scarcely seen ‘man’ they dub as “money” has also returned, along with all rugby journos.
So it’s time for all to earn their Randelas – now that the sport of some people is back on the go.
Askies if you lost money on a Chiefs call izolo. Like Valentine’s Day, a fool and his money are soon... you know the rest!
Back to the rugga. This year, more than any other, will be a chance for some players’ reputations to be enhanced. Just in time to get on the speed train to Japan.
Being a World Cup year, there is a lot on the go, with flashbacks of 2011 (via Stephen Donald and Ma’a Nonu), when the All Blacks broke their competition voodoo. Now they are on course for three on the trot. Aybo!
This morning Super stuff kicks off with an all New Zealand battle, the revamped Blues at home to the nine-time winners and defending champions, the Crusaders.
Recently appointed coach Leon McDonald will be hoping to get one over his former teammate, Scotty “Break Dancing” Robertson.
McDonald joined the Blues in the same role that he filled at the Crusaders, as assistant coach. Shortly after joining, he was promoted to the head coach position ahead of Tana Umaga.
Mac D is not to be underrated, though, joining forces with senior players like Sonny Bill Williams, Akira Ioane and a recent return of Ma’a Nonu – who has hinted at giving the All Blacks squad a go for this year’s spectacle in Japan.
All that stardust should see the Blues giving a better showing in 2019.
However, the Crusaders won’t want to get off to a slow start – and will show up in Auckland and win, handicap and all.
Then the Waratahs host the Hurricanes, and the visiting Canes should show up here.
This is followed by Sunwolves hosting Currie Cup champions, the Sharks, at SA lunchtime.
The Sharks are vying to be the top South African dog, and sure do look the part with their strength and depth, and must win this opener.
The 13-point handicap may be a stretch, so proceed with caution here.
In a few days, #OurSharks will take to the field for their opening game of the Vodacom @SuperRugby tournament, when they take on the @sunwolves in Singapore.— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) February 13, 2019
We hear from @CellC Sharks coach, Robert du Preez, prior to the team's departure earlier in the week.#OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/xiYfMK5E8F
Later this afternoon, the Bulls and Stormers clash at Loftus. The home team has been boosted by stalwarts Schalk Brits and Duane Vermeulen, and it will be exciting to see them mixing it with the youngsters.
Stormers are much of the same, but let us hope their admin issues won’t affect their game.
My call is that it may go even more pear-shaped this year, daar in die Kaap.
This game is almost impossible to call, but let us back Stormers whilst the Blou Bulle get settled with new coaches and players.
Oh, do watch out for Rosko Specman!
Wrapping up the first weekend of the season is Jaguares hosting the Lions. This should be a great barometer for Swys de Bruin’s team.
Le Desmo is no longer the Jaguares coach, so I fancy the visitors to win their first match in Argentina.
On the footy side of life, it’s another one of those average Cup weekends in England and locally. Not much to banter on. Do look into Derby, Doncaster and Richards Bay for upset chances.
There is also some cricket on the loose, with a decent start to the One-Day Cup.
There have been some good games thus far; one being Dolphins whipping the Lions last week, in the Burra.
The Lions have a chance to bounce back when they host the Knights today, and I expect they will.@shabsgunner
Independent on Saturday