CAPE TOWN – The Stormers campaigned abroad on Saturday, while the highly-anticipated Cross-Jukskei Derby took place at Loftus. The Sharks hosted the Waratahs in Durban. Mark Keohane shares his rants and raves following the weekend's Super Rugby action.
1 It is one thing to want to entertain and quite another to self-destruct. No team can function without a lineout set piece that works and no team has ever won Super Rugby without a world class No 10. The Stormers currently have neither. The on-field actions in those awful first 20 minutes in Christchurch were a damning indictment of the hollow speak coming from the Stormers leadership. The functional intelligence of the Stormers was as absent in the opening quarter against the Crusaders as it was in the horror last two minutes against the Waratahs in Sydney.
2: The Stormers are the biggest underachievers in the history of the competition. Given the tradition of rugby in the Western Cape, the quality of resource and the fanatical support base, the results when assessed over two decades are disgraceful. The Stormers, in Christchurch this year, were as abject as they were a year ago in Christchurch. The Stormers were lauded for bravery when they should have been derided for rugby stupidity.
3: Every weekend the primary focus seems to be on the absolute indifference of the officials to get it right. No competition can have credibility when the court jesters act without consequence. What is the issue with the attempted intercept? It’s a grey area and it’s a dark cloud over a tournament that wants to sell itself as Super Rugby.
1: Lukhyano Am is the real deal. He was the real deal 18 months ago but somehow former Springbok coach Allister Coetzee never quite managed to identify the class of Am in the midfield. Coetzee was axed as Springbok coach for winning 11 from 25 Tests. I’ve always maintained his greatest failing was his inability as a selector, and Am’s non-selection for the Springboks is a prime example of this. If a coach can’t recognize the quality of this midfielder then he is in the wrong profession. Am is a X-factor player and I can’t wait to see him given more than a ceremonial three minutes in the Green and Gold.
2: The Lions pack and Elton Jantjies produced an imposing and near complete performance in how a rugby infantry operates and how the general dictates the use of field position and ball possession dominance. Swys de Bruin, by instinct, is a coach who loves expansive rugby. But he is no mere dreamer. He is also a practical doer and his team, in beating the Bulls, produced the most compelling evidence that De Bruin has the makings of a bloody good head coach. Jantjies, for all the talk about Robert du Preez and Handre Pollard being the best Bok No 10 options, also delivered the most impressive South African flyhalf display of the weekend.
3: The Bulls are a fit and well-conditioned team, and that already is something more than they ever were during Nollis Marias’ torturous tenure. John Mitchell isn’t a miracle worker and he’s never professed to having the ability to turn water into wine, but he’s a world-class coach already making his mark in Pretoria. The Bulls will lose more than they win this season, but the right man is in charge in Pretoria; and he is the man who should have been in charge in Cape Town. Shame on the Western Province administration for saying no to Mitchell because the Lions president told them to say no.
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.