CAPE TOWN – Independent Media’s Wynona Louw weighs in with her predictions and expectations for the 2018 Super Rugby tournament.
1 My pick as champions
The Crusaders winning Super Rugby last year for the first time since 2008 will probably lead to an annoyingly large influx of “Crusaders” responses whenever the barman asks the local pub enthusiasts who they think will win the ever-changing competition. But I’m going to say Lions. Asking “what would have happened had Kwagga not seen red” in last year’s final is about as pointless as an I-should-have-given-you-the-penalty apology from Romain Poite to the All Blacks would be. But I’m still saying Lions.
2 Why you must watch this guy this year
Scott Robertson. Watch this guy. Watch his breakdancing moves he might use again to celebrate a massive victory. Watch his chilled demeanour next to the field while his players are seriously practicing their stuff on the field. Watch him want to set more records in 2018. Just watch him. Oh and David Pocock, watch him too. It should be good to see what his sabbatical did for his game.
3 Flop of the year
I would say the Sunwolves beating a Kiwi team would bag the coveted flop-of-the-year award, but then I remembered it already happened. The Blues going from beating the British & Irish Lions in a thriller to getting schooled by the Japanese team was so good a flop that it deserves to win the 2018 award as well simply for its shock effect. After all, now that the Bulls are looking better, we probably can’t count on them to scoop this award. Maybe one of the Aussie teams should step in again?
4 What I'd like to see more of
If you asked me this question in 2016, I’d have said “Pinging” (the 2016 Sunwolves mascot), purely because his unique attractiveness might have done the trick to scare the opposition (if that’s your only way of intimidating your opponents, go for it). But it’s 2018, so here’s my list: Brodie Retallick actually tackling a streaker and not just lining him up, neutral refs in finals matches, more than a single Rebels win, more Dillyn Leyds around-the-back kinda offloads, and Mitch Hunt crushing more dreams his last-second drop goals.
5 What I’d like to see less of
Four fewer Aussie teams in Super Rugby (the heading doesn’t say I have to be realistic – they can come back after a comprehensive training camp that focuses on anything from ‘how to win at least five games a season’ to ‘avoiding scandal’). Fewer confused referee moments…otherwise World Rugby might feel obligated to change the laws again. Fewer stadiums that are so empty they resemble a university lecture hall on Friday afternoon.