The South African franchises in this year’s Super Rugby series have improved on last year’s below par performances, with the downside that there again wasn't a single win by a South African franchise in New Zealand in the 2019 rugby season.
There is an increased percentage of wins and dramatically less defeats due to three draws that give the 2019 performances of the four SA franchises a much more competitive look even in their combined winless excursions to New Zealand.
In fact, after last year’s only two wins from all 22 matches overseas by the four franchises, this year’s figure points to a noteworthy upswing in wins in Australia, Argentina and Japan.
A superficial look at the combined log standings also points to a general improvement.
The number of wins by the four SA franchises abroad have increased notably against Australian sides, the Jaguares and Sunwolves, as the comparisons below show.
Last year, the Lions, Sharks, Stormers and Bulls played 22 matches overseas (two of them play-offs) and lost 20, a winning percentage of only 9,1%. The losses include all 16 matches the SA teams played in Australasia (2 won, 14 lost), their four ventures against the Jaguares in Argentina (all four lost) and the two away matches to the Sunwolves (both lost).
The leading sides from South Africa in last year’s competition were the Lions and the Sharks, and they recorded the only two overseas wins, one by each team against the Waratahs and the Blues respectively.
The record of the individual sides were:
Lions – 1 win from 6 (including lost final), beating only the Waratahs overseas (29-0)
Sharks – 1 win from 6 (including lost quarterfinal), beating only Blues overseas (60-43)
Bulls – 0 from 5
Stormers – 0 from 5.
This year the four SA franchises played 20 matches overseas. They won seven and lost 10 with three drawn (two by the Bulls and the Stormers against Crusaders) drawn. This is a winning percentage of 35% and a losing percentage of 50%, the latter substantially better than the 91% of 2018.
♦ A matter of concern, however, remains. New Zealand sides were again unbeaten on home soil, although three of their eight matches at home against SA sides were drawn.
♦ Of the four matches against the Jaguares in Argentina, three were lost (last year it was four from four).
♦ In Japan, both matches against the Sunwolves were won (last year both were lost).
♦ In Australia, the 2018 record was played six, lost five. This season there is the improved record of four of the six matches won.
In 2018 the four SA franchises had a total of 132 log points from their 20 matches. (The play-offs of course are not included.)
This year, with two derbies still to be played on Saturday, the four franchises already have a combined total of 138 log points.
In those two matches at Kings Park and Loftus a possible (but extremely unlikely) total of 12 log points, five for each winning team, and one for each loser by seven points or less, can still be added to the total log points on Saturday,
More realistically, however, is to assume the last two matches on Saturday will produce only four log points each.
That will bring the 2019 total SA log points to 146 – a substantial increase from 2018 , the more so considering that the Lions contributed more than a third (46 of 132) of the SA teams’ log points last year.