It’s been an interesting rugby weekend with play-offs, surprises, whitewash-results and also Sunday’s (possibly play-off defining) Varsity Cup matches to look forward to.
Pride of place must go to the final of the undoubted top club competition in the world, the Champions Cup. In a tense cliff-hanger, La Rochelle came just short of a win against Toulouse, who bagged their fifth title with a late 22-17 win.
On Friday, in Europe’s second tier competition for the European Challengers Cup, Montpellier beat Leicester 18-17 in a match that had 11 South African players, including three World Cup winners, on the team sheets.
Super Rugby Trans Tasman
Then there was the ignominious whitewash for the second successive weekend of Australia’s Super Rugby sides by their New Zealand counterparts in the Trans Tasman series.
Driven by the Aussies, who suggested that it would be an improved replacement of the former Super Rugby competition between the two Australasian sides and South Africa, the new competition has come back to bite the Australian teams.
They wanted South Africa out and achieved that, thereby also negating possible wins against the tired SA franchises on a four-week tour to Australasia.
Ten from ten they have now lost with this weekend’s scores being Hurricanes 35 Rebels 13; Force 15 Highlanders 25; Blues 48 Waratahs 21; Chiefs 40 Brumbies 19; Reds 28 Crusaders 63.
In the ten matches between the two countries’ five sides, only the Western Force and the brumbies have been able to secure a single bonus point each.
Points for and against after two rounds for the Australian sides are Force -11, Brumbies -23, Waratahs -43, Reds -56 and Rebels -69.
In short, the five Australian sides’ ten losses are at an average of 20 points per match.
Rainbow Cup SA
South Africa’s four PRO14 franchises have thus far produced some outstanding and some rather average performances in the first four rounds of the Rainbow Cup competition.
First match of this weekend was the tense and hard scrap where the rugby was not always good with errors and poor discipline the order of the day at Kings Park
The Stormers were deserved but late winners with Tim Swiel’s second penalty on the final hooter against the Sharks to clinch the win 25-22. The Stormers have now leapfrogged the KwaZulu-Natalians on the log due to a better points differential.
▲ The Bulls secured two bonus points in their first loss against the Lions, who played some scintillating rugby to deservedly sneak in right at the and (34-33).
The Bulls, with two rounds to follow next weekend’s bye for all four teams, are still ahead on 15 log points, with the Stormers and Sharks on 11 and the Lions on seven.
The winner of the SA competition, of course, will play the European Rainbow Cup winners in a final overseas on June 19.
In the Varsity Cup, the matches on Sunday and Tuesday could determine the final elimination from the play-offs for sides such as UW and the NWU-Eagles, while cementing the semi-final aspirations of the Ixias.
Matches on Sunday are:
14:00 Ikeys vs Madibaz
15:00 UJ vs NWU Eagles
16:00 Wits vs UWC
17:00 Shimlas vs Maties
19:00 Tuks vs Ixias