It’s worth remembering that Super Rugby pre-season matches are nothing but glorified training sessions, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Some seem to have forgotten this obvious fact judging by the comments on social media after the ‘Sharks’ were beaten 31-26 by Pukke in a warm-up match in Durban on Friday afternoon.
I say ‘Sharks’ (with inverted commas) because ‘Sharks Invitational XV’ or ‘Sharks Young Guns’ would have been a more accurate description of a team made up of U19, U21 and club players.
The senior Sharks team played in the following match, against Russia, and won 64-14. Sharks coach Sean Everitt used 30 players in that game.
The following day, the Bulls scored a total of 136 points in their two matches against Tuks in Pretoria. The second game was won 96-5, with the referee mercifully blowing the final whistle eight minutes early.
The Bulls may have hoped for stronger opposition, but they still had a good run, with former Lions captain Josh Strauss (who recently returned from the UK) saying afterwards that he needed the game time to get used to playing at altitude again.
In Ravensmead in Cape Town, a 28-man Stormers squad played four 20-minute ‘chukkas’ against CPUT, a WP XV, UCT and Maties. That they won three and lost one didn’t matter in the slightest.
The likes of Siya Kolisi, Bongi Mbonambi, Damian Willemse and Herschel Jantjies didn’t play at all; in fact, the most action they got was a signing session for fans in the shade, which seemed a lot better than playing rugby in the sweltering January heat.
— RugbyRocks.com (@rugby_rocks) January 11, 2020
This weekend’s Super Hero Sunday will be played in front of a big crowd at FNB Stadium but that won’t change the fact that they are warm-up matches.
How many of the 50,000 fans who attended last year’s Super Hero Sunday at Cape Town Stadium will remember that the Lions beat the Sharks 19-14, before the Stormers beat the Bulls 33-28? (Funnily enough, neither the Lions nor Stormers went on to reach the Super Rugby quarter-finals last year.)
What those fans definitely will remember is dressing up as superheroes and having a fun day out at the rugby. That should be the case again in Joburg on Sunday.
Super Rugby kicks off on 31 January. Until then, results really don’t matter.
Photo: Steve Haag Sport/Hollywoodbets