Weekend rugby bonanza!
Sport24 columnist Gary Boshoff (File)
What a way to head into the final straight of both the Rugby World Cup final and the Currie Cup playoffs!
Will the All Blacks claim their second RWC title on Sunday or will the unpredictable French perform a miracle and spoil the much anticipated party of the host nation?
Will the returning Springboks for WP and the Sharks turn the tables on the Currie Cup pace setters, the Golden Lions and Free State Cheetahs?
Whichever way you look at it: the rugby just keeps getting better and better!
The Sharks showed their intent on Saturday when they demolished the log leaders the Lions in Durban.
With all their Springboks (except John Smit) available for the semi-final against the Cheetahs, they will be significantly stronger than the Sharks team that was bulldozed by the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein a few weeks ago. In fact, in my opinion, the Sharks will have way too much class and experience for the relatively young Cheetahs team.
In the other semi-final the log-leading Lions will face a resurgent Western Province team brimming with confidence after being boosted by the returning Springboks.
Bryan Habana, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger have created a massive final hurdle for John Mitchell and his chargers.
WP have gradually improved over the last few years under Allister Coetzee and Rassie Erasmus and are definitely the favourites to take this one despite the Lions’ home ground advantage.
I predict that WP will beat the Lions and play the Sharks in another Kings Park Currie Cup final, a repeat of the 2010 final.
Meanwhile the Boland Cavaliers gave another display of total rugby when they easily defeated the EP Kings to claim the Currie Cup First Division title.
This was a fantastic performance from Boland given the unfortunate position they find themselves in, in that despite convincingly winning the First Division title they will not be able to contest for a spot in the Premier Division because as from 2012 the Premier Division will consist of six teams as opposed to the regular eight.
However, the more important question to ask is, 'How does this affect the position of the EP Kings who are destined to play Super Rugby starting 2013?'
As has often been the case in the past, the attention will now inevitably shift back to local rugby politics and the important decisions to be made by the governing body and all its provincial affiliates.
I mean, how else are we going to occupy ourselves with no year-end tour to look forward to? With the smaller unions gearing up to challenge the decision to limit the Premier Division to six teams, we might be in for an eventful year-end drama after all.
Finally, congratulations to our own Craig Joubert for cracking the nod as match official for the 2011 RWC final, a well deserved appointment in deed. Craig distinguished himself in Sunday’s semi-final between the All Blacks and the Wallabies and demonstrated why South African referees have always been rated among the best in the world.
I know Andre Watson and his team at SARU have been hard at work in recent times to recruit young men and women to take up the whistle.
This achievement by Joubert will certainly serve as a welcome incentive to aspiring referees to join the sport and to strive for excellence and impartiality in their quest to reach the highest level of their craft.
So to all the retiring rugby players out there, your ties to rugby should not finish when you stop playing. Give your local club or provincial federation a call and become a referee. Gary Boshoff is a former SARU player and current Afrikaans rugby commentator on SuperSport.
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