I am one of those freaks who would prefer
the Stormers to gift the Bulls a win this weekend at Newlands, thus allowing
the visitors to finish top of the Super Rugby log, giving them a chance to host
a semi-final, and potentially a final as well?
Yes, this from an ex-WP player often
accused of being biased towards to the Cape side...
But up front, giant congratulations to the
Cheetahs players, coaching staff and administration for making it in to the
finals series of the tournament for the first time. Everyone’s “second best
side” it seems, they have added some structure to both their attack, and
perhaps more importantly, defence, without coaching the pizazz out of the
players, and fully deserve that sixth spot on the log. They have been
wonderful to watch.
Sadly, it seems they are destined to meet
Jake White’s Brumbies in their "quarter-final", and with White having brought a
Test match like steely defence to the party in Canberra, the Bloem boys will be
up against it. The Stormers have been far from impressive this year, but
against the Cheetahs at Newlands, they simply shut the visitors out of the game
by dominating the first phase and used their strong defence to suffocate any
hint of exuberant attack. The Brumbies will aim to do exactly the same...
But it has long been said, and perhaps
proven by the Stormers, that defence will get you to the finals, but attack is
what wins you the tournament. So here’s to the Cheetahs believing in their
defence, but using their attack!
So back to my theory that will see me
avoiding dark alleys when out and about in the Cape...
It would be very difficult to argue against
it being better for South African rugby in general for the Bulls to win on
Saturday. Results over the years prove that it is nigh on impossible to win
this tournament away from your home base. So to have a realistic shot at the
silverware, and they definitely have a side that can do it, they need to top
The Stormers are completely out of
contention, so why not put on their “greater good” hats and pick an
experimental side aimed at resting the Boks (and players not available after
Super Rugby) and giving the side that will play in the Currie Cup a chance to
play together before that tournament starts, thus giving the Bulls an easier
shot at topping the log?
Like in the Tour de France, where stage and
overall wins are crafted through excellent team work that sees the “domestiques”
sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the team leaders, is this not
the time for the Stormers to sacrifice themselves for the good of the current
log leaders and fellow SA side?
Cynically some might say that the Stormers
have already done so, while others will say that if you cannot beat the
Stormers at home then you do not deserve the top spot...
But an interesting argument came from the
South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) Twitter account, @MyPlayersSA,
who asked if such a move by the Stormers “wouldn't be unfair on their fans?”,
further suggesting that it would be “difficult to support a team who runs on to
And there might be financial ramifications for
the Stormers given that fewer fans might turn up at the game were an obviously
under strength side to be announced. Insignificant compared to the
ramifications of the Bulls not being able to host a Super Rugby final, mind you...
So perhaps the two sides should just simply
“box on”... But were the Stormers to win on Saturday, and the Bulls to lose a
final by seven points in Waikato, Canberra or Christchurch, would we not as a
nation, be in need of removing a bullet from our foot?
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt …
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