Vodacom Super 14

SA build towards Super 15

2010-12-20 14:02
Pieter Jordaan  

Johannesburg – It took South Africa years of humiliation to become a title contenders in Super Rugby.

During those dark days, New Zealanders and Australians even suggested South African teams should be kicked out of the Super 12 because its teams couldn’t cut it at that level.

However, those same whingers this year had to sit and sulk at the other end of the globe, and for the third time in four years had to watch the Super 14 final on TV.

This year's final between the Bulls and the Stormers was a triumph for South African rugby and precisely one of the reasons why the Springboks' struggles for the rest of the year were so unacceptable.

Apart from the Bulls and the Stormers deserving their spots in the final, the game was also a triumph on another level.

The Orlando Stadium was the host for this final and also where one of the previous week's semi-final matches was played, and Soweto welcomed spectators with open arms and with great success.

As long as rugby is seen as a nation builder and not a nation divider, there is little to complain about and this was a rugby victory par excellence.

Even more so for the Bulls team, who with a golden generation of Bulls players took their third Super 14 title and wouldn't have preferred any other contestants in the final than their old Cape Town enemies.

This after the Bulls killed off New Zealand's hopes in the semi-final by beating the Crusaders.

And the Stormers silenced the Aussies by beating the Waratahs in their semi-final victory in Cape Town without building up too much of a sweat.

Morné Steyn kicked the records to shreds for Frans Ludeke's Bulls team, and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez helped to elevate his status from star player to that of a legend.

The final between South Africa's two best regional teams was also a taste of what could lie ahead in 2011 when the series will include 15 teams.

In 2011 the programme will allow for more opportunities for traditional local derbies, with the SA teams each taking each other on twice during the league stages.

The Bulls were the last winners of a Super 14 series, but the 2010 series was also not only moonshine and roses for SA.

The Sharks must wonder what could have been, because, based on their form in the second part of the series, they also showed that they were potential winners.

But they paid the price for being too slow to get going, and eventually fell too far behind.

The Cheetahs team made great progress, but they still didn’t have the depth to be real contenders.

And the Lions?

The achievements of the Bulls and the Stormers will be noted in the record books.

But 2010 was a year in which the Lions' results were a blot on SA rugby's name.

Most of the unwelcome records are now in the public domain after the Lions' most recent building phase collapsed like a shack in the New Orleans flood.

It is truly sad, because apart from the Lions' 14 defeats in 14 matches, 2010 was a year in which the Super rugby series became something to which South Africa rugby supporters will look forward to even more in future.


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