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    5 talking points: 2019 Super Rugby season

    2019-07-08 07:23
    Scott Robertson
    Crusaders coach Scott Robertson celebrates a hat-trick of Super Rugby titles... (Getty Images)

    Herman Mostert - Sport24

    Cape Town - Sport24's Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points after the 2019 Super Rugby season.

    1. Crusaders coach makes history

    The Crusaders bagged an astonishing 10th Super Rugby title when they beat the Jaguares 19-3 in Saturday's final in Christchurch.

    They are by far the competition's best-ever team, with the Blues and Bulls (3 titles apiece) next in the pecking order for most titles won.

    Crusaders coach Scott Robertson also made history by becoming the first head coach to win three Super Rugby titles in a row, to go with the three consecutive titles he won as a Crusaders loose forward between 1998-2000.

    Since Robertson took over from Todd Blackadder at the beginning of the 2017 season, the Crusaders have lost just five matches en route to their three-peat.

    He must surely be an All Blacks coach in the making…

    2. Jaguares the find of the season

    They may have fallen short against a better team, but the Jaguares were no doubt the find of the 2019 season in which they made their maiden final.

    The Jaguares class of 2019 was a far cry form the one which won only four of 15 matches three seasons ago in their debut season.

    In previous seasons, the Jaguares were renowned for their ill-discipline and hardly a game went by without a couple of their players spending time in the sin-bin.

    Their discipline, however, improved vastly under new coach Gonzalo Quesada in 2019 and one would expect them to carry this success into Argentina's Test season.

    3. Pollard SA's MVP

    Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard finished the season as the competition's top points-scorer - his tally of 194 holding off Crusaders pivot Richie Mo'unga by 12 points.

    Following an injury to Lood de Jager, Pollard stepped in to lead the Bulls with aplomb, with the Pretoria franchise finishing as the best-placed South African team.

    Pollard also established himself as the best South African flyhalf by a country mile and the Springboks will be in trouble if he gets injured in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup...

    4. SA contingent flatter to deceive

    South African rugby enthusiasts have reason to feel concerned after a sub-par effort from most local teams.

    It should be a worry that the Jaguares finished 10 points clear of the Bulls in the SA Conference.

    Yes, the Bulls and Sharks made the quarter-finals, but it came as no surprise when they lost those games abroad.

    The Bulls were vastly improved from 2018 but heavy home losses to the Chiefs (56-20) and Crusaders (45-13) suggest they were not the real deal just yet.

    The Sharks lost five times at home and were way too inconsistent to even be considered contenders, while there was not much to write home about for the Lions and Stormers.

    5. A welcome announcement from tournament organisers!

    One of the most welcome news stories form the 2019 season came in March when governing body SANZAAR confirmed that the competition would return to a 14-team round-robin format from 2021, with the hapless Sunwolves axed.

    Unlike the Jaguares, the Sunwolves did not add much to the competition. It was a team littered with non-Japanese players and it made no sense that the best on offer from Japan did not compete.

    The three-conference system also copped heavy, and rightful, criticism.

    It rewarded mediocrity and made no sense that some teams could finish above others just because they topped their conference.

    For example, in 2019 it was puzzling that the Hurricanes (53 points) had to finish below the Brumbies (48 points).

    A 14-team round-robin system will bring back a semblance of strength versus strength, and while it's a bit unfortunate that the current format will remain in 2020, at least the top brass at SANZAAR have moved to implement change.

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