SA has more teams in the top six than any other nation.
After the weekend’s Super Rugby fixtures, one can argue that South African rugby is on the rise. Out of the 15 sides that started the Super 15, only six remain – of those six, three are South African teams (Natal Sharks, Blue Bulls and log leaders Western Stormers). This increases the chances drastically of the trophy being won by a South African team this year.
The Sharks booked their place in the play-offs after a hard-fought win over the Free State Cheetahs. The Sharks not only had to beat the Cheetahs, but they also had to secure a bonus point. The Cheetahs held a nine-point lead at half time, but head coach John Plumtree clearly said all the right things as the Sharks scored with Keegan Daniels 44th minute try. The Sharks will now face defending champions, the Queensland Reds, this weekend in Brisbane, Australia.
The Bulls, who finished 5th on the overall standings, secured their place after beating a very demoralised Golden Lions side. The Lions who ended the tournament in 15th place were unable to keep flanker Jacques Potgieter from crossing the line to score the try that put the Bulls into the play-offs. The Bulls will now travel to Christchurch to play the Canterbury Crusaders, a game that will sorely test the Bulls. If they emerge as victors of that fixture they will remain in New Zealand to play the Waikato Chiefs in the semi-finals.
The Stormers automatically progress to the semis, after finishing top of the log, and will either play the Sharks or the Reds. The Stormers are currently in a very comfortable position and there will be no travelling required for the team, giving them a well-earned advantage.
With the fixtures being set and the teams now aware of what they will have to accomplish to lift the trophy, we can only hope that a South African side has what it takes to make the country proud and reassure the world that South Africa deserves their position as one of the world’s greatest rugby playing nations.