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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Kings for just one day?



This last Saturday evening the indubitable Naas Botha reflected on the day’s happenings and gave an order, and seeing as we should all regard his words as the law, here’s what to do:

1. Open a big image of the South African Conference log by clicking on the smaller image below.
2. Right-button on the image and click on print
3. Frame it
4. Hang it in your bar

For the rest of you, take a deep breath and go grab a cup of coffee. This is the SuperWrap. Regular readers will tell you that digesting this takes a while (while adding, we hope, that hurling abuse at us poor wrap contributors in the comments section below is totally unacceptable.)

On Saturday Naas told us that we’ll “never see that again”, and normally that’s good enough for us. But it’s early in the season, and we’re in the mood for blasphemy, so here are a couple of points to ponder before you write off the Kings for good:

  • They are off to a winning start. It may not sound like much, but consider this: their opponents on Saturday, the Western Force, started out with 11 straight losses in this competition. They were able to pull off draws against the Cats and even the all-conquering Crusaders earlier in 2006, but they couldn’t get the monkey called “match-winner” off their backs until the scraped past the Cheetahs in Kimberley at the end of their debut season.

    A start like that would have been devastating for the Kings, a team whose inclusion in this tournament didn’t have a lot to do with merit. But now, instead on spending all their energy on trying to figure out how to win at this level, they simply have to remember what they did in their previous match. And it very often is as simple as that.

    As a case in point we go back to the Force. They ended their first season with only that one win against the Cheetahs, but by week three of the next season they’d already had wins at Newlands and at Loftus. Success breeds success; a win begets a win.

  • “It’s only the Force” is not a valid response to the point raised above. The Kings may not have been included on merit, but they’ve already given us some proof that they are better than the team they’ve replaced. And before you laugh, we go back to the Perth outfit. They’ve faced the Lions six times in this competition, winning the last five of those encounters. If they are easy-beats, the Joburgers should have shown us that when they had the chance. They were Currie Cup champs in there somewhere, after all.
  • PE is not Jo’burg. On Saturday the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium’s turnstiles made that click sound more than 32 000 times. That is a number that would stagger those in charge of all Super Rugby venues, bar perhaps the ones in Cape Town and Pretoria in a good week. Even more staggering when you consider that a large proportion of rugby viewers in this country feel that the home-side for that match-up shouldn’t even be playing in this competition.

    In contrast, Ellis Park averaged a mere 8 234 spectators whenever the Force came to face the team representing the world’s biggest city (if you’re willing to believe Wikipedia, and discount settlements situated on a river, lake or coastline.)

    32 000 versus 8 000. On the face of things the Kings, in their debut season, can rake in gate-takings that the Lions would have been happy with in four years. Which brings us to...

  • It takes money to make money. Sponsorship money is attracted to a happy crowd as a broken small toe is to a hard, inanimate object.

    Were the Kings were to come in to proper money, perhaps they may realise their self-inflicted mandate of developing and keeping all the talent in their region. If they do that we all (ex-Lions fan or not) have to watch out. Off the top of your head - and forgetting legends like Danie Gerber, Os du Randt, Mark Andrews, even the Ndugane twins - think of guys who grew up in the Eastern Cape. Put them in one team and imagine your team playing them. Watch out!

Or not.

This is the SuperWrap and regular readers will tell you that we watch and comment on every single weekend of Super Rugby (unless it involves only Australian derbies, in which case we simply pretend it never happened.)

We know that fairytales don’t happen in the world’s toughest provincial competition. We know that everything you’ve read up until now is only possible if you’re very Cheeky about it.

You earn your keep here. And nothing’s been earned so far.

We’re not really expecting the Kings to win more than perhaps one or two matches this year. We know that they are due a few bad losses this year. The question is, how will they and their wonderful fan-base respond to that?

The band Muse once asked, 'How can we win if fools can be Kings?'. The Eastern Cape may finally answer that. If they can continue their amazing support through the tough times we all know lie ahead; if they sing when they're not winning, we may just have something special on our hands in a couple of years.

Here are our teams of the week:

Note: our weekly teams are selected on the past weekend's action only, so overall season form is not a factor. Players in teams with a bye are then obviously not considered. This year we’ll also only select a Super XV when teams from all three participating nations are in action.

Super XV for Week 2:
15 Jessie Mogg (Brumbies), 14 Frank Halai (Blues), 13 Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs), 12 Francis Saili (Blues), 11 Hosea Gear (Highlanders), 10 Morne Steyn (Bulls), 9 Francois Hougaard (Bulls), 8 Ben Mowen (Brumbies), 7 Marcel Coetzee (Sharks), 6 Eddie Quirk (Reds), 5 Jared Hoeta (Highlanders), 4 Craig Clarke (Chiefs), 3 Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), 2 Stephen Moore (Brumbies), 1 Morne Mellet (Bulls)

Bok Barometer for Week 2:
15 SP Marais (Kings), 14 Sergeal Peterson (Kings), 13 Paul Jordaan (Sharks), 12 Wynand Olivier (Bulls), 11 Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), 10 Morne Steyn (Bulls), 9 Francois Hougaard (Bulls), 8 Pierre Spies (Bulls), 7 Marcel Coetzee (Sharks), 6 Siya Kolisi (Stormers), 5 Franco van der Merwe (Sharks), 4 Steven Sykes (Kings), 3 Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), 2 Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), 1 Morne Mellet (Bulls)

Match of the week:

All those of you who considered a round of Aussie derbies to be a tournament opener were in for a rude awakening when the Highlanders and Chiefs kicked off in Dunedin on Friday.

It was a match that featured everything that is good about Southern Hemisphere rugby: speed, skill, opportunism and great physicality.

Sure, you may ask about defence, but we’ve seen enough of that in the Six Nations. This was the game that reminded us that we have Super Rugby back on our screens.

Here it is:

Please note that video footage is for the website only and is rights restricted, and therefore only available in regions that fall within SuperSport’s broadcast footprint.

This video is not available in your region

Try of the week:

The match mentioned above featured some great individual performances, but none better than this try by centre Tim Nanai-Williams.

This video is not available in your region

Twitter files:

Here is this week's look at what players got up to on Twitter:

James O'Connor's teammates were very happy to see him back on the field so soon after a facial injury. Either that, or they're just tired of playing alongside a Justin Bieber look-alike.
Jacques Potgieter has laughed off the jibes at his leading role in the Bulls stand by me video, but we’ve learnt via twitter that he is somewhat of a weekend singer, as this photo, of him and his dad singing along, showed us he isn’t just a bruiser.
With so many rugby apps popping up, we had to laugh when Sharks halfback Cobus Reinach was reminded he was perhaps a bit slower than he professes to be. Reinach was sent this pic, showing him to be a front row expert, in a rugby app that would make even the slightest Sharks fan cringe.
Joe Pietersen is not a man to take a braai lightly, it seems. He professed to the world he was braaiing “four vark steaks” after the loss to the Bulls.

Cheetah bleaters

We know that at times it must be tough to be positive when things don’t go your way, but the denials from Bloemfontein this past week after their loss to the Sharks is something else.

In their latest Cheetah bulletin, which is only published in Afrikaans, we are told that to understand the 29-22 loss to the Sharks you have to take the following into account.

  • That the Sharks have played in last year’s Vodacom Super Rugby final.
  • That the Sharks have 13 Boks and the Cheetahs 4.
  • That the Sharks have 1 113 caps and the Cheetahs only 521
  • That it was the Sharks 196th Super Rugby game since 1996 as opposed to the Cheetahs 98th.

What these stats have to do with what happened between the four lines is beyond us, but what does that matter?

What they should do is to summarise this message. Try something like:

“Dear already paltry crowd. We have no idea why you would bother coming to our Stadium. We don’t expect to be winning any matches, apart from when we play teams that are so bad that you wouldn’t want to pay any money to see them play.”

Harlem what?

With the Bulls “Stand by me” video edging towards 200 000 views (196 000 at the time of writing), we thought it would be best if we find something to distract you.

What we found was this: the Crusaders and Blues, doing something called the Harlem Shake. Wikipedia tells us that it is an internet meme consisting of a video that “last between 30 and 32 seconds and features an excerpt from the song "Harlem Shake" by electronic musician Baauer. Usually, a video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the dancing individual. When the bass drops, the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds.”

Well, when the “bass drops” in the following two clips you’ll forget all about the Bulls’ changeroom crooning.

Crusaders Harlem Shake:

Blues Harlem Shake:

May the Force be with you?

We also picked up this jewel. It’s a clip of Force players sharing their favourite pick-up lines with their adoring fans.

Well, we wish them all the luck with the ladies. After Saturday we can safely predict that there is one thing they won’t be picking up much of this year: log points

Quote of the week: “I want to thank God…and Vodacom” – an excited young Sergeal Peterson after winning man of the match in the Kings-Force game.

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