RUGBY NEWS - A quarterfinal round that underlined the predictability of this phase of Vodacom Super Rugby ended the South African participation two weeks before the conclusion and the most depressing thing about it is that, unlike in some previous years, there can’t be any excuses.
Indeed, with one exception it was what all the coaches said last season - 2019 would be the year of no excuses. It would be the year their long term plans should be judged on, and 2018 was part of a process and not an end in itself.
The exception, of course, was the Lions, who knew they’d be losing players this year and would be in a transition phase. And so it proved. They never shaped, at least not to the extent they did before, and it was the reason there is no South African participation in the final fortnight.
The Bulls did make a good fist of their away quarterfinal against the Hurricanes and showed little signs of the jet-lag that must surely have impacted on them after all their travelling when they were pressing towards the end.
The Pretoria team started the season with a flourish and ended the season in a similar fashion. It was what happened in the middle of it that prevented this from being a really good campaign and enabling Pote Human to capitalise fully on what John Mitchell started.
Otherwise though there really wasn’t much to shout about from a South African viewpoint, with the Jaguares easily winning the conference. Yes, we are talking about an international team and yes they do have the depth in their squad to make the rotation that is so critical to success in Super Rugby easier for them than it is for a franchise drawn from provincial or regional resources.
But the Jaguares also travel more than any other team in the competition and this is the first season they have really got it properly together.
Super Rugby will be played to its current format next year before going to something different - and how much that change is needed - in 2021 and we can expect them to win the South African conference even more comfortably next year.