Only Lions impressed this Super season


Sure, they were without two key players in Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger but still, the way the Stormers fell apart against the Brumbies in the play-off game at Newlands on Saturday was as disappointing as this country’s Super Rugby challenge in 2015.

Had it not been for the conference system, no South African team would have featured in the knockout rounds and that’s not good news. The Stormers may have topped the local conference, but not once this season did they produce a string of performances to suggest they’d be good enough to go all the way.

We, as South Africans, must accept we’re not nearly as good as we think we are.

Our teams can produce moments of brilliance, and sometimes pull off remarkable wins, but if you look at the big picture we’re still some way behind matching New Zealand rugby. And, Australia – for all the talk from these parts of them being inferior to SA rugby – continue to stand tall alongside nations who have far more players than they do.

It’s been a poor Super Rugby effort by our teams. The best of the bunch were the Lions. They didn’t make the play-offs, while the Stormers did, but for their never-give-up-attitude, their willingness to run from all parts, their desire in tackling and for keeping us entertained, and winning at the same time, they get my vote for South African team of the competition.

And, as the competition now heads into the semi-finals and final, it’s time to give you my annual form team of the competition. So, even though the teams, as a collective, didn’t deliver the goods, there were some outstanding, consistent, performers throughout and it’s just right these men get some recognition – because they might not get it at a higher level.

Some selections were far easier to make than others, with this country now blessed with a number of quality props, but lacking in several other areas, most notably hooker, lock, scrumhalf and, surprisingly, wing.

Also, some big-name Boks, who’ve been part of the fabric for years, failed to impress over the last few months – surely something that will be worrying Heyneke Meyer so close to the World Cup, even though he’s denied this.

A massive job awaits him now; not to only get the Boks winning to grow confidence, but to actually get the players to produce a brand of rugby that will convince the fans they’re capable and good enough to win the World Cup.

So, here’s my form team for the 2015 season – the only criteria being that the players must have played at least eight games to qualify.

Starting XV: Jesse Kriel (Bulls), Ruan Combrinck (Lions), Lionel Mapoe (Lions), Damian de Allende (Stormers), S’bura Sithole (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Faf de Klerk (Lions), Warren Whiteley (Lions), Warwick Tecklenburg (Lions), Jaco Kriel (Lions), Franco Mostert (Lions), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Stormers), Torsten van Jaarsveld (Cheethas), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers);

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss (Bulls), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Trevor Nyakane (Bulls), Victor Matfield (Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Handre Pollard (Bulls) and Willie le Roux (Cheetahs) - The Star

Original source: Only Lions impressed this Super season