Super Rugby 2019

Weekend Review

Week Two 

This second weekend of the 2019 Super Rugby Season featured seven games, just the one on Friday the 22ndand then six on Saturday the 23rd.

Thoughts From The Weekend

Those Marvellous Jerseys

I have had my say about the stupidity of the colours the South African teams are supposed to wear when playing at home against their fellow countrymen.

Whoever took the decision to foist those jerseys on the rugby public should be sent to a special place reserved for the truly mentally deluded. It is singly one of the most stupid decisions ever made by those that run the game of rugby.

You can read my thoughts here: http://billsrugbyblog.com/those-marvellous-jerseys%EF%BB%BF/

The Referees

Here we go again………

The referees seem to be part of some kind of insidious conspiracy designed to ensure that rugby will die as a spectator sport.

This past weekend saw another series of matches blighted by strange refereeing decisions, weird TMO interventions, even weirder yellow cards, and more errors and omissions than some of the essays I submitted as a wayward student who had ducked all the lectures and suddenly found that I was two weeks late in offering up my work for scrutiny.

Just a few of the refereeing moments that I scribbled down on my note pad will serve to illustrate:

In the Sunwolves vs Waratahs match, the Sunwolves are pressing, they are right on the ‘Tahs goal line, under the posts, and looking for a quick recycle with a man over wide on both sides of the field. A quick ball, a pass in either direction, and they are sure of a score. 

Jake Gordon, the ‘Tahs scrumhalf, is lying on top of the heap of players piled up near the line. He is leaning over, feet off the ground behind him, with his elbows on the ground, clearly not supporting his own weight, he is  deliberately using his forearm to prevent the ball from coming out. He knows he is in the wrong, he looks up at referee AJ Jacobs, who is less than 1,5 meters from him and looking straight at him and at the ball. The Sunwolves scrumhalf is appealing to Jacobs to do something. It is a clear as daylight that a penalty is necessary, perhaps more for a professional foul. Possibly even a penalty try. Jacobs does nothing, so Gordon, emboldened by the referee’s lack of intervention stops using his elbow, picks the ball up and lays it back towards the ‘Tahs side of the pile up. Still Jacobs does nothing. Suddenly he snaps out of his torpor and blows the whistle and awards a scrum to the Sunwolves.

Consider that the final score was 31-30 to the Waratahs, even a penalty would have given the game to the Sunwolves. AJ Jacobs had a direct influence on the outcome of that game.

In the Friday game, late in the second half, the Highlanders are breaking into the Reds 25. The ball carrier goes to ground, lays the ball back as his support arrives, clears the fringes before binding and protecting the ball. The Reds are falling back and their defence is in disarray.  

If the Highlanders can clear the ball quickly, there is an almost certain scoring opportunity out wide. 

A Reds player, I could not identify him as he was coming from the opposite side to the camera view so I could not get his number, comes in from the side, reaches over and places his hand on the ball, slowing it down, even preventing it from coming out. 

Referee Federico Anselmi is right up with the play, and yells “No!” at the Red’s player, who looks up at the referee. Anselmi again yells “No!” and the Reds man releases the ball. By the time he releases the ball his team mates have retired and reformed their defensive line, so the scoring opportunity has dissipated. Play goes on and eventually breaks down in the left corner where the Reds get a relieving scrum.

There are a number of match influencing errors in Mr Anselmi’s handling of the situation. First and foremost, the Reds player had come in from the side. He should have been penalised. Then he reached over the ruck and placed his hands on the ball. Another penalisable offence. Third, Anselmi yells “No!” and the player, fully aware that he is being yelled at, still does not release the ball, and looks up at the referee. Another penalisable moment, probably a professional foul to boot!

Once again, considering the closeness of the final score, the referee had a direct influence on the outcome of the game. If the Highlanders had scored a try at that moment, the scoreline could have stretched further out of reach for the Reds, with the final minutes taking on a completely different flavour.

In Durban I watched yet another display of sheer incompetence by a referee. New Zealander Paul Williams seemed to be blind to some of the more blatant errors and mistakes made by the players from both teams, and at times almost appeared biased as he ignored a number of incidents of obvious and deliberate obstructive running by the visiting Blues.

In two consecutive lineouts, in the second half of the game, the ball was knocked forward off the Blue jumper’s hands. In both incidents the Blues gained considerable ground as the ball bobbled around on the Sharks side of the lineout, once bouncing straight up into the hands of the very player who had initially failed to grab it in the lineout! Williams simply let the incidents go. In another incident in the same phase of play he allowed a forward pass that had the Durban crowd moaning, yet that was just one of many he missed. He allowed the offside line at the rucks and mauls to be ignored the way a drunk driver ignores a stop street.

What I, as a spectator, found particularly annoying is the amount of obstructive running he allowed throughout the game. On attack, the ball carrier (from both teams) was allowed to duck and dive around behind his own team members, using them as a running shield at times. Some of those decoy runners that are so popular in modern rugby were running with their arms spread wide to ensure that they were blocking both the view and the channel of defender. On the Sharks’ kick chase, he allowed the Blues to run divergent lines, changing their lines at will, to place themselves between the kick chasers and the receiver. As for side entry at rucks and mauls, I believe that Mr Williams has not yet read that part of the Law book. (One incident with Sonny Bill Williams joining a ruck from the side and then going off his feet, was almost laughable it was so obviously wrong. Yet Mr Williams ignored it.)

It was not a good day in Durban, if you were a referee………

Down in Cape Town, Egon Seconds and his match assistants earned the wrath of all the Lions supporters, as well as Nick Mallett, when Seconds got himself in a positional mess in the 76thminute and could not see clearly what was happening in a tackle situation. The assistant referee certainly could see what was happening, but he ignored the fact that Malcolm Marx had rights to the ball and the Stormers were not releasing. That should have been a penalty, and that would probably have ended the Stormers late surge that gave them the game.

As Mallet put it:  “There are two issues there. First of all, very poor positioning from Seconds. The Stormers get a penalty as opposed to the Lions. If the Lions get a penalty they clear and end the game in the Stormers’ half. The second thing is what is the assistant referee doing to assist the referee? It is bang in front of him. Why can’t he say penalty to the Lions?

‘It is just outside the 22. If the Lions get the penalty they deserve, a left-footed kicker would take it into the Stormers half. The time I think is about 77 minutes. The whole end of the game would have been different.”

Last week I made mention of Angus Gardner’s whistle-happy performance in the ‘Tahs-’Canes clash. This week he was at it again, in the Brumbies/Chiefs clash. The man has become a pedant.

Enough for now! The litany of complaints about individual referees is getting louder and louder, and we are only just past the second week of the competition!

Neutral Referees????

Angus Gardner officiated in the Brumbies vs Chiefs game. Angus Gardner is an Australian, officiating in a clash between an Australian team and a New Zealand outfit. Why?

Paul Williams controlled the game between the Sharks and the Blues in Durban. Paul Williams is a New Zealander, travelling to South Africa to officiate in a game between a South African team and New Zealand team. Why?

Down at Newlands Egon Seconds carried the whistle in the game between the Stormers and the Lions. Egon Seconds is a South African, and there is nothing wrong with a South African refereeing a game between two South African teams. Except that Egon Seconds USED TO PLAY FOR THE STORMERS!

I do not get it?

Why do Sanzaar insist on shooting themselves in the foot, time and again, by ignoring the simple concept of neutral referees? It is not rocket science! In fact it is such a simple concept that I explained it to my dog, who promptly fell asleep because it was not interesting enough to keep her attention!

Sanzaar, you are letting the game of rugby down!

Citing and Judicial Hearings.

Tolu Latu Cited

Tolu Latu of the Waratahs has been cited for alleged foul play during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Latu is alleged to have contravened Law 9.20 Dangerous play in the 79thminute of the game between the Sunwolves and Waratahs when he charged into a ruck without using his arms.

After a review of the match footage, the citing commissioner deemed the incident had met the red card threshold for foul play.

The Case is to be considered by the SANZAAR foul play review committee which will take place on Monday, February 25 

Sio Tomkinson’s Red Card Rescinded

The red card shown to the Highlanders’ Sio Tomkinson by referee Glen Jackson after intervention by TMO Aaron Paterson has been rescinded and expunged from his record. The Sanzaar Review Committee felt that the match officials had erred in showing him the red card.

As we said at the time: It was not a good decision. Period.

Some Random Thoughts:

The Crusaders are up and running


Whilst it really is way too early to predict who is going to be in the Super Final later in the year, there are already some pointers that suggest that it is actually way too early to predict who is going to be in the final – with the Crusaders. 

The clinical focus, the intensity and purpose with which they dismantled the Hurricanes sent a message to every single Super Rugby team, player, and fan….. You have to get past the Crusaders first, and at the end too!

Rugby is in terrible trouble.

The overriding thought that sat in the forefront of my mind while watching the rugby on offer this weekend was that our game is in serious trouble! 

Very very serious trouble.

The spectacle of sweeping moves, of running rugby, of sublime skills, excitement, space and surprise was missing in all seven the Super Rugby games dished up on our TV screens. 

But that is not where it ended. 

As I watched the 6 Nations, and then some Pro 14 rugby, it was yet more of the same fare.

The game has become a bore-fest of ugly, almost unwatchable rugby, a game strangled to death by a combination of the rush defence, the never ending sequences of rucks, the line-up of tacklers spreading on and across the offside line at the ruck and tackle, and the complete lack of space for a ball carrier to do anything.

I am writing on this very subject at the moment, and this past weekend simply reinforced my view that the game is killing itself.

Even the Crusader/Hurricane match-up produced endless rucks, 211 of them in the 35 minutes that the ball was in play. Just think of that number… 211 rucks in 35 minutes… 35 minutes is 2100 seconds. That means there was a ruck formed every 9,95 seconds, without deducting some seconds for scrums, mauls, lineouts, and a bit of running.

Rugby is in terrible trouble!

Ones To Watch

Manasa Mataele – Crusaders 

The Crusaders’ Manasa Mataele produced an offload that must rank as close to miraculous when he somehow managed to keep his feet in the air while producing a round-the-corner offload that sent Richie Mo’unga in to score. 

Mataele has produced a couple of superb runs with the ball this season, and it will be worth keeping an eye on his development as the season progresses. An All Black in the making?

Eben Etzebeth – Stormers 

The big guy is back,and he has brought his usual level of intensity and physical power straight back with him. After missing the whole of last season due to injury issues, Etzebeth will be well rested and will not be carrying the niggles and bruises that so many players carry from one season to the next. In just 30 minutes of game time, he made five carries and three tackles, while causing some nervous jitters in the Lions’ lineouts the moment he took his place in the line-up. He is looking hungry, and just a little angry, and that is never a good thing for his opponents.

Lukhanyo Am – Sharks

For the second week in a row, Am confirmed that he is back in the game with a bang, after an impressive performance against the Sunwolves, he simply carried on where he left off last week as he stepped up against the Blues.  South Africa’s outside centre stocks looking up. 

Christian Lealiifano – Brumbies. 

Lealiifano was as good as I have seen from an Aussie player in many years. His game management was superb, and his own ball play was as good as it gets.

Scott Barrett – Crusaders

Sometimes he is the one Barrett brother that seems to slip under the radar, yet to watch him is to watch a rapidly maturing lock forward with the potential to be one of the best in the world! Strength, pace, mobility, ball skills, pinpoint accuracy in everything he does, and then there is the enthusiasm with which he plays. He is destined for big things! 

Aaron Smith – Highlanders.

Starting off the bench last week, he made an impact as soon as he came onto the field. This week he was there from the kick-off, and was straight back to his razor-sharp, bullet-passing, game reading-organising and directing best for the Highlanders. When he pays like that there is no doubt who is the best No.9 in the world.

They Must be Worrying:

Waratahs

Last week I asked of the ‘Tahs “How did they blow this one?”

This week I have to ask another question: “How did you almost blow this one? An opportunity to bank a bonus point win and get your season on track, and you managed just a one point win over the Sunwolves?

This is a team that is chock-full of Wallabies, including some of Australia’s biggest names. 

It does not seem to be a tactical issue either, it seems to be an attitude issue! In the modern game, when a team scores a try, any try, the player almost always celebrates, and his teammates will always congratulate him, smiles, head rubs, fist bumps, shoulder nudges, high fives, hugs, more smiles…

It was evident early on, when the ‘Tahs scored some fairly easy tries, that the players didn’t celebrate at all and their teammates didn’t even congratulate them. 

During the last couple of years fingers have been pointed at the Waratahs attitude. They often seem to be disinterested and unmotivated for the job at hand, almost as if they are going through the motions. This was especially true during their worst year ever, in 2017.

Where is the enthusiasm? Where is the esprit de corps? What is wrong with the ‘Tahs?

It all points to a leadership issue —- and directly at Michael Hooper.

The Lions

A week ago the Lions went to South America and picked up an important win over the Jaguares. It was their first ever win in Argentina, and they secured that win by eschewing their usual free-flowing open game of rugby. 

They played it ugly, and it worked against the Jaguares. 

On Saturday against the shell-shocked Stormers they got off to a great start and it looked like it was going to be two from two. The Lions were back to their well-established game plan and were in full flow.

The Lions then, somehow, switched off and went back into “ugly” mode.

 It was almost as if they expected the Stormers to roll over, kick their legs in the air and submit….. 

Unfortunately for them the Stormers never gave up and managed to sneak a win with a score after the final whistle. 

Are the Lions showing a bit too much arrogance?

The Blues

A week ago the Blues lost a game against the Crusaders that they should have won. Despite the loss there were many positives, and it looked like the Blues had finally turned a corner and would be up for it in 2019.

This week they lost again, and there were no positives to take from this loss. 

They played poorly and there seemed to be confusion in the game plan and execution. They were a little better after the halftime break, but there was very little evidence of a game plan and team work, it was an effort full of lots of individual enterprise, especially by Nanai.

Is their season over before it has actually started?

New Zealanders Worrying?

After so many years of complete dominance of the Super Rugby competition, 2019 seems just a little different for the teams from New Zealand. Consider that the Blues and Chiefs are winless, while the Hurricanes and Highlanders both had to work extra hard to sneak wins over Australian opponents. 

All of this is very good for the Super Rugby competition, a bit of competitive interest at last!  But New Zealand fans must be a bit worried. If their Super teams are struggling in a World Cup year……………  

Let’s take a look at the games played over the weekend:

The Friday Game

HIGHLANDERS 36 VS 31 REDS

I found very little to get excited about in this game.

Yes, it was a try-fest, nine tries were scored, five by the home side and four by the visitors, but the number of tries was not an indication of thrilling running rugby. 

Far too many mistakes by both teams, with many promising moves fizzling out like a wet firecracker as players seemed to be in the wrong places at the wrong times, mistiming passes, getting lineout calls all mixed up, and just being generally sloppy.

Yes, the Highlanders have managed two wins from two starts, but each of those wins was scraped in the dying stages. This time it was Dillon Hunt that crashed over inside the final 10 minutes to give the Highlanders a home win.

Early on in the game, the Highlanders looked menacing with the ball in hand, but then they seemed to fade into mediocrity as attack after attack seemed to just fade away. Their lineout was a mess, their defence was lazy, and the interplay between players lacked polish.

The Reds produced a performance that will give their die-hard fans back in Brisbane some hope for a better 2019. Their set-pieces were solid, particularly the scrum, while their midfield combination of Kerevi and Petaia looked promising. They do have a problem with their halfbacks.

I was not surprised when the Reds actually took the lead in the second half, forcing yet another late-game scramble by the Highlanders to force the win.

Not a game worth watching again, even the highlights package with all those tries, is boring.

So? What about my prediction?

I suggested that the Highlanders, with home advantage, and a winning game under their belts, would take this one by 15 points. The only thing I got right was predicting who would win.

Saturday Games

SUNWOLVES 30 VS 31 WARATAHS

Early on it looked as if the Waratahs were going to run away with this one, but then their game deteriorated as they seemed to lack focus and intent. There were lots of smiles and grins every time a promising attack fell apart due to lackadaisical positioning, poor running and handling – it just seemed as if the ‘Tahs expected to win and were treating the game as something of a friendly practice match. In the end the Waratahs were very lucky to beat the Sunwolves.

Quite simply, both teams were poor. Perhaps only the ‘Tah’s Karmichael Hunt could be satisfied with his performance, he showed more intent and focus than the other 29 players on the field during the game. 

Wallabies such as Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale and team captain Michael Hooper did not seem to be interested in providing leadership to their team – they just seem to be going through the motions.

Not a game worth the price of an entrance ticket, although I do take my hat off to the Japanese crowd that pitched up on Saturday. The biggest of the entire Super weekend.

As for my Prediction:

I said: “The Waratahs, by a whole lot of points.” I guess a win by 1 point is about right for what we saw on the day.

CRUSADERS 38 VS 22 HURRICANES

I nominated this as the “Game To Watch” in this second weekend of Super Rugby.

I apologise if you took my advice!

Yes, the Crusaders won, and produced a strong first half to score four tries and leave the Hurricanes with the almost impossible task of trying to claw their way back into the game in the second half.

Much of what the Crusaders did was predictable. They played clinical, focussed rugby with serious intent. A scoreline that reads six tries to four also suggests that this was an exciting, entertaining game of rugby.

Sadly, it was far from being an entertaining game.

Think on what I said earlier in this report: This game produced endless rucks, 211 of them in the 35 minutes that the ball was in play. Just think of that number… 211 rucks in 35 minutes… 35 minutes is 2100 seconds. That means there was a ruck formed every 9,95 seconds. Now consider that there were also 21 lineouts in this game, add another 15 scrums, 26 penalties too. Look at the tackle count, 285 tackles in total.

All in 35 minutes of actual rugby.  

This game was an illustration of everything that is wrong with the modern game. The rush defence, the lack of space, the slow death that is ruck after ruck after ruck after ruck. 

The ball was carried 277 times – which sounds wonderful. In all those carries the total number of meters made was just 902. That is an average of 3,2 meters per carry.

Figure it out. 

The ball is passed to a forward from the base of the ruck, he makes around 2 meters, and is tackled…… When it and if is passed to a back, he runs sideways for 4 or even 5 meters trying to evade the rush defence, and then is tackled……

I am sorry if you wasted your time because I said it would be a good game to watch. It was not.

My Prediction?

I said the Crusaders would win by 7 points. They did somewhat better than that.

BRUMBIES 54 VS 17 CHIEFS

Probably the most entertaining game of the weekend, simply because there was something happening all the time.

It is interesting to contrast the two teams in 2019. The Chiefs, usually the most runningest of all the teams in Super Rugby, making just 420 meters in their 82 carries, while the Brumbies made a whopping 750 meters in their 95 carries.

The Chiefs seem to be totally at odds with themselves, their passing and offloading game has vanished like a West Coast mist under the morning sun. The team known for offloading expertise beyond anyone else made just 3 offloads in the whole game. The Brumbies made 13!

I have no doubt that the Chiefs will improve, it was notable that their chief playmaker, Damian McKenzie seemed to be totally out of sorts and ring rusty. There was none of his unpredictable explosive running, there was no magic, just a youngster who looked a bit rattled.

The Chiefs’ defence leaked like a sieve. They made all of 102 tackles, but missed 17, for an 87% tackle success ratio. 

87% is pretty good, about the tournament average, but it is the tackles that the Chiefs did not make that stand out in the memory. They allowed the Brumbies to make 15 clean breaks, managing just 2 of their own. The Brumbies beat a massive 23 Chiefs’ defenders during this match. The Chiefs defence plan had more holes in it than my oldest pair of underpants!

An illustration of the entertainment value of this game is in the fact that there were only 119 rucks in the entire game, way less than the over 200 in some of the other games of this weekend. Less rucks = more movement. More movement = more entertainment and excitement.

Sadly, the game was somewhat hamstrung by Angus Gardner’s pedantic whistle – he allowed only 26 minutes of actual playing time.

Even sadder is the number of spectators that pitched up to watch the Brumbies playing at home. Maybe their improved performance will attract more spectators? I am not holding my breath on this one.

And how did my prediction go?

I got this one completely and utterly wrong.

SHARKS 26 VS 7 BLUES

The Sharks started this game with some serious intent, and their first half saw some of the best rugby they have played in the last three years. They had possession, they had the territory, and they had the game, scoring three tries to none in a very good display of dominant rugby.

And then it all started to fall apart in the second half as the Sharks’ disciplines started to go missing.

Within the first five minutes of the second half the Sharks butchered three clear scoring opportunities that would have ended the contest before the Blues had even figured out which side of the field they were playing on in the second 40. 

Every one of those scoring opportunities would have been taken by any other side, but it seemed as if a level of cockiness and cluelessness had kicked in, in equal measure.

Their on-the-ball disciplines went astray, and their off-the-ball discipline deteriorated alongside. The Sharks started to bleed penalties, and handed both possession and territorial advantage to the Blues.

Handling went to pot as the home side started to miss the ball, throw speculative passes, and dump offloads to no-one in particular. The malaise seemed all pervasive as they continually blew opportunities to take the game deep into the Blues half of the field.

Coupled to the Sharks sudden implosion was a refereeing performance by Paul Williams that left much to be desired. He allowed the Blues to run some of the most obstructive lines I have ever seen on a rugby field. He ignore blatant knock-ons by the visitors, that then gave them huge territorial advantages as the ball bounced and bobbled around in Sharks territory. The offside line became irrelevant as Mr Williams seemed to believe that the Blues could start their defensive rush from behind the last of the Sharks’ feet in a ruck, rather than behind their own last player. It was a poor display of officiating.

Sharks supporters would have started to worry when the Blues scored their first try of the game. It looked as if they were on a roll and would easily claw back the 19 points they had conceded before making their mark on the scoreboard. Fortunately for the Sharks, the Blues own inner demons started to echo in their heads, and that first try was their only try.

I am not 100% sure that the match officials, the TMO in particular, got the disallowed try correct. Yes, the Shark was held back by the Blue at the scrum, and could not run a defensive line. But I am not sure that he would have made a difference if he had been allowed to run free. I think it was a lucky call, even if it was 100% correct in terms of the written law. The interpretation could have gone either way…

In the end, the Sharks certainty deserved their win, and that final try for the bonus point was perhaps earned, as they should have had that bonus point in the bank way back in the 2ndminute of the second half……

And my prediction?

I got everything right with this one. I said that the travelling to South Africa will count against the Blues, I suggested that the heat (30ᴼC) and humidity (70%+) would hurt them too. I said that the Sharks massive pack of forwards would take its toll. 

And they did.

I got the win prediction correct.

I just did not get the points spread quite right. I said by 8 points, 

The Sharks won by 19 points.

STORMERS 19 VS 17 LIONS

If I were a braggart with a tendency for self-aggrandisement I would trumpet the fact that I was one of the very few people who picked the Stormers to win this game. A couple of you even said that I was deluded to suggest the home side would win.

The truth is that I never expected that they would win either. I did think that the internal strife in their camp would sink any chance they had of winning a game. A team without a properly constituted coaching squad, a team without the unequivocal support of their administration, and a team without any certainty of their own individual or collective futures could surely not step up to the mark and win a game against last year’s losing finalists?

Somehow, the Stormers won this game.

It was not a great game of rugby.

In reality, it was a very poor game of rugby.

Between the two of them these two teams, supposedly the leading exponents of the running game in South African rugby, managed to carry the ball just 412 meters on the rugby field. Somehow the teams that are supposed to have all the ball handling skills in the country, made 34 handling errors?

And then there were the 28 penalties and two yellow cards….

It was a stop-start affair, marred by far too many mistakes by both players and referee Egon Seconds.

Seconds has been slammed by Lions supporters for being biased against their team, and that is a condemnation of the Sanzaar decision to appoint him to take charge of a game involving a team he used to play for.

Personally, I thought he was simply poor without any obviously discernible bias, his mistakes went both ways.

The Stormers will be well pleased with the impact Eben Etzebeth made on his return to the game. He adds no small measure of steel and ferocity to their pack of forwards. Simply – he gives the Stormers their spine!

I also enjoyed watching Pieter-Steph du Toit at work, he is probably the best rugby player in the country at the moment.

For the rest? A forgettable game of rugby.

As for my prediction:

I, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, said that the complete underdogs, the Stormers, would surprise everyone, especially me, and would win, but that it would be a very close run thing, with maybe 5 points in it. Okay, so there were just 2 points in it…….

JAGUARES 27 VS 12 BULLS

I watched the entire first half of this game, and then about 10 minutes of the 2ndhalf before I gave up and went to bed.

That is 50 minutes of my life that I will never get back!

(I did record the end of the game, so that I could report on anything interesting that happened while I was asleep. Nothing worthwhile happened……)

 As much as the Bulls had been clinical, accurate, focussed and tackled like demons the previous week, so lacklustre and inaccurate they seemed in Buenos Aires. Their confidence seemed to have evaporated somewhere over the South Atlantic and they were tentative and unsure of their mission against the Jaguares. 

The weather did not help. The rain teemed down, and the ball was as slippery as a bar of Sunlight soap. Or so it seemed.

The Jaguares simply adapted to the conditions quicker, and better, than the Bulls, and that is why they banked a comfortable win.

The home side produced yet another of their disruptive, scrappy performances where they do not allow the opposition an opportunity to impose themselves.

No matter, this was not a game worth staying up for, and not a game that should take any more of your time to read about.

My prediction was wrong :

I went against the tipsters and the bookies, saying that the Bulls would win this one, comfortably. I was simply wrong.

Overall:

My overall tipping performance was another 5 out of 7. Once again I got some of my predictions right for all the wrong reasons.

This was not a weekend of rugby that I particularly enjoyed.

Even Wales beating England was not quite as enjoyable as most England losses are.

Maybe I was just in a bad mood?

Maybe next week will be more interesting?