Super Rugby 2019
The year 2019 is upon us, and the world of rugby has forgotten about the festive season and the celebratory excesses of the time. Up north the various leagues and competitions are in full swing, with the Six Nations, the premier northern international competition looming, just a couple of weeks hence, on the 1st and 2nd of February. This is the natural order of things, the usual season for rugby in the north.
Down south the game is also gearing up for a new season, albeit a season that no longer follows the tradition of rugby being a winter sport. Southern Hemisphere Rugby is about to kick off again. On the 15th of February, a scant two weeks after the Six Nations kick off, Super Rugby gets under way.
The bloated giant that is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier rugby competition launchs with a weekend filled with no less than 7 fixtures.
Before we begin our analysis of each team and their chances for the year that lies ahead, perhaps it is good to once again visit the perennial issue of players migrating away from the southern countries.
At the last count, in the first week of January 2019, no less than 76 players are leaving the southern hemispherean Super Rugby franchises and heading north.
Of the 76 that are leaving the south, 5 will still be playing in the Super Rugby competition as they migrate north from New Zealand to join the Sunwolves in Japan. The rest, 71 players, have left Super Rugby behind and headed north in search of a better pay-packet, more regular selection, or less arduous playing conditions.
In all there are 23 New Zealanders leaving their franchises, along with 18 Australians, 19 South Africans, 5 Argentineans, and a Georgian who is leaving the Japanese Sunwolves for a job in France.
Ten New Zealanders, 6 Aussies, 4 South Africans, 2 Argentineans, and the ex-Sunwolf from Georgia are heading for France. Twenty three in all.
Twenty one players are heading for England, Scorland, Ireland and Wales. 5 New Zealanders, 7 Aussies, and 8 South Africans and 1 Argentinean.
The rest are heading for Italy and Japan.
In addition to the players heading north, there are a few that are changing southern hemisphere countries. Toni Pulu and Pete Samu are leaving New Zealand to join the Brumbies in Australia. There is some migration in the opposite direction too, the Rebels have lost Jack Debreczeni to the Chiefs, and the Reds are losing Sef Fa’agase to the Highlanders. The South African Sharks have lost the services of Ross Geldenhuys, who has returned to New Zealand to play provincial rugby at the Bay of Plenty. The following lists the rugby migrants, by country and by the franchise that they are leaving behind.
Jerome Kaino (Toulouse) Antonio Kiri Kiri (Yorkshire Carnegie)) Pauliasi Manu (Sunwolves) George Moala (Clermont) Kara Pryor (Sunwolves)
Dominic Bird (Racing 92) Johnny Fa’auli (Toshiba Brave Lupus) Liam Messam (Toulon) Tim Nanai-Williams (Clermont) Charlie Ngatai (Lyon) Sam Prattley (Sunwolves) Toni Pulu (Brumbies) Crusaders:
Pete Samu (Brumbies)
Seta Tamanivalu (Bordeaux)
Guy Millar (Biarritz) Dan Pryor (Sunwolves) Lima Sopoaga (Wasps)
Jamie Booth (Sunwolves) Michael Fatialofa (Worcester Warriors) Julian Savea (Toulon) Brad Shields (Wasps) Blade Thomson (Scarlets) Ihaia West (La Rochelle)
Richie Arnold (Yamaha Jubilo) Lolo Fakaosilea (Kintetsu Liners) Kyle Godwin (Connacht) Rebels:
Jack Debreczeni (Chiefs) Colby Fainga’a (Connacht) David Horwitz (Connacht) Amanaki Mafi (NTT Shining Arcs) Lopeti Timani (La Rochelle) Reds:
Kane Douglas (Bordeaux) Sef Fa’agase (Highlanders) Jono Lance (Worcester Warriors) Ben Lucas (Grenoble) Eto Nabuli (Bordeaux) George Smith (Bristol Bears) Waratahs:
Andrew Kellaway (Northampton Saints) Kelly Meafua (Béziers) Taqele Naiyaravoro (Northampton Saints) Kalivati Tawake (Biarritz)
Shaun Adendorff (Aurillac) Francois Brummer (Zebre) Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh)
Ruan Dreyer (Gloucester) Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Sale Sharks) Jaco Kriel (Gloucester) Franco Mostert (Gloucester) Jacques van Rooyen (Bath)
Garth April (NTT Shining Arcs) Tristan Blewett (New Orleans Gold) Johan Deysel (Colomiers) Ross Geldenhuys (Bay of Plenty) Franco Marais (Gloucester)
Nizaam Carr (Wasps) Dewaldt Duvenage (Treviso) JC Janse van Rensburg (Grenoble) Jan de Klerk (Canon Eagles) Dean Muir (Kintetsu Liners) Raymond Rhule (Grenoble)
Santiago Álvarez (Sevens) Felipe Arregui (Duendes) Franco Brarda (Tala) Felipe Ezcurra (Leicester Tigers) Nicolás Sánchez (Stade Francais)
Nika Khatiashvili (Angoulême)