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2019 Vodacom Super Rugby – Round 1

Vodacom Super Rugby is back and as always we will bring you our thoughts of the week ahead, round-for-round, week-by-week.

2019 is promising to be a big year for all rugby lovers as it also marks another World Cup year.

But for now we are focusing on the here and now, and that my friend is Super Rugby, the toughest and fastest rugby competition in the world.

So without wasting time let’s get to it!

Saturday 16 February 2018 – Sunwolves v Cell C Sharks, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium 12h55*

This game sees the start of the South African teams’ charge on Super Rugby glory since the Vodacom Bulls last did it in 2010.

The Cell C Sharks will want to get out the blocks fast and make sure their title ambitions get off to the right start when they visit the Sunwolves in a hot & humid Singapore this weekend. It won’t be the easiest of tasks for the men from Durban, especially after having to travel without 4 of their superheroes and also the last minute loss of assistant coach Dick Muir.

The men from Japan will be ready to go, especially knowing it’s a Rugby World Cup year of which they are the hosts and last minutes selections are still up for grabs. They will be targeting this game as a possible upset, knowing they can beat the South Africans away from home. They will also be aware of the poor warm-ups the Sharks had leading up to the tournament and with former All Black and Sharks fly half Tony Brown now in charge things could get very interesting. Another positive for the men from the Land of the Rising Sun is the amount of foreign players in their ranks from across the world that is super talented.

This game is anything but a formality and don’t be surprised if the hosts pull of the first upset of the season this weekend.

*After seeing what match day 23 Tony Brown has selected as to what we thought he would, we have had a change of heart that the Sharks should walk this one.

Officials:

Referee – Nic Berry

Assistant ref – Marius van der Westhuizen

Assistant ref – AJ Jacobs

TMO – Minoru Fuji

PREDICTION: Cell C Sharks by 17

Saturday 16 February 2018 – Vodacom Bulls v DHL Stormers, Loftus Versfeld 17h15

This game has been tipped to be the game of the weekend and who can argue any North-South derby.

The Vodacom Bulls have a rejuvenated squad with a great mixture of youth and experience, which include two of the biggest signings in that of Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits who are both back in South Africa after lengthy stints in Europe. Another reason to smile as a Bulls supporter has been the winds of change which has been blowing at Loftus Versfeld over the last couple of months from the boardroom all the way down to the coaching staff.

Their opponents on Saturday have also experienced some winds but more those of a stormy nature around Newlands over the past few weeks and one has to wonder what impact it has had on the team itself. They boast the most Springboks in the competition but it remains to be seen how well they perform this year as a unit, especially after not winning a single away fixture in last year’s tournament.

Having spoken to a few well respected rugby lovers, all was in agreement that if the warm-up game that was played two weeks ago in Cape Town is anything to go by, then best you do not miss this game for anything at all!

As Coach Pote Human of the Bulls said in their press-conference, “There is no motivation needed when it comes to a North-South derby!”

Officials:

Referee – Jaco Peyper

Assistant ref – Paul Williams

Assistant ref – Egon Seconds

TMO – Marius Jonker

PREDICTION: Vodacom Bulls by 7

Saturday 16 February 2018 – Jaguares v Emirates Lions, Estadio Jose Amalfitani 23h40

Can the Emirates Lions finally shake off the monkey on their backs that has been haunting them the past three seasons when going to Argentina to face the Jaguares?

Well, Saturday evening local time we will all know the answer to this question and I for one do believe it’s now or never. The men from Johannesburg has selected their best available team for this match but there are some questions about the depth when you look at their bench with not much experience besides Ruan Combrinck who can cover a number of positions in the back if and when needed.

The Jags are without talisman Nicolas Sanchez, who has departed for a career in France and it will be interesting to see if the void he has left will be filled or not as he was very inspirational in all that they did. Their pack will as always remain their strongest weapon and the Lions will have to combat this early on if they want to change the history books once and for all.

As mentioned earlier, my money is on Coach Swys’ men to do the business and get their campaign off to a winning start.

Officials:

Referee – Mike Fraser

Assistant ref – Brendon Pickerill

Assistant ref – Rasta Rasivhenge

TMO – Santiago Borsani

PREDICTION: Emirates Lions by 6

Well that is it for this round, why not leave us a comment or chat to us on Twitter and lastly, give this post a share and show your friends you love rugby!

4 Comments

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