Monday’s Rugby News looks at all the results from the Super Rugby, Super W and Global Rapid Rugby.
Oh and the suspension of pretty much all those competitions
Super Rugby recap
Round seven of the Super Rugby season might be the last for a while but it threw up some cracking encounters across the weekend.
The opening match was a thrilling contest between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs, with both teams looking to cement their place in the top eight. In the end, it would be Jordie Barrett that would break the deadlock and steal victory for the Hurricanes, slotting an 84th-minute penalty goal to secure the 27-24 win.
To commence Saturday, the Lions travelled to Auckland low on confidence and form to face the surprise packets of the competition, the Blues. Unfortunately for the Johannesburg side, their woes continued, blown out 43-10 off the back of a double to Rieko Ioane.
It was then time for the second doubleheader in Super Rugby history as the Sunwolves played what could be their last match against the Crusaders. Whilst they would put up a valiant fight, the defending champions would prove too strong, running out 49-14 victors.
This was followed by the Reds hosting the Bulls, with Brad Thorn’s men eager for their second win of the competition. Despite a slow start in which they were down 17-0, they would put their South African rivals to the sword, running in 41 unanswered points in the 41-17 win.
For the lone South Africa game of the round, the Sharks hosted their coastal rivals, the Stormers, with the winner afforded much need breathing space at the top of the ladder. The Sharks would take advantage of an ill-disciplined Stormers outfit, with a late Makazole Mapimpi try sealing the 24-14 win.
Finally, it was the Will Miller revenge game as the Brumbies hosted the Waratahs in the final match before the suspension comes in place. The Brumbies were dominant in front of their home crowd, with doubles to Solomone Kata and Tom Wright ensuring that they ran out 47-12 victors, keeping the Dan Vickerman Cup in the nations capital.
The Jaguares v Highlanders match was abandoned in order for the New Zealand side to make it back home before border controls came into effect.
Super Rugby suspended
The Super Rugby season has been suspended for the foreseeable future as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The decision was made on Saturday by SANZAAR, influenced by the strict border controls put in place by Australia and New Zealand.
These controls ensured that visitors would require a 14-day quarantine period, making the competition impossible to continue.
“Following a SANZAAR Executive Committee (EXCO) teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand Government that all returning travellers will have to self-isolate for 14 days, including Super Rugby players, SANZAAR believes it has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches for the foreseeable future,” the statement read.
“Five New Zealand teams play in the 15-team Super Rugby tournament and SANZAAR completely understands the directive issued by the New Zealand Government given concerns globally over the COVID-19 virus and the primary aim to reduce exposure and spread of the virus.”
“The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment,” SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos stated.
“Our priority is, therefore, to ensure our players are within their homes territories from the end of this weekend. SANZAAR will also remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament if at all possible in future weeks. We have currently played seven rounds out of the 18 in the normal regular season.
“We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives.
“We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families.”
Global Rapid Rugby has followed a similar path, whilst the Super W remains open for business (at the time of the writing).
Force off to flying start
The Western Force have started their Global Rapid Rugby season off with a bang, dominating Malaysia Valke 51-14.
The Valke looked like a much-improved side from the team that got thumped 74-10 during the Bledisloe Cup prelude, keeping in touch with the home side throughout the opening half.
However, the boys from the West lapped up the wet conditions, with Johan Bardoul and Brad Lacey scoring two late tries to take a 37-7 lead into the break.
They would pick up from where they left off in the second half when fullback Jack McGregor went over in the corner after a series of scrum penalties in front of the Valke posts.
The Force remained relentless, mounting repeated attacks inside the Valke half, with underrated flanker Chris Alcock running in their sixth try of the game to extend the margin out to 51-7.
Malaysia refused to give up, continuing to pile pressure on the Force before they were eventually rewarded when centre Valentino Wellman sprinted 45 metres for the consolation try.
In the other games of the round, the Fijian Latui started their season with a shock 29-22 loss to newcomers the China Lions.
The Latui were expected to be the biggest challengers to the Force in the series, however, they were ambushed in Suva by a Lions side who took advantage of their ill-discipline to produce a dominant forwards performance.
The positive news for the Chinese teams continued with the South China Tigers putting an underdone Samoa side to the sword, thumping them 52-27.
Whilst the contest was close for the first 60 minutes, the Tigers would blow them off the park, producing four unanswered tries in the final 20 minutes to secure a well-deserved victory.
The Waratahs have continued their dominance in the Super W, wrapping up the minor premiership with a 44-0 shutout win over Rugby WA.
They were clinical in wet and windy conditions, running in eight tries to nothing to ensure their automatic spot in the grand final.
Having all but secured a home decider following last week’s nail-biting win over the Reds, Waratahs coach Campbell Aitken ran the gauntlet and opted to rotate the majority of his starting side.
He was rewarded ten-fold, with flyhalf Arabella McKenzie architecting a perfect performance for the Waratahs.
However, the shining star was Maya Stewart, running in four tries, including a first-half hat-trick in the victory.
The match served as a double-header to the Australian Club Championship, with Sydney Uni proving Shute Shield superiority with a 28-8 over University of Queensland.
The Waratahs will enjoy a week off, before hosting the winner of the preliminary final between the Reds and Brumbies, which will be held in Queensland after the Reds beat the ACT 24-12.
Both teams were already set to face-off in the finals, with hosting rights up for grabs as the Brumbies ran in an early try.
However, the class of Lori Cramer and the Reds would shine through, with the Wallaroo slotting a penalty before Ivy Kaleta handed them a narrow first-half lead.
They would continue to dominate in the second half, with back-rower Shannon Mato crossing for a second-half double to put them out to a commanding lead.
Ema Masi would eventually cross for her second, but it was too little, too late as the Reds grabbed home-field advantage for the preliminary final.