Hi folks. Welcome to the final Tuesday Top 5 for the year. This week we are doing a bit of a look back at our Top 5 moments from 2020 – the year that just went on and on and on. From watching our first Super Rugby game in 40-degree heat in the middle of bushfires to watching our last Wallabies game, in the rain surrounded by a Global Pandemic. What a fun ride it has been!
It seems like forever ago that we were just getting into the Super Rugby season. We were pondering how the Brumbies and Reds would fare against the Crusaders, whether the Sunwolves would make SANZAAR regret dumping them from the comp and whether an Aussie team would finally lift the trophy once again. Alas, we never got the answer to any of those questions.
But one of my highlights of the year came from the opening round of Super Rugby (Rebels fans, you might want to look away for a moment). The round 1 36-27 win over the Rebels by the Sunwolves was a great match. The Sunwolves gave everyone hope that they would be competitive in their final season. They were even topping the Australian conference after round 1.
Super Rugby AU
If anything good came out of the whole COVID situation, it was Super Rugby AU. A short comp, close matches with relatively evenly matched teams and a chance to see Aussie talent week in week out and all in a great timeslot. And with Super Rugby AU came the return of the Western Force. While they went through the season without a win, they looked dangerous during their games. With the recruiting they are doing they will be one heck of a threat next year!
As a Brumbies fan, the highlight of the comp has to be the final. But as a rugby fan I would say the tournament itself was a highlight.
Despite the way the season ended for the Wallabies, they do make my Top 5. The opening match against New Zealand, while we didn’t win, gave us a glimpse of what we could do and gave us all some hope for the future. There was a feeling of positivity about the team that I haven’t seen in a very long time. People were upbeat about the selections and the way the team played.
My highlight from the Wallabies was the 16 all draw against the All Blacks. That game showed that the team had the ability to chase a game, come back at the All Black and not let their heads drop, as we had seen many times in the past. The game itself was a total nail biter, the Wallabies coming back from 13-3 down to level it up with 2 tries, then swapping penalties before a whopping 8 minutes of play after the siren. The game pretty much had it all.
The international season has been harder hit than over here. The first round of the 6 Nations was held on the 1st of February and the last round on 31 October. But that’s better than the Gallagher Premiership Rugby. After kicking off on October 18 2019, the competition is finally drew to a close on the 24th of October, 12 months and 1 week from start to finish. Then, just 27 days later, the new 2020/21 season kicked off. At least our guys get a couple of months off!
But my favourite moment came from the opening match of the 6 Nations between France and Italy. To hit not one, but both uprights before crossing the bar … extreme skill or insane fluke!
A definite highlight this year is some of the talent that has emerged. Tom Wright springs to mind. He was given a chance in Gold and grabbed it with both hands, barely putting a foot wrong during his time on the field. Not touted as a superstar, x-factor or match winning player, but simply doing what he needed to do when he needed to do it.
Another one is Matt Philip. Ok, so not one of the real young guns we talk about, but it was really good to see him get his chance for the Wallabies, and looks like he has pretty much cemented a spot for himself.
Those players not part of the Wallabies also had their chance during Super Rugby AU to show us what they could do. One of the stand outs for me was James Ramm. He is definitely a player to watch in the next few years. Over at the Force I thought Byron Ralston and Jack McGregor were impressive, while I was a little surprised that Jock Campbell wasn’t included in the wider Wallabies squad.
A final note
This week marks the final time that the MST’s will be doing the Tuesday Top 5. We have written about the many ups, downs and sideways things that have happened in rugby here in Australia and around the world over the past 5 years (yes, we have really been doing this since 2016!) and have loved doing it. But it is time for us to step aside and make way from someone who can bring fresh enthusiasm to the Top 5. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has read the Top 5 over the past 5 years, we love reading your comments (even if they are disagreeing with us!) and we are really grateful for the following that we have had. From both of us, have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!