The sight of the Sunwolves’ Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo absolutely packed to its 25,000 capacity was a great way of starting the marathon. Image: ABC Grandstand
The Roar: In all, the opening round of Super Rugby was a cracker. Almost six tries per game across the nine matches, and five bonus point wins under the new requirement of needing to win by three tries more than the opposition meant that there really was no shortage of entertainment over the weekend.
Rebels’ fullback Reece Hodge enjoyed a dream debut, against the Western Force in Perth. Image: ABC Grandstand
(For what it’s worth, there were only three four-try bonus points earned and a touch over four tries per game scored on opening weekend last season.)
The big ticket item was Saturday: six straight games kicking off mid-afternoon with the Sunwolves’ historic Super Rugby debut in Tokyo, before heading to Christchurch, Sydney, Perth, the Southern Kings’ return to this level in Port Elizabeth, and finishing in Cape Town. Thirteen glorious hours of rugby.
James Horwill and Will Genia will play their last games in Brisbane for the Reds tomorrow night. I give them a massive chance of beating the Chiefs, too. Image: QRU Media Unit
ABC Grandstand Digital: Another great rugby chat on Grandstand Breakfast this morning with Andrew Mayes, in which we cover off all the massive games coming over the weekend.
Starting with the Hurricanes-Highlanders tonight in Napier, to the Force-Brumbies in Perth, to Reds-Chiefs in Brisbane tomorrow night, and the Cheetahs-Waratahs in Bloemfontein in the early hours of Sunday morning, there are big games everywhere. It’s a cracking round of action to come..
“Matfield admitted that his last Super Rugby game could be in the rugby stronghold of… Melbourne!”
ESPNscrum.com:The remarkable playing career of Victor Matfield – the second stage of his playing career, that is – is on the downhill run. With the Bulls needing to win both of their remaining games, it occurred to ESPNscrum that we could well be about to see Matfield’s last appearances in a Bulls jersey.
And the great lock and lineout general confirmed our suspicions this week.
“Yes, this will be my last Bulls tour as a player,” Matfield told us from Melbourne, where the Bulls are preparing for their last game of their 2015 trans-Tasman tour..
“The Highlanders are very, very real, people. Right now, at their best, I think they’re the only team in the comp who could beat the Hurricanes in a Final in Wellington.” Image: ABC Grandstand
The Roar:Man, oh man, there are some really big, important games to come in the final weeks of this Super Rugby season. Even the Hurricanes, who look safe at the top of the table, are sorta-kinda vulnerable to a last-season toppling.
You couldn’t really ask for much more. If the top six had been nailed down a month ago, we’d be left to lament teams going through the motions and resting key players. With it all on the line, there’s still a lot to play for, for several teams…