The Rd17 talking points: what the Waratahs and Brumbies must do

The Brumbies need to hold out the Waratahs this weekend, to top the Australian conference. Image via Brumbies Fracebook

The Brumbies need to hold out the Waratahs this weekend, to top the Australian conference. Image via Brumbies Fracebook

The Roar: The Super Rugby season is right down to the wire, and even if there are debates around the finals format, the playoffs loom with much excitement.

But before the playoffs can start, there’s one last regular season round to play out, and there’s plenty of intrigue and playoffs drama left just yet.

Here’s the talking points for Round 17:

  • What the Waratahs have to do
  • What the Brumbies have to do
  • Johan Ackermann’s Argentinean tour pro/con list
  • Is there one last New Zealand surprise in store?
  • …and therefore, who’s the New Zealand favourite?

The Super Rugby run home: top 8 all but sorted

run homeFollowing on from the Report Card last week on The Roar, it seems as good a time as any to map out the run home for the teams definitely and theoretically still in contention for the Super Rugby playoffs.

The short of it is that I think we’ll see minimal change to the current top eight from here on. By my loose predictions, seven of the current top eight will hold on, and five of those are in the positions I think they’ll finish.

My run home predictions for the current top twelve teams. I'm expecting minimal change from here on..

My run home predictions for the current top twelve teams. I’m expecting minimal change from here on..

Super Saturday: I survived six games and 13 straight hours. Just…

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

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.

And it was a challenge I was prepared to accept. There’s a sofa bed in McSport HQ for this very reason…

Farewell to the greatest of them all

Richie McCaw holds aloft the Rugby World Cup late last month, after what turned out to be his last ever game. As decent a last game as any! Image: ABC Grandstand

It’s been a rough 24 hours for New Zealand. The news of the great Jonah Lomu’s sudden passing on Wednesday morning certainly caught NZ, and indeed, the entire rugby world by surprise. It was and is incredibly sad news.

Richie McCaw’s retirement announcement today wasn’t much of a surprise, but the thought of not playing the game any more will certainly take some getting used to. And there’s no real sadness, only celebration, because McCaw will go down in history as one of, if not the greatest player ever to lace up a boot. I’ve certainly got no qualms in saying he was the best player I’ve ever seen, and I count myself as privileged to have seen him from as close as I have over the last few years, for both the Crusaders and the All Blacks.

And from that point, it was certainly a privilege to talk to him earlier this year, after his last ever game for the Crusaders, live on ABC Grandstand, after their win over the Brumbies in the final round of the 2015 Super Rugby season..