Hurricanes title an All Blacks blueprint?

Another double column day for me today, with my latest column for South Africa-based Rugby365 also going live today. In it, I suspect the rush defence used so well by the Hurricanes to take the Super Rugby crown might just be a live trial for the All Blacks…

The Lions headed to Wellington for the Final against the Hurricanes with the best attack in Super Rugby, and arguably the most complete set piece – both scrum and line-out – were a definite strength for them.

Coming into the Final, the Lions had scored 81 tries; eleven more than the Hurricanes as the next best team to that point, and at an average of 4.8 tries per game.

But for all their abundant attacking ability, the Lions would still have to overcome one literal hurdle: the Hurricanes’ defence.

Hurricanes worthy champs, but Super Rugby format cannot change for 2017

The Roar: The Hurricanes took out the 2016 final pretty much as everyone thought they would. An exceptional defensive effort that was already beyond 200 minutes without conceding a try was pushed almost to 300 minutes.

Regardless, the Lions should be looking forward to next year, because they have another genuine chance to top the standings in 2017.

The group and conference format of Super Rugby means that the Lions’ Africa 2 conference will be paired with the Australian conference, avoidinh the New Zealand teams completely, just like the Stormers did this season.

If they can hold the playing group together – I’m only aware of Franco Mostert moving on currently – then they would have to start next season as one of the competition favourites.

Hurricanes just too good, claim 2016 Super Rugby title

Hurricanes - FT Final

Hurricanes' skipper Dane Coles holds aloft the brand new Super Rugby cup...

Hurricanes’ skipper Dane Coles holds aloft the brand new Super Rugby cup…

They’ve done it. And they haven’t conceded a try now in three and half games. The Hurricanes’ phenomenal rush defence has delivered them a maiden Super Rugby title, beating the Lions 20-3 in wet and windy Wellington last night.

Tries to Cory Jane and Beauden Barrett either side of half time, and a flawless kicking display from Barrett (shanked drop goal attempt with penalty advantage aside) was the difference between the two sides, in front a heaving capacity crowd at the ‘Cake tin’.

The Hurricanes become the fifth and final New Zealand side to take the title, and the ninth overall Super Rugby Champion..

The talking points: Super Rugby final

The Roar: Hurricanes versus Lions. Meteorological phenomena versus the kings of the jungle. Something that will mess up your hair versus something that will bite your hair clean off (and probably a bit more). Other head-to-head analogies that don’t really make sense.

In Super Rugby, it’s the best two teams of 2016 facing off to be crowned the ninth overall Champion in the competition’s twenty-year history. And it’s going to be a cracker…

  • The wall of wind versus the attack of the ultimate predator;
  • The pressure is on the Hurricanes. But that’s not a bad thing;
  • Boyd versus Ackermann for Coach of the Year?
  • Could another unsung hero step up?
  • A different kind of start for 2017