It has been a big year of rugby already and we still haven’t even reached the Four Nations yet. It has been a disrupted Super 15 season which I feel needs to be addressed in the future. I don’t see how the competition can maintain its integrity if it has to accommodate outside influences. That is an argument for another time but the power-brokers of Rugby have a habit of making dubious decisions regarding what is best for the long-term future of the game.
Nevertheless, this week’s Super 15 Final promises plenty of intrigue. First, let’s look at the ACT Brumbies. The Brumbies have clawed their way up from the bottom of the Super 15 table a few years back with a playing list devoid of the glamor boys and super stars and marshaled by South African coach Jake White, who has bought discipline and pride back to the jumper.
The Brumbies have been missing from the Super 15 finals since they won the title back in 2004 but the last two years has helped erase the memory of lean times, bad coaching and mismanagement which cruelled the club for over five years.
The Brumbies will line up against the Chiefs, who found a way to beat the Crusaders by the narrowest of margins in their semi-final. Some may argue that the 2012 champions are lucky to be there. I beg to differ. The Crusaders were the team playing the best football in the latter part of the season. The Cantabrians rolled over the Reds like they were an ineffective speed hump the week before and it was only three weeks ago that they humbled the Chiefs to the tune of 43-15. So however small the margin of victory was, praise must go to the Chiefs for being able to turn that result around.
I really think the Chiefs will go back-to-back this Saturday night. They have had the perfect build up and their win was just as impressive as the Brumbies’ even though it may not have looked as pretty. The Brumbies are going to line up on Saturday night after a grueling travel regime and will still be nursing bumps, bruises and sore lungs after playing at altitude last weekend in South Africa.
We know that the Brumbies are made of stern stuff – we have seen that on the football field (the only place that really counts) – but can they do it one more time? I don’t think they can and I expect the Chiefs to withstand a mountain of pressure early and then grind their Australian opposition into the mud late in the second half.
Waikato Chiefs by 15 points.