Super Rugby 2020 – Round 1

Professional rugby for the past month has been so boring it hurts my soul.  One out runners, going off feet in the rucks, and not a quick tap penalty to be found has would-be viewers wailing and gnashing their teeth.  But stay your fears and put down the bottle of prescription strength aleve and the plastic cup of home brew moonshine you made out of oranges you stole from a u11’s soccer match just before halftime that you saw stumbling home at 10am on Saturday from the ditch you slept in after blacking out because NH rugby is so god damn BORING (the biggest story is the Saracens hamfisted financial floundering).  Yes, Super Rugby is back, so welcome to this newest edition of the competition we all know and love.  

What’s that concern I hear?  All the best players are on sabbatical (King Brodie in Japan, Beaudy at the super bowl) or being overpaid to underperform in France (everyone from South Africa, Aaron Cruden [see below]).  The post World Cup exodus has, indeed, reduced the class player base in New Zealand and South Africa (would have happened to Oz too, if they had any class players to part with [the now thrice reanimated corpse of Adam Ashley-Cooper now playing for the Austin Jabronis counts as a “high profile” departure there]).  Rest assured, there is an everflowing chalice of new talent ready to dazzle and amaze. 

 
We will be tacking a touch differently this year; instead of covering all games I will instead talk only about whatever I find interesting (it will be the Chiefs).  Further, we have reverted to email format so I can exercise the breadth of my freedom of expression that our SEO messiahs perhaps do not want on the website.  


So without further ado, the opening match of the opening weekend featuring the Waikato Chiefs visiting the Auckland Blues (and, as ever, what a fitting name it is).  With the fresh signing of Beauden Barrett from the Hurricanes (instead watching the other Chiefs), the return from injury of Damian McKenzie (a late scratch due to a different injury), All Blacks players limited to 40′ of gametime, and the return of the MOST EXCITING coach of the last decade in the NH (so exciting he even had a style of play named after him – Warrenball), all the pieces were in place for the rugby equivalent of your dominatrix tying you up then proceeding to slink around in a vinyl suit while completely ignoring you before eventually cutting you loose without any acknowledgement of what just happened – the buildup, the tease, the tension, and no release.  


Blues looked, well, competent for the opening stanza, barely affording the Chiefs any possession.  Continuing their storied tradition of looking the goods and absolutely soiling themselves, a brace from Ioane and another try from their Eagle flanker combined with WOEFUL kicking gave them a halftime lead of 19-5.  It is truly a spectacle that Beaudy’s biggest contribution to the Blues might be with his boot.  Woof.


Much like J3 when presented with an open bar, by the time the second 40 minutes had elapsed all participants returned to their true form (in the case of the Blues and Sugar: on the ground covered in their own excrement).  The triumphant return to Kiwiland of Aaron “the ears” Cruden saw him disassemble the Blues like Jordan taking apart a lego TIE fighter that was missing a piece.  ALB magisterial as ever in his brief cameo.  The icing was Cruden slotting a droppie from point blank as the Blues looked on, dumbfounded, as if thinking “you can kick the ball?  At the posts?  And score POINTS!?!”  Final note: Blues No 8 Hoskins Sotutu looked the goods as he started over the benched Aki Ioane.  Expect him to not make the squad next week.  Never change, Aucklanders. 

 
Chiefs to face off against the Crusaders next week in what should be a titillating derby match.  Blues to lose against I can’t be arsed to look it up.  
I know I said there would be less coverage of the league as a whole, but here are a couple bits and pieces:


I think the absolute rag stuff.co.nz put it best for Stormers Hurrican’ts: “The 27-0 humiliation of the Hurricanes in Cape Town was like watching a Sherman tank embossed with the Stormers logo steam through a wall made of cottage cheese.”


The ‘Saders backups stuffed the NSW Periwinkle Flowermen in a result that surprised nobody.


An actual surprise was the Sunwolves over the Rebels in a bonus point victory that honestly flattered the losing side.  Great news for Oz: the Japanese side will be out after this season!  Somewhere between Pilbara and Perth, Twiggy Forester sadly shakes his head. 

 
Power rankings:
1. Saders until someone knocks them off
2. Stormers
3. Chiefs
lots of empty space
7(th or so). Sunwolvesan
enormous amount of empty space
Second to last place. England
Last place. Oz rugby as a wholeOne place worst than last place. Izzy Folau

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