The pro14 finally started and everyone was full of expectation. Only for the SA sides to lose quite comprehensively against two seasoned sides from the pro12.
Twitter was packed with negativity, but it was to be expected ’cause we live in an instant world and we want joy at our fingertips and in our eyesight at all times; but rugby isn’t a porn site or a pizza place. You have to look around a bit and wait. So I’m going to act as their lawyers…
Ulster v Cheetahs
The men from the Free State, who still played Currie Cup the week before,bended up suffering not so much at the hands of Irishmen like Tommy Bowe, but at the hands of former SA players Jean Deysel (who won man of the match on the night), Marcell Coetzee and Louis Luddik, who were all over the Cheetahs.
The Cheetahs had the utterly mediocre and out of depth in a damp teaspoon, Clayton Blommetjies, at 10 and not their more reliable options Marais or Zeilinga. In their absence no. 13, William Small Smith, had to take up kicking duties. Torsten van Jaarsveld was starting from the bench for some reason and it was obvious when you looked at the improvement in the scrum when he came on, that it was a mistake.
Next week it will only get tougher for the Cheetahs who face Munster, the side coached by Rassie Erasmus and where CJ Stander played himself into Ireland colours.
Only the following week will the Cheetahs finally get a chance at a win, when they travel back to Bloem for their first home game in the pro14.
Scarlets v Kings
Now, the standard SA rugby fan probably doesn’t even know that a team like Scarlets exist, when you hear the word, most people probably think about that bad Demi Moore movie or about the Lion King scene where Scar lets Simba fall, but that’s quite simply because the pro12 was never broadcast on SA TV.
The Scarlets are the defending pro12 champions, so a depleted Kings side, who is not only without Talisman no.10 Lionel Cronje or the boyband gorilla, Chris Cloete, but also without the very consistent Tyler Paul and exciting Makazole Mapimpi to name a few, stood very little chance of getting a win here.
The Kings had fight in them and trailed by only 5 points at halftime, but a team that had the wealth of experience of Welsh international, Leigh Halfpenny, to call on, was always going to take a monster effort from the Kings to save face.
It didn’t happen.
Then Kings will face Connacht next week where we should see an improved performance and just like the Cheetahs, the week after that will see the Kings finally get a home game here in SA.
In closing, I just want fans to remember it has been a really tough season for these two teams and the melting pot that is Super Rugby takes a lot out of teams.
Let’s give these two teams time to find their feet, ’cause we’ll only see all 14 teams start off fresh when the second season of the pro14 kicks off.
Good luck to both in the remainder of the competition.
God damn you, Scar!!!!
Written for The Pundits by @Justus_Beets