Five clashes not to be missed next Super Rugby season

Thomas English Roar Rookie

By , Thomas English is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    Well, we’ve had the annual Super Rugby draw and the fixtures are out again. However, the whole draw is somewhat different this time around.

    The number of rounds increases from 17 to 19, the average games per round decreases to seven from nine, Round 1 starts a week earlier and only four games involving Australian teams will be played between 12 am and 3:30 am AEST.

    Ok, let’s get into it: the top five clashes of Super Rugby 2018.

    No.1: Crusaders versus Chiefs, Saturday February 24
    For me, this looks like one of the clashes of the year. After watching the Canterbury side storm to this year’s title, few would have them outside the top eight in 2018. In fact, most would see them going deep into July as contenders for the trophy.

    It would seem that nothing about the side is unstable or unsure. With Scott Robertson in charge, what could go wrong?

    As for the Chiefs, the boys from Waikato have lost plenty of talent in the offseason. This includes Aaron Cruden, Stephen Donald, James Lowe, Michael Leitch and plenty of others.

    Still, they seem to have a lot of young talent coming through from the ITM cup and, of course, I should mention Marty McKenzie who is coming over from the Crusaders.

    It should be a great clash to open the season for both sides.

    No.2: Lions versus Crusaders, Sunday April 1
    It’s the grand final rematch, one that could be pivotal for both sides as the season progresses. It’s also a chance for the Crusaders to prove themselves across the Indian Ocean.

    It is the first game for the Lions to show their critics that they’re back again, and a win against a top quality New Zealand side could be crucial as the season progresses.

    You’d think the Johannesburg franchise would want a full house for this one, just like they did on a Saturday afternoon in August.

    No.3: Sunwolves versus Blues, Saturday, April 14
    In what was probably the upset of the year this season, the Sunwolves crushed the Blues 48-21 on a hot and humid day in Tokyo.

    Now either the Japan franchise will go 2-0 against the Blues, or the Aucklanders will square the ledger at one apiece.

    Just on another note, the Sunwolves may very well have made themselves a contender for a finals position with their promotion into the Australian conference.

    If they can play their derbies with the same kind of intensity and skills that they did on a hot Saturday in Tokyo, they may very well be a tough beat for the Aussie teams – particularly at home.

    No.4: Stormers versus Lions, Sunday, May 27
    This game is huge. Here’s why: both sides have only two games remaining after this one.

    The teams came in first and second within the South African conference(s) over the last three years, making this game a virtual finals dress rehearsal.

    Where the two sides finish on the ladder will weigh a lot on this game, bearing in mind that there probably will be an SA conference leader spot up for grabs as well.

    This definitely will be worth getting up for!

    No.5: Waratahs versus Brumbies, Saturday, July 14
    It doesn’t get much bigger, or better for that matter. The ACT club has won their last three versus the Tahs.

    Joe Powell Brumbies Super Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    I imagine this will mean NSW will have a point to prove in both of their clashes next year, not to mention that the Dan Vickerman cup is on the line as well.

    If next season goes the way I think it will, this clash will decide the Australian conference. If not, This game could be a great way to finish the season on a high.

    As an all-out fan of the sport, I can see next year as being one of the closest and fiercest on record.

    I’m not ruling out any of the Aussie teams as being contenders, nor are any New Zealand teams to be taken lightly.
    I can certainly believe the hype about the New Zealand teams’ new rosters – they are the ultimate professionals when it comes to living up to the hype – and you can be sure the Lions will be there come finals time as well.

    Bye for now and happy rugby-watching!