July 26, 2012
SANZAR CEO BLOG: 2012 Super Rugby, the penultimate week
By SANZAR Communications
Hello all, and welcome to the Super Rugby Semi-Finals!
It is hard to believe that we have less than two weeks remaining in the 2012 Super Rugby season, the longest such campaign in tournament history.
Round one, which kicked off with the Blues hosting the Crusaders at Eden Park, was played way back on February 24, and since then each franchise has played their sixteen regular season games – for well over 100 matches in the 2012 campaign.
First, I extend my congratulations to the semi-finalists – the Stormers, Chiefs, Crusaders and Sharks – who make up the final four, and will battle it out this weekend for a spot in the Super Rugby Final.
Now is also the time to acknowledge the eleven teams who have already closed off their seasons and their contribution to a fantastic season.
With Brisbane and Christchurch hosting the Super Rugby Qualifiers, all eyes now turn to Cape Town and Hamilton, the home of the South African and New Zealand Conference champions in the Stormers and the Chiefs.
Fans of the Australian Conference may lament that they have no remaining representative, but it was not until the final match of the regular season that the Reds snatched the crown off the Brumbies – and that in itself bespeaks of more competitiveness than some may have
given them credit for.
One thing is for certain, the 2012 Super Rugby champion will be from a new country, with South Africa’s last winners the Bulls in 2010, while New Zealand’s last victors were the Crusaders under Robbie Deans in 2008.
The Stormers, who finished the campaign top of the log, will entertain the Sharks in a ferocious South African derby, where the hosts will look for triumph to ensure the first ever hosting of a Super Rugby Final in Cape Town.
Meanwhile the Chiefs will host the Crusaders in a high stakes Kiwi derby, where the home team will be looking at becoming the first Australasian franchise to defeat the seven-time champions in a semi-final.
I would also like to acknowledge our two semi-final referees, with Craig Joubert overseeing the Chiefs versus the Crusaders, while Steve Walsh will control the Stormers against the Sharks.
Thank you also to the fans that follow this competition around the World and I have enjoyed engaging with a number of you directly on Twitter this year. At the end of the day you are why we run this competition and your constructive feedback is invaluable.
Good luck to the semi-final competitors this week, and we all look forward to an exciting conclusion of the season on August 4.
We shall then turn our attention to The Rugby Championship kicking off two weeks later.
But that story is for another day!