The effects of gravity when in the stratosphere can be barely perceived. But the inevitable plunge of a Super Rugby team to earth caused by poor results and on and off field dramas, gathers pace, accelerating and accelerating until nothing can slow the team's descent. It doesn’t matter if the coach is jettisoned or underperforming players are off loaded, the debris scattering the fields at the end of the season's plunge to earth will be testament to the false hopes and dreams of players, fans and the media.
So who are the greatest disappointments and where are the biggest burst bubbles? Here's the top 8...
Expectations were exceedingly low to begin with, so to not have even reached those is some achievement. The Kings are conceding an average of 50 points per match.
New coach but same superstar players (mostly) and the Cheika legacy to carry them through. Round 1 smashed the Reds. Then it went pear shaped. And their only other win was over the - well, Reds. But only just. Not panic stations, but getting close.
The new force (small 'f') in Australian Rugby supposedly with a bunch of young players starting to hit their sweet spot. Narrow victories over the Reds and Force and hammering the Subwolves (pun intended) turned out to be a false dawn. and when you look where those teams sit on the ladder it's no surprise the Highlanders massively outclassed them.
This was the nearly full-strength international team that was going to storm the competition with flair and an exciting brand of Rugby that carried them to the Word Cup semi finals. A first up win had everyone talking semi finals but of the Super Rugby variety. But nothing since. Welcome to first grade!
|Something Mickey Mouse |
about Japanese Rugby
The Sunwolves season so far has been a bigger roller coaster then anything found at Tokyo Disneyland. Loss (by plenty), followed by Loss (by 1 point), Loss (hammered) and another Loss (by 3 points). For every spectacular Yamada try there is also a false dawn (rising sun style of course).
|Force back row. Too static!|
Steady low risk Rugby is a tactic designed to eliminate errors and minimise your opponents attacking options. Sun Tzu no doubt had something to say on the matter, and no doubt Force coach Michael Foley is an admirer. But Sun Tzu also had thousands of Chinese warrior at his disposal. Foley has now seen his team lose heavily three times in a row. Time to entomb his warriors and wait for better days.
New coach Tana Umaga was the great hope who was going to reinstall pride and purpose and demonstrate that previously coach John Kirwan was a hopeless joke. After Round 1 he looked like a genius when the Blues scored a gutsy tough win against the champion Highlanders. Then it went pear-shaped, hitting rock bottom when the coach sent out the signal to his troops to settle for a draw against the lowly Reds. The boos were heard all over Auckland.
When a sporting team sacks their coach mid season you often get a 'bounce' as the players, embracing the refreshing new atmosphere and the success of their public campaign to undermine their previous leader, seek to impress the new boss. Not this time. The Reds 2 coaches for the price of 1 offer has only resulted in even more heartache. Sometimes it's better to lose by 20 than 1. At least you know you didn't blow it because you never had a chance.