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Are the Sharks Super Rugby Champions for 2020? SR suspended as Coronavirus spreads

Long suffering Natal Sharks fans have waited ages to win Super Rugby. They would’ve done it in 2007 but for two horrible mistakes from Frans Steyn, and came close several times earlier this decade (most notably the Jake White coached side in 2014), but lost momentum at a crucial stage in their campaign.

The Sharks’ 24-14 win over the Stormers was the last game before Super Rugby was officially suspended in light of the Coronavirus epidemic sweeping the world. By winning the clash, the Sharks have now placed themselves on top of the SR table, and should the competition be cancelled altogether, Sean Everitt might become the club’s first coach to win a Super Rugby title!

Super Rugby 2020 points table at the time of Covid 19 suspension- Sharks first

Super Rugby Table 2020 Coronavirus Suspension

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Key Talking Points Fiji 24-29 South Africa Los Angeles Sevens 2020 | Best ever comeback in a 7’s final?

South Africa produced a Hollywood-esque comeback in Los Angeles as they stunned Fiji 29-24 to take gold at the USA sevens. The Blitzboks were trailing 24-12 with less than 50 seconds to go on the clock, but managed a comeback that will surely rank as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, in sevens history.

Major moments from South Africa vs Fiji LA Sevens Final 2020

Chris Dry wins a Fiji lineout at 24-12: Having won a penalty, Fiji kicked for the corner and had an attacking line out in the South African half. The score was 24-12 in favour of Fiji, with 50 odd seconds remaining on the clock. However Dry managed to poach the lineout, and that set the stage for South Africa’s revival. Dry also scored the try that took the Blitzbokke to 24-17.

The Branco du Preez conversion to ensure ET: South Africa had foregone a chance to convert Dry’s try in the hope that they would get a few more seconds to score the fourth try they need to force extra time. From the restart the Boks managed to get the ball back, and finally made their way over the line. The conversion was a tough one from a difficult angle, but Branco du Preez managed it to level the scores and force extra time. The Blitzboks’ goal kicking was considered one of their weaknesses in the past, but this was a stunning effort under pressure.

The Waisele Nacuqu yellow card: At 24-17, Fiji’s Nacuqu was sent to the bin for a high shot on JC Pretorius. It gave South Africa an extra man advantage which they fully made use of- first to level the scores and then to win it in extra time.

(img via Springboks/Twitter)

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Australia Super Rugby Attendances 2020- List of SR Crowds Australian Conference (including Sunwolves)

Here is the list of crowds for Australian conference games during the 2020 Super Rugby season. The Australian conference consists of five teams- four from Australia (Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies, Rebels) and one from Japan (Sunwolves). Last updated after Brumbies v Highlanders (Attendance 7,270) on 15 Feb, 2020

Brumbies 2020 Super Rugby Crowd

Brumbies vs Reds 2020 attendance 7,436 (Brumbies 27-24 Reds on 31 January, 2020)
Brumbies vs Rebels 2020 Attendance 7,098 (Brumbies 39-26 Rebels on 7 February, 2020)
Brumbies vs Highlanders 2020 Attendance 7,270 (ACT 22-23 Otago on 15 February, 2020)

Sunwolves SR 2020 Crowd

Sunwolves vs Rebels 2020 Attendance 10,426 (Sunwolves 36-27 Rebels on 31 January, 2020)
Sunwolves v Chiefs 2020 Attendance 18,708 (Sunwolves 17-43 Chiefs on 15 February, 2020)

Waratahs 2020 Super Rugby Attendances

Waratahs vs Blues Attendance 2020 7,491 (Tahs 12-32 Auckland Blues on 8 February, 2020)

Rebels 2020 SR attendance

Rebels v Tahs Attendance NOT ANNOUNCED 2020 (Rebels 24-10 Waratahs on 14 February, 2020)

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Key Talking Points- Springboks 32-12 England Rugby World Cup Final 2019

South Africa became the first team to lose a group stage game and win the Rugby World Cup after beating England 32-12 in Yokohama. The Boks defied history to claim their third World Cup crown, putting them equal with New Zealand and keeping the title in the Southern Hemisphere.

Here we take a look at five key reasons why the Springboks won

Dan Cole becomes another Phil Vickery: England were dealt a blow early in the game when tighthead prop Kyle Sinckler walked off due to concussion after a collision with Maro Itoje. It meant Dan Cole had to play nearly 78 minutes, and he suffered the same fate that befell Phil Vickery in the first Lions test ten years ago- domination at the hands of Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira.

The Springbok scrum had the English one backpedalling on several occasions (despite being 20 kgs lighter) and thanks to the trusty boot of Handre Pollard, kept adding points whenever Jerome Garces blew a penalty their way- nearly 12 points came from scrum penalties.

Cheslin Kolbe’s early tackle on Courtney Lawes: England were restricted to their own half for the first ten minutes, and couldn’t build the quick start they normally desire. On one occasion with the Boks 3-0 up, England had a 5 on 2 overlap, but Cheslin Kolbe executed a brilliant tackle on the much larger Courtney Lawes. England managed to take three points from a ruck penalty, but it should’ve been seven, but for Kolbe, who is so integral to the Bok blitz defence, and implements his role perfectly.

Farrell’s missed kick at 15-9: England started the second half much, much better than they did the first one, and Owen Farrell, normally a very reliable kicker, had the opportunity to reduce the gap to three points. However he missed a relatively easy kick by his standards and instead of it becoming 15-12, the Boks pounced at the other end to make it 18-9, and the game was effectively over then, with England needing two scores to overhaul the Boks.

The brilliance of Duane Vermeulen: The Springbok 8thman has probably been the Player of the Decade for them, and put in a Man of the Match performance for them. He earned them breakdown penalties, was instrumental in the massive 20 odd phases of defending on the own line that the Boks did against Vunipola, Tuilagi and co. around the half hour mark, and was also the brains of a midfield maul move that took England by surprise, and earned them a penalty that put them two scores ahead.

TWi

(via Twitter)

Two fantastic tries for the Boks: The Springboks have often been accused of playing ten man rugby, but both their tries in this game were fantastic- Lukhanyo Am’s no-look pass to Makazole Mapimpi for the first, and Kolbe’s individual brilliance, leaving Owen Farrell eating grass, for the second.

As Warren Gatland had predicted, England perhaps played their World Cup final a week before against the All Blacks, and the Boks, with their six man forward bench, were too big and strong for Eddie Jones’ side, and thoroughly deserved winners.

Highlanders 20-42 Sharks | Durban side begin tour with win in Dunedin

The Sharks began their tour on a winning note as they upset the Highlanders 42-20 in Dunedin. Lukhanyo Am’s side, coming off a 23-15 opening round win against the Bulls in Durban, were lethal on the counter as the Highlanders struggled to cope with the speed and skill of the visitors’ loose forwards and back three.

Sharks No.8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe produced two game breaking offloads, both resulting in tries for Springbok winger Makazole Mapimpi while openside flanker James Venter also showed his speed as he raced to the tryline after the Highlanders had failed to collect Louis Schreuder’s up and under. Venter was also a nuisance at the breakdown, something the Sharks have lacked since the departure of Marcell Coetzee to Ulster.

The Sharks went 27-3 ahead at the break, and another penalty from flyhalf Curwin Bosch made it 30-3 before the Highlanders hit back through two quickfire tries. At 30-15, the Sharks seemed to be in danger of undoing all their hard work before Aphelele Fassi’s try brought them some breathing space. Michael Collins scored another for the Highlanders in reply after some superb work on the touchline from Te Ariki Ben-Nicholas, but Fassi’s second, again scored against the run of play, sealed a well deserved 42-20 win for the Durbanites.

The 5 try to 3 scoreline meant the Sharks did not get a try bonus point, but it was nevertheless an impressive performance.