ROUND NINE: Five Talking Points

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For the fourth year running, the Crusaders are Super Rugby champions. But it’s a little different this year. Uncertain whether any rugby would be played as the Covid-19 pandemic hit New Zealand, our country’s resilience during lockdown meant sporting events could return. A new competition was formed on home soil and with that brought brutal local derbies week-in-week-out. It must be incredibly pleasing for Scott Robertson and the Crusaders to have wrapped up this bruising but enthralling competition, with one week still to play. They showed class and fought their way back out of pressure situations against the Highlanders, a quick double to George Bridge proving too much for the gutsy southerners. They’ll be doing everything they can on Sunday to ensure they don’t finish their winning campaign on a losing note against the Blues at Eden Park.




While it wasn’t the Highlanders day in the end, winger Josh McKay pulled off one of the best try-saving tackles we’ve ever seen. Just five minutes into the second half and trailing by four points, the Crusaders were in for all money. Bryn Hall just had to fall over the line and then this insanely brilliant act from McKay (below). Proves why you should never give up on the rugby field.




Round Nine of Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa was Wellbeing Round and this year it was all about encouraging communities to connect. We saw some awesome examples of connection across the weekend, with handshakes a plenty and hongi’s before kickoff.





How good was Hurricanes midfielder Peter Umaga-Jensen again on Saturday night in the capital! The 22 year-old has really made waves in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa and has stepped up in the absence of Ngani Laumape. He put on a clinic against opposite Jack Goodhue a few weeks ago in Christchurch and he was instrumental in the Hurricanes bonus-point win over the Chiefs in the weekend. He’s certainly put his hand up for higher honors.  




This weekend, the final round of the competition, is the last chance for players to push for North v South selection, with the teams to be named early next week. We’ve got two classic North v South battles, with the Highlanders hosting the Hurricanes on Saturday night and Crusaders travelling up north to take on the Blues. There will be key match up’s right across the weekend, not only with players for both sides, but players vying for the same position on the same team. Take Mark Telea and Sevu Reece for example, both going for North right wing position and TJ Perenara and Aaron Smith going for the North halfback spot. In the South, the likes of Jordie Barrett up against Josh McKay. It’s going to be a cracking final round.