The Super Rugby season is over for the Australian teams. Some will look back on it with regrets, some will look back with pride and some will be raring to go next season. Here are the season grades for each team:
Waratahs – A
They made the semi-finals of the competition. This was a feat that didn’t look likely at the beginning of the campaign when they couldn’t buy a win against New Zealand opposition and their form was indifferent. They most certainly benefitted from the fact that due to them winning the conference and finishing 2nd gave them a home quarter-final against the Highlanders. The final few weeks they did this without their inspirational skipper Michael Hooper but the summer will pose other challenges. Israel Folau is being heavily linked with the Queensland Reds and try scoring machine Taqele Naiyaravoro is heading to Europe. If they keep hold of Folau then they will be a force again next season but for now, they can enjoy being top dogs in Australia.
Rebels – B
The Rebels had their highest ever finish and had a chance of playing Finals rugby right up until the final week. A very costly defeat to the Reds in the penultimate week of the season meant it was an uphill task but they almost pulled off an incredible victory in Otago. The established players such as Will Genia, Dayne Haylett-Petty and Adam Coleman lead from the front with the ever-reliable Reece Hodge slotting in where needed. Jack Maddocks had a breakout season with 9 tries. They do not need to bring in a lot of players this summer, keep the squad together and with the additions of Isi Naisarani and seemingly Matt Toomua next season could be history making.
Brumbies – C
Before the final 3/4 weeks of the season, this could only have been described as a poor season. The way that the men from the Capital ended the season though bodes well for next season. At the start of the season they didn’t really know what they wanted to do or how they wanted to play. Their usual powerful pack were getting bettered more often than not and they didn’t have a lot of spark in the backline. It was clear that they worked on ways to break teams down and David Pocock came more and more to the fore. Christian Lealiifano has recommitted to the project next season which is great news but losing back rower Naisarani is a blow. An important recruitment drive this summer for the men with the purse strings and they Brumbies will want to be dining at the top table again.
Reds – C
This was a tough season for the Queenslanders. A rookie coach in Brad Thorn and a lot of Super Rugby rookies as well. On top of that there was the furore around Quade Cooper so there were distractions left, right and centre. At the start of the season many people were raising eyebrows winning 3 of their first 4 games but experience showed in mid season as they went through a slump. The character they showed at the end of the season to put in some great performances, Narrowly losing to the Hurricanes in Wellington, beating the Rebels and the Sunwovles, certainly shows that there is a lot to work with in this team. They have game changers in Taniela Tupou and Same Kerevi and if they pull off the coup of bringing in Israel Folau then they will be an outfit that can certainly pull off a shock or 2.
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