Super Rugby Finals: Bullish times
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: In the third instalment of his feature on past finals, rugby365's acclaimed writer Paul Dobson looks at the 14-team era.
First there were 10, then 12 and now 14 - en route to 18. And each increase gobbled up more space for other rugby, including the Currie Cup whose origins were in 1890.
Money was the driving force behind the expansion and television was the driving force behind the money. In 2004 SANZAR signed a new - bigger - deal with television, going from 2006 to 2010.
The two teams added were an additional team from Australia - the Western Force based in Perth - and an additional team from South Africa - the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs who split from their uncomfortable alliance with the Cats, based in Johannesburg.
The choice of the Cheetahs caused ructions in South Africa with governmental involvement because the government's choice was the Eastern Province side, then the Southern Spears, now the Kings. It became a court battle but in the end financial and administrative difficulties counted against the Spears.
The competition ran from February to 27 May. (The 2017 Super 18 ran from February to 5 August.)
In Super 14 there were no divisions or conferences. The teams all played each other. The top four provided semifinalists which produced a final.
Super 14 Winners
Crusaders vs Hurricanes, 19-12 at Jade Stadium, 27 May 2006
It was an historic final - the first Super 14 final. It was also an eerie final as a fog settled over Jade Stadium just before the start of the match. Spooky players flitted in and out of partial view and, at the most, the crowd noise rose to a murmur.
The fog was about all that made the match memorable. There was just one try. From a scrum five metres from the Hurricanes' line, Kevin Senio gave immediately to Dan Carter. Casey Laulala cut back onto Carter's inside and took the switched pass. He was running straight, got past sprawling Piri Weepu and was over near the posts in Chris Masoe's tackle. Carter converted.
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Carter 4
For the Hurricanes:
Pens: Weepu, Holwell, Gopperth 2
Crusaders: 15 Leon Macdonald, 14 Rico Gear, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Aaron Mauger, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Kevin Senio, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 Richard McCaw (captain), 6 Reuben Thorne, 5 Ross Filipo, 4 Chris Jack, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Tone Kopelani, 17 Campbell Johnstone, 18 Johnny Leo'o, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Stephen Brett, 21 Cameron McIntyre, 22 Caleb Ralph.
Hurricanes: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Lome Fa'atau, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Tana Umaga, 11 Shannon Paku, 10 David Holwell, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Rodney So'oialo (captain), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Paul Tito, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Luke Mahoney, 17 Joe McDonnell, 18 Luke Andrews, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Brendan Haami, 21 Jimmy Gopperth, 22 Tamati Ellison.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Bulls vs Sharks, 20-19 at Kings Park in Durban
History was made. There were two South African teams in the Final.
This year the All Blacks were rested from the first seven rounds because it was the year of a Rugby World Cup.
The semifinalists were the Sharks, the Bulls, Crusaders and the Blues. That was the order on the long in which they finished, which meant that the semifinals were in Durban and Pretoria. The Sharks beat the Blues 34-18 in Durban and the Bulls beat the Crusaders 27-12.
Because of the Sharks' higher log position, the final was in Durban, and what a final! It was tough and tense throughout and ended after 43 minutes in the second half when Derick Hougaard kicked the conversion which won the match by a single point.
The half-time score was 14-10 with a try by JP Pietersen for the Sharks and by Pierre Spies for the Bulls.
With two minutes to play tall Albert van den Berg scored a try to take the Sharks into a 20-19 lead after, vitally, Frans Steyn had missed the conversion from 15 metres in from touch- a cruel miss in the long run, if you were a Sharks' supporter, as most of Kings Park was that day.
With just 40 seconds left, Hougaard kicked off. The Sharks caught and Butch James kicked. Jaco van der Westhuyzen counterattacked. Gary Botha kicked ahead and, inside his 22, Steyn kicked - and the game turned on its head. He did not nearly find touch and captain Victor Matfield started a counterattack. That was just on 80 minutes. The game would run for another three minutes as the Bulls went left, right to Bryan Habana whom JP Pietersen tackled. The Bulls went left again to Odwa Ndungane on the left wing, for the wings had swapped side. Then they went right where Spies got an underarm pass, now an offload, top Habana against the touchline on his right. Habana pulled his head in as always, cut back inside, speeding, stepping, swerving and diving over for a try some 10 metres from the posts. Hougaard converted and the Bulls had won as the clock reached 83 minutes.
For the Sharks:
Tries: Pietersen, Van den Berg
Pens: Montgomery 3
For the Bulls:
Tries: Spies, Habana
Cons: Hougaard 2
Pens: Hougaard 2
Sharks: 15 Percy Montgomery, 14 Frans Steyn, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Butch James, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 AJ Venter, 6 Jacques Botes, 5 Johann Muller, 4 Johan Ackermann, 3 BJ Botha, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Deon Carstens
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Albert van den Berg, 19 Warren Britz, 20 Bob Skinstad, 21 Rory Kockott, 22 Adrian Jacobs.
Bulls: 15 Johan Roets, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Pedrie Wannenburg, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Engels, 17 Danie Thiart, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Derick Kuün, 20 Heinie Adams, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Jaco van der Westhuyzen.
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand), Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)
Television match offical: Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Crusaders vs Waratahs, 20-12 at AMI Stadium in Christchurch
The Waratahs led 12-11 at half-time but did not score a point in the second half, unable to cash in on Brad Thorn's sojourn in the sin bin for punching, an act that led to the cancellation of a Crusader try.
Pens: Carter 4
Tries: Turner 2
Crusaders: 15 Leon MacDonald, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Scott Hamilton, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Andrew Ellis, 8 Mose Tuiali'i, 7 Richard McCaw (c), 6 Kieran Read, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ti'i Paulo, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Reuben Thorne, 19 Nasi Manu, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Stephen Brett, 22 Sean Maitland
Waratahs:15 Sam Norton-Knight, 14 Lachlan Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Matt Carraro, 22 Timana Tahu
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Bulls vs Chiefs, 61-17
The Bulls' score is by some way the biggest score in a Super Rugby Final. It is the biggest winning margin in Super Rugby.
The Chiefs started well when they counterattacked and Lelia Masaga opened the scoring with a try. But soon afterwards Fourie du Preez scored two tries and the Chiefs were on their way to a hiding.
Tries: Du Preez 2, Habana 2, Matfield, Olivier, Spies, Rossouw
Con: Steyn 5, Francis
Pen: Steyn 2
Tries: Masaga, Muliaina
Cons: Donald 2
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuün, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rayno Gerber, 18 Danie Rossouw, 19 Pedrie Wannenburg, 20 Heini Adams, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Marius Delport.
Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Dwayne Sweeney, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Toby Morland, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Kevin O'Neill, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 James McGougan, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Joe Savage, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 David Bason, 21 Mike Delany, 22 Sosene Anesi.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Bulls vs Stormers, 25-17
There was history in this - the last Super 14 match, the first Super match played in Soweto, a high successful centre by the Bulls whose home match it was.
Dignitaries were there - the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, who was due to leave but delayed his departure. "I could not lose this important moment of history-making in our country." The Leader of the Opposition, Helen Zille was there. As she is also the premier of the Western Cape she had no hesitation in declaring her support for the Stormers. "I have never been so excited since the last election."
The Stormers may have scored two tries to one but the Bulls were really full value for their victory - dominating possession and territory as they used muscle and cohesion to dominate the Stormers.
For the Bulls:
Pens: Steyn 6
For the Stormers:
Tries: Habana, Pieter Louw
Cons: Grant 2
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 François Hougaard, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gürthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Derick Kuün, 20 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 21 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 22 Pedrie Wannenburg.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Willem de Waal, 22 Tim Whitehead.
Referee: Craig Joubert
Final Results, 1993-2016
1993: Transvaal vs Queensland, 20-17 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
1994: Queensland vs Natal, 21-10 at Ballymore, Brisbane
1995: Queensland vs Transvaal, 30-16 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg
1996: Auckland vs Natal, 45-21 at Eden Park, Auckland
1997: Auckland Blues vs ACT Brumbies, 23-7 at Eden Park, Auckland
1998: Canterbury Crusaders vs Auckland Blues, 20-13 at Eden Park, Auckland
1999: Canterbury Crusaders vs Otago Highlanders, 24-19 at Carisbrook, Dunedin
2000: Crusaders vs Brumbies, 20-19 at Bruce Stadium, Canberra
2001: Brumbies vs Sharks, 30-6 at Bruce Stadium, Canberra
2002: Crusaders vs Brumbies, 31-13 at Jade Stadium, Christchurch
2003: Blues vs Crusaders, 21-17 at Eden Park, Auckland
2004: Brumbies vs Crusaders, 47-38 at Canberra Stadium
2005: Crusaders vs Waratahs, 35-25 at Jade Stadium, Christchurch
2006: Crusaders vs Hurricanes, 19-12 at Jade Stadium, Christchurch
2007: Bulls vs Sharks, 20-19 at Kings Park, Durban
2008: Crusaders vs Waratahs, 20-12 at AMI Stadium, Christchurch
2009: Bulls vs Chiefs, 61-17 at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
2010: Bulls vs Stormers, 25-17 at Orlando Stadium, Soweto
2011: Reds vs Crusaders, 18-13 at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
2012: Chiefs vs Sharks, 37-6 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
2013: Brumbies vs Chiefs, 33-27 at Waikato Stadium
2014: Waratahs vs Crusaders, 33-32 at ANZ Stadium, Sydney
2015: Highlanders vs Hurricanes, 21-14 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
2016: Hurricanes vs Lions, 20-3 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington