Wed 2 Aug 2017 | 02:26

Super Rugby Finals: The money games

Super Rugby Finals: The money games
Wed 2 Aug 2017 | 02:26

Super Rugby Finals: The money games


Enter money (rejoicing).

The year 1995 was a time of upheaval in the game.

The World Cup changed. South Africa played for the first time and became the second team to win on debut, a feat nobody will ever repeat. It was also the big money World Cup as businessman Louis Luyt, once a powerful lock forward, pushed it to success on the field, off the field and in the bank.

At the World Cup there was pressure on players to break away from the established Rugby Union code and get paid as entertainers in a troupe owned by Kerry Packer. His agent at the World Cup was former Wallaby, Ross Turnbull. There were many players at the World Cup willing to join in but Luyt's big boot kicked them off the field.

The International Rugby Board followed the money, abandoned the much battered amateur principle and gave rugby a licence to be professional. Rugby could now become a paid concern, a paid job, an investment opportunity. Players – and others – could now earn money within the structures of the International Rugby Board.

Much of the money came from Rupert Murdoch's television, a contract negotiated by Louis Luyt, who, in a sense, saved the IRB's bacon. In fact it was the start of television's ownership of rugby and its increasing demand for more matches.

Of course, it was a massive upheaval and the upheaval affected Super Rugby as Super 10 became Super 12 – and much more.

The Super 12 was more than a change in numbers. Now there was a body, called SANZAR, made up of the three unions South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and an R for rugby. It would become more and more powerful in rugby, even though it had no authority over its constituent bodies. It organised the Super 12 – five teams from New Zealand, four from South Africa and three from Australia. The 1996 Super 12 was rugby's first professional competition.

New Zealand quickly went for regional teams and Australia's third province, Canberra, became an interprovincial body, for it recruited from beyond its borders, shopping mostly in Sydney. Eventually South Africa also went in for regional teams, but the competition remained dominated by New Zealand teams. There were no pools in this system which meant a great deal of travelling for the teams. This was especially hard on South African teams who set off for a six-week tour of Australia and New Zealand.  

The competition received enormous coverage and was accompanied by much glitter and razzmatazz.

The teams in the first Super 12 were Natal, Western Province, Waikato, Canterbury, Otago, Queensland, ACT, Transvaal, Wellington, Northern Transvaal, New South Wales and Auckland.

Later the teams would acquire different names and their gear changed regularly, a long way from rugby's normal conservatism. In fact the Super 12 was not for the conservative.

In 1999 the teams in the Super 12 were the Sharks, Northern Bulls, Western Stormers, Cats, Auckland Blues, Wellington Hurricanes, Canterbury Crusaders, Otago Highlanders, ACT Brumbies, Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs.

The teams have since become single-named.

There were semifinals and a final. At the end of the preliminary matches there was a log with Queensland first, Auckland second, Northern Transvaal and Natal fourth. (Ironically Canterbury was bottom.) Natal won six of their 11 matches while ACT, who ended fifth had won seven. But this was the time of bonus points for tries and narrow defeats, and Natal had scored nine of those to ACT's four. 

For the semifinals, one played four and two played three.

Natal, captained by Gary Teichmann, went to Brisbane and beat Queensland 43-25 at Ballymore. Auckland Blues, captained by Zinzan Brooke, beat Northern Transvaal 48-11 at Eden Park.

The Final

This set up a final at Eden Park between Auckland Blues and Natal on 25 May 1996. 

Natal did not have to travel far to get there, just the comparatively short hop from Brisbane to Auckland. Much shorter than travelling from Durban but still about five hours. They could travel in hope after beating log-leaders Queensland, hopeful even if they had lost to Auckland 30-23 in Durban earlier in the competition.

There was a huge, noisy crowd at Eden Park, who, according to Murray Mexted, "sang to the tune of the match". They had much to sing about, for this was in the days before one-pass phases and the box kick. This was a game running, passing and avoiding the tackle. It was a splendid final won by the team that thoroughly deserved to win, as six tries to two suggests.

Natal played their part but they simply could not get their hands on enough ball and were beaten hands down in turnovers.

The Auckland Blues soon set about dousing Natal's fire – a penalty by Adrian Cashmore, a try by Jonah Lomu when he pushed through André Joubert and a try by Andrew Blowers in a scramble at the line made it 13-0 before Blowers tackled Henry Honiball late and the tall flyhalf goaled.

It looked as if Natal were on their way to a try when Honiball broke clean through in midfield but the ball went astray and the next second Lomu was steaming down the left. Teichmann tackled him but he popped the ball to Carlos Spencer who scored under the posts. 20-3.

Natal fought back. Again Honiball broke and this time had Joubert with him. He gave to the fullback who ran the 22 metres straight to the posts. With Honiball's three penalties the score was 20-13 at half-time.

Auckland got two tries early in the second half, one where Eroni Clarke burst through two weak tackles and the other when a turnover to Auckland ended with Charles Reichelmann galloping over for the try.

Natal bashed at the Auckland line over and over and then went wide where James Small scored to make it 32-21. 

That ended Natal's scoring while Cashmore kicked two penalties and Blowers scored his second try.


For Auckland:
Tries: Lomu, Blowers 2, Spencer, Clarke, Reichelmann
Cons: Cashmore 3
Pens: Cashmore 3

For Natal:
Tries: Joubert, Small
Con: Honiball
Pens: Honiball 3


Auckland: Adrian Cashmore, Jonah Lomu, Johnny Ngauamo, Eroni Clarke, Joeli Vidiri, Carlos Spencer, Ofisa Tonu'u, Zinzan Brooke (captain), Michael Jones, Andrew Blowers, Charles Reichelmann (replaced by Jason Chandler), Robin Brooke, Craig Dowd, Sean Fitzpatrick, Olo Brown.

Natal: Andre Joubert, James Small (replaced by Joos Joubert), Jeremy Thomson, Dick Muir, Cabous van der Westhuizen, Henry Honiball, Kevin Putt (replaced by Robert du Preez), Gary Teichmann (captain), Wayne Fyvie, Wickus van Heerden (replaced by Dieter Kriese), Stephen Atherton, Mark Andrews, Ollie le Roux, John Allan, Adrian Garvey

Referee: Wayne Erickson (Australia)
Touch judges: Peter Marshall (Australia), Scott Young (Australia)

Super 12 winners

1996: Auckland
1997: Auckland Blues
1998: Canterbury Crusaders
1999: Canterbury Crusaders
2000: Crusaders
2001: Brumbies
2002: Crusaders
2003: Blues
2004: Brumbies
2005: Crusaders

Other Super 12 Finals


Auckland Blues vs ACT Brumbies, 23-7 at Eden Park on 31 May 1997

The rains came down and the Brumbies forwards stood up to the powerful Auckland pack which had only one player who was not an All Black. The scoreline looks comfortable for Auckland, the favourites, who deserved to win, but in the end it was only by two tries to one and Michael Jones's had intercepted to score one of them.


For Auckland Blues:
Tries: Dowd, Michael Jones
Cons: Cashmore 2
Pens: Cashmore 3

For ACT Brumbies:
Try: Roff
Con: Roff


Auckland Blues: Adrian Cashmore, Brian Lima, Eroni Clarke, Lee Stensness, Joeli Vidiri, Carlos Spencer, Ofisa Tonu'u, Zinzan Brooke (captain), Michael Jones, Mark Carter, Robin Brooke, Leo Lafaiali'i, Craig Dowd, Sean Fitzpatrick, Olo Brown.

ACT Brumbies: Stephen Larkham, Mitch Hardy, James Holbeck, Pat Howard, Joe Roff, David Knox, George Gregan, Troy Coker, Brett Robinson (captain), Owen Finegan, John Langford, David Giffin, Patricio Noriega, Marco Caputo, Ewen McKenzie .

Referee: Tappe Henning (South Africa)


Canterbury Crusaders vs Auckland Blues, 20-13 at Eden Park on 30 May 1998

The rise of the Crusaders was remarkable. After four matches Canterbury were last on the table. They scraped past Natal at home (four tries for, five against). Auckland had ended the pre-knock-out rounds top and so had a home final.
At half-time the score was 3-0 to Canterbury. In the second half the Blues got ahead 10-3, but Canterbury came back to level the scores. Five minutes from the end the score was 3-all. Andrew Mehrtens chipped, the ball eluded two Auckland defenders and James Kerr flopped onto it for a strange try.


For Canterbury Crusaders:
Tries: Maxwell, Kerr
Cons: Mehrtens 2
Pens: Mehrtens 2

For Auckland Blues:
Try: Christian
Con: Cashmore
Pen: Cashmore
Drop: Cashmore


Canterbury Crusaders: Daryl Gibson, James Kerr, Tabai Matson (Tony Marsh), Mark Mayerhofler (Blair Feeney), Norm Barryman (Daryl Lilley), Andrew Mehrtens, Aaron Flynn, Steve Surridge, Scott Robertson (Angus Gardiner), Todd Blackadder (captain), Reuben Thorne, Norm Maxwell, Stu Loe, Mark Hammett, Kevin Nepia (Greg Feek)

Auckland Blues: Adrian Cashmore, Joeli Vidiri, Eroni Clarke, Lee Stensness,Caleb Ralph, Carlos Spencer, Ofisa Tonu'u, Xavier Rush, Mark Carter, Michael Jones (captain), Robin Brooke, Royce Willis, Olo Brown James Christian, Craig Dowd

Referee: Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand)


Canterbury Crusaders vs Otago Highlanders, 24-19 at Carisbrook on 20 May 1999

For the third year in succession both finalists were New Zealand teams. For the second year in a row Canterbury Crusaders played away from home and won and for the second year in a row the favourites lost. This year the final was an all-South Island affair.

Canterbury Crusaders only just made it to the semi-final and then won well against Queensland in Brisbane while Otago Highlanders thrashed the Stormers in Cape Town to get into the final.

It was the best Super 12 final to date and in the end the issue was decided by the boot of Andrew Mehrtens. The Highlanders led 14-9 at half-time after Brian Lima had started a counterattack and finished it off a short pass from Byron Kelleher. The Crusaders went ahead in the second half with two excellent tries, first when Daryl Gibson took a short pass from Mehrtens to score and then a brilliant effort by Afato So'oalo who beat Lima and then won a chip-and-chase to score. This made the score 21-14. Mehrtens added a drop and when Isitolo Maka scored three minutes from the end the match was, to all intents and purposes, won.


For Canterbury Crusaders:
Tries: Gibson, So'oalo
Con: Mehrtens
Drop: Mehrtens
Pens: Mehrtens 3

For Otago Highlanders:
Tries: Lima, Maka;
Drop: Laney
Pens: Brown 2


Canterbury Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Caleb Ralph, Daryl Gibson, Norm Berryman ,Afato So'oalo, Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall, Steve Surridge, Reuben Thorne, Angus Gardiner, Norm Maxwell, Todd Blackadder (captain), Greg Feek, Mark Hammett, Greg Somerville

Otago Highlanders: Jeff Wilson, Brendan Laney, Pita Alatini, Romi Ropati, Brian Lima, Tony Brown, Byron Kelleher, Isitolo Maka, Taine Randell (captain), Josh Kronfeld, Brendon Timmins, John Blaikie, Kees Meeuws, Anton Oliver, Carl Hoeft.

Referee: André Watson (South Africa)


Crusaders vs Brumbies, 20-19 at Bruce Stadium, 27 May 2000

The Brumbies had ended top of the table with the Crusaders second. That meant a Canberra final after they had each demolished the hopes of their opponents in the semi-finals.

Bruce Stadium was freezing for this night final. Andrew Mehrtens matched the weather with his icy nerve. Where Stirling Mortlock missed four out of nine, Mehrtens goaled five out of six, including the match-winning penalty at the dying of the match.


For Crusaders:
Try: Cribb
Pens: Mehrtens 5

For Brumbies:
Try: Smith
Con: Mortlock
Pens: Mortlock 4


Brumbies: Andrew Walker, Joe Roff, Rod Kafer, Stirling Mortlock, Mark Bartholomeusz, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Jim Williams, Ipolito Fenukitau n(replaced by George Smith), Brett Robinson (captain), Justin Harrison, David Giffin, Patricio Noriega, Jeremy Paul, Bill Young.

Canterbury Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Caleb Ralph, Daryl Gibson, Mark Robinson, Marika Vunibaka, Andrew Mehrtens, Ben Hurst, Ron Cribb, Reuben Thorne, Scott Robertson 5 Norm Maxwell, Todd Blackadder (captain), Greg Feek, Mark Hammett, Greg Somerville

Referee: André Watson (South Africa)


Brumbies vs Sharks, 30-6 at Bruce Stadium on 19 May 2001

The Brumbies were top, the Sharks second. So the final was in Canberra.

This was the first time a non-New Zealand team had won the Super 12, the first time no New Zealand team had made the semi-final.

The Sharks had beaten the Brumbies in the home matches but were well beaten in the second half of the final. After missing six kicks at goal in the first half, the Sharks were still level at 6-all at half-time. The Brumbies galloped away with the second half.


For Brumbies:
Tries: Roff 2, Giffin
Cons: Walker 3
Pens: Walker 5

For Sharks:
Pens: James 2


Brumbies: Andrew Walker, Joe Roff, James Holbeck, Rod Kafer, Graeme Bond, Steve Larkham, George Gregan (captain), Jim Williams, George Smith, Peter Ryan, Justin Harrison, David Giffin, Ben Darwin, Jeremy Paul, Bill Young

Sharks: Ricardo Loubscher, Justin Swart, Trevor Halstead, Deon Kayser, Stefan Terblanche, Butch James, Craig Davidson, AJ Venter, Charl van Rensburg, Warren Britz, Albert van den Berg, Mark Andrews (captain), Ollie le Roux, John Smit, Etienne Fynn.

Referee: Paddy O'Brien (New Zealand)


Crusaders vs Brumbies, 31-13 at Jade Stadium, 25 May 2002

It was the perfect Super 12 for the Crusaders. They played 13 and won 13. They scored 30 points or more in every one of the 13 matches. They were by some way the best side in the 2002 Super 12. In the last round of the league they played the second-placed Waratahs and beat them 96-19

The margin of victory in the final is a big one but with seven minutes to play they led just 14-13, but then Caleb Ralph scored two tries in three minutes.


For Crusaders:
Tries: Ralph 2, Vunibaka
Cons: Mehrtens 2
Drop: Mehrtens
Pens: Mehrtens 3

For Brumbies:
Try: Walker
Con: Walker
Pens: Walker 2


Brumbies: Mark Bartholomeusz, Graeme Bond, Stirling Mortlock, Pat Howard, Andrew Walker, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Scott Fava, George Smith, Owen Finegan, Justin Harrison, Daniel Vickerman, Ben Darwin, Jeremy Paul, Bill Young.

Canterbury Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Marika Vunibaka, Mark Robinson, Aaron Mauger, Caleb Ralph, Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall, Scott Robertson, Richie McCaw, Reuben Thorne (captain), Norm Maxwell, Chris Jack, Greg Feek, Mark Hammett, Greg Somerville

Referee: André Watson (South Africa)


Blues vs Crusaders, 21-17 at Eden Park, 24 May 2003

The Crusaders did not win! That seems astonishing given their magnificent record in Super 12 finals, but for the second year in a row they did not hoist the trophy in triumph.

Missing from most of the Crusaders' campaign was veteran points' machine Andrew Mehrtens. He was largely displaced by young Daniel Carter.

In the end kicking counted. The Crusaders, who led 10-6 at half-time, scored three tries to two but lost to Carlos Spencer's boot. Mehrtens came on as a replacement for Marika Vunibaka just before half-time but managed only a single conversion,


For Blues:
Tries: Howlett, Braid
Con: Spencer
Pens: Spencer 3

For Crusaders:
Tries: Hammett 2, Ralph
Con: Mehrtens


Blues: Doug Howlett, Rico Gear, Mils Muliaina, Sam Tuitupou, Joe Rokocoko, Carlos Spencer, David Gibson, Xavier Rush (captain), Daniel Braid, Justin Collins, Ali Williams, Angus MacDonald, Kees Meeuws, Keven Mealamu, Deacon Manu.
Replacements: Derren Witcombe, Tony Woodcock, Bradley Mika , Mose Tuiali'i, Craig McGrath, Orene Ai'i, Lee Stensness.

Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Marika Vunibaka, Caleb Ralph, Daniel Carter, Joe Maddock, Aaron Mauger, Justin Marshall, Scott Robertson, Richard McCaw, Reuben Thorne (captain), Chris Jack, Brad Thorn, Greg Somerville, Mark Hammett, David Hewett.
Replacements: Slade McFarland, Greg Feek, Sam Broomhall, Johnny Leo'o, Ben Hurst. Andrew Mehrtens, Scott Hamilton

Referee: André Watson (South Africa)


Brumbies vs Crusaders, 47-38 at Canberra Stadium, 22 May 2004

It was a brilliant final with 13 tries. The number of tries says it all. Numerous match, team and individual records were broken.

After just 18 minutes the Brumbies led an incredible 33-0 after scoring five brilliant tries. By half-time it was 33-14, and even though the proud Crusaders fought back they could not overall the energetic Brumbies.


For Brumbies:
Tries: Joe Roff 2, Mark Gerrard 3, Matt Giteau, Jeremy Paul
Cons: Joe Roff 6

For Crusaders:
Tries: Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter, Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn, Chris King, Casey Laulala
Cons: Daniel Carter 4


Brumbies: Joe Roff, Mark Gerrard, Joel Wilson, Matt Giteau, Clyde Rathbone, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Scott Fava, George Smith, Owen Finegan (captain), Radike Samo, Mark Chisholm, 3 Nic Henderson, Jeremy Paul, Bill Young
Replacements: David Palavi, Guy Shepherdson, David Giffin, Jone Tawake, Matt Henjak, Lenny Beckett, Mark Bartholomeusz

Crusaders: Ben Blair, Marika Vunibaka, Aaron Mauger, Daniel Carter, Marika Vunibaka, Cameron McIntyre, Justin Marshall, Sam Broomhall, Reuben Thorne (captain), Richie McCaw, Brad Thorn, Chris Jack, 3 Greg Somerville, Tone Kopelani, David Hewett.
Replacements: Corey Flynn, Chris King, Ross Filipo, Johnny Leo'o, Andrew Mehrtens, Jamie Nutbrown, Casey Laulala.

Referee: André Watson (South Africa)


Crusaders vs Waratahs, 35-25 at Jade Stadium

The laughing Crusaders were simply at their best, running free, supporting one another and scoring tries. At half-time they led only 14-6 but that soon grew to 35-6 before three late tries made the willing Waratahs look more competitive.

It was the 690th and last Super 12 match of all time as SANZAR expanded the competition to the Super 14.

Not only did the Crusaders win the last ever Super 12 tournament, but they have won as many titles in the past 10 years (five) as all other 11 teams put together. The other five titles went to the Blues (three) and the Brumbies (two).


For Crusaders:
Tries: Hamilton, MacDonald, Hewett, Ralph
Cons: Carter 3
Pens: Carter 2
Drop: Mauger

For Waratahs:
Tries: Rogers 2, Waugh
Cons: Hewat, Rogers
Pens: Hewat 2


Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Rico Gear, Caleb Ralph, Aaron Mauger, Scott Hamilton, Daniel Carter, Justin Marshall, Mose Tuiali'i, Richie McCaw (captain), Reuben Thorne, Ross Filipo, Chris Jack, Greg Somerville, Corey Flynn, Dave Hewett.
Replacements: Tone Kopelani, Campbell Johnstone, Sam Broomhall, Johnny Leo'o, Jamie Nutbrown, Andrew Mehrtens, Casey Laulala.

Waratahs: Mat Rogers, Peter Hewat, Morgan Turinui, Nathan Grey, Lote Tuqiri, Lachlan MacKay, Chris Whitaker (captain), David Lyons, Phil Waugh, Rocky Elsom, Daniel Vickerman, Justin Harrison, Alastair Baxter, Brendan Cannon, Matt Dunning.
Replacements: Adam Freier, Gareth Hardy, Alex Kanaar, Stephen Hoiles, Chris O'Young, Shaun Berne, Cameron Shepherd.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Final Results, 1993-2016

Super 10

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

Super 12

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

Super 14

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

Super 15

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

Super 18

2016: Hurricanes vs Lions, 20-3 at Westpac Stadium, Wellington

By Paul Dobson

PV: 2
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