Crowds - a bit bittersweet right now, but regular packed houses for Super Rugby is something we haven’t had for a long, long time. Post-lockdown desperation to get out of the house was a major factor, but this felt like a chance to be part of something special, not an exercise designed to flog you this year’s jersey. Magic.
Sunday afternoon rugby - we’d never have attempted getting six young kids to Eden Park match on a Friday after work or on a Saturday night, but had a fantastic day out on the opening Sunday. And being able to kick the kids off the Playstation and flop down with a beer late in the weekend to watch the match was life-affirming. Keep this, please.
The concept - OK, COVID brought us here, and despite the good bits it’s probably not financially sustainable. But there’s a lot to be said about being able to clearly understand where the teams are at every week without sixteen different conferences, and having to keep up with the obscure off shore teams. Love it.
The Blues - it’s good to have them back. Sure, the Beauden razzle dazzle made a difference, and seeing Dan Carter running the water out is tremendous fun, but by just being hard to beat for a change, things felt whole again.
The Crusaders - we probably take them for granted, but they’re good, really good. When the Highlanders were pushing them close last Sunday and the graphic came up about the Crusaders scoring most of their points in the final quarter, you knew it was all over.
The Hurricanes and Highlanders - played their part despite losing talent and weren’t far off the pace.
Beauden being a sook about the Hurricanes crowd - no need.
Crusaders looking after the trophy - everyone loves stories of the Ranfurly Shield being used to carry drinks or in a fight or what have you, but the end of season episode is something we, and they, could have done without.
The Chiefs - awful. Sure, there were injuries and there was some bad luck, but between the performances and the half-hearted whinging from the coaches box every week was a tough watch. Let the side down, fans deserved more in a special year.
Thanks for reading - Richard
The week's best NZ sport content
The story of cricket coach Mark Coles, who offered his services to the Pakistan women’s team at a low point, got the job and how it changed his life [Stuff]
Ashley Stanley meets Noha Nasef, an ocean swimmer who competes in a hijab, and talks about the importance of competing and being visible [Locker Room]
Niall Anderson talks to kiwi cyclist George Bennett after his fine one-day win in Italy [NZ Herald]
The Spotter with some thoughts on what makes a great coach - make sure you watch the video [Sportsfreak]
Just three minutes of Roger Federer hitting catches for ball boys.
The amazing Rob Delaney on getting a vasectomy. Poignant, very, very funny and *cough* relatable [The Guardian]
Hamish and Andy’s travel shows, which are all on YouTube, are tremendous family viewing.
Selected weekend fixtures
Last weekend of Super Rugby Aotearoa is up in the air obviously - Highlanders v Hurricanes is set for Saturday night at 7.05pm, while Blues v Crusaders is Sunday at 3.30pm at Eden Park, they’re on SKY
The Warriors play Penrith at 8pm tonight, it’s on SKY
Bring back the gif
What happens when you eat cheese just before bed.
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