Ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby final at Ellis Park, Sport360’s Alex Broun takes a look back at five of the best finals down through the years.
Which is your favourite?
Super Rugby’s inaugural final and one that will always be remembered for the late-great Jonah Lomu and the Blues hammering the Sharks to clinch the title.
One of five try scorers for the Blues at Eden Park, with Andrew Blowers getting a double, the Auckland franchise and Lomu in particular were outstanding against Gary Teichmann’s Sharks.
The Sharks remain Super Rugby’s unluckiest side, appearing in four finals (1996, 2001, 2007, 2012) without ever taking home the trophy.
Known as the “Foggy Final” or even “Gorillas in the Mist” it remains one of Super Rugby’s most controversial ever matches.
With thick fog shrouding Jade Stadium in Christchurch, making conditions virtually unplayable, the decision was made to go ahead.
Both teams tried to make the best of difficult circumstances with the Crusaders prevailing, thanks mainly to the boot of All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter.
“I don’t know what the crowd saw because it was tough out here,” said Crusaders captain Richie McCaw.
“We tried to keep it simple. We knew we had to keep it tighter. There were a few mistakes with the slippery ball.”
The first all South African final and one the Sharks will always regret losing.
With time almost up and the Bulls trailing 19-13 Francois Steyn’s missed touch kick proved to be costly.
The Bulls built up pressure in the Sharks’ 22, and the ball was then flung wide to winger Bryan Habana who slipped a tackle before applying the afterburners on a weaving run to score by the posts – Derick Hougaard’s simple conversion clinching the most dramatic of wins.
From here, the Bulls went on to win two more titles in three years.
The star-studded Crusaders were heavily favoured to win, but someone forgot to tell Queensland scrumhalf Will Genia.
With the Crusaders leading at half-time in Brisbane, after a Dan Carter try, the Reds fought back to 13-13, then Genia came up with the score of his life — a mazy, breathtaking run from inside his own half that turned out to be the match-winning try.
In front of a packed-out Suncorp Stadium this was Queensland’s finest hour.
In one of the most thrilling Super Rugby finals a 79th minute penalty goal to Bernard “The Iceman” Foley saw the Tahs sneak home.
The match, played in front of then record crowd of 61,238, see-sawed through the 80 minutes with Adam Ashley-Cooper crossing for a double for NSW and Matt Todd and Nemani Nadolo scoring for the visitors.
With the Crusaders leading by two points in the final minutes Richie McCaw was penalized and Foley did the rest.
The Waratahs won their first Super Rugby title in 19 attempts after two lost finals.
Jebel Ali Dragons will perhaps be looking forward to the new 2017/18 season more than most clubs. In addition to a return to prominence last term under the guidance of Henry Paul, the club are also looking forward to celebrating their 25th anniversary next season.
The senior men’s side will be kicking off the new UAE and West Asia Premiership campaign on September 22 with a mouthwatering repeat of last season’s UAE Premiership final as they welcome defending champions Abu Dhabi Harlequins to the Jebel Ali Centre of Excellence on opening day.
But there will be a very special day to celebrate the club turning a quarter of a century to welcome in September, as Dragons raise the curtain for the new campaign.
The club will be open for all Dragons players, staff, friends and family on September 8. The club have a full day planned for all the family as well as three cracking warm-up games planned for all three senior sides.
The day begins at 09:00 with players and families invited to enjoy the facilities at Jebel Ali Hotel, before the club’s new kit is unveiled and presented to players at 11.30, with player and team photos to be taken.
Dragons 3rds, reigning UAE Community League champions, kick off the match action at 15:00 as they play a Joining Jack Select XV. At 17:00 it’s the turn of Dragons 2nds who will play Dubai Sharks, and the day draws to a close with the seniors taking on newly-established club, Dubai Sports City Eagles, at 19:00.
Throughout the day refreshments will be available, so why not invite family and friends to enjoy a day out in the sun and celebrate 25 years of Dragons.
Although the summer sporting scene can often be as barren as the landscape that surrounds it, Mike Wernham says Dubai Hurricanes players and staff have been busy as they look forward to the new season.
Canes have been taking to the training fields this week for the first time, but Wernham revealed his players have been working hard in the gym for well over a month, while there’s also been activity behind the scenes too as he and the club look to push on ahead of his first full season at the helm.
“Since finishing the season it’s been non-stop behind the scenes,” said an upbeat Wernham.
“Chairman, new board, secretaries, new coaching staff, we’ve been hard at it, from pre-season plans to protocols, sponsors, kit design. There’s been a lot of work going on. Like other clubs we’ve lost some sponsors but we’ve got some new ones also.
“Some have come with good deals for all our members and the first team, including gym memberships at Base 3 in JLT. It’s a great space and the guys have been hard at it for a month two or three times a week at club sessions, working with strength and conditioning coach, Simon Seward.
“As an amateur club you need an injection of players and fortunately so far we’ve had on average 45 players attending sessions, so that’s looking good for growth. We’ve picked up a few new players as well.”
Wernham took over from James Ham halfway through the campaign and he felt there were improvements. Canes still labored in comparison to Abu Dhabi Harlequins, Bahrain, Doha and Jebel Ali Dragons, finishing well behind in the West Asia Premiership (6th) and UAE Premiership (3rd).
Canes conceded more tries than any other team last season and that’s something the man in charge is keen to rectify.
“The guys are excited to be back. They’ve had their break,” he said.
“Numbers grew from January and we’re excited about the challenges ahead. We’ll be changing up a lot of our structures, strike patterns and just want a bit more consistency. We conceded more tries than anyone last season. Our defence is one of our big targets to improve on.
“We know we’ve got a lot of attacking flair, victories over Dubai Exiles prove that. We lost by five at Quins and were drawing with Bahrain (before losing) and beat Dragons at home.
“We know we have good performances in us and can play some good rugby, we just need to get the consistency in our defence. Everyone wants to get bigger, faster, stronger, but the key aim for our strength and conditioning coach is to get fitter.
“We have to be realistic, players are full time workers so it’s about getting the balance right. We’re hoping for a successful season on and off the pitch.”
Recruitment has gone well over the summer, but Wernham insists there is always room for more additions.
He added: “As a club our message is about the experience we try and give. We want people to be coming here with smiles on faces ahead of training, enjoying the social side. Numbers are good but we always welcome more.
“It’s definitely a club for you and your family. We welcome all sorts and we provide for everyone. If you want a level playing field with some of the best facilities, great lads and coaches, and great set-up from top to bottom. Get yourself down there.”