The Stormers truly laid down a marker this weekend after beating the Chiefs 34-26 at Newlands on Saturday.
On the evidence provided in this game, Robbie Fleck’s troops could go far in 2017.
But their superb win has been overshadowed by Sanzaar’s confirmation that two South African teams will be cut from next year onwards in a “strategic revamp”.
As a result, politics instead of rugby dominated the weekend.
The Kings, apparently, think they might be safe
The team from Port Elizabeth narrowly lost 41-46 to the Force on Sunday but that’s hardly important in the greater scheme of things.
Instead, their expected relegation from the tournament dominates their talk.
Charl Crous, the Kings’ CEO, was quick to respond.
“It’s premature to assume. No decision has been made on that question as yet. Various options on the way forward will have to be assessed,” he said.
“As advised by SA Rugby, the Franchise Committee will first consider the criteria on which the decision is to be made. After that, both the Executive Council and General Council will take a view before any announcement is made. At the moment we can only control what we can control and that is out on the field.”
Just remember that the Kings currently only exist because Saru bails them out.
Stormers show it’s not only about skills but fitness too
When people wondered why the Lions had become such a fine side, they assumed it was their focus on skills development.
But that’s only half of the picture.
Another big reason is that they, like the New Zealanders, are conditioned to such an extent that they can up the tempo in the last 15 minutes of a game.
Thankfully, it seems the Stormers are getting there too.
“What the Kiwi teams have learnt is to play under fatigue and that is something that we still need to learn. There was a bit of growth because we had to play under extreme fatigue,” said coach Robbie Fleck.
“The Chiefs upped the tempo in the last 15 minutes and had this been last year‚ we would have fallen off. We are fit but we need to play under extreme conditions and that showed in the defence in the last couple of minutes.”
He was also wary of suddenly raising expectations.
“It certainly gives me‚ and the coaching group‚ confidence that we are on the right track‚” said Fleck.
“Everyone has belief and we are just going to keep going. We are realistic though‚ there are still a few cracks that we need to work on.”
That sounds sensible.
Guess who’s the best No 12 in the country?
Us rugby fans love debating the best players in the country at, well, any given time.
Sharks coach Robert du Preez indulged some with a view of his own.
“In my opinion, Andre Esterhuizen is the best inside centre in the country,” he said after the Sharks won 18-13 against the Jaguares.
It’s a strange but pretty reasonable argument.
The 23-year-old has been a brilliant defender for the past two years yet really shone on attack against the Argentinians.
He ran 68m, scored a try and beat six defenders and even made a turnover.
And this against Test opposition.
“Andre’s been playing great rugby. Opposition have made it more difficult for him this year but he’s handled it well. His skill level overall has improved tremendously,” said Du Preez.
Based on those stats, he certainly has.