Super Rugby 2011 opened to much fanfare last weekend, with a lot of promise:
Friday night football, more country rivalry than ever before, and the debut of a new Super Rugby franchise—the Melbourne Rebels.
After all the fireworks have settled—and reflecting on each game played in Round—it is hard to deny that, for the most part, Round 1 failed to deliver on the hype.
The first game of the round seemed to signal that, with the Hurricanes losing to the Highlanders in a very labored game that failed to thrill with tries, and more importantly, some flow to the game.
I thought for a moment that I was watching a Northern hemisphere game and was looking for the snow and rain on the screen the slow pace at which the game went.
I must admit that there were parts of the familiar free-flowing running rugby, but after five phases the ball seemed to become very slippery and dropped way too often.
That seemed to be the story across all the games played in Round 1, with numerous drop balls at every turn.
The most laughable attempt for the common case of "fumblenitis" was made by the Australian commentators, "The ball is new, and brand new balls tend to be more slippery."
The Rebels failed to impress, and really it was a case of not using the right personnel at the right time.
On attack, they seemed to only know one way of bashing up through pick and goes, and their backline was extremely flat, with their Rugby League imports not used on hard lines to try and bash the Waratah defence.
It was not all a snooze-fest though, as the Crusaders vs. Blues game was extremely entertaining and showed some signs of a great Super Rugby season ahead.
These up-tempo games are what all fans love about Super Rugby.
Round 2 beckons amid some emotional times however, especially in New Zealand.