Super 14
Hats off to the Bulls and Crusaders
Russell Barwick, ESPN Sportscenter Australia
May 26, 2009
Bulls No.8 Pierre Spies dives in to score his side's third try, Bulls v Crusaders, Super 14 semi-final, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, May 23, 2009
Pierre Spies excelled for the Bulls on Saturday © Getty Images
Related Links
Players/Officials: Rocky Elsom | Pierre Spies | Deon Stegmann
Tournaments/Tours: Super 14

The second Super 14 semi-final between the Bulls and the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday was without doubt the best game of rugby I've seen all year. The first-half had everything and for mine it was worthy of a final. The Kiwis really took it to the locals running the ball at every chance and with the score at 20-7 there was an upset on the cards.

But then the Bulls gave some space to some of their players and wow! Deon Stegmann and Pierre Spies were simply outstanding. Jaco Pretorious played superbly in the centre and all in all it was worth waiting up for if you live over in Australia or New Zealand.
The biggest name is rugby over here is Rocky Elsom. After helping Leinster win the Heineken Cup and picking up 11 Man of Match awards in 13 games he is now set to "write his own cheque" for next year's Super 14. It's likely he will head to the Brumbies which is fantastic for ACT and not so great for Queensland where he was apparently offered $100k more.

Elsom will be a big draw at club level and will also be an invaluable resource for Robbie Deans' Wallabies, who cannot afford to do without players of his calibre. The Wallaby back-row is competitive - but Elsom would walk in to the team on the blindside.
And speaking of Super 14 the idea of 15 teams makes sense but why not have a Pacific Island team? There are so many opportunities to enhance the 15-a-side game in the Pacific and rather than artificially make up a team in the rugby heartland of Melbourne, let's do something smart.

The side could play games in Fiji and Samoa and maybe base themselves in Fiji. But also when the South African teams play games could be in Parramatta and Auckland given the large number of families with links to the Islands that live in and around those locations.

It's just a thought which won't get off the ground because corporately it hasn't got the appeal of playing in Melbourne in front of 15,000 or so fans.

Russell Barwick is a presenter for ESPN Sportscenter in Australia

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