This weekend the Sharks and Crusaders will lock horns in what we all know will be an epic battle.
They are the two top teams from their respective conferences in this year’s competition, but have also for some time been two of the top teams of this magnificent Southern Hemisphere rugby competition called Super Rugby.
It therefore goes without saying that a match between these two sides will always be epic, and something every rugby supporter needs to mark down on their calendars as a must see event.
It is not news to anyone that this match will not be played in either Christchurch or Durban, but in fact, Twickenham London. But do we really appreciate the significance of this truly historic event? Has any of us sat down to reflect how this one match could possibly prove to be the catalyst to change the face of the rugby landscape forever?
Everyone knows the decision or motivation to host this match at Twickenham comes off the back of the horrific events in Christchurch a couple of weeks ago, and as much as I appreciate and amazed yet again how the rugby fraternity manage to stand together as brothers-in-arms using this beautiful game to bring human beings from all walks of life together in a time of tragedy, the significance of this event even goes beyond that.
Rugby union as a global sport is struggling. Not only because of the nature of the game and the challenges it faces to grow its popularity worldwide, but also because we are our own worst enemies.
Hands up from those who have read (and is sick and tired of reading) articles about North vs. South rugby! Or how the one proclaims to play the game it’s supposed to be played while the others play basketball or some rubbish like that?
Rugby’s ‘global season’ or the proposed concept of such an event has also been a very hot topic in recent years, but with the insistence of the North and South both believing their way is the best way and the other one needs to sacrifice, it remains but a pipe-dream.
It’s a case almost of each Hemisphere protecting its brand or product with such vigour and determination that it refuses to give the other even the slightest of chances to prove itself or its worth.
This weekend however, the Sharks and the Crusaders will become the flag-bearers of Southern Hemisphere rugby where they will take the top ‘product’ on offer from the Southern Hemisphere, and showcase it to the rugby fraternity up North. (Not that I think it’s that much different but that’s another subject altogether)
Personally, I think this will be one of the most historic events in rugby union’s history as a professional sport, and event which will squash and ridicule a whole host of perceptions and pre-conceived ideas from either side when it comes to the game played in heaven.
It is on reflection of this that I hope this match firstly serves in its primary goal to assist those individuals affected by the terrible events in Christchurch of a couple of weeks ago, but perhaps, just perhaps, that this event will also bring the North closer to the South in the process as-well.
Good luck and thank you to the teams, administrators and fans from the Crusaders and Sharks rugby unions, together with SANZAR and the RFU for bringing us what will no doubt be, an event of epic proportions.