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Weekend Rugby Wrap: 5 Takeaways

There was a lot of action across the weekend in European rugby as the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup kicked off.

Lukhanyo AM

There was a lot of action across the weekend in European rugby as the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup kicked off. Cape Town also hosted the South African leg of the 7s circuit. Bet Central brings you all that happened.

South African Domination In Challenge Cup

It was wins across the board for the South African teams in the Challenge Cup as the Cheetahs dispatched Zebre in a cagey affair where Hawies Fourie’s team would have been looking to shake off the rust with veteran Ruan Pienaar being particularly influential.

It wasn’t only the Cheetahs who did well. Sharks put 45 points past Pau with double try scorer Eben Etzebeth walking away with Player of the Match. It was then the Jordan Hendrickse show against Perpignan as he scored 23 of the Lion’s 28 points in a win in France on Sunday to complete a dominant South African start in the Challenge Cup.

Lukhanyo Am Find His Form Again

While Eben Etzebeth was deservedly given Player of the Match, it would have been pleasing to see Lukhanyo Am resembling a player who is finally finding his best form again. He was the Sharks’ 2nd best player on the day.

There was more of that incisive running, superb ball skills, and timing off the ball against Pau. The defensive alignment also looked when he was called upon to stop the French side’s attacker. It was an encouraging performance from a fan-favorite at the Shark Tank.

Blitzboks Dry Spell In Cape Town Continues

The Springboks 7s side’s barren run at the Cape Town 7s looks set to continue for another year. The Blitzboks last won the South African leg of the competition in 2015 when the 7s moved from Gqeberha to Cape Town.

They crashed out to eventual losing finalists Australia in the quarterfinals with the Aussies dominating in a 28-0 victory to silence the home crowd at DHL Stadium. The Blitzboks now have some downtime before they head to Perth for the Australian leg towards the end of January.

Leinster Overcame Massive Mental Hurdle

It’s not very often you read the above-mentioned subtitle such as the dominance of Leo Cullen’s Leinster side over the years, but if there is 1 hoodoo team Leinster can never get the better off, it’s current Champions Cup holders La Rochelle.

Leinster have lost the last 2 finals in this competition to La Rochelle, but on Sunday they finally got 1 over their old nemesis at the 4th time of asking. It would have been a huge relief for Cullen’s team who now know they can get the better of Ronan O’Gara’s men albeit in the group stages this time.

Loftus Versfeld Fails To Read The Room

Speaking of mental aspects, there needs to be a word on the Loftus Versfeld crowd on Saturday and how they conducted themselves in trying to create a hostile environment for the visiting Saracens. There were harrowing boos every time Owen Farrell stepped to take a kick and it wasn’t a good look.

The crowd needed to be more empathetic to a superb player who has even taken the decision to step away from Test rugby to focus on his mental health. Jake White extended an apology to the player and the team for the behavior of the Loftus crowd, and it was the right thing.

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