Super Rugby Round 7 review Crusaders greats agree, Reds young gun is 'special'

Super Rugby is now in an indefinite period of suspension with no clear indication of when or if the competition will resume at all.

The New Zealand Government's decision over the weekend to tighten its borders and enforce a 14-day self-isolation period for people entering the country, from Midnight Sunday - a move the Australian Government followed - thrust the competition into uncertainty midway through Round 7.

Hours later, SANZAAR announced the competition had been suspended for the "foreseeable future".

The remainder of the Round 7 games were however completed - apart from the Jaguares' clash with the Highlanders - with the Sharks and Brumbies rounding out a winners' list that had earlier included the Hurricanes, Blues, Crusaders and Reds.

Read on as we review some of the key talking points from Round 7.


If that's the last time we see the Reds this season, then supporters of Queensland rugby - and everyone across Australia from a wider Wallabies perspective - can look to the longer-term future with excitement and hope.

The Reds may have only recorded just their second win of the season on Saturday night - a 41-17 triumph over the Bulls - but the nature of that performance made the timing of the competition's looming suspension all the more frustrating.

Having fallen behind 17-0 inside 17 minutes, the Reds could have capitulated completely and virtually conceded any hope of playing finals footy. But they instead rallied with two vital tries before the break, the second of which featured a spectacular sequence of offloads, and then exploded after it in running in another four, the Reds powering away to claim the bonus-point victory.

Watching coach Brad Thorn's post-game interview with Fox Sports made for compelling viewing. The All Blacks great, now in his third season as coach of the Reds, was in a state of cautious excitement; the former New Zealand lock doing his best to temper the regard in which he holds some of his brightest young stars while also highlighting the frustrations that go with trying to develop such a young group.

"The last couple of years it's been a bit of a rollercoaster with this team; there's times when I check myself, I go 'far out, this is a solid gig; come on, men'," Thorn said of his team's slow start and their impressive response thereafter.

"And then they slowly bit by bit came to life....then we sort of mucked around after halftime; I'm like 'you're keeping them in it' and then they went to work. Far out, you're dropping five years every game."

Skipper Liam Wright enjoyed arguably his best game of Super Rugby, certainly his best as captain, as he produced a vital tackle that helped his side avoid one further early Bulls try, before he then wrestled his way over to start the Reds' comeback 11 minutes out from halftime.

And he was incredibly well supported by each of his fellow forwards as the Reds settled into a groove for which the Bulls had no answer.

Sadly, in-form No. 8 Harry Wilson suffered a knee injury; Thorn had no idea as to the extent of its seriousness immediately after the match. The Reds coach did however declare Wilson a "special player", after originally appearing hesitant to heap praise on his impressive young No. 8.

"With Harry, I'm coaching him, so I'm trying to be careful," Thorn told Fox Sports. "If I was commentating or something [it would be different] because he's special, he's special coming through. So I just want him to stay humble; keep being the guy he is; keep doing his thing.

"But 'far out' you see a kid like that come in, straight in; what is it seven games straight; playing that sort of form; I've been around for a fair while, I haven't seen many guys do that."

Wilson also drew praise from Crusaders coach Scott Robertson who had watched the No. 8 tear through the middle of his three-time defending champions a week earlier. In Fact, Robertson had praise for the entire Queensland back-row unit.

"I've officially fallen for, have I mentioned, Harry Wilson," Robertson told Fox Sports. "As an ex-No. 8, his ability to set a bit of footwork is special. The other No. 7, Liam Wright, and even the guy [Fraser McReight] off the bench ... they're coming."

Asked how Thorn could bring the best out of his young Reds forwards, Roberston added: "Teach them the detail, grow their game, help them get better, help them grow their skill-sets so they can be international players.

"He should be talking about them not just being a great Queenslander, but being a great Australian [player]. Have a mindset; he's going to take them to the best that they can possibly be and just drive excellent standards."

Whether this young Reds side get the chance to really make a run at the playoffs won't be known until SANZAAR reveals its plans for the competition's resumption if indeed it resumes at all.

But it's hard not to get excited about what could be a potentially golden era for Queensland rugby, one that has already caught the eye of Super Rugby's master coach and his old Crusaders teammate.


If there has been one criticism of Jordie Barrett's career to date, it has been his inability to make good decisions under significant pressure.

There was no clearer evidence of that than his decision to take a quick lineout during the All Blacks' 2018 loss to the Springboks in Wellington, a pass that was picked off by Willie le Roux who then scooted away and scored under the sticks.

But finally out from brother Beauden's shadow at the Hurricanes, Jordie is enjoying a brilliant season at the back for the Canes. ESPN columnist Liam Napier noted Barrett's strong showing in the win over the Jaguares in Argentina, and the fullback's nerveless post-siren penalty last Friday only further reflected what is looking like Barrett's year of world-class consolidation.

Locked up at 24-all as the clock wound past the 80-minute mark, the Hurricanes continued to put phases together in the hope that the Chiefs' defensive line would break or referee Jaco Peyper would eventually find an infringement from the hosts.

And, after more than 30 phases, Peyper at last pinged Chiefs No. 8 Pita Sowakula for a late tackle, giving Barrett the chance to kick his side to victory from the 10-metre line.

The Hurricanes fullback obliged, ensuring his side stayed in contention in the New Zealand conference. It will have also served as a reminder to new All Blacks coach Ian Foster that should he switch Beauden back to fly-half this year, Jordie is ready for another shot at the New Zealand No. 15 jersey.


The one thing that fans of any sport won't endure is inconsistency when it comes to refereeing decisions, particularly when it comes to foul play. One of supporters' biggest bugbears is a high tackle, shoulder charge, or aerial contest that results in a yellow card one week, and then is deemed as a red the next.

To the letter of the law, Crusaders debutant Hugh Roach was rightly red-carded for lashing out with an elbow, that collected Sunwolves replacement Jaba Bregvadze in the 68th minute of the defending champion's 49-14 victory at Suncorp Stadium.

Roach will face a SANZAAR judicial panel as a result on Monday evening [AEDT].

But just a few hours later on Saturday in Durban, Stormers back-rower Johan du Toit avoided a similar sanction for a poorly-timed aerial challenge from the kick-off of his side's game against the Sharks.

In a gross error of misjudgement, du Toit charged directly into the legs of Louis Schreuder who then fell heavily to the ground, the scrum-half landing on his back and shoulders.

While the officials debated whether the tackle warranted a yellow or red card at the time, referee AJ Jacobs eventually opted for just the sin-bin.

Stormers coach John Dobson later said he would have had no complaints had du Toit been sent from the field permanently while the SANZAAR citing commissioner ruled that the offence had indeed met the red-card threshold for foul play.

While the Sharks were able to go on and win the match, Schreuder never returned and the hosts were forced to play one squad member down a player for all but 10 seconds of the match.

Du Toit's case will now be heard by the SANZAAR judiciary panel and he can expect to miss an extended period of rugby - though how that is served given the competition's current suspension remains to be seen - while the search for consistency continues, and will only further infuriate fans in the meantime.