The Sharks, by reaching the semifinals for the sixth time, can lay claim to being South Africa’s most successful Super Rugby side since the intercontinental tournament started in 1996.
Superrugby’s Superwrap Team writes that although the Bulls have been South Africa’s only winners of the title the Sharks have been far and away the country’s most consistent performers in the 13 years the tournament has been staged.
Thirteen seasons equates to 26 semifinals and only the Crusaders, with ten, have a better record than the Sharks when it comes to reaching the playoffs — the Brumbies matching the Sharks’ six with the Blues and the Hurricanes (who have also never won the title) having been in the last four five times.
Of the other South African teams the Bulls have reached the semis four times and the Stormers and Cats twice each.
The Sharks* have reached three Finals, in ’96, ’01 and ’07, without ever emerging victorious while the Bulls* won the only Final they appeared in last year.
The Crusaders are the undoubted kings of Super Rugby, though, with six wins in the first 12 years. The Blues took the championship three times, the Brumbies twice and the Bulls once.
Interestingly only seven of the competing teams have appeared in Finals — the Crusaders, the Blues, the Brumbies, the Bulls, the Sharks, the Highlanders and the Hurricanes — which, put another way, means the Stormers, the Cats, the Lions, the Cheetahs, the Reds, the Force and the Chiefs (the only NZ team not to reach a Final) have never gone all the way.
In scoring 52 points to top the log this season the Crusaders set a new record; beating by a single point the number they accumulated to end up first in 2006. The Sharks topped the log with 45 points last year.
There has only been one “perfect” season — in 2002 (when it was the Super 12) when the Crusaders won all 11 their round robin matches and then also their semifinal and the Final to take the title.
*In the early years of the tournament the Sharks competed as Natal and the Bulls as Northern Transvaal.Tweet