Almanac Rugby: Super Rugby Trans Tasman Final

In 2003, the Blues hosted the Crusaders in the Super 12 final. They had already won two titles in the nascent competition and were the undisputed powerhouse. They finished the regular season nine points clear at the top, having lost just the one game. They had the leading point scorer in Carlos Spencer and the leading try-scorer in Doug Howlett with quality all over the pitch.



It proved to be their last taste of success until Saturday night.



In a fitting finale to a great season for the Auckland lads, their hard fought 23-15 win over the Highlanders has restored pride to the largest rugby market on the shaky isles.



The visitors showed their intent with a passionate haka before kick off. Led by Aaron Smith, the Dunedin interlopers looked at home matching it with the physical Blues pack. While the territorial battle was even most of the game, that spark the Blues have shown all season came to the fore at critical junctures with the two tries to Telea and Gibson giving them enough of a buffer to assert their inside running to the finish line.



Keeping the Highlanders try-less capped off the dominance the Blues have had throughout this tournament. Not having to face the nemesis of the Crusaders no doubt helped enormously too.



This format of parallel AU and Aotearoa Super Rugby seasons followed by the combined Trans Tasman may not survive beyond this debut year. In which case the Blues may go down as the sole champion. Regardless of the future, we celebrate the fact that provincial rugby is alive and kicking in Australasia. Let’s hope we get some great test rugby from here on in and reconvene next year for a new permutation.



Rugby was on the world stage before football. The English and the Scots battled it out in 1871, the year before the same protagonists played the first soccer international. The game has seen a lot of changes since then so I’m confident it will come out of the Covid-19 era rejuvenated to face the new challenges. We may even win the Bledisloe, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.





The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in 2021. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order HERE




To return to our Footy Almanac home page click HERE.




Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.




Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?

And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help things keep ticking over please consider making your own contribution.



Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE.

One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE.

Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE.




Grew up playing the rugby codes in suburban Sydney. Moved to Melbourne during the Carey era so becoming a Shinboner was the natural call. Still love the game they play in heaven. Took an interest in MLB a few years back and have become infatuated with America's pastime.

Leave a Comment