Super Rugby took a break in June due to the international test window - here is a review of the action and the players who stood out ahead of The Rugby Championship later this year...
While some players have had the chance to put their feet up and recharge the batteries before the Super Rugby run-in, others have been busy during the June Test break representing their countries as the best of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres clashed throughout this month.
The All Blacks claimed a 3-0 series win against an impressive French side, while South Africa secured their victory after two games against England, taking the series 2-1 overall. Australia narrowly missed out against Six Nations champions Ireland in a tussle that could have gone either way and saw the teams tied 55-55 on points scored over the three Tests, while the Pumas suffered unfortunate losses to Wales and Scotland.
There were some impressive individual performances for all teams though and we take a look at some of the tier one players who stood out this month.
Putting points on the board is the aim of the game and some players have excelled at this during June, with Rieko Ioane and Damian McKenzie both playing pivotal roles. Ioane was the only tier one player to cross the try line five times this month, while Damian McKenzie was outscored only by Owen Farrell, while he recorded the best kicking success rate and assisted the most tries.
With ball in hand, it was generally the forwards who were busiest making the hard yards with Pieter-Steph du Toit carrying more than any other player, although the Pumas’ Nicolas Sanchez made the most runs of any back in June. Rieko Ioane was top of the charts for clean breaks and metres, while only England’s Jonny May beat more defenders than the All Blacks winger.
David Pocock, who pulled on a Wallabies jersey for the first time since 2016, was one of the standout defensive players in June, winning seven turnovers in three Tests against Ireland, bettered only by Welsh youngster Ellis Jenkins. Meanwhile he was the top Super Rugby representative when it came to making tackles, edging just ahead of teammate Michael Hooper and South Africa’s Franco Mostert.
At the set piece many Super Rugby players excelled, in particular Springboks hooker Mbongeni Mbonami who found a teammate with all of his lineout throws, the only player to attempt 10+ and maintain a perfect rate. Codie Taylor and Silatolu Latu weren’t far behind the South African.
Many top lineout exponents play in Super Rugby and they proved themselves a nuisance during the opposition throw, with Scott Barrett stealing five French lineouts during the All Blacks’ Test series, more than any other tier one player, followed by the Pumas’ Guido Petti Pagadizaval.
The European players may now be enjoying their holidays before beginning a new season in a couple of months, but for most of the All Blacks, Springboks, Wallabies and Pumas players, their club season is heating up and many will be hoping they can carry their international form back into the remainder of the season.