The Super Rugby season is once again upon us. Here, we analyse the South African conference, and ESPN columnist Greg Growden offers his thoughts on each of the five franchises.
The Springboks star signed for the Bulls instead of the Stormers because "it was the right thing to do" after the Cape Town franchise said it would rather invest in young players.
Bulls and South Africa lock R.G. Snyman has undergone ankle surgery and will miss the opening two months of of the season, his Super Rugby franchise has announced .
Cornal Hendricks, a former Cheetahs and Springboks winger, retired in 2015, on medical advice, after he discovered that he had a heart defect. He will step out for the Bulls vs. the Lions in Pretoria on Saturday.
Springboks Schalk Brits and Duane Vermeulen have joined the Bulls after stints at clubs in Europe, adding considerable experience to an already generous tally of internationals in the squad.
The former Stormers, Toulouse and South Africa prop will assist the Bulls two days a week while continuing in a similar role for the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs in their Guinness PRO14 campaign.
The new jerseys, inspired by Marvel's Spider-Man, Thor, Black Panther and Captain America, will debut in public at the Super Hero Sunday preseason double-header at Cape Town Stadium on February 3.
Human, who will be mentored by Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus during pre-season in the build-up to the Super Rugby campaign, was a no-nonsense loose forward who played 116 games for Eastern Province and 82 for Free State.
Springboks and Blue Bulls legend Victor Matfield was announced on a shortlist of candidates for the role of the Bulls Super Rugby head coach on Monday.
The Springboks No. 8, who has won 42 caps for South Africa, and who has been added to the tour squad to face England, France, Scotland and Wales, will arrive in Pretoria in February 2019.
A Ruan Steenkamp hatrick wasn't enough for the Blue Bulls as they went down 35-38 to the Golden Lions at Loftus Versveld on Saturday evening.
The Crusaders were the only team to coast into the Super Rugby semifinals at the weekend with the other three encounters all closely-fought affairs. The Waratahs looked gone at halftime in Sydney, before the "big three" burst into life.
There was plenty on the line in the final regular season round yet two Australian teams were unable to perform when it mattered most. The Brumbies did, however, exposing the Waratahs for exactly what they are.
Sunwolves winger Semesi Masirewa was given a red card for a lifting tackle on Bernard Foley. It was the correct decision to the letter of the law, but could it have been better served by a report system? Your Round 18 Super Rugby talking points are here.
Super Rugby returned from a month-long hiatus only for the negative themes from the June Test series to immediately surface in the provincial competition. Thankfully 24 hours later, the Chiefs helped remind us just how good the game can be.
The 32-year-old hooker will end his 14-year professional career at the completion of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
The Rebels may have ended Australia's 32-game winless streak in New Zealand, but it was the Waratahs, Reds derby that produced the highlights, meanwhile two All Blacks players have been left red-faced for off-field hijinks.
The Waratahs were hoping to add the Chiefs to their list of victims after ending the trans-Tasman streak in Sydney last week. And they would have, too, had it not been for the game's premier lock: Brodie Retallick.
After 40 games, Australia finally saw the end of their New Zealand hoodoo with the Waratahs putting on a slick display to thump the Highlanders, while the deliberate knockdown debate continues to rage.
KweséESPN's John Goliath looks at some of the pros and the cons if SA Rugby decides to ditch their southern-hemisphere partners for their northern counterparts.
There has been that much talk about the "dark arts" this week that Super Rugby has felt like a Harry Potter novel. Australia's sides have an opportunity to push the limits this week, but need their chief protagonists to be at their absolute best.
NSW Waratahs had every right to feel aggrieved over some of the decisions that were, and were not, made in Christchurch. The cold hard fact is, however, that a 29-0 lead should, no matter the opposition, be enough to go on and claim victory.
The mouth-watering midfield showdown between Sonny Bill Williams and Ngani Laumape is the highlight of a clash between the Hurricanes and Blues that might not be as clear-cut as it seems.
Australia's losing streak to their New Zealand counterparts has hit a new low, with Australia's best falling to New Zealand's worse, while the Jaguares and the Sharks found a way to get the win over two New Zealand teams.
After 36 games without a trans-Tasman victory, hopes are high the Waratahs will at last register a W for Australia. If they don't win, then we might as well condemn the entire Aussie conference to a second tier and banish them to America.
- BULLS3rdTRIES SCORED 1st Sharks : 6 Tries ScoredSHARK1st46
- POINTS DIFFERENCE1st 37 points