It may have ended with a whimper rather than a bang, but looking back, how much fun has the weird, stunningly successful, Covid-19-enforced, tournament that was Super Rugby Aotearoa been?
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The player of the season was Richie Mo'unga. The Crusaders' first-five was pretty much a miracle man, right down to the game against the Highlanders that decided the competition, when he showed his extraordinary pace by ranging up inside George Bridge to make a 12th minute try look as easy as strolling over a pedestrian crossing. Then we discovered how, at 88kg, he lifts weights that in the gym are usually associated with 120kg props.
So he's as fast as most wings, and as strong as a front-rower. What seals the deal is that he's also as smart as a very good coach, providing the clever assurance all teams dream of from a first-five.
Oh, did I mention that Six60 frontman Matiu Walters is on record as saying that Mo'unga is also a "really talented" piano player?
Everybody says he's a lovely, laidback guy off the field. But on it he wears his angry pants
Patrick Tuipulotu was the outstanding forward. The list of candidates for that accolade was as long as it was illustrious, but the Blues' captain played throughout with an intensity that was almost frightening.
In so many ways he epitomised the change in the Blues, that made them genuine challengers again. His fitness levels were tremendous. English centre Joe Merchant told a British TV show he would have been more than happy with Tuipulotu's sprint times in training.
But it was Tuipulotu's work in the dark, sweaty, painful places that made him a captain who led each determined inch by example. In every game all his pack needed for inspiration was to watch Tuipulotu for a couple of minutes.
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Did anyone ever think Razor wouldn't get the job done?
Two years ago Scott Robertson told me that every day he drove the 15km from his home in Sumner to training with the Crusaders in St Albans in Christchurch he was in a good mood. "Going to work is an absolute pleasure. I just want to be there around the players. That's what we do it for isn't it?"
Cross that pure, forever youthful, joy with a man who started planning for a coaching career when, as a 22-year-old rookie loose forward in the Crusaders, he began coaching an under-13 side at Christ's College, and you have someone who will never, ever, fail to produce a great side.
Shakespeare was pretty big on plots involving families too
If, like me, a major reason you love sport is that it's unscripted theatre then the very first match of the competition on June 13 in Dunedin was the game of the tournament.
After a terrific see-sawing struggle, the crazily dramatic finish saw Bryn Gatland drop a goal that secured the Highlanders their 28-27 victory over a Chiefs team his father Warren was coaching. If a screenwriter had produced the script he or she would have been sent away to concoct a more believable ending.
As Willie Nelson wrote, miracles occur in the strangest of places
Just when Eden Park had started to look like the trail of broken hearts along came the Blues. Fitter, tougher, and more determined than they'd been since 2003 to pack the joint out and bring joy back to the people who for years had been running neck and neck with the Warriors' fans for the title of most long suffering sports crowd in Aotearoa.
Gee, there's been some movement around that 15 jersey in the All Blacks
You can start with the Barretts, where kid brother Jordie just kept on playing better and better as big brother Beauden shifted up to play where he's best suited, at first-five. Meanwhile another class act, Damian McKenzie slipped down the pecking order as the nightmare that was the Chiefs' campaign spluttered at the bottom of the table.
No, they're far, far from ready to fade away
There were a swag of happy revival stories.
Sam Whitelock, at 31, was like a rampaging 21-year-old for the Crusaders. At the Blues the Ioane brothers, Rieko and Akira, were on fire. Dane Coles is 33, but was at his cheeky, quick stepping best for the Hurricanes.
But the journey back to the top rank of Josh Ioane, whose career at the Highlanders looked to be stalling at the start of 2020, may have been the most impressive story of all.
I interviewed Ioane in February, when his coach Aaron Mauger had moved Ioane to second-five so he could play Mitch Hunt at 10. Ioane's answer to the question of where he most like to play was very carefully phrased. "From a personal point of view I feel as if I'm more of a 10 who can also play 12."
By the time the Highlanders came to Christchurch last weekend Ioane had locked in the 10 jersey, and was showing even better form than when he became an All Black last year. His return speaks volumes for his character.
When do we expect to hear that Bill Gates, 5g, or vaccinations played a part in the Chiefs' horror story?
Twelve months ago the decision to bring in Warren Gatland to coach the Chiefs for a season, then free him up to coach the Lions in South Africa, then welcome him back again in 2022, looked like shrewd use of a great homegrown talent.
As they say, man makes plans and the gods laugh. By the end of the competition the Chiefs had that drawn, anxious look of men who had checked the lifeboat and realised there were 20 people on board and just 10 life jackets.
Suggestions as to where it all went dog for the Chiefs have circled in on Gatland. So, if Covid-19 in South Africa means the 2021 Lions trip is off, and Gatland is available to coach in Hamilton, should the Chiefs' officials take a massive gulp, bring Gatland back, and not carry on with Clayton McMillan as their coach next year?