To suggest that Super Rugby has its structural problems would be to state the obvious on a pretty clumsy level. Sunday’s announcement that the tournament is to be downsized from 18 teams to 15, two years after up-scaling from to the current format, brought a period of bureaucratic chaos to a pinnacle.
That said, the competition keeps turning out exceptionally entertaining games punctuated by moments of jaw-dropping individual skill. On Saturday in Cape Town, the Stormers beat the visiting Chiefs 34-26. The match featured several outrageous attacking passages, none more so than this try by the home side’s full-back SP Marais.
Watch the score in its entirety below, and enjoy a behind-the-back, sat-down offload from Dillyn Leyds:
Clearly, this try can be broken down into two parts. First, the Stormers force a turnover from a dangerous position position.
The Chiefs launch a midfield strike move from a scrum just outside the opposition 22. Scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow finds blindside wing James Lowe behind the decoy run of Aaron Cruden and centre Stephen Donald crashes through a stretched defensive line.
However, Stormers outside centre EW Viljeon readjusts to tackle Donald and the 2011 World Cup-winner tries to pass to current All Black Anton Lienert-Brown from the floor. At this point, Leyds (number 11) creeps into shot for the first time from the opposite flank.
Cheslin Kolbe rescues his side by snaffling an interception:
Crucially, he darts 10 metres or so forward so that Leyds is behind him and therefore able to chase the kick from an onside position. Kolbe then toes downfield under pressure:
We are constantly reminded that turnover ball is a fruitful source of tries and the truism play outs here. Besides anything else, Leyds shows exceptional pace to reach the ball ahead of the recovering Chiefs players.
Damien McKenzie stretches to make a fine tap-tackle, but even though the carrier seems isolated from any supporting teammates, he stays calm.
If you watch Leyds closely, he looks to the left on hitting the ground before turning his back on Marais:
He has an idea of where his full-back will be and transfers the ball into his right hand.
With momentum of his fall turning his shoulders away from Marais, Leyds’ flicks out a pass into the path of the try-scorer:
It is a quite remarkable piece of innovation and invention on the hoof. Leyds, who represented South Africa Under-20 at the Junior World Championship in 2012 before moving into different playing positions and finding it hard to nail down consistent game-time at senior level, has already caused a social media hurricane.
Evidently, the 24 year-old is inspiring youngsters as well. Yesterday, Springbok-bound coaching consultant Brendan Venter tweeted this video of his son on the beach attempting – and doing a very good job of accomplishing – an impression of Leyds:
My boy practicing a Dillyn Leyds on the beach. Precious moment. What a try pic.twitter.com/F6OXW6RRzp
— Brendan Venter (@BrendanVenter) April 9, 2017
Super Rugby has teething problems to overcome. Even so, thanks largely to moments of magic like Leyds produced, viewers will keep tuning in.