In Aotearoa, Crusaders won the DHL Super Rugby Pacific Championship by heartbreaking tournament favorite Blues in their home den in Eden Park in front of 37000 spectators. This was the 11th Super Rugby Title for the Crusaders and Scott Robertson’s men outclassed every angle of the game. They were 16-0 at half time to go to Full time 21-7. Will Jordan, David Havili, Richie Mo’uanga, sevu Rees were outstanding in the match while All Blacks specialist second Rover Sam Whitelock was the key in line outs and breaks. Crusaders is the most successful Super Rugby Franchise in the region and at present New Zealand rugby lovers want Scott Robertson to replace under-fire ABs boss Ian Foster.
Tall Blacks were first time on the podium by winning their first ever Bronze medal in Men’s FIBA Asia cup. They erased the 15 point 3rd quarter deficit to beat Jordan 83-75. Tohi Smith-Milner was the hero by scoring 25 points on 7/10 shooting from outside. This was the most memorable comeback by the Tall Blacks in recent history. This is New Zealand’s first ever medal in this tournament, a remarkable feat for the youngest team to make it into the semi-final round in 2022. Smith-Milner’s performance earned him a spot in the FIBA Asia Cup 2022 All-Star Five, joining Lebanon’s Wael Arakji, Thon Maker and Mitch McCarron from champions Australia, and Zhou Qi from China.
By the time I am writing this article, the 2022 Commonwealth Games kicked off in Birmingham in England where Sri Lankan and New Zealand athletes compete. Sri Lankan Rugby 7s lost to Defending Champions New Zealand 7s 68-5 in the opener. We wish both countries to make history in the games by winning more medals than ever.
By Nilanga Daldeniya – Wellington