The weekend is here and there are some epic encounters to keep you eye on, including some massive Super Rugby playoff matches, a chance for redemption in the U20 World Rugby Championship, and a COPA America clash that’s sure to be an entertaining affair. Here’s the matches you can’t afford to miss:
Highlanders vs Chiefs (Super Rugby quarter-final)
The Highlanders are expected to pull in their biggest ever crowd at Forsyth Barr Stadium for what looms as an absolute belter of a contest between two attacking sides. Having beaten the Chiefs on two occasions already this season – most recently, a 36-9 belting only a couple of weeks ago – and with All Blacks centre Malakai Fekitoa and co-captain Nasi Manu returning to the side, the Highlanders will go in heavy favourites. That said, you can never write off a Chiefs outfit featuring Sonny Bill Williams, the code-hopping superstar whose sheer presence and offloading ability makes his side a far more dangerous proposition.
Stormers vs Brumbies (Super Rugby quarter-final)
It’s bad news for the Stormers ahead of their playoff game at Newlands this Saturday, with inspirational No. 8 Duane Vermeulen unable to play. Even worse is that Brumbies say David Pocock (concussion) is on track to play in their do-or-die final, and given how crucial he is to the success of their rolling maul, he is the team’s most lethal attacking weapon. Even with Pocock, the Brumbies face a huge challenge given the 25-hour journey they took earlier this week and their poor record in South Africa – although they came very close to knocking off the Stormers in Cape Town last month. It should be a cracker with a relatively unpredictable outcome.
France vs South Africa (U20 World Rugby Championship)
After the Baby Boks faltered against England in the semi-finals of the U20 championship being held in Italy, the South African squad now faces the task of battling it out for third place. The junior Boks have a lot to prove after looking like title contenders before their underwhelming performance last weekend, but the French also have some talent in their backline to cause some trouble. It should be a game full of ambitious running rugby.
England vs New Zealand (U20 World Rugby Championship)
The Junior World Championship comes to a close in Cremona with England taking on New Zealand to defend their U20 title. The Junior All Blacks have looked strong since the beginning of the tournament, and England are always dangerous, downing the Baby Boks in a strong performance last weekend, but they will have to stop the likes of Kiwi try-scoring sensation Tevita Li and inspirational Akira Ioane if they’re to have a chance to come out victorious.
Uruguay vs Paraguay (COPA America)
One of the last two matches to conclude the Group B round robin of the 2015 Copa America, Uruguay versus Paraguay promises an entertaining and highly defensive contest. With Argentina’s almost guaranteed win over Jamaica in the days’ other match, this game is extremely important for both squads as the winner will have an automatic berth in the quarterfinals.
What sports encounter are you most looking forward to this weekend? Any predictions on who will come out victorious?