Lions flank Jaco Kriel believes the Sharks cannot be crowned Super Rugby champions in case the 2020 season does not resume.
“The Sharks have played good rugby this year, but I don’t believe they should be crowned champions just because they’re top of the log. You don’t become a champion that easily. I’d rather no team be crowned champions if no further play is possible,” Kriel said in an interview with Netwerk24.
The Sharks were top of the Super Rugby standings with six wins from seven matches when tournament was halted last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With sports postponed until further notice, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the tournament will not be completed this year.
Kriel, who has returned to the Lions after a spell at Gloucester in England, said Super Rugby was a tough event to win.
He was part of the Lions outfits that reached three consecutive finals between 2016 and 2018.
“In 2017, the Lions lost only one game in the round-robin fixtures and finished top of the log. And yet, we weren’t crowned Super Rugby champions because we lost in the final. It takes a lot of effort to be able to say you are a champion,” Kriel said.
The Lions were beaten in three consecutive Super Rugby finals, losing 20-3 to the Hurricanes in Wellington in 2016, 25-17 to the Crusaders in Johannesburg in 2017, before again going down to the Crusaders (37-18) in Christchurch the following year.
Kriel, 30, arrived at the Lions in early February, but did not feature as he was recovering from an ankle injury.
He was on the the Lions’ books between 2010 and 2018, before joining Gloucester where former Lions mentor Johan Ackermann is the head coach.
Kriel had a torrid time at Kingsholm, with injuries limiting him to just 16 appearances and is hoping the move back to the Lions could re-ignite his career.
“Yes, things didn’t quite work out there. But it was still a good thing for me to go because I would always have wondered about it if I didn’t take the chance,” Kriel said in February.
Kriel was a star performer during his time at the Lions, playing a big role in the team making three consecutive Super Rugby finals.
He also played 11 Tests for the Springboks between 2016 and 2017.
– Compiled by Herman Mostert