It’s the rugby crossover event to end all rugby crossover events – The PRO14 (possibly 12) meets Super Rugby Unlocked (possibly South Africa) to create the Rainbow Cup. In a turn of events literally no-one was asking for, here are all 16 competing teams as Marvel characters:
Leinster – Iron Man
Constantly incrementally improving and the unquestioned Mack Daddy of the PRO14 universe. Possibly have more back row options than there are versions of the Iron Man suit.
Munster – Hulk
Hulk smash! They’ve got one thing they do and they do it very well. Ultimately they need others to make it entertaining. No-one’s that fussed for watching a standalone Hulk film.
Ulster – War Machine
Powerful yet nimble. Yet every time you look at them you can’t help but notice they’re built off the back of Iron Man’s castoffs.
Connacht – Pepper Potts
Regularly pumped by Iron Man – although there was that one time when the tables were turned. Probably require extra supplies of Extremis.
Benetton – The Mandarin
Looks like a scary prospect (and was for a couple of years). Sadly this season has turned out to be Trevor Slattery rather than the real Mandarin. Could still turn things around.
Zebre – Howard the Duck
Slightly wacky image issues aside there remains the possibility of turning out as a proper superhero if written correctly. Definitely starting from the bottom of the pile though (thank George Lucas for that).
Edinburgh – Deadpool
Built in their head coach’s image. Bald. Sweary. No that braw looking. Definitely R-rated. In terms of entertainment value on the pitch, more X-Men version of Deadpool than standalone Deadpool.
Glasgow – Hawkeye
No actual superpowers but at their best able to hold their own with the crème de la crème of the PRO14 universe. Maybe not at full Avengers tilt right now. Hopefully coming back soon in full on badass ninja Ronin style.
Bulls – Juggernaut
Even more one-dimensional than the Hulk but thoroughly effective in a running through people sort of way. The backline does give some hope the entertainment factor might be more in line with some of Vinnie Jones’s other characters like Bullet-Tooth Tony – “Bonjour”.
Lions – Spider-man
The young upstart who is actually surprisingly powerful. Finishing behind the Cheetahs in Super Rugby South Africa does suggest they might be going through the difficult teenage years right now though – more worried about girls, partying and plooks than being a superhero.
Sharks – Venom
Fast. Powerful. And those teeth… About as dangerous as they come. The symbiotic organism has been absorbing in players from across SA’s other sides (eg Ox Nche – Cheetahs; Siya Kolisi – Stormers; Lukhanyo Am – Kings).
Stormers – Ultron
Bet you thought it was going to be Storm? Too on the nose, even for this preview. Instead, it’s galaxy brain Ultron who matches up – on the basis of perennial underachievement, given the resources at their disposal.
Cardiff – Mister Fantastic
Like Reed Richards the Cardiff boys are outfitted in natty blue uniforms. In recent seasons though the only thing they have been stretching is their fans’ patience…
Dragons – The Dragons
The Dragons are an ancient race of mystical creatures that possess an incredible amount of
Chi cheap Welsh beer.
Ospreys – Teenage Groot
Galactico era Ospreys were the rock stars of their day – The Guardians of the Galaxy. Now they’re just Groot alone – and the awkward teenage version at that. The potential to be great again especially if they can parse this sage advice – “I am Groot”.
Scarlets – Scarlet Witch
Fairly obvious this one. Also not been quite the same since a key protagonist left their life – which would make Wayne Pivac, Vision. That makes sense given only a vibranium synthezoid would have skin thick enough to withstand the stick he got in his first year as Wales’ coach.