|Volume 1 - Week 15|
Brilliant! A lull in the season is about as exciting as watching grass grow although the rest is much needed and appreciated by players and spectators alike. The first major match is a week and a bit away and till then we have to feast on the various “how good the lads look at the training camp” reports. I do not know about you but most of the reports fill me with a bit of trepidation and more than a tad of incredulity.
The proof as it almost always is, is in the milk tart, until the various national teams run onto the pitch everything in between is hearsay. The rumour mill though make for interesting reading, the omni-present speculation of who will play in what position based on training runs in the respective camps. The coaches, I think deliberately spread disinformation in the same fashion as the Cold War spymasters of yesteryear, a good thing the Russians and Americans are not rugby super powers!
RF has received quite a bit of feedback concerning the Springbok selection and the readers seem to be divided about team selection, the announcement of a large squad with “unknowns” in it and our chances this coming international season. The varied response reminded me once again the reason why our forefathers deemed necessary to emblazon “ex unitate vires” on our national crest. I am unsure if it has changed in the meantime but unity creates power is a brash reminder of the usual dividedness we face as a country. In fear of preaching and comparing but imagine we stuck behind our team and coach regardless like your average British football fan and I will show you the worlds best rugby team.
With the lull in the professional version my thoughts and deeds wondered towards one of the spin-offs of the great game. I am referring to touch rugby; as I recall the good old throw the ball around and have some fun with the mates on the beach or field variety. But touch rugby is not that simple anymore. A hip and cool version is “six down”, similar to rugby league each team has five opportunities to handle the ball before handover, defenders must remain 10 meters and the referee vigorously enforces laws like overstepping, sound complicated? Try playing it! It is loads of fun though and includes both men and woman’s teams in organised leagues in the major cities, an excellent way to keep fit and participate in a form of the game we love.
I will hopefully be introducing a few innovations in the next issue but on that point please share your thoughts on what you would like, do not like about RF so it can grow and become a much valued and anticipated mail in your inbox. Support the local game, watch some club rugby or go and play some “six down” it will certainly lend a new perspective to rugby not to mention stiff limbs!
Mail RugbyForum@freemail.absa.co.za to include or remove your address or to request an RF Omnibus of all the previous issues in MS Word format.
The Seven P's by Mark Foster
The international season is upon us and with the rumours, speculations and downright fabrications milling about it is difficult to assess what the true situation is in any team. The Super 12’s completion and the stories that suddenly fell from the woodwork is a reminder that no matter what the players confess about the team being a professional outfit, best coach ever blah, blah, blah it could all be a bunch of hogwash!
The odd world of public relations, mostly responsible for grown men to lie through their teeth, has concocted one of the most bizarre pronouncements heard this season. I’m referring of course to the De Wet Barry/Japie Mulder chummy, chummy “what incident?” routine. I don’t know about you but if some old geezer runs into me with the deliberation of a Sherman tank and breaks my jaw, I’m not going to forgive or forget in a hurry, no way! The vicious charge exposed at the time all that was wrong in the local game; suddenly after two semi-finalists all is forgotten. Don’t be surprised if Mr. Barry lines up a few “hospital” passes for Japie, gosh what am I saying… this can’t happen in the perfect world of the latest Springbok setup.
The compilation of management teams is another hot debating point and here I can only sympathize with Colin Meads and other legends of the past that criticized the size of the All Black’s and other countries’ management teams. Arguably one of the finest locks in the history of the game and certainly the meanest, ‘Pinetree’s’ reputation was built on a combination of supreme dedication to the All Black cause, superior physical ability and certain “robustness” which was allowed in his era.
Mr. Meads (and others), with the utmost respect; the lads of today will probably never attain your legendary devotion to the Silver Fern, the sheer quantity of matches and the monetary incentives lend an entire different perspective. As for physical ability, all the teams consist of 100kg + players (that is only the wings!) and there are very few specimens who are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in sheer physical ability and presence (Jonah Lomu was for a few years). Face it, the lads are all bigger and stronger with far higher fitness levels than in your day. The “robustness” you were so famous for has disappeared in an overkill of technology, the touch judges, video referees and citing commissioners have powers way beyond anything you ever encountered, your famous “intimidation” of other players is therefore no longer possible.
What remain? Skills and preparation, the team with the best skills who are the best prepared will win the game, no need to look further than the Brumbies and the erstwhile champions Crusaders to justify the point. To ensure the best skills and preparation surely it makes sense to have as many experts or specialists available that can provide an edge? Rugby is big business and winning attracts larger sponsorships, more crowds and obviously more money, any profit making company must ensure that its employees are therefore the best available, assisted by the best in technology.
A closing thought, piss poor preparation perpetuate pretty poor performance as my old one-armed sergeant major in the army use to say, he spoke with the guile of experience.
He had no idea what was going on for half the time. I would not entertain him refereeing my form three at school. Wales coach John Bevan on Rene Hourquet's "diabolical" refereeing.
The only time you realise you have a reputation is when you fail to live up to it. Anon
Jones was brilliant. He was so much quicker than the French back row that he almost had to stop and wait for them. He has the hands of a centre, he jumps like a decathlete and he tackles like a ton of bricks. John Reason singing the praises of RWC 1987's man of the tournament, Michael Jones
Our players are selected according to their ability, they always have been and always will be. Abie Malan Springbok manager after a French request to include a 'black Bok' in 1992.
Letters to the Editor
Like every other red blooded South African I've also got one of those and an opinion on your Super 12 and Springbok selections, so here goes.
What's it about Rassie Erasmus that makes him royal game? I know he's proved himself a fantastic player over the years and even at the start of the Super 12 this year, but his form deteriorated dramatically from classy to brassy. Then all his troubles with himself, and between Laurie Mains and himself increased his form slump and end up like so many ageing players by getting involved with incidents off the ball. If you'd had to select a pivotal No. 6 for your Super 12 team why not Finnegan? Hopefully Rassie's loss of form which saw him being eclipsed too often on the field of play will be turned around at the 'Springbok' camp, or our Harry may fall into the 'Mullet'/Skinstad trap!
I also appreciate the skill shown by George Smith but I'd take Corne Krige every time. He not only scavenges as well but puts in multiple defence hits constantly and links sublimely, which makes him of greater utility than the sheep-shagger.
Turning to the Swart issue, I have no problem with slapping the jersey onto young shoulders (I wonder if Harry has watched any of the barefoot tots' curtain-raisers at King's Park?) provided they have demonstrated at as close to Test level as possible, their ability to handle the extreme stress. My absolute belief in a perfect world is that the present best available in a position should be the selection, not a past hero or a potential piece in a future jigsaw. A very young Naas would never have frozen against the All Blacks like Gaffie did, and Gaffie had at least had a blooding opportunity against the IRA! Reminded of that dark day against the laundry challenged, another very talented player Dave Von Hosselin was also sacrificed on the 'Mullet' fish braai that day. At least De Kock has had a few Super 12 games, but I never saw him tackling a thundering forward head on like a Joost, or a Davidson.
Putting all personal preferences aside here's a thought to consider: Looking back in Springbok history, even to the days when a Springbok was a Springbok of 15 not a member of the 2000 wholesale team of 46, was their success from incredible coaching or the consistency of selection? The 'Mullet's' initial promise can be laid at the foot of consistency (Teichmann led successfully for 17 games, Mallet watched for 16 of them) and the same can be said for the Brumbies. It seems proven that keeping a team the same and only making changes when forced through injury or total loss of form, the understanding of the nuances of each other's play will develop. Their defence will become almost impermeable and their attacking skills will improve due to their bond being enhanced, resulting in an increased success rate!
So my selection is the team that beat the Barbarian's at the end of last year, injury and retirement permitting. The replacements and reserves can be made up of those whose form brought them to prominence during the Super 12.
Oops one more point. Its very easy being a Natalian to find any and every reason to condemn Bobby Skinstad due to the whole 'Mullet'/Teichmann affair, but in truth he has sublime skills and vision which make him a formidable rugby player. Hopefully he'll soon return to form and Harry will then find room for him to re-enter the fray and give us those moments of sheer magic which are now so rare.
A suggestion. Why don't you provide a person's Mailing address when you paste his posting on your newsletter. That way you one can communicate with him personally, as opposed to via your newsletter.
The idea is for everybody to read each others views and form their own which without there will be no Rugby Forum.
Mail me at RugbyForum@freemail.absa.co.za to submit your own 'letter to the editor', all letters are published unedited
Briewe en Opinies in Afrikaans
'n Naweek sonder rugby... dalk 'n goeie ding want net soos die beroepspelers het ons "profesionele" ondersteuners 'n blaaskansie nodig. Die afgelope Super 12 was uitputtend, so baie aksie is moeilik om te verwerk en ons besef eers na die kompetisie hoe uitmergelend dit moet wees vir die spelers.
Die groot nuus op die oomblik is die Springbok oefenkamp, daar waar die manne opgedons en ontbloot word aan allerhande situasies om waar te neem hoe hulle onder druk vaar. Een van die ekskursies en myns insiens 'n geweldige drukdoenery is as 'n kelner in 'n vol restaurant; dink 'n bietjie (as jy nog nie die tipe werk verrig het nie) hoe jy moet kophou tussen al die menige bestellings, kombuis pligte, kratte vol drankies en "slim" aanmerkings, ek was verheug om te hoor dat ons aangewese Springbok loskakel, Butch James die beste gevaar het. Ek sê nie dat kelner speel 'n vereiste vir skop, fnuik en fop is nie maar dit gaan wel oor druk of "pressure" soos die Ingelsman sê en as die natoor dit kan bemeester en met die hulp van die "konsultante" kom die skop, fnuik en fop vanself!
Die Franse sien ek sukkel met 'n klomp beserings en menigte van hulle toets spelers gaan nie eers die vliegtuig haal nie, dit is beslis 'n jammerte dat hulle beste nie hul talente hier kom ten toon stel nie. Die "manne van die Hane" was kleintyd al my gunsteling span wat baie te doen het met daardie witkop "terrier" Jean Pierre Reeves, die briljante Serge Blanco en 'n dosyn ander legendes. Die moedige Reeves, eintlik 'n klein outjie gemeet aan moderne flanke was altyd bebloed maar heel voor in die aksie en sy heldhaftige spel het my respek verower. Die Springbokke sal hopelik nie onder die skyn van 'n "tweede span" hulle paraatheid verloor nie, die Franse is onvoorspelbaar en meesters om 'n stok in 'n goed geghriesde wiel te steek vra maar die All Blacks!
Die ander groot rugby wat net soveel aandag lok is die Leeus se toer na Australië, dit is dieselfde ouens wat dit reggekry het om ons net twee keer 'n eeu in 'n reeks te klop, 'n bietjie "Coke" te snuif en windmakerig te fuif dat die biesies bewe. Die toer plaas my egter in 'n baie onsekere posisie, wie moet 'n mens ondersteun? Die manne in rooi het ons laas stof onder die oë geskop en die Australiërs doen dit gereeld die afgelope twee jaar so dit is 'n gevoel van wie haat, verskoning dit is dalk 'n bietjie te kras, "hou" ons die minste. Die einste vraag is taamlik eenvoudig beantwoord deur 'n vriend na 'n paar Windhoeks - die Australiërs, sodat ons hulle kan pakgee in die Drie Nasies om te wys wie is baas.
Die komende naweek is weer rugbyloos maar gaan ondersteun gerus julle plaaslike klubs die spelers speel nog vir spek en boontjies en 'n paar biere na die tyd.
My beskeie mening as beste rugbyspeler in my losie
Redakteur Chris, daar is sekere faktore wat verhoed dat ek my naam openlik gebruik dus is dit meer voordelig om net "Ed" of "Red" te wees. Ek deel egter nie jou opinie dat ons gelooi gaan word nie, inteendeel ek voorspel dat ons redelik goed behoort te vaar maar nou ja al waarsêers wat ek ken is dooie waarsêers!
Stuur 'n e-pos aan RugbyForum@freemail.absa.co.za om jou eie opinie te lug
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