|Volume 1 - Week 16|
Brilliant! Finally, a weekend of great rugby ahead, the past two weeks crept pass at snail’s pace and who else but the purveyor of this delicacy to be the Springboks first opponents. Les Bleus are in the country and even though slightly under prepared will provide a challenging opening encounter to the 2001 test season although somebody deserves to be shot for sending them on a mission terrible.
The Springboks, judged by the innocuous interviews on local television look confident and relaxed after two weeks in one of South Africa’s premier holiday destinations, I would be too! The team, young and old in a mixed grill of power and pace is set to embark on a totally new road of exciting, innovative brand of unique South African rugby or at least that is the advertised product. If everybody is half as excited and expectant than me the team has a lot to live up to! It is good however to see an enthusiasm present that only comes with new characters and faces in a team, refreshing ideas and the all important confidence from a more successful than usual Super 12 campaign.
This edition of RF contains a few new features; Brian Forsyth a writer of biographical sport stories has agreed to publish some of his works (also available on his own website) and a few tidbits on the news headlines of the week. Feel free to comment.
Other great rugby taking place this weekend is the Lion’s first real challenge against the Queensland Reds, minus their Wallaby stars. The Lions, a potentially fêted team are being fed little scraps and hopefully this match will provide a better gage of their abilities. One of the players to look out for in this series is 5-try scorer Jason Robinson, I first saw this wonderful footballer playing for the great Wigan league side of the mid nineties when they were arguably one of the best teams on the planet in any code. With a combination of speed, power and extraordinary vision he was one of the brilliant players in a star studded team.
The Kiwis are on the road to recovery after a disastrous Super 12 and expect a rampant performance against their neighbours, cousins, brothers(?) Western Samoa. The All Blacks are without Jonah but face it he did not have the best of Super 12 and in a country blessed with great wingers will be hardly missed. The team with new captain Oliver has a lot to prove to an expectant and critical nation who demands so much from their heroes.
Saturday is also the Comrades marathon and a great event on the South African sporting calender, the day will therefore begin early with a cock’s crow and a wonderful assortment of great sport. If you are in Gauteng, wander to Ellis Park and support the Springboks, show your faith in their ability.
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.
Happy Birthday to You by Tom Marcellus
I read recently that the great Pinetree Meads, the holder of 55 All Black caps, the man voted as the Greatest New Zealand Rugby Player of the 20th Century, and for legions of fans the living epitome of the grizzled All Black forward, turned 65 a week ago. I have since boyhood been a great admirer of the fearsome Kiwi – but I must add that it was a begrudging respect, as my loyalties always lay with his great rival, that swashbuckling air ace, Frik du Preez. It is surely fitting, then, to pay tribute to this colossal forward, who for 15 seasons toiled in the engine room of successive All Black packs, in an age when Meads and his fellow New Zealanders endeared themselves to rugby fans, especially in Europe, with their gritty but stylish play.
Meads’ heroic deeds on the paddock have been recorded in many books about the sport, notably in Alex Veysey’s “Colin Meads All Black”, which, I have been told, enjoys almost biblical status down in the Land of the Long White Cloud. My own autographed copy enjoys pride of place in my growing collection of rugby literature.
One famous story is told by Kel Tremain, that magnificent All Black flanker, who happened on this occasion to be captaining Hawkes Bay against Meads’ King Country outfit during the inter-provincial championship. Meads was operating with his customary brutish efficiency, and the Hawkes Bay forwards were taking a pounding. “Hey, Ref”, Tremain cried out in exasperation, “I think you’d better count the players. I think Meads ate one of them”.
A lesser-known story is that regarding the Colin Meads Fan Club, which was formed to pay homage to the great man’s memory. The story goes that every 3 June, Meads’ birthday, the Colin Meads Fan Club has its annual shindig in his honour. He is naturally invited to attend every year as its honoured guest, but politely declines each invitation. Rather predictably when rugger men get together, the evening involves the massive consumption of Steinlagers and other more dubious concoctions. Many of the revellers arrive wearing Meads’ No 5 All Black jersey, and the more devout followers often wear a replica of the protective leather sheath that he wore in the 3rd and 4th tests on the 1970 tour of SA, after he had earlier broken his arm in the match against Eastern Transvaal. But the true aficionado, I have been told, even goes so far as arriving with a creosote pole over his shoulder, in memory of the rather novel product that farmer Meads once endorsed in the happy-go-lucky days of amateurism.
Once the shenanigans have reached a suitably expansive pitch, no doubt long after midnight, a certain fan, carefully chosen for his eloquence under these trying circumstances, is appointed to make the traditional phonecall to Meads, who is by then invariably fast asleep in his bed, sleeping the righteous sleep of the hard-working farmer. It is said that, rather than exchanging friendly pleasantries, as is the norm in these days of political correctness, Meads more often than not unleashes a torrent of ferocious language at the hapless, stuttering fellow on the other end of the line. Although he has been compelled to endure the wrath of a man whose grit on the field was renowned from Eden Park to Loftus to the Arms Park, our telephone operator is then, no doubt, the hero of the hour, as he regales his fellow revellers with liberal translations of the Great Man’s words. A yard of ale is probably a just reward for his heroic efforts!
An interesting corollary to the tale is the fact that Meads has only ever once nominated a fellow player as an honorary member of the Colin Meads Fan Club. His name? Frik du Preez, of course. I personally think that it is about bloody time that due homage is paid to oom Frik, who now spends much of his time on his farm in the arid North West Province. Any takers for some founder members?
But in the meantime, Happy Birthday, Mister Meads.
Two Days to Lift Off by Mark Foster
Test rugby is back, and after a break of almost 7 months the Springboks are ready to do battle with the Tricolours. Not since my botched first date as a thirteen year old have I been this nervous, the air of expectancy is heavier than that of a Hermanus whale watcher.
The Springbok 2001 edition has been marketed and sold as the new era; professional management, innovative play and a lot of business principles signify the approach. Harry Viljoen like the astute businessman that he is has endeavored to make this year special and even with a good escape clause (he must have a team lawyer, surely!) that the focus is on 2003’s RWC, he has created a positive, vibrant approach evident in both players and (large) management.
The test squad bristles with new faces and Harry should be congratulated on the mix of youth and experience. The French may be an unknown factor and slightly under strength however their biggest advantage is definitely the mystery of their ability. The Gaelic flair and Latin temperament is difficult to comprehend under normal circumstances never mind the pressure of a rugby test match but we are sure to expect a spirited and passionate display. Remember, their national anthem is a war song and a call to arms is no mean reminder of what to expect.
The Lions are making mincemeat of their opposition in Australia but very little should be made of the large victories. The Australians obviously arranged for a few easy tour openers to appease the large contingent of Lion supporters and as a marketing ploy to ensure greater interest in the real thing, the tests. The Wallabies were good value for money in a victory over the NZ Mauris (anybody have an idea for their selection criteria?) and even though they are talking of improving in every department, it was not a shabby start at all. Andrew Walker’s try was magnificent and expect this pocket-sized destroyer to shine in both the Lions series and the Tri-Nations.
Two more days to wait and lift off, for some reason I think the Springboks will come good and provide us with a scintillating display, don’t expect perfection or well just not yet.
The Fearless Opponent by Brian Forsyth
(Copyright © The Author, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
In pubs and cafes where sports fans meet to discuss the matches and players of the day an often heard comment about a rugby player is that I would rather have him on my side then have to play against him. In 1896 the name of Tommy Crean would have doubtless been mentioned at such gatherings.
To give him his full name, Thomas Joseph Crean, was a rare character of whom many tales are still told about to this day. He came out to South Africa as a member of the second British Isles Touring side in 1896. Prior to his selection for the tour he had already been capped nine times for Ireland and was a leading member of their scrum. In those days forward positions were not defined but relied on the principle in scrums of ‘first there-first down’ which no doubt speeded up the game.
One of his team-mates on the tour, Walter Carey, who would himself later return to this country as the Anglican Archbishop of Bloemfontein, described Tommy as ‘very good looking, tall and strong weighing some 215lbs, but the most Irish, the most inconsequent, the most gallant and loveable personality that one could imagine’. Crean was acknowledged by all concerned as the tower of strength in the team and the driving force behind the tourists success on the field. He was extremely popular with both his team-mates and the South African players but he did cause the team management numerous problems. Tommy was both the second tallest and second heaviest member of the touring party and there was nothing that he liked better then having a good scrap. When he was bored or had his space confined he would pick a fight with other members of the team either challenging them to a one-on-one contest, or taking on the whole team at once. This normally caused complete chaos, for in those days much of the tour was spent travelling either in compartments on trains or in the local equivalent of the stagecoach. The transport arrangements were somewhat primitive, to say the least, in that the trip from Grahamstown to Kingwilliamstown, some 90 miles, took two full days and at the hotel that the team stayed overnight the players had to sleep five to a bed as accommodation was limited.
On the sea voyage over to South Africa, Tommy made a name for himself in that he won every game that could possibly be played on a ship’s deck. Word of mouth had already reached Cape Town that he was the player to watch and the press reports from the local newspapers were estatic over his performance in the first match of the tour at Newlands. In all the tourists itinerary consisted of twenty one fixtures played over an eight week period with three match days each week, either Monday, Wednesday and Saturday or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tommy Crean played in all twenty one matches scoring seventeen tries in the process, including three in succession in one match. The team captain, John Hammond, was injured early in the tour and was only able to play in three of the games, Tommy leading the side on the other occasions. That he was able to play in all the matches bore testimony to his strength, fitness and ability.
Accepting that South African rugby was in its very early stages of development, a hundred years ago, the visitors were able to teach the local players new skills and the tour was a huge success, winning nineteen of the matches, drawing one and losing the final match. This was the third test which enabled South Africa to record it’s first- ever test victory.
The drawn match has an interesting story. This was against Western Province in the third game of the tour. The team had been invited to dine at Groote Schuur, the home of the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. Tommy, as captain of the day rose at the lunch table and prudently advised the players to limit themselves to no more then four tumblers of champagne each, for their match was less than a couple of hours away. The result was a scoreless draw. Later on in the tour, a return fixture was played and on this occasion, there, was no lunch or champagne beforehand, and the tourists scored a convincing 32-0 victory.
Besides his natural ability, Tommy Crean was also a deep thinker about the game and he is credited with the introduction of the principle of the first shove in the scrums. In addition, it is believed that he was responsible for the introduction of the tactic of wheeling the scrum which in those days was perfectly legal and, which in the years leading up to the Second World War became the focal point of forward power. Over and above his height and weight advantage, Tommy was also very fast, being timed some ten years after the end of his rugby career, when over the age of thirty, with a speed of 10.4 seconds for the 100 yards at an athletics meeting. On the rugby field he used his speed and high knee running action to good advantage for he had the reputation of being a very solid tackler who corner-flagged with relish making, match saving tackles on the tryline. He did, like others in the team, have difficulty in adapting to our grounds away from the coast for at that stage all our grounds up country were rolled gravel without a blade of grass. To overcome this problem, Tommy developed a style of tackling which enabled him to fall on his opponents thereby avoiding cuts and grazes to his own knees and elbows.
Tommy’s achievements off the sports field were equally impressive. Prior to coming on tour he had attended the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland where he qualified as a doctor. When the tour was over, he decided to stay on in this country and settled in Johannesburg which in 1896 was very much a boom town. He joined the Wanderers club to play his rugby and opened a very successful medical practice. Of his time on the Reef there are many amusing stories which have been recorded regarding his activities. One which occurred, after closing his surgery for the day, he was preparing for bed, being naked except for a vest, a new patient forced his way into the surgery. Tommy decided to teach the man a lesson for his lack of good manners and as he was always willing to have a scrap
Tommy chased the man out out of the surgery into the street and then all the way to his home, where the intruder barricaded himself inside and refused Tommy’s challenge to come out and fight. A crowd of spectators had gathered in the meantime, including a local policeman, who quickly reminded Tommy of his state of undress. No trouble to Tommy, he challenged the policeman to a fight for his trousers. This challenge was turned down so Tommy was forced to borrow a jacket from one of the interested spectators in the crowd, which he put on and proudly marched home.
On another occasion he acted as a matchmaker for a friend who was too shy to court the girl of his dreams. Tommy was the go-between even arranging for the purchase of the engagement ring. Whilst on his way to deliver the ring Tommy decided that the lady was not good enough for his friend so, he promptly sold the ring, bought a cab full of liquor, and changed direction to his friends home, telling him on arrival that he had decided to come and help him drown his sorrows, quoting ‘My boy I’ve saved ye. She is a withered old crone of no intelligence and I’ve decided she’s unworthy of you’.
When the Anglo-Boer war broke out in 1899, Tommy Crean was one of the first to volunteer, not as an officer in the Medical Corp to which he was fully entitled, but joining the ranks as an ordinary trooper in the South African regiment, the Imperial Light Horse. Legend has it that his decision to join up had little to do with patriotism but that he was itching to get involved in a good fight. He saw action in many theatres of the War, including the battles around Ladysmith in Natal, where he was wounded for the first time, as well as taking part in the relief of Mafikeng. During this period he was commissioned and whilst his commanding officer had nothing but the highest praise for his fighting ability he was concerned at the utter fearlessness he showed in battle. After much persuasion he was talked into becoming the Medical Officer to the regiment.
In December 1901 the Imperial Light Horse were in the district of Bethlehem in the Free State. At Tygerskloof a battle took place involving the regiment and General Christiaan De Wet’s commando. With his regiment under heavy gunfire from the Boer positions, Tommy, by now, Captain Crean, was busy tending to the wounded lying out on the battlefield. He worked his way to within 150 yards of the enemy and whilst he was himself wounded in the left arm he continued to move amongst the troops tending to their needs. Whilst busy binding the wounds of a junior officer a bullet tore through his stomach, half rising he screamed out at the top of his voice ‘By Christ, I’m kilt entirely’ and promptly fell to the ground. His Irish temper was now well and truly raised and grabbing the nearest weapon, which happened to be the gun of the junior officer, he set off on a charge directly towards the Boer lines firing away before collapsing in a heap on the veld. At first it was thought that Tommy had been mortally wounded but his level of fitness and great strength helped him to make an eventual complete recovery. Early in 1902 it was gazetted in London that Captain Thomas Joseph Crean had been awarded the Victoria Cross for this deed. By this time however, despite his strong protests, he had been invalided out of the Army, so he returned to the United Kingdom where he set up a medical practice in London’s West End. His Victoria Cross was personally presented to him by King Edward V11 at a ceremony at St James’ Palace on the 13th March 1902. Three years later, in 1905 Crean married a titled Spanish lady and they produced two offspring, a girl and a boy. The next few years were spent relatively quietly whilst he built up his reputation as a medical man in the British capital.
In 1914 at the outset of the First World War Tommy Crean immediately offered his services to the military and was sent to France as a Brigade Medical Officer. His bravery under fire soon became legendary and within twelve months he had twice been mentioned in despatches and been awarded the D.S.O. The published gazette, which announced this award, stated that it had been earned for his fearlessness and disregard for own personal safety. His carefree attitude to life, as an officer, did not go down well in some quarters and he often crossed swords with straight laced military hierarchy, in particular with one general who took him to task for needlessly exposing himself to danger and ordered him to stay at H.Q. Tommy’s reaction was to casually remove the cigarette he was smoking from his mouth, then placing his arm around the General’s shoulder, much to the horror of all the other officers present, addressed the martinet as ‘An order is it; General me old darling, tis’ written that I am to die in me bed. The boys need me. Go I must.’ With that he turned around and left the safety of the command post and went out, again walking amongst the wounded troops tending to their injuries and keeping at it until long after sunset. Tales of his incredible bravery and humane work were often written and talked about by the troops in the front line.
As Major Crean, he served throughout the War and when peace was declared in 1918 he was Officer Commanding the 44th Field Ambulance Unit. He returned to civilian life, becoming an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and establishing himself as an eminent Harley Street Specialist. It was there, in London, that he passed away, as he predicted, asleep in his bed. He was only 49 years of age, but he had lived life to the full, but the effect of his war wounds and the years of strain having taken their toll.
That 1896 rugby team to South Africa, was one full of characters. Robert Johnston, a fellow Irishman, and friend with whom Tommy loved to scrap was also awarded the Victoria Cross whilst serving as a Captain in the Imperial Light Horse regiment, at Elandslaagte. The brother of another team-mate, a South African from Grahamstown who was studying at Oxford University at the time, Cuth Mullins, also received the V. C. at Elandslaagte.The fly half the Rev. M.M Mullineux was awarded the Military Cross in the First World War.
Walter Carey, the team-mate, who became the Archbishop of Bloemfontein, is the man who is credited with establishing the motto of Barbarians rugby that so aptly describes the credo of the sport in that ‘Rugby is a game for gentlemen of all classes but not for a bad sportsmen in any class’.
To cap this story, it should also be mentioned that, in 1891, five years before coming out to this country Tommy, then only seventeen years of age, was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Testimonial for saving life at sea. Rugby, one hundred years ago was characterised, by adventure and courage, facets that are still an important aspect of the modern professional game today. Would Thomas Joseph Crean perhaps have been a combination of Uli Schmidt, Sean Fitzpatrick and Bobby Skinstad if he were alive today?.
Sources: 1. History of South African Rugby - Ivor Difford. 2. Pride of the Lions - Reg Sweet. 3. For Valour: The story of Southern Africa’s Victoria Cross Heroes. - Ian S. Uys. 4. The Barbarians - Nigel Starmer Smith 5. The Springbok Saga - Chris Greyvenstein.
For more rugby and other sport stories visit BIG BRIANS SPORT STORIES or contact the author at email@example.com
Rugby News Bits
The news in the world of rugby during the past week:
The Lions scored their biggest ever triumph against the amateurs of Western Australia, 116-10! Displaying a ruthless edge to their game one can only wonder about the sense of pitting them against a team clearly not up to standard.
Make no mistake, this was an excellent victory, the NZ Maori's have been unbeaten for something like 24 matches and with so many All Blacks a scoreline of 41-29 is an ominous sign for the forthcoming series against the Lions.
1,000th All Black
The amount of players that has worn the famous black jersey is surprising, almost 300 more than the Springboks (713), it is a practical reminder of the impact of sport isolation faced by South Africa.
Rod Kafer's retirement
It seems with Rod Kafer's low key departure from Super 12 champions, the Brumbies to Leicester, the rugby fraternity in Australia was not big enough for both Kafer players representative president and union president, John O’Neill after their very public spat about ACT player treatment.
The Ausies came, they saw but did they conquer? The question will only be answered when we see the Springboks play on Saturday and the coming months. Harry, a businessman will obviously be looking for some good ROI (return on investment).
Beer spillage on Graham Henry
The Australian crowds are becoming more and more cumbersome, not only do they attack visiting players on the field after they have scored tries but also spill beer onto visiting coaches! This kind of bad behaviour is quite contrary to their current media darlings image enhanced by a faultless hosting of the "best ever" Olympic Games. Are the "real" Ausies showing their face?
Jonah Lomu out of test squad
Lomu's ommission is attributed to the fact that he does not know all the moves, how intricate and many moves can there be for the "big fella" a veteran of two World Cups and 46 tests? What happened to the days when faxes like these arrived for the All Black team, "remember rugby is a team game, all 14 of you make sure to get the ball to Jonah!"
Toulousse, French Club Champions
Toulousse became the holders of the Bouclier de Brennus or Brennus’s Shield with their 34-22 victory against Montferrand.
Percy Montgommery, Springbok fullback is a gifted player regardless of current form but his claim of hardly missing any of his 30 kicks in practice during the "entire" Springbok camp is of great concern. The camp's duration was two weeks, that accounts to a "staggering" amount of 2 kicks a day! Oh boy, I hope he puts in the practice this week 'cause kicks win matches!
I think you enjoy the game more if you don't know the rules. Anyway, you're on the same wavelength as the referee. Jonathan Davies
Condom is back in French Pack. Independent newspaper headline
Playing the French is like facing 15 Eric Cantonas. They are brilliant but brutal. Brian Moore
League is much, much more physical than Union, and that's before anyone starts breaking the rules. Adrian Hadley
In sport, in courage, and in the light of Heaven, all men meet on equal terms. Winston Churchill
Letters to the Editor
So our Harry has finally reduced his squad to 26 and surprise, surprise there are no surprises! Now Harry has to deliver, not any naalskraaps and no excuses; he has to win! If Harry wants to be controversial that's his prerogative, but he must deliver immediate success and not expect any patience from us the supporters.
A coach has a right, if his neck is on the block, to select whomsoever he believes will deliver the success required to ensure his continued tenure. If he selects those who've shown current form in the Super 12, etc., who were expected selections by the fans and Media because of that form and the team gets beaten, he may reasonably expect the fans and Media to accept the platitudes of 'needing time to gel as a team,' etc. The fans and Media may also have to accept, as in the case of the McBride Lions who toured in 1974, that we were klapped by a far better team. The coach would then be given time by the fans and Media to develop a winning team. But a coach selecting players who have shown no current form, or whom he gambles on overcoming any initial criticism of their selection by delivering devastating performances at Test level, must expect a swift beheading if his team fails to win.
Yes we will be supporting the 'Boks all the way, but deliver Harry by winning, or join the talk shows bandwagon trying to get everyone to believe just how brilliant you could have been, if, if, if.
Thank you for the forum, a quick thought don't you think the Lions are mismatched playing against these "easy" teams and setting centuries? Surely it is more sensible to play against more hardened opposition to prepare for a test series?
Sure Peter, however to gain confidence and team spirit nothing beats winning, maybe the Ausies are trying to lead them into a false sense of security?
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
Uiteindelik! Die naweek kan ons weer ware toets rugby geniet aangesien dit al ses maande is sedert Engeland ons op Twickenham pak gegee het. Die 2000 seisoen is bes vergete en met 'n nuwe afrigter, hopelik nuwe spelstyl om nie eers te praat van 'n nuwe span nie kan dit slegs beter gaan, soos oud president Jan Brand geseg het, "alles sal regkom", die ou wyse het natuurlik nooit laat weet wanneer nie!
Die afgelope week was propvol spekulasie en ongelukkigheid nadat Harry vir Deon Kayser gepos het, wag jammer hy is nog in berekening maar net nie nou nie, dit laat my egter wonder hoe 'n span gekies word. Die eerste kriteria is natuurlik vermoë, dan sekerlik huidige "vorm" of die peil wat die speler gehandhaaf het tydens sy vorige wedstryde, gekoppel aan die kwaliteit van die oponente, die volgende moet die speler se aanpasbaarheid by die voorgenome spelpatroon wees en laastens die speler se wilskrag of te wel "BMT", temperament. 'n Afrigter moet die potpourri van bestandele in 22 individue bepaal en dan saamflans in 'n georganiseerde eenheid soos verwag van 'n internasionale span. Nie maklik nie nê? Die suksesvolle afrigter moet dus sy spelers ken en onderwerp aan elke moontlike scenario om die allerbeste uit hulle te haal, uit die aard van die saak gaan hy anders voel oor sekere spelers as ander kenners of die ondersteuners. Die toets lê egter geheel en al by die spelers, al die vertroue, voorbereiding en dril kan onklaar raak op die veld, dit is waarom hulle dit 'n toets noem.
Harry Viljoen is 'n suksesvolle afrigter en een van sy beste kenmerke is 'n vermoë om jong talent te ondersteun en omskep van belowend na briljant. Toegegee, ons hoef nie al die ervaring te verwerp in 'n hardnekkige kruistog om die 2003 beker te wen nie maar gee die man tog 'n kans om die regte kombinasie te vind. Op die oomblik het hy 'n kern van Kempson, Andrews, Venter, Vos, Van der Westhuizen, Mulder, Paulse en Montgommery dit is meer as 50 % van die span wat die nuwelinge kan voorberei op ware toetsrugby en hoe meer jongeling met 30+ toetse op hulle kerfstok soveel beter vir die span. Ongelukkig moet daar weer na die Australiers verwys word maar hulle het baie sukses met die kombinasie van jeug en ondervinding wat deurentyd goeie selfs briljante spelers oplewer. Die Springbokke kan dieselfde doen en nog beter want ons het meer baie goeie spelers wat geloof, ondersteuning en 'n bietjie ervaring benodig om briljante spelers te word.
Al die gepraat van die Springbokke, ek het 'n vriend Villiers, en nee dit word nie soos die dorp uitgespreek nie maar wel Viljee en die ou beweer hy het hoogs adelike bloed wat deur sy are bruis, blykbaar te danke aan 'n Hugenote voorvader. Nou Villiers het my juis gebel oor die Franse bloed en hoe hy hierdie week skaars kon loop van die jig! Ek is natuurlik baie skepties oor bygelowe maar Villiers was baie angstig want al het hy hoogs adelike Franse bloed in sy are is hy 'n Springbok ondersteuner soos min. Die jig, beweer Villiers, is nie van al die 10 jaar KWV wat hy nie vir my wil aanstuur nie maar meer te doen met die Bokke wat sy voorvaders se mense onderskat en dalk hulle g-a-t kan sien Saterdag op Ellispark. Nou ja, Villiers is meer bekend vir sy KWV kwota, ver minder vir sy siener eienskappe maar ek moet bieg as die Franse besluit om hulle beste sjampanje rugby uit te stal kan bitter min spanne kers vashou soos die All Blacks van 1999 kan beaam.
Die naweek is ook die eerste toets vir die All Blacks teen die Wes Samoane, 'n moeilike span om teen te speel veral as hulle besluit om soos Butch James op sy beste te verdedig! Die manne in swart het 'n taai Super 12 agter die rug en vir die juiste rede verwag hulle rugby mal publiek soveel meer van die toets span. Dit is ongelooflik hoe die druk van koerante en ondersteuners na die spelers deursyfer, waar dit tot hulle voordeel is om met so min verwagting en druk as moontlik te speel word hulle onder presies die teenoorgestelde geplaas. Dit is nie net Suid Afrikaners wat baie verwag van hulle afrigters en span nie!
Die Leeus is besig om te mors met die Australiese "oefenspanne" en dit laat my terugdink aan die rede hoekom toerspanne in die verlede so gesukkel het om in Suid Afrika te wen, ons toer programme het verseker dat teen die tyd van die eerste toets hulle goed opgedonner was deur ons sterk provinsiale spanne. Die lang toere is egter 'n rariteit deesdae en so gemeet aan die Franse se blitstoer is die dae van maandelange besoeke verby.
Geniet die toets Saterdag en hopelik sal die Springbokke die tipe rugby speel waarop ons as ondersteuners trots kan wees, my biltong bestelling (hopelik nie sitbok nie!) is geplaas en gepaard met 'n paar koues gaan dit 'n wonderlike naweek wees.
Jammer Chris, ek stem saam met die verloor maar baie keer moet 'n ou 'n paar veldslagte in die stof byt om die oorlog te wen!
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