Rugby Forum
  Volume 1 - Week 27  
Editor's Note
Brilliant!    Well, that's it, Tri-Nations 2001 wrapped up by the magnificent Ausies and what a phenomenal year it has been for this team. First ever series win against the Lions, first ever win in Dunedin, second Tri-Nations trophy and the Bledisloe Cup again. Sadly the team also departed with two fine rugby gentlemen in Rod MacQueen and the colossus of Australian rugby, John Eales.
The rugby world and some coaches in particular are well known converts of the Australian way, agreed they produce fine rugby teams and great players but one thing impressed this writer above all, the way they take care of their own. John Eales was sent off in spectacular fashion, not only by the match victory but also with eulogies fit for a national hero – which there is no doubt he is. South Africa can only dream of treating their captains in this fashion.
The hard fought match was a close knit affair and the All Blacks only have themselves to blame for losing this match. Strange decisions from coach, Smith and poor play from captain, Oliver cost the Kiwis dearly for they deserved better after a magnificent period of total rugby in the third quarter of the match. The Big Fella played an excellent match and with footballers like Alatini and Umaga inside him his threat to well organized defences is devastating, it is a pity he did not receive more opportunities to unleash his powers.  The Australians will remember Kefu for his try but they need to look no further than Eales who fearlessly believed in his team’s ability to cross the line with attempt after attempt at the touchline rather than goal who won this match.
In South Africa the Currie Cup finally received the attention it deserves as the premier local competition (see Brian Forsyth’s interesting article below on the beginnings of the Currie Cup). The match between the Pumas and WP at Newlands produced some scintillating rugby and wonderful individual brilliance from the likes of Springbok skipper Bob Skinstad and Chris Rossouw. For many the match was a mini trial between two very talented flyhalves, Chris Rossouw and Nel Fourie however the latter left the field with concussion after an early clash with team mate Franco Smith. In his absence Rossouw played an excellent match with sterling distribution, scathing breaks and some good tactical kicking to display a full repertoire of flyhalf skills. WP scraped through to win this encounter and the Pumas although happy with 2 bonus points thought they deserved 5.
The other clash of the weekend produced a runaway victory for the Natal Sharks over The Mighty Elephants (EP). The Sharks only really slotted into gear in the second half when almost a point a minute was scored. Herkie Kruger was named man of the match but apart from his goal kicking his general play was poor and he did not look to be any a threat to Springbok incumbent Butch James’ return to the throe. A much tougher match awaits the runners up this weekend in the Falcons with a resurgent Adrian Jacobs in fine form. The heavyweights are set to return and Andrews, van Biljon, Snyman and James will hope to set the competition alive after a rest and international duty.
The transfer sagas seem to be over for the moment however unless players, agents and clubs find renewed respect for the law, this situation will repeat itself every season. The only concern is for players who are genuinely interested in furthering their careers on foreign shores; the crying wolf too often scenario may put a stop to that and who can blame the clubs?
The New Zealanders are incensed with their team’s performance in this year’s Tri Nations however a look at their international season reflect 5 wins out of 7 matches, a 71% winning percentage, compared to 57% for the Wallabies and 43% for the Springboks. Huh? The whole whoa is obviously the defeats against neighbours Australia; 2 triumphs over the Spingboks and a thumping of bogey team France is obviously not enough for the All Black supporters.
The sad part of this state of affairs is that the Kiwis no longer regard victories over the Springboks as awed or special, has the greatest rivalry on earth been replaced by the Trans Tasman tussle and can we blame them with our performances of the last decade?

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The Great Debate Commences... by Tom Marcellus
What a memorable weekend in rugby history, as noble Sir John, that most honourable of rugby knights, didst verily smote his mortal foe in an epic, final joust.  Thus, another name was added to the smattering of players who can truly wear with distinction the moniker, All-time Great.  Over the last few weeks, armchair aficionados like myself have engaged in friendly debate in pubs and living rooms around the rugby-watching world as they tried to assess the remarkably distinguished career of the departing Wallabies skipper.  The key question to grapple with is this: How does this colossus of the modern game compare against the immortals of yore?  Let us, then, continue on this merry but contentious frolic.
Looking back over the generations, players have entered the ranks of the Legendary through various means.  Some, like, say, Campese, Edwards or Brooke, were blessed with such an abundance of talent at their fingertips that they simply had to be included amongst this elite band, no questions asked.  Others were set apart from their peers by their sheer athleticism and flair (like, say, Du Preez or Blanco), grit and valour (JPR Williams or Hennie Muller), utter indestructibility and brutish vigour (Meads), or leadership and longevity (McBride or Fitzpatrick).
To this exalted party, John Eales has brought his own unique blend of athleticism, talent, leadership and temperament.  In fact, there are a number of aspects to Eales’ long, triumphant career that each demand his automatic and immediate elevation to the rarefied air of rugby’s Mount Olympus.  The list is exhausting!  His record as a member of 2 World Cup-winning Wallaby teams; his famously unflappable temperament under pressure and all-round ball skills, which allowed him to kick his team to victory in that epic contest against the All Blacks in 1999; his unrivalled success as the skipper of a world-beating Wallaby outfit that has forever buried the age-old Aussie dread of All Black invincibility; his understated, gritty pride in the Wallaby jersey; his modesty and grace off the field.  Yes, there can be no doubt that here was a player who was blessed with a formidable array of talents, and who enjoyed unrivalled success both as a soaring lock forward and an off-the-field ambassador for the game.
Rightfully or wrongfully, it seems fair to say that all forwards, especially locks, will forever be compared with the towering Pine Tree, Meads, when assessing their place amongst the game’s immortal few.  Spiro Zavos, the noted Australian rugby journalist, fired-off the debate earlier this week with the following: “Meads, who Kiwis regard as the greatest player of all, can now be described by Australians as New Zealand's John Eales."  Now that's fighting talk!
The enduring Kiwi reverence for “Piney” is possibly explained by the way in which Meads somehow metamorphosised into something much more than a mere rugger bugger scavenging for an oval ball.  Not only did Meads capture the imagination of an adoring Kiwi public, which is by no means a unique feat, but he somehow managed to transcend the mere playing field, the Silver Fern, the skulduggery at the bottom of the ruck, in fact the game itself, to become the living, breathing embodiment of 1960’s New Zealand itself.  I am embarking on a crash course in amateur sociology here – a risky endeavour at the best of times – but my readings of Meads-related literature lead me to conclude that here was a player who managed to combine all the noble but savage characteristics of the ideal rugby man, nay New Zealander, like no All Black before or since: the rugged, untamed Man of the Land; the mighty physique hewn from the rocky outcrops around Te Kuiti; the farmer’s pride for and unswerving loyalty to the soil; the refusal to back down to physical confrontation; the gritty determination in the face of great personal suffering; the unbridled pride in the All Black jersey and loyalty to his team.  Whilst Jean-Pierre Rives, as another obvious example, with his golden locks, noble countenance and bandaged, bloodied head, seemed to be the living embodiment of France’s glorious past, a Marshal Ney – Napoleon’s “Bravest of the Brave” – as he fended off the invading hordes from Angloterre, Meads the human juggernaut seemed to be the physical manifestation of all that was admirable and noble in New Zealand manhood.  Anxious mothers slept easy knowing that his mighty, protective presence loomed over their loved ones, and one suspects that the Christians, as they faced the lions in the Colosseum, would have felt that they were in with at least a fighting chance, had they had Meads in their starting XV.
It is surely at this final frontier, where the player becomes the representation of something far more substantial than his physical being, that the true legends of the game are decided.  Amongst the old Springboks, you will surely find Craven and, of course, Frik.  Despite Eales’ great skills and achievements, this was one final accomplishment that I personally felt could perhaps have eluded him.  His successes as a Wallaby player and captain were unmatched, but could it truly be said that he was viewed as something beyond the sport, for example someone popularly acclaimed to represent something noble and good in Australian society?  After the events both on and off the field this past weekend, there is now happily no doubt in my mind that Eales’ place as an Aussie sporting icon and true rugby immortal is secure.  My self-imposed mythical frontier has been breached, and the rugby gods will surely have welcomed John Eales to their hallowed grandstand in the sky with delight.  All that is left for me to say is, John, while you’re out there, stuur groete aan die Doc.

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The Currie Cup- How it Started and Developed by Brian Forsyth
(Copyright © The Author, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
How did the Currie Cup start? Rugby really started at a club level in the mid 1870’s in Cape Town and it took another eight years  before the first Provincial Union was formed, Western Province who made themselves responsible for the administration of the game at club level in Cape Town and the surrounding areas. With the popularity of the game spreading rapidly, other provincials unions were formed who carried out the same responsibilities in their areas. There were one or two friendly provincial matches played between Cape Town and Kimberley but it was not until 1889 that the Unions arranged to meet to form a national body. This meeting took place in Kimberley and the new national body’s first priorities were to arrange a national tournament, which they did in the same year and then issue an invitation for a touring side from the UK to visit this country in 1891.
Reverting to the first national tournament, this took place in Kimberley, as did many of the early tournaments. The four teams which took part were Western Province, Griqualand West, Transvaal and Eastern Province, as they were all then known, and who finished in that order, with Western Province being presented with the Board Trophy. When, in 1891, the British tourists under the captaincy of W. E. Maclagan boarded the Castle liner at Southampton, a farewell luncheon was held, hosted by Sir Donald Currie, then head of the steamship company. Currie, at this lunch presented Maclagen with a gold trophy, and made the request that he should present it to the team, which gave them the best game. In due course the cup was presented to the players from Kimberley. The local Union then generously presented it to the newly fledged national body, with the proviso that it be used as a floating trophy for inter-centre competition. The National Body decided to honour Sir Donald, and name the trophy after him, following a precedent set by the national cricket body who had done the same some two years previously.
The South African Rugby Board then laid down the ground rules for the competition. Firstly it would be played for on a centralised basis, with the teams getting together for a week of non-stop rugby. Then they stipulated that the trophy would be only played for every second year and, if a touring side was visiting South Africa in that time, then the competition would be put back a year. The rationale behind this thinking was that the provincial body’s felt that their first responsibilities were to the clubs under their control. Looking back it is interesting to see how strong those guidelines were, for the tournament continued to operate on a centralised basis right up to 1920 and it was in 1922 that it was changed to a home and away competition. The Currie Cup only became an annual event in 1968 and it was in the same year that the decision, to delay the competition for a year in the event of a touring side visiting, was rescinded.
The thinking behind the original format was sound for travelling was difficult, as discussed in an earlier article in Rugby Forum. It was for this reason that Kimberley, being in the centre of the country, was the first choice for the majority of the centralised weeks. Other factors no doubt were the expense of  sending a team away and the difficulty of players being able to obtain the necessary leave. It would have been interesting to be a spectator in Kimberley in those early days, for up to  three matches were played on six days of the week on one field, which was devoid of any grass. One could imagine the state of the field when the main game was due to start.
How did the Provinces shape? Well Western Province dominated, winning 16 of the first 18 tournaments taking them right up to 1936 – of the two missing years, the one, they did not attend the 1899 tournament in view of the political uncertainty caused by the start of the Anglo-Boer war. In 1932 they shared the Cup with Border. In fact Western Province’s strength was such that in 1929 they fielded two Currie Cup sides on the same day, the one playing Transvaal at Ellis Park and the other against Border at Newlands. The only time this has ever occurred in the history of the competition.
The best of the other provinces were Griqualand West in the early days and then the rise of Transvaal as the economic power swung north from Kimberley to Johannesburg . The provinces who made up mid-table were Eastern Province, followed by Border and Orange Free State and then Natal.  Rhodesia, who only appeared in 5 tournaments, spread over 43 years, South Western Districts and North Eastern Districts filling the wooden spoon position. Western Transvaal were latecomers to the Currie Cup, appearing for the first time in 1920. Northern Transvaal and Boland were not separate unions until 1938, their players being part of the Transvaal and Western Province sides. In fact, legend has it that when Western Province travelled for away fixtures, the backs would board the train at Cape Town station whilst the forwards would get aboard at Paarl and Worcester to make up the full complement.
Whilst playing conditions might have been difficult, travelling by stage coach or being 8 to a compartment, sitting bolt upright to obtain some sleep or alternatively being off loaded from a ship in the bay by basket - there was still time for much humour and hijinks after the games. A classic story is told of the events, which took place in 1897 when the Currie Cup took place in Port Elizabeth. The Western Province and Transvaal sides, both stayed at the then leading hotel on the Hill, the owner being well known throughout South Africa. Being young and high-spirited the teams let their hair down but the proprietor saw no humour in the situation, and there were several rows about it. Legend has it that that the owner was perhaps a little tactless, but it culminated one evening in the billiard room, when he strongly objected to the noise. As one man, several of the players tied the proprietor up in the canvas cover of the billiard table and threatened to pull the bundle to the top of the flag pole which stood in the grounds. This threat was not carried out but as it is delicately put, several intimate articles of bedroom use were hauled up instead and the rope cut. There they hung for two days, being the joke of the town at the time and exasperating the proprietor more then ever.
The night the two teams left for their homes by the same train, he refused to shake hands and say goodbye to them, and said openly that he would never have any rugby sides ever staying in his hotel again, a promise he kept for the rest of his days. As he was so angry, he was picked up bodily by some large forwards and taken down to the station with the team on his own wagonette. On arrival there, he was put on the bar counter in the railway refreshment room and made to make a speech saying how pleased he was to have had such a lot of charming quiet young men staying at his hotel.  
There was no come back at all from these escapades. At least ten current or future Springboks were in these two sides, as well as an international cricketer, together with many well-established provincial players. What would the modern rugby world have made of it – perhaps a mass of disciplinary hearings, sending home early from the tournament or serious suspensions? What a time the media would have had with it, TV screens flashing the story worldwide.
To close, a thought on the original guidelines set out for the Currie Cup and the provincial bodies priority in looking after their clubs. This approach enabled South Africa to develop a very strong infrastructure at base level, which stood us in good stead in the golden era of our rugby for we remained unbeaten at international level from 1896 to 1956. Sadly in the modern professional era our clubs, do not appear to have a defined role, and are really battling to survive. Should this not be addressed at a national basis as a solution to the problem?
Sources :  1. History of  South African Rugby Football – Ivor Difford. 2. W. P. Rugby Centenary 1883-1983 – A. C. Parker.
For more rugby and other sports stories visit BIG BRIANS SPORT STORIES or contact the author at

Nick Mallett, and South Afric'a Tri Nations Campaign by Desmond Organ
Following the final of the Southern Hemispheres premier competition we are in a position to review the arguments of former and current coaches in South Africa. Journalists are blessed with critical acclaim and often have the use of hindsight to defend their positions.  This is not always the case with former rugby players and coaches voicing their opinions in various rugby forums.
One of the ways that rugby writers gain and maintain readership is through outstanding knowledge of the game and it’s various intricacies. However, the use of controversial opinions has created enthusiasm and interest for a particular column in a newspaper or web site.
Planet Rugby must be one of the premier sites for rugby supporters in the far flung corners of the world and through their choice of journalists and columnists they have generated more “clicks per site” than any of their competitors.
Hence it is with the same level of enthusiasm that I am putting pen to paper to provide a layman’s analysis of the events of the Tri nations from a South African perspective.
I will make several references to comments made on Planet Rugby’s site by one of the great coaches of the game, Nick Mallett.
Nick was one of South Africa’s unsung heroes as we emerged from the crisis of the post 1995 World Cup campaign only to head down a similar path at the beginning of the 1999 World Cup. There have and always will be many controversies associated with South African rugby and Nick has found himself at the center of many of these.
Yet his comments on the campaigns of the various teams in this years Tri nations deserve some attention and perhaps provide some insight into the decisions he made in the latter part of his coaching tenure.
Nick has consistently praised the efforts of the “Stormers” and their coach Alan Solomons. He wrote earlier this year:
“My view is that the Stormers will do the best of all four SA teams. They simply have got some outstanding young talent and some brilliant backs.”
The talent of the backs cannot be denied. Their inability to put together a consistent number of wins and to play winning rugby on a consistent basis leads me to wonder weather their coach and former assistant to Nick Mallett has much to offer in the way of inspiring play.  The opposition simply worked them out and after one flirtation with success they failed to impress. Their wins were against New Zealand Teams, who in my opinion have failed to impress this year.
This was even more clearly evident in the backline performances of the current South African team. The criticism that Nick has given is that South Africa has only made progress in the area of defence and that we only possess genuine ability in two of the players that are currently playing for South Africa, that being Skinstad and Paulse.
The record number of consecutive victories of Mallett may have a lot to do with individual combinations at the provincial level that have not been reflected in the National Team. So, I disagree with him when he says that we do not have the right skills, it is the combination of players that produces results and in this he and Harry Viljoen are in the same set up. 
Nick also stated earlier this year:
“As regards the Sharks, the jury is still out on Rudolf Straueli. It is one thing to coach a Sharks side in the Currie Cup with about 15 Springboks, but quite another to coach a Super 12 outfit. Even the Sharks' Currie Cup campaign was not that convincing. They got to the final, but then played a style of rugby that was rather worrying, in that, if that style were used in the Super 12, they could get smashed.”
There are several well read supporters of the game that would have disagreed with this statement from the outset, yet others would have waited for hindsight to play a role. It would not surprise me if Rudolf Straueli were to play a part in the future of the National Team. His team has not been smashed and have in several ways adjusted their play and studied their opponents to make sure that they play attractive and successful rugby. If there is something to be said about professionalism then Mr. Straueli has been the bastion of this.
Several journalists have praised his professional and methodical approach to the game. His team has gone from last in the competition a year ago to finalists a year later. This is something that several others have not achieved.  It makes me think makes that being blessed with too much talent is not always a good thing. It is ironic, that Nick Mallett and Harry Viljoen can both claim that they were privileged in this regard.
Nick Mallett is rumoured to be considering opportunities elsewhere. With him will go a history of success turned to failure. It seems at present that at least in the forwards we have made some progress and it is in the backline that we need to improve. The real issue is not the availability of talent in South Africa, but the utilisation of our traditional strengths and combinations whilst developing alternatives. One thing that our current and past coaches have a unique ability for is the mismanagement of players and the demorilisation of players with real talent. I do not need to reflect here on the comments to the media about individual players. I wonder what level of respect the Sharks coaching outfit would have if they resorted to the same tactics. .

Match Report by Mike Amm
Australia 29 - New Zealand 26
The vast Stadium Australia in Sydney was a sea of yellow speckled with black for this Tri-Nations showdown between these two southern hemisphere giants, with the mythical world championship up for grabs. Clear weather for the anthems and haka before kick-off.
An early penalty by Matt Burke gave the Wallabies a three-point lead but only for a moment, as Andrews Mehrtens' first shot slithered past the inside of the right-hand upright. Then Norm Maxwell was binned, after punching Michael Foley's fist  with his jaw. Burke cashed the shot to give the home side a 6 - 3 lead after ten minutes.
A Brumbies-style build-up by the Wallabies, culminating in a high bomb on Jonah Lomu, ten metres out from his own line. Chris Latham took off like an impala ram and sailed through the air to steal the ball from Lomu's outstretched arms and crash over for a spectacular try out wide. Burke did well to convert and the Wallabies led 13 - 3 after 17 minutes.
The All Blacks replied with a good run by McDonald down the right flank, but Kelleher was tackled into touch. Then Chris Jack put in a good dart after a Mehrtens switch, but the Wallaby defence held firm, with their lineout taking advantage of Maxwell's absence, to steal All Black ball at regular intervals.
Into the second quarter and Tana Umaga was pinged for taking a rebound in front of McDonald. Burke did the business and the Wallabies led 16 - 3, with fifteen minutes to the break.
Byron Kelleher found a half-gap fifteen metres out. He went for it with Troy Flavell in support but was put out at the corner flag. The All Blacks won a penalty but Mehrtens' shot rebounded off the left-hand upright. They continued to attack with real venom, but the stubborn Wallaby defence held firm.
George Gregan was penalised for playing too well and Mehrtens nailed the shot. Then Toutai Kefu was penalised for an infringement at the breakdown, but Mehrtens pulled the shot badly.
Dying seconds of the half and a good tackle on Flavell by Nathan Grey, won the Wallabies an easy penalty, which Burke duly slotted.
A dream restart by the All Blacks, when a Mehrtens reverse put Pita Alatini into the hole. The slippery second five went through the Aussie defence like Epsom salts, before handing on to Doug Howlett and Goodnight Charlie! Mehrtens slotted the conversion.
Burke replied with a penalty but the All Blacks were on fire, with Alatini again prominent as they surged toward the Wallaby line to win a penalty 32 metres out. No problem for Mehrtens.
Then Rod Moore was binned for an alleged punch. Lomu made ground down the left-hand touchline and handed on to McDonald on his inside, who fed Alatini for his second. Mehrtens added the conversion, as the rampant All Blacks grabbed a 23 - 19 lead.
Back came the Aussies in a sustained attack on the New Zealand line but the vistors defended determinedly and the clock moved into the last twenty of 3N 2001, with only four points separating the two contenders. Mehrtens stretched the lead to seven points with a shot from 44 metres.
Cat and mouse territorial rugby, as Mehrtens began to send his long rollers into the corners. Justin Marshall took over from Kelleher, with Andrew Walker giving the Wallabies fresh legs.
A long cutout from Larkham to Walker, who offloaded to the Latham. The powerful winger was tackled into touch at the corner flag but the defence had been caught offside and the Wallabies grabbed the three-pointer.
Ten to play and the Wallabies attacked in wave after wave, with the All Black defence fully stretched and on their last legs, before an Aussie handling error brought relief.
Seven minutes left and still the wave of gold kept coming. The Aussies won a penalty and opted for an attacking lineout. The Wallabies attacked and attacked but the grim All Blacks kept them out.
Four minutes to play and another attacking lineout to the home side. Inches from the All Black line and a Wallaby was penalised.
Two minutes to go. Yet another attacking lineout to the Wallabies. Kefu has the ball. He's close to the line. The try is awarded! Australia have it!
Heart attack rugby and for the All Blacks, a heartbreak finish, but all credit to the Wallabies who never gave up trying, to win through in the end. Congratulations to the Wallabies, who certainly know how to produce their best rugby when it's most needed. Commiserations to New Zealand who put in great second half. It was a real cracker!

Tri-Nations Team 2001
15.       Matthew Burke: after losing his place to Chris Latham, Burke returned to international rugby with devastating form, he played especially well in the Dundedin match with a great solo try and immaculate kicking in the final effectively won the competition for the Australians. Conrad Jantjes deserve a special mention for his youthful exuberance and considerable potential. 

14.       Jeff Wilson: A year off from international rugby did not seem to deter this good footballers skill in test matches. He is a better wing than fullback and it was in this position where he was at his best in Dunedin.

13.       Tana Umaga: A very strong runner with good stepping skills of both feet and a devastating tackler, there are few players of his size and skill playing the game.

12.       Pita Alatini: The two tries scored in Sydney and a good showing in this year’s competition has saw Alatini confirm his place as one of the best inside centres in the game. A good eye for a gap and excellent distribution skills allow his outside backs to thrive with extra space.

11.       Jonah Lomu: The “Big Fella” played one of his better competitions and is still the best attacking weapon on the planet. The only man to nullify the tight defences of modern rugby it is surprising how little he is utilised by the All Blacks.

10.       Stephen Larkham: The best attacking flyhalf in the game and a supreme distributor of the ball. His tactical play is excellent and the opposition is always forced to watch him carefully thus creating gaps on his in and outside.

9.         George Gregan: Tactically and technically brilliant, in cahoots with Larkham he always seems to make the correct decision.  His understanding of the game is excellent and is one of the big differences between the Wallabies and any other team. 

8.         Bob Skinstad: Back to his formidable best his allround play and ball-carrying ability nudges him ahead of Kefu who had a very good competition. Playing to a game plan and dexterity in the lineouts was another two of Skinstad’s strengths and the try in Pretoria lifted a nation’s hopes.

7.         George Smith: The man’s ability to the breakdown is well documented and his work does create more opportunities for Larkham and Gregan to dictate. His uncanny ability to trap players in possession forces penalties and create points, a very valuable commodity indeed.

6.         Owen Finnegan: A very hard grafter, excellent ball carrier and line breaker this tough flank is the perfect partner for Smith.

5.         John Eales (captain): No need to say anything.

4.         Victor Matfield: One of the players of the tournament, his awesome lineout presence and massive work rate around the field has him earmarked as a great. Hopefully he can continue his excellent form and remain injury free. A valuable player indeed.

3.         Cobus Visagie: His presence in the Springbok front row made all the difference and as said before probably one of the most valuable players in world rugby. Also a hard worker around the field, he makes a lot of tackles.

2.         Lukas van Biljon: The surprise package of the competition, his barnstorming runs created havoc amongst defences and his accurate lineout throwing ensured a good showing in this department from the Springboks.

1.                   Robbie Kempson: A good combination with the rest of the Springbok front row and a hard grafter in all the phases.

Reserves: Andrew Walker, Daniel Herbert, Byron Kelleher, Greg Somerville, Troy Flavell, Michael Foley, Toutai Kefu

Jonah Lomu's diffused his own bomb!    Chris Handy after a very untrademark Lomu chip kick.
The win was very fortunate, but I will buy Kefs a drink anytime, anywhere, whenever he asks!    John Eales.

It has often occurred to me that sport, like sex, is an activity that should either be performed or watched - but not written about.    Paul Gardner
After calling all sports agents vultures -  It was a rash statement and I'd like to apologise to every vulture in the sky.    Mike Gottfried
If size is all that matters, how come the whale is endangered and the ant continues to do just fine?    Unknown

Letters to the Editor
Dear Ed,
Thanks for Rugby Forum.  Great job and always a pleasure to receive here in Auckland New Zealand. Needless to mention all the whingeing going on here in New Zealand regarding their defeat against the Wallabies and needless to mention poor Tappe Henning getting it from all quarters?  This is normal procedures over here.
Please allow me to put my pennies worth in regarding the Springboks performance at Eden Park against the AB's.  It was pathetic, planless and no leadership shown by the captain. If there is no plan,  needless to expect anything else than such a pathetic performance. This performance wasn't even a shadow of the previous two against the Wallabies!  I can go into more detail but to summarise the whole game from a Springbok supporter's point of view; It was like a heavy weight title fight, the one heavy weight (Springboks) leaning against the ropes while the opponent (AB's) throw punches at will. No attempt from the one against the ropes to come out and be counted, none at all. 
Look I accept the game has changed and yeah yeah defence is everything,  but for Heavens sake the basics are still the same.  Look the Boks could not get through the AB defence,  so where was a little grubber kick through the defending backline,  a little kick over the opposing backline,  a drop kick, the huge up and under THAT WORKS 9 out 10 TIMES something unexpected?  No as donkeys (Hee Haww Hee Haww) we are lead with a carrot in front.  Nobody thinks anymore nor the captain!  God knows this is frustrating to watch!! Then something that really gets me p....ed off is this constant praises of the opposition.  I give you examples - The Bok Camp commenting :"We are lucky Christian Cullen is not playing" "The Ab's has 8 very good forwards" while they in fact are struggling in the scrums.  Am I missing something here or am I just plain stupid?  (Hell look how I'm shivering mate)  Look I would have given the AB's so much "#@*&" that they will be so charged up by the time they meet us making so many infringements (mistakes) that my side will receive penalty upon penalty, you know the olds story of getting the opposition's concentration off the game!!  Test half won!! 
Jy weet mos die soort sielkunde waarvan ek praat ou boet?  Magtag man,  wanneer gaan die manne ooit wakkerskrik?  Rather tell them what a bunch of useless whatever they are!!  that we cant wait to meet them!  aag wat waarvan praat ek tog nou? Met hierdie soort spel vergeet eerder die RWC2003, VERGEET DAARVAN want selfs Engeland en moontlik Ierland sal ons wen!!  hoekom?  want hulle sal die onverwagte kan doen. My hart breek man breek met sulke spel!  Pateties om die minste te se.
Cheers vir eers.

Beste Red,


SA het tans nie 'n losskakel wat in dieselfde klas as Steve Larkham, Jonny Wilkonson of Andrew Mehrtens is nie. Butch James het in die Drienasies gewys hy is nie die antwoord vir SA se losskakel-probleme nie. Sommige kenners meen André Pretorius is die aangewese man - hy het puik vir SA sewes gespeel, maar daar is groot verskil tussen sewes en vyftienmanmanrugby. Hy sukkel boonop tans met 'n ernstige kniebesering. Jaco van der Westuysen het al by tye potensiaal getoon, so ook Chris Rossouw,maar nie een van die twee is wafferse stelskoppers nie. Gaffie sukkel baie met beserings en moet meeding vir 'n plek met Butch James vir Natal. Nel Fourie en Francois Swart is nog nat agter die ore en dit is nog te vroeg om te sê om hulle dalk die antwoord is. Conrad Barnard lyk tans die belowendste van die hele lot, want hy is 'n goeie balverspreider en stelskopper. Braam se balverspreiding is nie van die beste nie, maar sy stelskopwerk is. Hy is puik op die verdediging en baie ervare. Totdat SA 'n losskakel vind wat die spel kan dikteer, goed die bal versprei en 'n dodelike stelskopper is, is Braam steeds die antwooord op losskakel.
Johann Loubser

Beste Red,
Mens kan regtig met die Springbokke simpatie hê nadat hulle per ongeluk verlede Saterdag verloor het:
Waar jy in enige toernooi drie spanne het wat min of meer ewe sterk is, sal geluk op die dag van 'n wedstryd altyd 'n rol in die uitslag speel.  Voorverlede Saterdag het ons 'n gelukkie aan ons kant gehad toe Mark Andrews se drie nie na die TV-skeidsregter verwys is nie;  indien dit verwys was, kon daar beslis gewees het dat hy uitgetrap het.
Verlede Saterdag het ons geen gelukkies gehad nie, maar die All Blacks het drie gehad. 
1.    Eerstens het Robbie Fleck se besering voor die tyd die All Blacks 'n goeie skoot selfvertroue gegee en dit het hulle in staat gestel om hul beste vertoning in 'n lang tyd te lewer.  Ek weet watter heilige ontsag die huidige All Black-span vir Fleck het.
2.    Nieu-Seeland se eerste drie is aangeteken nadat hul ingooi in die lynstaan nie die vereiste 5 meter getrek het nie - dit is skaars 2 meter van die kantlyn gevat.  (Ongelukkig is 'n paar Springbokke se aandag ook van hul verdedigingstaak afgetrek deurdat hulle die skeidsregter daarop probeer wys het.)
3.    Nieu-Seeland se strafdrie het weer gevolg nadat 'n All Black die bal in 'n lynstaan aangeslaan het, waarna die skeidsregter verkeerdelik die skrum aan die All Blacks toegeken het.  Twee foute van die skeidsregter... twee drieë teen ons!  En dit was die verskil tussen wen en verloor.
Hiermee kla ek nie oor die skeidsregter nie;  Peter Marshall het andersins heel skaflik geblaas.  Ek wys maar net daarop dat as dit jou dag is, loop dinge reg vir jou;  as dit nie jou dag is nie, wel.. dan gaan elke klein gelukkie teen jou.
Hulle sê mos juis:  "Ongelukke kom in drieë"!  (Verskoon die woordspeling!)


Dear Ed,
I think Harry is making a big mistake by starting with young players like Conrad Jantjes he is a good player but dont dump so much responsibility on the chap as at yet here is my team with the players that we have in the squad at the moment.
10.B v Straaten
9.J. vd Westhuizen
8.A.Vos (C)
4.A.vd Berg
2.L. von Biljon
16.O.le Roux
20.C.Jantjes Kock
But please know that I think some other players like Craig Davidson, Frederich Lombaard, Rassie Erasmus and so on deserve a go in the green and gold the green and gold Davidson for de Kock, Lombaard for Paulse and Rassie for Bobby and Corne. If any one else does not agree please let me know.
Thanks a lot.
Nardus Oelofse






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