|Volume 1 - Week 29|
Brilliant! One of the strange phenomena of sport is the emphasis on competition, although meant to be physical activity done for exercise and amusement even a game of croquet on a Sunday afternoon between life long friends can turn into a contest. Rugby as one of the ultimate team sports thrives on competition.
Competition has one major effect on participants, it generates stress and pressure; these two components in turn inflict personality changes. The ability of the competitor to focus and cope under the strain reflects his temperament or BMT (big match temperament), the more of it the greater the player.
The Currie Cup competition has now moved into the high stakes, pressurised environment where every game is crucial to ultimately lift Sir Donald’s trophy. The young teams like the Falcons, Pumas and even the Bulls will now realise what pressure is all about, time becomes a factor, the games are much faster and a mistake can cost you the match. Experience and teamwork alleviate the pressure and teams with both will definitely have the upper hand.
This coming weekend there are a few mouth-watering clashes and with strength versus strength supporters can look forward to measuring the true yardstick of players and teams form. The Springboks also had time to settle in and coaches will expect full dividends from their stars.
In Cape Town WP take on the Lions in a top of the table clash the winner will strengthen semi-final hopes. The two teams play with contrasting styles, the Lions love to bring their big strong forwards into play by running of the ruck, mauling and little pop passes from the halfbacks, alternatively Japie Mulder the old warhorse, is very effective at playing back towards the pack. There is a lot of talent out wide with exciting runners like Jantjes, Hall and Delport, expect them to shine with every opportunity. Finally in Louis Koen the Lions have a very consistent, proven kicker of the ball who loves to get the better of his previous paymasters.
WP, after a titanic struggle against the Northern Bulls will look to eradicate the many mistakes at the breakdown and fully exploit the rich form of Springbok captain Skinstad. Braam’s kicking will ensure that all mistakes in the Lions half be converted into points. The match is a difficult one to call however home ground advantage should favour WP even if they have a poor record against the Cats, the Lions' Super 12 big brother (sorry!) at Newlands.
The other matches should be closely knit affairs and the Natal Sharks might find the going tough against the Blue Bulls at Loftus, a couple of defeats will create a certain amount of doubt in the Natalian’s camp combined with the hoo ha surrounding Butch James. Regarding the Springbok flyhalf incumbent - he has had enough coaching, warnings, disciplinary records and all that hogwash, the bottom line is, he cannot tackle properly, he is a poor sportsman and he does not have the temperament. But oh the boy is gifted, those smooth fast hands and deft touches indicates a troubled brilliance.
The Cheetas played magnificently against the Sharks and they should prevail over their cousins, Griquas with the return of Johan Erasmus, the form of Wylie Human and the emergence of a quality pack. The final match pit the two surprise packages against each other and for both teams it presents a good opportunity to settle down and earn points against “easier” opposition. The red-hot form of the Falcons should see them through.
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North vs South by Mark Foster
North vs South, the statement can be interpreted in so many ways by a variety of people; the Americans engaged in a bitter civil war that pitted north vs south, the English talk about “northerners and soft southern bastards”, in international rugby circles it is the northern hemisphere vs the southern hemisphere; for South Africans it can only be one, Northern Transvaal vs WP.
Growing up in the seventies and eighties there were very little choice in teams to support, inevitably finals were contested between the light blues and the blue and white hoops. Favoured teams of today like Natal languished in the B division Transvaal struggled and Free State produced quality players but hardly won anything. A quick statistic will reveal that in the seventies and eighties, the two rivals won or shared 17 out of 20 titles on offer!
The latest edition of this great rivalry was played at one of the bastions of South African rugby, Loftus Versfeld this past weekend and the size of the crowd reflected the interest in this derby. The great names of Botha, Lourens, Moolman, Heunis, Du Plessis, Bekker, Louw and Burger may have disappeared, replaced by van der Westhuizen, Matfield, Krige, Visagie, Skinstad, Rossouw and Paulse but for fierce rivalry all the ingredients were present.
Watching the Blue Bulls, as they were popularly referred to then and now officially known as, over the past few years was a bit of a painful experience and with the demise of the once successful and powerful union a parallel can be drawn to our national fortunes. It may have been Doc Craven that said the strength of Springbok rugby is reflected in the strength of Stellenbosch and WP but as a founding member of Northern Transvaal even he would have agreed the importance of the northern team to the national setup.
The class of 2001 Currie Cup, Blue Bulls even with a narrow loss against the champions WP are shaping up to be a formidable team. Coach Meyer has created an exciting brand of rugby instilled in young electrifying talents who with more experience and maybe a semi-final place will continue their momentum into the Super 12.
The WP side with established Springboks has the look of champions about them. The side managed to win tightly contested matches while conceding a dreadful amount of penalties and if they sort this out will be hard pressed for the title. The return of Springboks effectively creates a new team that need to “gel” again before the superfluous running rugby can return.
The result was a close one; reminiscent the battles of years gone by and watching a blond haired kicker lining up the final attempt to save the game brought back many fond memories of those great days in the eighties. Hopefully with this kind of performance Blue Bull supporters can look forward to an upward curve in both the Super 12 and Springbok fortunes.
Join the SARUGBY news and discussion group for the fastest sarugby news and the most intense debates around the South African game. Go to: http://www.bigfoot.com/~sarugby or send a blank email to email@example.com a>
Ah, The Currie Cup by Desmond Organ
Following the excitement of this year’s Tri Nations campaign and the top start antics of the Six Nations we are once again into Currie Cup country.
From a South African perspective the Currie Cup is held in high regard, not just for the rugby that it delivers but also as a barometer of the rugby talent that the national selectors will absorb. Whether the selectors will choose to follow the form of the player’s remains to be seen. One thing that is guaranteed is that there will be endless armchair selectors offering their opinions.
This past weekend provided us with a multitude of controversies for lack of a better term. The things that continue to be obvious about South African rugby were once again on display as were a few new incidents.
The game between the Cheetahs and the Sharks was a classic, if not for the indiscretions of Butch James, then for the genius of Gysie Pienaar. How many times have the Sharks battled against an outfit that is deprived of several of their top players on an annual basis and which develops some of the best talent in South African rugby. Anybody who underestimates playing at the Free State stadium should think twice before a trip to a place where rugby is like a religion.
Rudolf Straueli is going to be tested as a coach not soon after he has delivered so much. The Sharks have now lost two in a row and one begins to wonder if they have not just played too much rugby. Secondly the arrogance of the players may be a broader issue. Several South African National sides have fallen victim to the tendency to believe that they have won the game before it is over.
The Province, Blue Bulls game was a hard unforgiving South African rugby match and no wonder there were several injuries after the game, good luck to the Sharks of they think that they are going to walk into Loftus and walk away with the points. One point of critical concern is the fact that there is an abundance of talent at center in South Africa at the provincial level and yet our National coaches have tended to ignore the combinations that are available. Trevor Halsted and Adrian Jacobs have excelled in the last two weeks and one wonders if they will be included in the South African touring squad at the end of the year.
The Pumas have surprised us all and thanks to the multitude of former Bulls players they are looking like the Griquas team of the last couple of seasons. Rugby administrators in South Africa should be concerned at the performance of former strongholds like Eastern Province and the Boland, but at the same time the Puma’s have shown that you can create a competitive team with the right coaching staff and a pool of committed players.
This weekend the Super 8 will commence and effectively the teams that are not part of it are really playing for crumbs. Much like the players that sit out the Super 12, they will find it hard to be effective at higher levels of the game. Now before readers unleash a barrage of attacks on the writer about the success of the newcomers that Harry Viljoen discovered, remember that talent alone is not enough to ensure success at test level.
The Currie Cup is our barometer because of the years of exclusion from the international scene and it is the dormitory in which we bleed international players. At the same time it’s current structure is going to result in a core group of players playing most of the time and yes that is largely the group that went through the Super 12, contested for places in the Tri Nations and yes the group that will be called upon to do duty at the end of the year. Just imagine a player like Mark Andrews or Joost van der Westhuizen. They will have played over 20 highly competitive games in about as many weeks. That is way too much rugby for any athlete at this level. American Football players will play that many games in an entire season if they reach the playoff stages. The impact of so much rugby will have an effect on morale and player commitment.
Ten questions to a Sport Agent
In the wake of the controversial transfers or non-transfers of Joost van der Westhuizen, Cobus Visagie and Braam van Straaten - RF decided to pose a few questions to Peet van Zyl from Pentagon Sport Management. Amongst Peet's clients are top international athletes, Hestrie Cloete and Frantz Kruger, he is also the agent for Cheetas' star Wylie Human and the Lion's Andre Pretorius, Pietman van Niekerk and Wikus van Heerden. The Tom Cruise blockbuster Jerry Maguire influences a large group of people’s perception of these powerful figures with the now famous catchphrase, "show me the money!" but is that all they are after? The following ten questions might change your mind or provide an answer.
1. Who initiates transfer talks?
Peet : Usually a player, who is not happy with his scenario wants to move and requests his agent to initiate talks.
2. What is “in the best interest of the player”?
Peet : This vary from agent to agent, when working with young promising players career moves are crucial where a player will get game time and exposure. So he has to fit in with the coaches game plan and who are the players he has to compete for at the club – so for youngsters national honours as for older players a retirement packages is of far greater value.
3. How often is player transfers a “smokescreen” to enhance the player’s value for future contract negotiations?
Peet : Seldom, clubs are aware of these kind of moves so they are in contact with each other . An agent trying to play the one off against the other might just end up shooting himself in the foot and have a unhappy client.
4. Can South African rugby stars (Springboks) earn more by playing in England than being contracted in South Africa by SARFU?
Peet : With the deflating rand this is always possible, but what a lot of the foreign clubs offer that makes it attractive is benefits such as houses and cars so the player end up with more spendable income.
5. What about players who are not Springboks, what are their earning potential overseas compared to remaining in SA?
Peet : Due to the current regulations only three overseas pro’s per club allowed. The fact that a lot of players have UK passports ie. England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland’s internationals are therefore not considered foreign players at UK clubs. A SA player that do have a UK passport or then for the same Italian or French are better off and will earn more than a SA player who is not a Springbok.
6. Do the players have anything to do with their contracts, existing or new contracts?
Peet : Most players will state upfront what it is they want in the contract but then leave it up to the agent to negotiate as most negotiations is with the coach and players do not want to get involved.
7. Who are involved in the negotiations for new contracts?
Peet : Most unions it will be the agent on behalf of his client and the coach and ceo of the union.
8. What do you think is the public’s perception of your profession after the latest debacle surrounding Joost, Braam and Cobus?
Peet : This vary from person to person, you will encounter all the above.
9. What is the effect on personal sponsorships by a transfer overseas?
Peet : If the sponsor is only active in the local market it will most likely be terminated. With a multinational company it open up new avenues to new target markets for the sponsor.
10. Who is best off after the entire process, regardless if the transfer took place or not?
Peet : The provinces as there are always a new player coming through the system they can sign on. If the agent has the majority of the market he will benefit along with the Union.
"We create leaders - not followers." For a new dimension in Sport Management, visit us at www.pentagonsport.co.za
The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime. Babe Ruth
I think the French always niggle, grabbing blokes around the balls and the eyes and that sort of thing. Tim Lane
We generally make too much of winning. Let's face it, someone always has to win; that is the nature of competition. But the mere fact of winning doesn't make you great. Wilt Chamberlain
This is Chris Koch. He's a farmer and our champion biltong eater. Hennie Muller's introduction of the player to the Duke of Edinburgh before the Twickenham test in 1952
Top 8 Currie Cup Log
Letters to the Editor
Ta for a brill piece of reading for the lav. Me and the boys down ‘ere just can’t stop raving about that diamond geezer, Butchie James. Being a fan of the “’Ows yer mother, twist ‘is bollocks off” spirit that used to rule the roost in the noble game of rugger in the days when Ronnie Biggs was still a legit Bethnal Green bricklayer, I can ‘ardly be too outspoken a critic of Butchie’s ongoing use of the trusty flying-camel method of tackling. Afterall, I’m not averse to a bit of GBH and the odd assault with a deadly weapon myself. (A little tip: the wheel-spanner is a ‘orribly under-appreciated tool). But, moving along swiftly. ‘Is dives are clumsy, for sure, and decidedly un-swallow-like, but me and the mates here in C-Block can at least still appreciate that ‘ere is a guv’nor who plays ‘is game with a refreshing, devil-may-care attitude. In fact, ‘e plays with an absolute disregard for existing social or moral conventions – like that other diamond geezer, Trevor Tutu, but in a no. 10 jumper, I suppose.
Sometimes young Butchie even goes so far as to remind me of an apprentice Grim Reaper: young and enthusiastic, erratic and clumsy, but deadly nevertheless. Bit like Ronnie Kray, but before the demons got ‘im. One might even be tempted to say that ‘e played ‘is carefree game with gay abandon, but that might imply that ‘e was anything less than a smiling, willing executioner in disguise. And anyways, I don’t want any of my ‘onourable new connections ‘ere getting any funny ideas come shower time – they might think that I’m a starfish trooper or somefink.
One of first lessons that the older ‘ands teach you down at borstal – well, at least in my day - is that careful planning is the key to the committing of any first-rate smash ‘n grab. A good disguise is vital, and the moral of the story is this: if you wanna hit Tiffany’s, don’t show up wearing grandma’s ‘and-me-down knickers on your ‘ead. So let’s get back to Butch. ‘E’s definitely one of us – a jolly rogue who’ll zap you for 2 squid and a chance to squeeze your sister’s left boob. But it’s ‘is real name wot bothers me. Whisper it softly to yerself. Andrew Anthony James. Oi! It sounds like the fella should be singing hymns in the cathedral choir with them other eunuchs. Butter wouldn’t melt in ‘is mouth. I mean, could you ever imagine a linesman mumbling over the veldore, “’Twas that bounder and cad, Andrew Anthony James, wot diddit”?. Never. It would never cross ‘is mind. “Sorry, ref”, ‘e would have to cry out after each skull-crushing, dive-bombing tackle, “the eyes are playing up again – it must be the gout.” A A James Esquire indeed!
But “Butch”! The silly twit is practically grovelling for a yellow card before ‘e’s laced ‘is boots up in anger. You can imagine the ref 'aving a quick look at the match programme before kick-off and mumbling to ‘imself: “Good show, Tristan Lavington-Boddington is at prop, Sebastian Sopwich-Smythe is back at no. 4, jolly good, the Hon. Campbell Ramsbottom is bringing up the rear at eighthman, and … oh f***! Butch James is at flyhalf”.
Most people probably think of Bruce Willis’ role in “Pulp Fiction” whenever the name “Butch” is mentioned. Remember ‘im? ‘E was the shaven-headed geezer with a fondness for power tools and simpering French damsels. The poor gimp, out of shape after ‘is long nap under the floorboards, didn’t stand a chance.
Us boys ‘ere ‘ave one bit of hadvice for the youngster: C’mon, Andrew, don’t let ‘em see ya coming.
HM’s Gaol, Wormwood Scrubs
Thanks for a great newsletter. I use it to keep up to date with happenings back home as I now live in London. Along with my regular Monday morning visit to the Natal Sharks webpage for a match report, I find it a great way in keeping up to speed.
Every week I get a laugh at how people believe that they have selected the perfect rugby team to end all South Africa's troubles and then they don't bother saying where they are writing from. Come on guys we all know that your sides are going to be weighted with your provincial players, why not surprise us all and prove that your sides aren't weighted by saying where you are from.
I can't believe that anybody would want to select a team without Ollie in it - but then I am biased. I know that!!! As far as the rest of the team goes, I don't get to watch the Currie cup games over here so don't feel qualified to comment, but I agree with one of your readers that Butch got bad ball during the tests from Joost (or whoever was delivering from the forwards) and shouldn't be blamed. But I am biased and admit it. I think any national coach who is able to put aside his provincial allegiances (who knows where they might lie with Harry) is worthy of the job but will never be able to satisfy everyone. He is doing the job wrong if he moves to the national coaching position from a certain province and his provincial supporters are pleased with his player selection at National level. From all the letters you have got it looks like he's doing a good job!
All the best (for the Sharks),
London, England (ex Durban!)
Ek begin uitsien na die weeklikse e-pos (vonkpos) wat ek ontvang. Soos die spreekwoord lui, elke mens het die demokratiese reg om sy naam poef te maak. Almal kan nie met almal saam stem nie. Ek is van mening dat die keurders en die afrigter hulself blind staar teen die "groot name en provinsies". Ek het verlede week een van die beter senters in die land sien speel. Die Heidtman kêrel van die Bulhonde het my nogal beindruk. Neil Pinnock (agsteman) en die heelagter Peach van die OP sal enige Springbokspan se bate wees. Frikkie Walsch van die Bloubulle asook, ek is nie verlief op die man nie Frederich Lombard kan nie uit 'n Springbokspan gelaat word nie. Die Groenewaldt skrumskakel is ook goed. Kan ons nie met iemand van Newport onderhandel sodat die koop transaksie kan voortgaan nie? Ek glo nog steeds, wanneer jy op jou "peak" is moet jy "retire" en nie nog aansukkel en karring nie. In die diereryk as jy nie kan "perform" nie moet jy "move", sodat die jong bulle kan oorvat en jy in rustigheid en "nice memories" ouer kan word. Ek dink ek weet hoekom daar so baie WP spelers in die span is. SARFU is bang hulle kom betoog en toi-toi voor hul kantore en "demand" om ingesluit te word. Moenie Butch James blameer nie. 'n Goeie losskakel soek 'n goeie skrumskakel.
Groete, uit my losie.
NS. Dit is moeilik maar ek gaan probeer om niks oor spankeuses te sê nie.
Goeie môre Ed.
Ek glo jy ontvang meer as genoeg "comments" om jouself dood te lag! Wel ek wil jou verder vermaak met die volgende opmerking tov ene Mnr Bryan Torien wat tog so vreeslik slim is. Sien dit hang baie van wie hierdie soort opmerkings kom en 'n ander konteks is ek ook 'n pienk liberaal. Ek neem sy soort kommetaar nie ernstig op nie en sodoende reageer ek ook nie op hom nie, maar wel met jou. Dit is haas onmoontlik om saam te stem en as ek met my opmerkings dit moet probeer nastreef, sal my kommentaar onbruikbaar wees.
Ten opsigte van sy aanmerkings dan die volgende: Oxford Concise Dictionary "debile" someone with an IQ below 30.
Helpline for Kiwi Rugby fans:
Here`s some advice for you all, and your derogatory, one eyed, self opinionated, biased, and totally pathetic commentators : Murray "Meathead"
Mexted, Tony "Long drop" John(son), John "Duck Head" Drake, Stu "Stoopid" Wilson, and Grant "No clue" Nisbett, there is a HELPLINE especially designed for you all (after you have been to your Rugby Fan Counselling Clinics) ..... it is dial : 0800 PROZAC !!! I am sure that "Captain Crybaby" ANTON (should have been a hairdresser) OLIVER could use some. It wont help him overcome the fact that he is a very bad sportsman and a whimp (he was not big enough to congratulate the Aussies on a great win or make a decent effort to wish John Eales well in his retirement). Instead he chose to stand on his bottom lip and sulk. Kindergarten behaviour. You lost to a better team because you had no clue in the line outs, Mehrtens missed a couple of sitters that my Granny (with the hip replacement) could have kicked over. Thugs like Maxwell and Flavell tried to play the man instead of the ball and got what they deserved. The Aussies are mentally tougher and better rugby players (more intelligent). Commentators publicly slandered the ref from SA - Kiwis always look for someone else to blame - its nothing new, just continue to use the same old excuses. Back to the drawing board Kiwis - you still have to qualify for the next World Cup !! Might be tough now.
People, people, people I watch all the Currie Cup Games this weekend and I have to say there is some great talent coming threw like Coenraad Groenewald and a Blue Bull A team player I don't know his name but he plays inside centre and boy can he tackle and run with a ball and then of course if Jaco van der Westhuyzen can just learn to kick properly there is no better flyhalf. Free State has a lively Centre and Fly half as well and in the Sharks camp there are too many good players and then players like Frederich Lombaard that deserves a green and gold jersey.
Thanks a lot
I'd like to question some other peoples opinions on the SA side. First I agree that continuity is very important. Next however, How can they even consider Joost for 2003. He is too old for 2001. I agree with other when they say his release of the ball is too slow, he not at the break down quick enough and his pass is similar to an up and under.He was a great player and even in some case is a great player. He tackles well and gives his all but people have to learn that people get slower as they get older. He isn't the lightning player he was in 1995 Hell that 6 years ago!!!!!!!
As for Butch James. If he is so poor then why was he so good in the Super12? Another fellow answered that question in part. Firstly, he had good ball at speed. Secondly, he had the best inside centre next to him,Trevor Halstead. As for his kicking, it wasn't a problem in Super12 because his game was good and well-confidence. Take away the kicking duties,give them back,take them away. What does that tell you. Personally I think that Harry is good in a few ways but clueless in too many!!!!! Confidence breeds success and Very few people are confident inthe SA side.
Next area Percy. How he is even included in the WP side is a mystery to me.He is more worried about his hair that his rugby.If I never see him play rugby again I'll be a happier person.
Rassie. Well from being one of the best flankers to disappearing is no problem for me. Again he one of the best Flank come Flyhalf that was produce. Well is he a forward or not. There are time and places for line runs from forwards. Cull him there are plenty loose forwards in the country.
As for our backs.Well in Paulse we have one of the most exciting prospects.That is if he gets the ball. He desperately wants it and is found at the base of rucks and mauls looking for it. Dean Hall has potential. But as many sides have found with players in the mould of Lomu, Big is not always better.Maybe in supersub-ing. He is still a very good player.
The last point I make is about one of the reasons for the Sharks successes. This is getting the ball to the wing! Fleck Take Lessons! If SA did this better then the likes of Paulse and Hall ,Delport(@ wing) could do some thing. A back line I'd like to see would look like this: Jantjies, Paulse, Keyser, Halstead, James, Delport, Davidson/DeKok with people like Hall, Fleck, A.Jacobs and Jaco VD Westuizen on the bench.
R.Butcher Nottingham Road
I was rather appalled at Tappe Hennings refereeing in the Cheetahs/Sharks game over the weekend and especially to "no arms" Butch James' tackling. When are the SA referees going to take stronger action against this "dangerous play" or will it only be once he seriously inflicts injures on another player.
On a positive side Butch has made some improvements in his tackling. Once in the game he used a stiff one arm tackle against Wyllie Human which Tappe Henning ignored and when this was brought to his attention by the line judge, Tappe once again thought little of the incident. If he cannot tackle within the laws of the game then he must learn the hard by being yellow and red carded.
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