|Volume 1 - Week 4|
Brilliant! The long days of summer is nearing the end, I hear many a sniff but hey, guess what, that means we are really getting stuck into the rugby season! The winter is all about sitting at your local super stadium freezing your proverbials off and cheering for your team.
Have we not been lucky so far with weather in this year’s Super 12? The quantity of errors might suggest otherwise but there has been no torrential rain inhibiting the teams from good old running rugby. Too early yet to talk and the same can be said for predicting an outcome, yet there are a few teams sitting pretty and they really need to pull an Isadora Duncan to lose out on semi-final spots. The beauty of rugby and the 2001 edition is that the gap in standard from the top team to the bottom is far less. Off course that can be interpreted two ways, either the standards have dropped or vice versa.
The European calendar is nearing the end and with the Six Nations disruptions there may be good reason for administrators to revise the club schedule. The omni-present talk of breakaway should persuade leading figures in the game to find a working solution and create a united professional environment for the advancement of the game.
Staying with the Northern Hemisphere, Gordon Brown’s death was met with great sadness and the giant Scottish and Lions player will be remembered as one of the truly great players to visit our shore. Locking the scrum with McBride in the 1974 Lions tours he is assured of a special place in the folklore of rugby.
Take pleasure in this issue of RF and don’t be shy with mailing your views or sending articles, remember the motto is to have fun and involve as many people as we can.
Ps: For all new readers, please mail RugbyForum@freemail.absa.co.za to include or remove your address or to request previous copies of RF.
Letters to the Editor
Thank you for the publication; it's very entertaining and a welcome delivery in my inbox. I would like to know if the writer of some of your articles is one in the same person? I refer to the pseudonyms of “Mannetjies Vosloo”, Polla Scholtz and “Oom Boy Hartman”? The articles all have the same style of humour and I find them to be my favourite. Please continue with this splendid idea and be assured of my support in distributing Rugby Forum to all my rugby friends.
The author of these articles is indeed one and the same person! He wishes not to be named though. Ed.
"Hara-Kiri" by Mark Foster
The interesting about television and commentary is the lack of time to fabricate remarks; the swift riposte is very much an art form. The Super 12 competition pit teams from three different countries together in a battle for Southern Hemisphere rugby supremacy, the commentators are not lagging far behind.
There has been many a pearl of wisdom heard during the matches and one of the most gratifying is that ex players are used to deliver them. The insight we as listeners receive from the likes of John Allan, Guy Kebble, Murray Mexted, Phil Kearns and Greg Martin lends the entire experience a dab of authenticity. The former greats are also in the enviable position of moral high ground as far as criticism is concerned and be it constructive or not, the uninformed person can be assured that their utterances are based on been there done that, “coughed” the ball!
The amusing commentary heard in the first four rounds of Super 12 led me to video analysis, the variety all coaches and captains refer to when remarking on future tussles. A question I would like to pose is, do they have the sound on or off? I do believe that in certain instances the coach or technical advisers either dub the sound or provide own commentary, I rather hope so, point in case Percy Montgommery, Stormers and Springbok fullback of long standing.
Surely by now our "answer" to England’s David Beckham, Monty must realise that everyone is taking the mick out of his boots! Is he perhaps better known to the team as Desert Monty, not after the illustrious field Marshall but the "wide open spaces" if you know what I mean. Percy, you are a fine player and probably snappy dresser but ask Calla Scholtz what happened when Naas sent him a pair of white boots from Dallas, for your own game’s sake, get rid of the boots!
The Super 12 competition is unfolding in an intriguing battle for home ground supremacy, even the “easy” teams are no longer mere cannon fodder as the Chiefs and Bulls demonstrated. The home ground advantage is analogous to the Japanese custom of “face”. The loss of face in the country of the Rising Sun could easily lead to the Samurai tradition of “hara-kiri” or disembowelment. The home teams must feel similar shame from their supporters when failing to deliver a valiant effort in subduing or defeating the enemy. The “hara-kiri” is the loss of revenue and the restoration of faith.
Survival of the Fittest by M. Baker
Homo sapiens, courageous in adversity against the elements and the creatures of their age managed, with very little technology to combat anything; survival was decreed upon only the fittest and the strongest of the day. Darwin based his evolution theory on this fact; he recognized with a visionary’s clarity that nature would live to this very principle through the sands of time. It is therefore harmless to imagine that this stoic character would have been a keen follower of sport today, after all look at rugby in the 21st century!
Rugby is one of the most competitive team sports in the world and the current competitions typify the combative nature of the game. The players have to be fit and strong to survive in an arena simulating gladiatorial battles of old. How do these guys do it, survive week in and week out? The modern standards of fitness and play are toweringly high and although many a supporter will remember a time of silkier skills or more robust play, most will agree that the game is being played on a far different pane.
The current crop of players is not only fitter than ever before but also better known, the all-time favorite pub game of electing the best players or teams is fast becoming impossible to play. Yesteryear’s heroes are fading faster from memory than most boy bands. The lack of technological evidence of past prowess has left many a legend but ghosts in the memories of those fortunate enough to see them live, even then it is a matter of a man’s word, akin to the size of the one that got away.
The phenomenal change in rugby is largely due to the growth of wonderful competitions and the expansion of existing ones. The ever-changing rules are like language, we should embrace change, as it is a prerequisite for growth. Mr Darwin would surely have found it fascinating studying natural selection in rugby today.
(answers at the end)
Chiefs 34 Blues 16
There is a well-known commentating blunder, which in this case is probably best to describe this match - “a game of two halves.” The first half never got going as too many errors and stop-start rugby inhibited both teams. Colin “eyes like a” Hawke had problems with the scrums and the match never really flowed although not at all his fault. The Chiefs cleverly neutralized the Blues forwards in the scrum and the amount of errors the Blues made cost them the match.
Positive play, as kicking towards the touchline and not taking the 3 points on offer is termed, backfired on both teams. One can’t understand why teams opt for this error-strewn policy, lineouts although a basic and simple exercise is the weakest set phase in most of the games witnessed to date.
There were some moments of flash handling from the Chiefs in this match, their ball retention was very good and their forwards, inspired again by Muir allowed Keith Lowen to score three good tries.
The Blues never looked like the same outfit that thrashed the Reds a week ago and they need to work on their tight five and decision-making options. They had chances however on the day they failed to capitalize.
A well deserved victory for the Chiefs and the Rotorua faithful returned home happy after seeing their team win a second match at home.
Brumbies 39 Bulls 30
The match prediction was for the Brumbies winning by a 50 points “stampede” and they stamped away obligingly with Walker running in with a superb try early in the first half. The Bulls hung in there doggedly containing and fighting for field position but a weak kicking performance cost them valuable points. The Brumbies were not at their best and contained by rugged defense from the Bulls there were some elementary errors in their play. The Brumbies has not looked as sharp as their first round victory over the Crusaders and even though formidably strong they miss Larkham’s incisiveness.
The Bulls did plenty of good and there is many a young player sticking his hand up to be noticed, Lombaard, Jacobs and Welsch had good games and if only they had a flyhalf to dictate play. Scrumhalves nowadays need a quick service to the backline and organizational ability, Gregan was far superior in the match up with Joost and this was one of his better matches. The “Guv” is definitely one of the most valuable players in world rugby.
The Bulls did not disgrace themselves and the tries they scored were gems, Lombaard's try before halftime was of good quality. The Brumbies however always had the answer and similar to the Cats match seem to have that extra gear they can rely on when in trouble or if they are playing badly. The confidence of playing together for a few seasons is clear for all to see, wry smiles accompany errors and there is no scalding or fighting amongst the team.
Andrew “more moves than Ricky Martin” Walker had a wonderful game capped with two tries and it could easily have been three but for good defence on the part of Victor Matfield. Matfield once again shone in a loosing team and for a tight forward has an enormous working rate.
The Bulls have one more match in New Zealand against the Highlanders and every supporter must hope a breakthrough is looming.
Cats 28 Waratahs 21
The Waratahs, week 3 leaders on the log and in very good form was in confident mood at Ellis Park and they started the match strongly, exhibiting silky skills and great continuity. The effortless Burke slotted some early penalties and the Cats looked like a little boy lost, it took twenty minutes into the match before Van Rensburg scored with a penalty. The Waratah’s forwards were more than competitive and Phil Waugh weekly underlines his pedigree as replacement for David Wilson.
The Cats can be commended for some excellent defensive work and a few Waratah attacks were foiled through uncompromising tackling. They should kick themselves for stupid errors, Kleinjan Tromp has a knack of conceding penalties and options by Van Rensburg and Alcock was not always correct.
In the second half the Waratah’s continued their good recycling but could not convert and once the Cats tight forwards assumed control and the influential loose trio of Vos, Erasmus and Venter were firing the burly Cats backs made some inroads. Mulder scored a well worked try although the chance nearly went begging and the Cats assumed the lead they were not to relinquish. A Sam Payne penalty, after Burke left the field was caught by a 7 meter tall Erasmus who then proceed to kick it out 50 meters downfield! The man only needs to brush up on his drop kicking to assume Zinzan's mantle as most creative forward in the game.
One of the unsung hero’s Eugene Meyer made an influential break after a lineout for Wylie Human’s try in the corner, a terrific effort he maintained wonderful composure to dot the ball down with his entire body in midair. The TV ref got it right. The Cats now rampant, oozed confidence and Alcock’s try from an Erasmus breakaway was terrific.
The Waratahs even on the back foot showed why they are in the top half of the league by coming back at the Cats and scoring a good try after weak Cats defense. The game was not over and the Cats were getting worried that a similar comeback to last week was about to take place. Erasmus towered above the other players and his play and confidence helped when relentless scrumming pressure resulted in a clever try by Staniforth after collecting a grubber from Gray.
Alas it was too little too late and the Cats were relieved victors in what was an exhilarating contest. The Cats face Jonah, Tana and Cullen and the Waratahs take on the new leaders, the Sharks in Durban.
Sharks 39 Hurricanes 21
What a match! In an exhilarating display of attacking running rugby these two teams succeeded in scoring seven tries and a few close calls. The match was played at an exhausting pace and the player’s fitness was tested to the hilt. The common conception that Straueli took a gamble with all his changes and his lack of attacking guile is surely dispelled after this performance. Once again the big man got it spot on in both selection and game plan. Calculated risk is always a good one and even though there is a margin for failure confidence can pull you through.
There was many a storming run and flowing counter attacks followed turnovers. Jona Lomu looked ominous early on however tight defence and a TV ref call seem to undermine the big fella’s confidence and he will choose to forget this match as quick as possible. Justin Swart and Stefan Terreblanche played with aplomb and the first try was an ingenious effort from Maartens to kick a high up and under to a waiting Terreblanche from a penalty. The move was a calculated risk and somehow that typified the Sharks approach. Swart also got in on the scoring act after a superb solo effort chasing Britz’s kick.
The Hurricanes amplified their attacking abilities and even though forced playing catch up rugby, were creative in attack and manful participants in the tight phases. The Sharks defended superbly with all the dangerous world class backs and Kaiser’s tackle on Umaga was brilliant. A Lomu error created an opening for Van den Bergh and by now the match was slipping away from the Hurricanes and the Sharks were at their beguiling best.
A few late penalties brought more respectability to the score line but the two teams should be congratulated on a wonderful game of rugby. The Sharks are riding high and if they can keep it up against the Waratah’s a semi-final beckons. The Hurricanes face the Cats in Bloemfontein, not a happy city for New Zealand teams.
Highlanders 24 Stormers 23
Another one pointer for the Highlanders and another loss for the Stormers, the summary of this match is not as easy as that. This was an enthralling contest between two teams with a history of running rugby.
The Stormers were prominent in attack and their set phases were much better against a highly efficient Highlanders pack. Dan van Zyl unfortunately chose to kick away large amounts of quality possession with chip kicks over the scrum. The tactic did not work and there must have been frustrated players out there. Frustrating was also the lost opportunities, Bob Skinstad knocked uncharacteristically and Montgommery struggled again. The platinum headed white booted fullback is not having a happy time on tour and maybe deserves a rest.
The much-vaunted Stormers back line is lacking something and even though Abbott is playing well and Paulse is finally looking for work the rhythm does not seem to be there. The game was marred by a few incidents and the Stormers faced the indignity of conceding a crucial try while playing against 14 men. The failure to capitalize during this period cost them the match.
Desperate times result to desperate measures and after trailing 19 – 9 Hendrik Gerber ran in two superb tries after a change to higher gear from the Stormers. The match in the dying minutes seem to have swung to the men from the Cape and all they had to do was hang on the kick off, avoid a penalty and preferably play in the Highlanders’ half. Enormous pressure from the Highlanders resulted in numerous penalties in the Stormers’ 25 and finally something had to give, a 2-man overlap for Aisea Tuilevu put it out of reach and the Stormers could only reflect on what was not to be.
The Highlanders face the Bulls and the Stormers travel to Bruce stadium for mission impossible, a win over the Brumbies at home, they need to in order to stay alive in this competition.
The log after week 4:
Sharks 17, Waratahs 16, Brumbies 15, Cats 14, Blues 9, Chiefs 9, Highlanders 9, Reds 7, Crusaders 6, Stormers 6, Hurricanes 4, Bulls 2
Opinions and Views
Colin Meads, quintessential All Black great in the final test at Eden Park against the Springboks of 1965 typified his attitude towards game and country in this exchange when his brother lay on the ground in agony: Colin: 'How are you?' Stan: 'No bloody good.' Colin: 'Well, You'd better get yourself right. In one minute's time you and I have to lock a New Zealand scrum together and we're not going backward.'
The least successful rugby forward of all time? This dubious distinction belongs to Oliver Jones, who scored only three tries in forty-five years of regular playing for the old Edwardian Exiles. The silver haired prop scored his third try aged sixty. The Book of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile
To Princess Anne's son Peter Phillips, Gordonstoun School's rugby captain, for his pre-match coin-toss preference - Grandmother or tails, sir? Anon rugby referee
Super 12 Barometer
The Super 12 team we should choose in case the Six Nations compiles a similar 1st XV for a match-up on neutral ground of course. What do you think? - Ed
Dave's rugby and league phrase guide
GAS (i) Another term for pace or speed. Eg: He has got plenty of gas. (ii) Also used to describe a malodorous complaint associated with the tight-five when straining particularly hard in the scrum. Eg: "Gee there is a lot of gas in that scrum; Yeah, and the tight five are working hard in there too."
HE ONLY KNOWS ONE WAY Refers to player who lacks foresight, or lacks the ability to pass the ball. Players who only know one way simply go forward all game
all day, into or through as many opposition players as possible. Eg: "Hainsworth's got the ball... he only knows one way"
I DON'T BELIEVE IT An expression used by moronic commentators to describe a passage of play that is unexpected or out of the ordinary. Which really means every time a try is scored or stuffed up. Eg: "I don't beeeeelieve it,.... they've scored again".
KICKING 1st 5/8ths A 1st 5/8ths who constantly kicks the ball when they receive it is known as a kicking 1st 5/8ths. This is an important component of ten man rugby. However this is especially frustrating for the backs outside him as they never see the ball on attack. Eg: Some people (mainly from the South Island) despised the Great Grant Fox as they thought he was kicking 1st 5/8ths all of the time.
LATE TACKLE (i) A term used to describe a tackle on a player well after he has got rid of the ball. The degree of 'lateness' varies in each rugby-playing country. In England, if the tackle is made 10 picoseconds or longer after the player has got rid of the ball, the tackle is late. In New Zealand, if the tackle is made during the same 40 minute period, it's Ok. Eg: "Crowley got the kick away to touch, but the Brooke brothers combined to thump him with a huge late tackle." (ii) A term used to describe a tackle made in a game played under lights with a kickoff time later than 7.25pm. Eg: "Well Stuey, I guess that's what you would call a really late tackle - it's quarter to nine in the evening!"
MANY More than twenty. Eg: "Fox made a mistake with that kick, he doesn't make many of those...!"
(Borrowed from David Warner's DAVE's RUGBY AND LEAGUE PHRASE GUIDE VERSION 4.6, 1995)
Answers: 1. James Small 2. 1976 3. Gavin Hastings 4. Jade Stadium 5. Argentina 6. Jane Ellis 7. Gordon Brown 8. Scrum 9. 19 10. USA
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