|Volume 1 - Week 40|
Brilliant! Finally the 2001 rugby season has come to an end for the Southern Hemisphere nations after auspicious Springbok and All Black victories. The season contained many highs and lows and as for excitement (good or bad) few came close but then in the words of the Doris Day song, que se ra se ra, what will be will be!
The limping Springboks fulfilled their final obligation of the year in what many thought beforehand would be a PR exercise in the New World. Good PR it was indeed - for the Yanks, who performed more than admirably by sticking to the basics and in the process highlighting the Springbok’s deficiencies and main reason for a calamitous end of year tour.
There were as usual a few outstanding performances and none more so than Adrian Jacobs who had to wait for the final test to display his wonderful talent. This young man has played some excellent rugby this year and his improvement was tremendous in what began, as a risky experiment by Phil Pretorius in the Super 12. He possesses the full repertoire of skill, finesse and flair lacking all year in the Springbok team and since the rumor has it that he has defensive frailties it should become the challenge of the “team defence assistant coach” (!). We should rather instill tackling in flair players than trying to teach defensive robots how to pass, think and create play.
Victor Matfield and Lukas van Biljon once again impressed with high work-rates and so did Lawrence Sephaka showing that enough rest can only be good for you! The old problems were there in abundance but at least the backline was full of running and actually executed a different move than the centre switch.
The crowd was magnificent, both the ex-pats in their sea of green and gold (somebody made a packet selling all that memorabilia at the Rand/Dollar exchange!) and the USA, USA chanting locals attributed to a wonderful atmosphere. Apparently Charlize Theron the SA born actress attended the match and somebody mentioned an interesting conundrum – the Springboks as feted and adored sportsmen meeting a world famous, beautiful actress, who played the role of groupie?
The Springboks now have a short off-season and it is a good time to redefine the future when both coaches and players can reflect on the season that was, assess performances and set about improving standards on all levels. The Super 12 kicks off on the 22 February 2002 and there is enough time to shape squads into winning combinations especially where players have now played together for a few seasons.
Rugby Forum will join the players for a well-deserved break and next week’s issue will be the final for the year when we will review the year of 2001. Readers can expect their first issue of the New Year on Thursday 7 February 2002. Have a wonderful Christmas, a most prosperous New Year and thank you for your support of this publication.
“Houston, we have touchdown!” Fortunately for the Springboks in only their second meeting with the USA Eagles, the words were not “Houston, we have a problem!” The spirited American supporters, outnumbered by a sea of green and gold wearing ex-pats cheered their team’s magnificent performance against, historically one of the better teams in world rugby.
Motivation for a final match of a month long tour that included two insufferable defeats was always going to be very difficult for players involved in games since early February and about as welcome as a kick in the proverbials. The Springboks at times played brilliant running rugby and the backline with a little more time and extra space available reveled in the circumstances. Louis Koen provided good direction and control and outside him Adrian Jacobs put a smile on supporters faces with some nifty running angles and deft handling.
The forwards were strong in the set pieces as per norm but once again the Achilles heel and a glaring problem was the broken play situation. The laws are relatively simple and no longer new especially for professional players however almost every tackle situation produced an infringement. Referee Didier Mene was sometimes a bit over zealous in his interpretations but the Springboks deserved to be penalised, confirming their budding reputation as spoilers of the game.
The Eagles were great value for money and the part timers, only five players are professional, performed magnificently notably Lyle, Dalzell, Wifley and the South African born centre-pairing of Grobler and Eloff. The American’s execution of the basics presented a good lesson to their more illustrious opponents but as expected their defence was not quite up to it although not lacking in guts and determination. The American rugby public will invariably benefit from the Springbok stopover, in a country where it has a very low profile the excellent showing of their national team will encourage more players to join the code.
The final score reflected a healthy and much needed victory for the South Africans who will be very happy to head home and rest a few weeks before the beginning of the new season. It will also be time for reflection and stocktaking; Harry Viljoen needs to reassess personnel, gameplans and “processes” and not be afraid to follow his original instincts. The most important is to achieve progress and attend to the glaring problems prevalent in SA rugby; proficient clearing at the breakdowns, discipline, unlocking opposition defences and most importantly individual’s option taking. Address these problems and there is a platform to build from, neglect them and expect to sink further into the abyss of rugby mediocrity.
The conclusion to the South African rugby season ended a year of disappointment and rude awakening. What began as a moderately successful Super 12 deteriorated into an unsuccessful home series against France, a meek Tri Nations campaign and a nightmare tour of Europe. 2002 is a vital year for Springbok rugby revival, and to have any chance at achieving the ultimate goal, winning Rugby World Cup 2003 it is time to carpe diem, seize the day and restore Springbok rugby to the once proud and winning force of yesteryear.
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It's time now to take a deep sluk of the ol' Kappies 'n Coke and to nail my colours to the mast. In my simplified existence, such a commitment boils down to but 3 words that have all been horribly over-used, as we approach this time of joy and happiness: H*rry V*ljoen, d**s.
In my mind, there are few local journalists who have a better appreciation of the richness of the tradition of Bok rugby as does that occasionally beleaguered rugby correspondent, Dan Retief. Afterall, on a personal note, one of the first rugby books that I ever bought was his "Springboks Under Siege", about Wynand Claassen's ill-fated Bok team to New Zealand in 1981, and to this day the book makes comforting reading when all you have to keep yourself company through these blustery summer nights is Messrs Armitage & Shanks, and a slab of cold, white porcelain. Here is a man who argues from the heart: he talks about such old-fashioned notions as the players' pride for the Green 'n Gold, the virtues, pitiless as they were, of the noble old savages like Daantjie, oom Boy, the Windhond and oom Salty, and the pre-eminence of the bearers of the green jersey. Here were men who – long before the days of the friendly touch-judge and ever-alert telly-ref – literally lay their bodies on the line, all in the name of the glory of Het Springbokken. I may well, in my day, have played rugger for the lowly 10th XV and have barely made a tackle in anger, but to me (and hopefully to you, honourable reader), that is what playing in that jersey with its little leaping Springbok is all about.
John Robbie, whom some of you may have had the pleasure of listening to as he waged war so vehemently against our noble Mr Retief in last week's "Boots 'n All", pointed out quite correctly (in my opinion) that, over the course of the last century, it has probably been the sole prerogative of Springbok and All Black supporters, those most recklessly passionate but emotional of arm-chair critics, to behave so irrationally over the losses of their respective national rugger sides. Although it is an unfortunate mathematical fact of life that not all teams in any sport can sip from the chalice of victory at all times, the rabid die-hards from those wooly lands have, over the last century, demanded nothing less. Even so, despite this obvious truth, we natives are restless. In fact, now is the summer of our discontent.
Certainly, we Bok supporters have on a number of occasions over the last 45 years bowed with quasi-grace to the better-drilled, more talented XV. They have only ever been yielded with the greatest of reluctance and after the most grisly fight to the death, but the colours have occasionally fallen into the grubby hands of the enemy. As far as those blackened psychopaths from the Land of the Long White Cloud go, we have had to acknowledge defeat to a superior (albeit home) team in at least 1956, when the whole of New Zealand went into siege mode in their endeavours to defeat the Green 'n Gold for the first time in the 20th century, and 1965, to a manifestly superior Kiwi team that contained such luminaries of the game as Meads, Whineray and Tremain (it was no coincidence that they were forwards, all three). Jolly good show, chin, chin, Bob's yer uncle Mary. Sluk.
But the calendar year of 2001 has been something completely different. HM the Queen may well have referred to 1992 as her "annus horribilis", but to the legions of Bok supporters around the world, 2001 will be remembered as a year in which a Bok team enjoyed a smattering of success, certainly in terms of the bald win/loss ratio that is so important to modern-day coaches, but, infamously, sometimes offered the most directionless, aimless and hopeless play since the Lancashire Pals went over the top kicking their rugger ball on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1July 1916. Field Marshal Haig was a veritable master tactician in comparison to the fella wot we've now got in charge.
Taking my melancholic tirade further, I was rather anguished (to put it mildly) when I heard such a distinguished Bok as that old warhorse, Pieter Rossouw, he of "Slap Tjips" fame and who now is a veteran of 42 caps, offering such banal platitudes as "We wanted to do better", and that "Losing to France and England was hugely disappointing", and that the last game in Houston was "another momentous occasion in my Springbok career". Jeez, call me a bluff old traditionalist, but I for one am not looking for such hopelessly introspective observations from our new-found "Let's Go Texas" correspondent on the Bok wing. Nay, I say. I would much rather have had the old Bok lurch miserably and disconsolately through the International Arrivals lounge at Cape Town International, offer an almighty gob on the questioning journalist's crumbled corduroys, and say, in his most polite voice: "Los my uit, jou f*^%#n m%@r".
To a watching fan like this humble observer, such a chewy response would have been a worthy riposte, after the trails and tribulations that he and his fellow players, not to mention we hardy Bok fans holed out in dingy drinking establishments around the world, have had to endure over the last few weeks. Save your polite small-talk for your ouma and your agent, bru. That other kind of talk is the breed of mongrel, fighting "talk" that is required, after what must have been a bitterly disappointing tour, even for the most loyal cheerleaders of Harry Viljoen (whoever he may be).
I've heard that Harry (w.h.m.b.) is in America, on holiday after a long year. Perhaps he managed to make it to the Disneyland centenary celebrations yesterday. If so, Tim Lane and his mates from east of Sodwana Bay had better watch out. I hear that Mickey and Goofy know a thing about a dummy and a sidestep. Sources tell me that negotiations are continuing…
In recent weeks, South Africa’s rugby hierarchy has come under renewed attack. Perhaps it began with the failures of the current coaching staff, when they failed to maintain the new game plan, or it could have been the administrative glitches highlighted by many rugby journalists. There are those that have refused to criticize the players, focusing rather on the coach and administration, then, there are those that are apologizing for the public statements made at the outset of their careers. This writer has often criticised players, coaches and administrators, the intent being to provide the reading public with a broad, non partisan view of the state of the game.
I was fortunate enough to attend the game at Twickenham, what an occasion it was, with all the trappings of a major social event. On Friday before the game, I wondered around some of the traditional historical landmarks. I was proudly sporting a Springbok jersey, resulting in several discussions with people of both English and African descent.
On Friday afternoon, I ventured to the Springboks hotel, in the hope of meeting up with some of the current national squad. Fortunately my desires were fulfilled with several sightings and an introduction to the coach. I even had the pleasure of being offered a free Castle by the bar staff, obviously the jersey had fooled them. The lasting impression I have of my sightings, is that these are very important people, with patriotic supporters grabbing at every move they make.
It was only on the way back from the game that I finally realised that this team and its support staff, have all the trappings of a Shakespearean production. A well oiled English fan handed me a glossy publication, and uttered the following: “What do you need all these administrative staff for, maybe they should have been on the field.” I must admit, after reading the list, it was apparent that England had far less “hangers on”; and victorious with it. Who knows what the real number of staff numbers for the English team is, or if they have additional support staff, the South Africans proudly or naively listed theirs, from Head Coach to Communications Manager to Masseuse.
South Africa must be either extremely arrogant, or they are just plan out of touch with the modern game. Theatrical productions list their actors as a means to communicate the quality of the cast and generate attendance. In this regard we are without doubt ahead of the pack, with the likes of a successful businessman, former Australian Union and League coaches, Journalists and Commercial Managers etc, not to forget the oratory talents of the captain. We are also not afraid to tell the world that winning is not important, as long as you win the World Cup, and that our Provincial teams could beat England.
Enough said, in rugby you are measured by your performance on and off the field. Off the field we are certainly providing amusement for our opposition and real tragedy for our supporters, on the field we are adept at explaining away even the most basic errors. Perhaps it is time to return to the real tradition of representing your country, it is a privilege, not a right, reward should be based on the results achieved, not just the money and fame earned.
I think it is time for a tough re-look at the state of the national team. Pundits are calling for the coach to be dismissed, I myself have been extremely critical in the past months. The man is as genuine as anybody that I have ever met. He is under extreme pressure and I think that inexperience at the national level is the real cause of the current state of affairs.
The administrators of the game have got to get their act together and make sure that nobody is bigger than the game, a little bit of humility and perhaps a realization that we are not always going to be the best. Arrogance is always harder to explain in the face of failures, on and off the field.
His sidestep was marvellous - like a shaft of lightning. Bill Mclaren on Gerald Davies
The most complete player in his position I have ever seen; in full flight he resembled a comic-strip hero on a field of mere mortals. Colin Harries on Danie Gerber
This will be completely different from last year's. We are much more settled. We will be looking to take our game a step further, especially on attack and the forward momentum of our pack. Harry Viljoen before the European tour.
People do not lack strength; they lack will. Victor Hugo
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All except Harry knew we would lose to England. I agree with Dan Retief that we have gone backwards and that to win the world cup we will need a magic wand. John Robbie congratulates us on our defense. This is obviously essential to us as everybody stands out in the long line across the field and lets the other side take the ball. We never commit players to winning the ball by driving the opposition off it. What we rely on is for one of our players often Bob to illegally hold on to the ball. The reason for this is to slow it down so our plodders can stretch across the park.
We have also reverted to the Percy tactic of booting the ball into the hands of the most dangerous player on the field. Not once or twice but many times. No one and especially our captain seems to see this is a no no. No longer does Paulse run through the opposition and when tackled place the ball. No he kicks into the hand of said dangerous opponent.
Perhaps the whole explanation for kicking the ball away or it away in less than 50/50 cases is because our guys know no one will or is allowed to drive the other team off the ball and regain/retain possession.
In my opinion in the tackled ball scenario we should drive the players off the ball and set up a rolling maul. We would kill the opposition strung out across the field. That is the way to break down the wall Harry and not your other bullshit and bankrupt ideas.
Actually looking at the games and the teams I do not believe there is a plan at all.
Pierre in the week 39 letter voices many very important factors. Lets look at these again. Bobby, wonderful player 3 years ago and certainly a player with potential. But dissipline, a brain, consistancy. To all the above no. My view point when he first started his Bok rugby was that he was an impact player. Why this? When everyone is a bit tired he has the pace and ability to create openings,but when he starts the game he doesn't have the physical presence of ( with all due respect) Andre Venter a few years ago.You don't have flash moments in the first quarter. You beat it out of the other team first. If your side is constantly giving away penalties who should be the one to stop the rot. The captain? Or is this not his job.Maybe a smile at the ref is enough to sort it out. Brains, well I'll re tell a tail from his first tour to the UK. The team had an appearance at the Santon centre and one of the people interviewed was Bobby. Well maybe he was young and needed experience, but if two works worked together it was a lot. Well trained in the conference room now , but the original brain remains the same. Doff.
One thing that can be taken from the game against England is this, TEAM WORK. When the English pack does something they do it together. But when the boks do it they do it in ones and if we're lucky twos.Isn't a captain supposed to motivate and unify a team,or in Bobby's case be a glory boy and play as a single glory with fansy back passes etc etc. Play as a team with solid and hard work team players and you'll beat any team of glory boys. Unfortunately our SA team follow there captains example and try to win the game on ther own.
The potential for SA rugby is great. We have depth and ability. What we need is a good captain and a good coach. A captain that leads by example and makes an environment that every body fells they are part of a team with a vision. We need a coach with BALLS that can select a side that my surprise some and please others.
ENGLAND DEFEAT---THE REASON
I was appalled to see the Boks go into laager during the singing of the QUEEN. This is not only very rude and an insult but displays a defensive attitude. To win you must attack.
Magtag, maar Nardus Oelofse se brief (heelonderaan Rugby Week 39) het 'n span aangewys wat regtig vir SA weer die RWC sal wen. Baie goeie span Nardus uitstekend. Van Harry en mr BOB wil ek niks se nie - niks soos in niks nie! Lees net my lippe!
Te midde van al die drama huidiglik, glo ek dat die Springbokke volgende jaar 2002 die nuwe "Tri Nations" Kampioene gaan wees - bygese dat Harry en Bob nie daar is nie. Dir res van die briewe op Rugby week 39 rakende die huidige stand van sake, is eenvoudig absoluut puik! Wel gedaan manne en ek hoop dat ene Mr. Harry en Bob dit lees wragtag, ek hoop van harte so!
Springbok Groetnis hier uit die land waar die "moangatte" koning is (NZ) waar ek nou nie deesdae juis baie praat oor die Springbok nie alhoewel ek wil. Damm maar die ouens kan moan selfs al wen hulle dis nogsteeds die ref se skuld.
Ek dink daar is nou genoeg gehuil en optrede is nodig. Verskonings van Harry en kie is onaanvaarbaar en hulle moet waai sodat n nuwe stelsel ingelyf kan word. Soos voorheen gese is dit duidelik dat ons afrigters nie die integriteit het om die regte spelers te kies nie.
- Proewe is n moet
- Die afrigters van die top 4 spanne in die Curriebeker moet die span kies en die afrigter moet hulle afrig
- Kyk hoekom ons swak teen Frankryk gevaar het; Die Franse is goeie balspelers en lojaal. Hulle verdedig laag en soen nie soos die bokke nie-om die bo-been. Hulle val aan op die skouer van hul opponent en probeer nie deur hom hardloop nie. Hulle het visie en weet wat hulle op die veld wil doen Soos n vorige afrigter van hulle al in 1990 gese het; ' SA kan nie die spel sien / lees nie'
Engeland; Hul liggaamsposisie in die aanval en verdediging is laag. Die bokke dink hulle kan met regop lywe almal klop. Die Engelse is tans die bes gemotiveerde span en speel met trots.
Verder weet beide spanne se afrigters wat die primere funksie van n speler is en rig hulle daarvolgens af. SA afrigters weet nie meer wat n losskakel of binne- senter se primere pligte is nie. Hulle bou hul spanne op drome en 'helde' soos ons joernaliste soms sekere spelers ophemel.
Dit bring my by n volgende punt: Die meeste van ons joernaliste is afgastomp en vervelig. Joel kan nie praat nie en is vervelig. Naas moet kritiek lewer en ophou verskonings soek vir foute wat spelers maak. Ons kan ook sien en is nie blind nie. Andy C is n leek en moet liewers sy Chinese ouma gaan soek. Die uitlating het hy vantevore gemaak en verloor.
Bobby: Hy is nie die regte kaptein nie. Negatiwiteit teenoor hom na die wereldbeker en vele ander gevalle sal daar altyd wees. Daar is beter spelers.
Harry: Dit blyk dat hy nou van die ou spelers wil vergeet. Hoekom kies hy ou en beseerde spelers soos Mark A en Cobus V. ?
Mark kan nog die volgende Wereldbeker speel. Kyk na vorige spanne en hoe goed hulle met ou spelers gespeel het. Kies die span reg en ons spelers sal gemotiveerd bly.
Feit is: Dit wat ek hier se staan in elke afrigtings handleiding. Ons rig laerskoolspanne so af met goeie resultate.
My span vir die toer was:
14 Wylie H
12 Adriaan J
11 Lomo se Moses
9 Deon de K
8 A.J. Venter
6 Niki vd W
5 Andre V
1 Lukas se Shark maat wat hak
Moet nie vir my se Trevor is n binne senter nie. Dit is waar ons afrigters moet begin wakker word. Pas aan en speel opwindende rugby.
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