Rugby Forum
  Volume 1 - Week 7  
Editor's Note
Brilliant!  After a magnificent week of sport I once again marvel at how fortunate we are to witness moments of history. By the flick of a button our overworked television sets produce quality live pictures of significant feats. RF is essentially a rugby newsmail however I can safely assume that all of you reading out there are sports lovers in general. So forgive me.
Salute Tiger Woods, there are very few words left to describe the brilliance of this individual and his unbelievable prowess, better writers than me have wrote it. The other salute must go to the South African cricket team in the West Indies who won a series in what has become the Holy Grail of modern history's test victories.
Right, back to rugby – the matches we saw over the weekend suggest a turning point in the whole “niggle” debate. The players look far more focused and there was a vast improvement in the quality of rugby save a few exceptions. The “pussyfooting” is over, this is the business end of the Super 12 and even some of the nitwits relinquishing yellow cards every week has realized it. The semis beckon and only committed discipline teams will transpire for the knock out stages.
The Six Nations produced what I thought a magnificent display of total rugby, compliments aplenty to a England side who demolished France at Twickenham and played some of the best rugby seen this year anywhere. The French are at low ebb this point in time however their first half display hinted towards a renaissance of a team capable of great rugby beauty. Unfortunately, depend on which way you look at it, any notions of a French victory was snuffed by and England display of very high quality. The men in white was composed and professional with young bodies and experienced heads the same mistake as against Scotland last year was avoided.
The coming Easter weekend is once again jampacked with rugby and other sports, get out there and support live matches, the players produce better performances in front of capacity crowds.
Ps: For all new readers, please mail to include or remove your address or to request previous copies of RF.

Letters to the Editor
Dear Mr. Editor,

Thanks for a great newsletter. Always eagerly awaited and devoured with relish. For your info. You list as a website worth visiting. Well it certainly was until recently but now you can only access this site now if you are an M-Web subscriber!!. Possibly you should list this info next to the address to save non-MWeb subscribers from wasting their time.

Thanks for the newsletter and keep them coming.

MWeb's decision to deny access to free subscribers is regrettable and a shocking attitude towards competition, it may explain the reason why an entire new office was set up to deal with subscription cancellations...    -    Ed.

The Unluckiest Bok by Klondike Nel
The names of Francois Pienaar, who was so unceremoniously dumped by Andre Markgraaf, and Andre Snyman, with his horrific injuries, spring immediately to mind as recent Boks who have had to endure rotten luck in their careers.  But let’s be honest, each of these illustrious players sipped, albeit all too briefly, from the chalice of victory and enjoyed his fair share of glory out on the paddock.  Whilst their careers may have been cruelly brief, their places alongside the great Boks of yesteryear are assured.
No, we must dig up the past as we search for the wretched fellow who is to be proclaimed as the “Unluckiest Bok”.  My candidate is that most luckless of unlucky players, Jack van der Schyff, whose legacy to the game is derived not from any heroic tackles made or graceful tries scored, but from a most spectacular failure and then a cruel twist of fate.  This is his sorry tale.
Act 1: A promising start
It’s 1949 and the Boks are about to play Fred Allen’s touring All Blacks in their first series since 1938.  The selectors choose 15 untried players to wear the green ‘n gold, with Van der Schyff at fullback for the first test at Newlands.  The Springboks’ secret weapon, Okey Geffin, kicks five penalties in the test, and spurs his team to an historic but fortuitous 4-0 series win.  Van der Schyff plays in all 4 tests and performs creditably.
Act 2: Darkness
Six tumultuous seasons go by, and Robin Thompson’s talented pride of Lions is on tour in SA.  The intervening years have been kind to the Boks, and, inspired by the great Hennie Muller, they have enjoyed a magnificent Grand Slam tour of the UK and a series victory over the Wallabies.  Not so to Van der Schyff, who has not played for the Boks since the heady days of ’49.
Act 3: Back from the Wilderness
But our hero gets another chance in the first test, played before 100 000 fans at the old Ellis Park.  In one of the most exciting tests ever played, the Lions dominate the early stages of the game, only for the Boks to come storming back at the close.  Late tries by Swart and Koch leave the scores at 23-19 to the Lions, with only seconds remaining.  A maul develops, Gentles flicks the ball to Fry, who passes to Briers.  Briers overpowers two defenders to score near the corner.
The game is to be decided by Van der Schyff’s conversion.  The huge scoreboard reads 23-22 to the Lions, and then the last numeral suddenly disappears as the scorer, undoubtedly a Bok supporter, prepares to make it 23-24.  Van der Schyff takes his run-up, kicks, looks up, and then drops his head in utter dejection, as he turns away, knowing that he has failed.  The ball swings off-course and sails high past the far upright.  The Lions, clumped behind their goalline, jump for joy as the final whistle sounds.
Act 4: Scapegoat
Van der Schyff is vilified in the press and the embattled selectors are forced to make 7 changes to the Bok team.  You guessed it.  Van der Schyff gets the chop.
Act 5: A fresh start?
A year goes by and the Springboks are readying themselves for their first tour of the Land of the Long White Cloud since the glories of 1937.  The man favoured by the selectors to skipper the Bok side is Salty du Rand, who had made his debut against the ’49 All Blacks.  Van der Schyff, already pencilled in as the team’s fullback, gets another chance to redeem himself.
Act 6: Atonement thwarted
Or does he?  The rugby Gods have no regard for sentiment, and at the Springbok trials, Du Rand punches Jan Pickard, which eliminates the grizzled Rhodesian as tour captain and scrambles the selectors’ cards.  The affable veteran, Basie Viviers, is brought into the touring team as skipper, but other sacrifices have to be made to cater for the new captain.   The luckless Van der Schyff is bulleted from the touring party at the last minute, destined never to play for the Springboks again.
World Cup icon, respected elder statesman, rugby millionaire: life doesn’t seem so bad, now does it, Francois?!

Professionalism by Graham Waterson
Once upon a time there was a boy called William, now William wasn’t your average sort, one could say he was a tad unconventional. In a blatant disregard for the rules and history of football this young rascal picked up a ball usually directed by feet only and ran with it!  He initiated, what is commonly accepted, the birth of a new game - rugby named after the Public School he attended in Warwickshire, England. This famous story has been told on numerous occasions and as the game progressed from century to century, William’s deed remains the most radical of all.
A few arguments can be made in immediate response to this flagrant claim, what about the plentiful law changes, difference in scoring, breakaway of rugby league and professionalism? All have their respective merits however none but the latter has altered the plight of the player. Professionalism is probably the most profound change as it transformed a game played by amateurs for no compensation to a multi million business venture. Officially professionalism stepped in after Rugby World Cup 1995 and early 1996 when there was a major threat to breakaway and form a professional league a la Kerry Packer.
Although regarded as the watershed date many migrant players earned a substantial amount of money many years before, notably in places like Italy. Greats like David Campese, Michael Lynagh, Naas Botha and a host of others were plying their skill in Europe during the Southern Hemisphere summers. The players were in fact “professional” long before the IRB officially sanctioned the motion, administration as always lagged behind.
How has remuneration changed rugby players? The obvious difference before and after is that a player is now “owned” by their respective union, province or club. He is employed to do a specialized job for which he draws a salary and performance bonuses. The players train under expert scrutiny akin to the conditioning of racehorses to perform to a set peak every week. Some are marketable entities that can earn millions per year in endorsements from various brand names exploiting the coverage and popularity of the game. If managed properly a player can become very wealthy in a short period of time, as an average career span is 6 – 8 seasons in top-flight rugby.
A lot can be said for the good of professionalism but what is the negative aspect? Players are now forced to participate in an obscene amount of matches in a single season. The top players can play as many as 40 matches in a season! This includes training during the week, test matches where the psychological effect is as strenuous as the physical battle on the field and arduous traveling over continents.
Professionalism good or bad, like master Web Ellis’ exploits it is here to stay, the player’s plight has irrevocably changed; the next radical deed the game demand is for professional leadership in the administration.

Great Rivalries and Special Moments by Luke
The past weekend’s match between England and France revived some grim memories of South Africa’s Apartheid past.  Don’t fear this is not a political discussion about death squads, forced removals or any of the other atrocities but rather South Africa’s banishment from international sport.
Growing up during the so called isolation years was one of the great travesties to a young Afrikaans boy eager to be a Springbok himself and play for his country against the mighty All Blacks, for there was only one form of rivalry that mattered, “Het Springbokken” vs the All Blacks. There were off course many other great rivalries and once South Africa was doomed never to see any international rugby again the attention shifted to the local Currie Cup competition, Western Province vs Northern Transvaal. Once a year though the SABC managed to secure a few matches of the Five Nations or rather the International Competition, starved from real test rugby this was eagerly anticipated, and even here only one match mattered, England vs France.
The latest edition, played at that bastion of English establishment, Twickenham was an enthralling encounter between two teams vying for Northern Hemisphere supremacy. No disrespect to a resurgent Irish team or the other contenders but the last decade or so and certainly in the World Cups, England and France performed consistently better. The exhibition by the two teams and eventually England in the second half was a rare pleasure to witness and rekindled old memories of the isolation years when these kinds of games were a connoisseur’s delight.
Having had the pleasure of realizing a childhood dream in attending this fixture in 1997 the clash had an even more significant sentimental importance. Anyone who has experienced a Twickenham adventure will testify to the atmosphere and ambiance of a test day, from the first pint of Guiness at the Sun in Richmond to the last in some quaint pub, there is very little to forget. A young French team trailing at half time managed to win an unforgettable match that day and sitting amongst a strong contingent of French supporters thanks to tickets from a special and great friend, I felt like an honorary Frenchman. The whistles, shouting and singing so typical of their support overshadowed the melodious and stirring tunes of “Swing high swing low sweet chariot”.
The television unfortunately is never like the real thing, the euphoria of that day made up for all the years of isolation and lack of international competition. Saturday, history repeated itself; unfortunately a different young but thoroughly experienced side came back from a half time deficit to win the match, England. The awesome power and clinical finishing was a joy to watch, this team is playing some of the best rugby on the planet.
Since 1997 there has been a greater number of opportunities to witness tests of both the Springboks and other great rugby playing nations but that Twickenham encounter was as important and special as the first time I watched the Springboks play the All Blacks, the date was 19 August 2000 but that is a story for another time.

Wrestling with an age-old debate by Ebbo bedford
I read an interesting article earlier this week written by Wilf Rosenburg, the crash-tackling Bok centre of the 50’s.  In it, the good doctor pondered the age-old issue of how today’s players would have fared in the golden days of Bok rugby when the pre-eminence of the little leaping antelope was all but taken for granted.  In it, he refers to a quick discussion he had on the subject with Tom van Vollenhoven, who, in a brief but glorious career in the green ‘n gold, almost single-handedly destroyed the 1955 Lions.  Amongst other things, oom Tom specifically singled out Breyton Paulse, Johan Ackerman and Willie Meyer “as talents who would have been stars years ago”.
Hmmm – now we’re entering dangerous territory.  By limiting himself solely to these three gents, is he insinuating that other luminaries of today’s game like Andre Venter and Mark Andrews would not have cut the mustard 50 years ago?  Oom Tom, I think you’ve been smoking your socks again!  Breyton, for a start, may well be the darling of the Newlands faithful, but, with the greatest respect to the little brown maestro, it is unlikely that, when his playing days are over, he will be mentioned in the same breath as a Japie Krige, Mannetjies Roux or Danie Gerber.
But oom Tom is perfectly entitled to his opinions.  After all, such conjecture is the much-loved past time of all sports aficionados.  Many hours of delight have been passed over a few polisie koffies with the manne down at the Royal Hotel, debating the virtues of a Koch over a Du Randt, a Mostert over a Moolman, an Osler over a Botha.  One of the most obvious problems in such an exercise is that regarding physical dimensions, especially when attempting to gauge the merit of the great forwards of generations ago.
How, for example, do you do justice to the mighty Boy Louw, who towered over his contemporaries in the 1930’s, but whose massive frame (in those days) would be crunched by a run-of-the-mill Vodacom Cup frontranker today?  And what of the great Windhond, Hennie Muller, whose 75 kg frame was lean to the point of emaciation?  Despite his ripped, biltong-like appearance, Muller was able to wreak havoc on opposing backlines that were manned by comparative midgets by today’s standards.
One wonders how the legendary Windhond would fare if he had to dive headlong into a hardy, meat-eating, 100 kg flyhalf like Butch James.  Jeez, what am I thinking?!  I’m having a sudden lapse of all my senses.  It would be like taking a gun to a knife fight.  Humble apologies for the irreverent speculation, Mr Muller.

Rugby Quiz
  1. In what year was the first Currie Cup won by Western Province?
  2. Which aristocrat scored two tries in England's first ever victory over New Zealand back in 1936?
  3. Who holds the individual points scoring record for the Rugby World Cup?
  4. When was France's first victory at Twickenham?
  5. When did Australia and England first meet in a test?
  6. Name the Welsh wizard who dropped placed and scored for the Lions against the All Blacks in Wellington 1971?
  7. Who was the first Scottish back to exceed 50 tests?
  8. What team has the best winning percentage in Super 12 history?
  9. What international team in 1972 was only the second since 1891 to leave the shores of South Africa unbeaten?
  10. Who was the manager of the Cavaliers who toured South Africa in 1986? 
(answers at the end)

Match Reports

Hurricanes 34 Brumbies 19

The match was simply brilliant. Both sides displayed ingenuity on attack and their defence was inspiring. The difference in the score line was the result of individual brilliance from the Hurricanes’ now famous backline.

The Brumbies made all the play in the first half with the mercurial Larkham controlling play. The Hurricanes through great effort from their forwards managed to hang in there containing the variety of angles ran and the multiphase pressure play of the Brumby attacks. A forward pass denied Walker a try and the turnover of possession coupled with some continuity from the Hurricanes saw Cullen glide over for a record 42nd try in Super 12 rugby, the very first time they crossed into the Brumbies’ half.

The Brumbies down by a goal struggled to regain ascendancy with a few crucial errors creeping in their play and off course resolute tackling. Referee Turner ran a very tight ship, any transgression; runners in front of the kicker, knock ons and “flat” passes were spotted immediately and punished relentlessly. In spite of this the players contributed to a marvelous display of power and finesse.

Lomu, as he is want in the big games came to the party with a devastating try after a few phases of Brumbies attack was turned over by the excellent ‘Canes forwards and Steinmetz chipped a ball ahead which the big man recovered to stroll over for a try. The score was 14-0!

The Brumbies a bit shattered, continued their angled runs and impressive continuity however the last vital pass just did not go their way. The Hurricanes tackled and tackled, displaying great patience and courage in keeping the Australians from their line. Turnovers were exploited unmercifully by the Hurricanes and once they marauded into Brumbies territory they made sure to put points on the board. The statistics of the first half reflected a 60% territorial and 66% possession advantage to the Brumbies yet the scoreboard, which matters more, was 20-0 in favor of the men from Wellington.

The second half the locals, to their vocal crowd’s delight continued their brilliant play. The Brumbies seemed mortal at last, the Hurricanes were waiting for them and seem to have sussed out the intricate web that Gregan and Larkham spins on the game. Finnegan was shown yet another yellow card and as so often happens the team in deficit plays better, their tackling was as inspiring as the Hurricanes’ but the overlap eventually created an opening on the inside for David Holwell to score a well deserved try for a very good performance on the night.

The Brumbies with a naught on the scoreboard refused to lie down and with only twenty minutes left in the match they managed their first points through a try from Bartholomeusz. The Hurricanes however retaliated with a truly magnificent try, the big man Lomu broke away after a backline movement he beat Larkham steamrollered Bartholomeausz and with three players on his back defiantly marched on to put Spice over for a try, vintage Jonah!! The Hurricanes now had the extra bonus point.

The Brumbies displayed true grit and character and after barraging the Hurricanes line, naughty boy Finnegan scored after some great passing skills from captain Gregan. The last ten minutes was punctuated by a few parries and thrusts from both teams, there were more mistakes mostly due to fatigue however the Brumbies did have the final say with a try in the dying minutes by Jeremy Paul. Too late though.

This was a fantastic game, thoroughly enjoyable and a great display after so many games this year failed to inspire. The Hurricanes scored a well-deserved victory and the Brumbies after only their second loss but still in the top four will need to iron out their mistakes before facing the Waratahs at home.

Blues 27 Sharks 41

The Sharks' win in Aukland will be remembered as one of the better victories of any South African side on New Zealand soil. Make no mistake this Blues team is only a shadow of the great sides of the past but the Sharks like so many SA teams before them did not come unstuck with the grueling trip and the propensity to self destruct in the wake of a New Zealand onslaught. The Sharks displayed a certain composure and ruthlessness more commonly associated with their opponents.

The first half was characterized by territorial supremacy from the Sharks whose forwards dominated the exchanges, the tight five once again produced a robust and intimidating display with the likes of Ollie Le Roux, Albert van den Berg and AJ Venter prominent. The backline was as always solid however James and Davidson’s decision-making was not the best at all times. One forgets that they are only in their first and second season respectively. Halstead underlined his credentials as a potential Springbok center with great play and a good try.

The Blues struggled for good possession however mistakes by the Sharks were exploited and the backline with some space is a very good one indeed but without the quality ball they need “errand genius” Carlos Spencer could not weave enough magic. When he did it spelt trouble, Doug Howlett scored a fine try down the right hand touchline as well as Ron Cribb with a Sharks defence that was at times a bit shaky, maybe blasé would be a more accurate term. The service from new scrumhalf Devine was, well not that divine and coach Oliver erred with starting him ahead of Robinson.

Strange that when a team is confident and playing well how even the bounce of the ball seems to favor them, they also innovate and stray from the norm. Ollie’s try from the lineout was a gem and for the first time in a few seasons, it is not the Brumbies creating new moves but the Sharks! Innovation make opposing coaches nervous because they have to counter so many potential moves and ploys that the defending team are in a way disrupted because they are expecting a variety and not just a kick or a run downfield. 

The second half was full of tension and the Sharks unlike many teams chose to attack their lead and not defend it. Le Roux and Ettienne Fynne who ensured that the Blues scrum was on the backfoot leaving less space for the backs to create any moves in played a significant part in the scrums. When the Blues did get the space they were lethal and Vidiri underlined his try scoring abilities with an excellent try. The Blues ultimately made too many errors, both forced and unforced and the constant pressure from the Sharks coupled with a turning scoreboard from James’s kicking was too much for them to deal with.

At the end of the day the Sharks played a brilliant match and there were none better than Warren Britz who created a large amount of turnover ball and this kind create tries and try scoring opportunities. The set phases was a revelation and the line out tries were excellent, a credit to Andrews, Venter, Van den Berg and Smit.

The Blues are in trouble, their season has come unstuck and like the Bulls they are unlikely to be in a semi final but can influence who will feature in it. The Sharks are one win away from a spot in the semis, once again coach Rudolph made the correct rotational switched and his stature as coach is growing in leaps and bounds, so is his team’s title aspirations.

Highlanders 39 Waratahs 20

The Waratahs arrived at Dunedin with one of rugby’s proudest records; they have never lost to any side from Otago for more than a 100 years! Truly remarkable considering the last few years of intense Super 12 combat.

This was the year of the men down South, the Highlanders played high octane, exciting, running rugby. With continuous pressure from the tight forwards supported by great running from the loose forwards they ensured momentum throughout the match.

The Waratahs, similar to the Blues struggled heavily under pressure from effective Highlanders defence. Manny Edmunds who had a good game and the midfield combination of Nathan Gray and Ingham were dangerous however they were constricted to only two tries.

For the Highlanders Byron Kelleher made a triumphant return, a thorn in the flesh of the light blue forwards, his sniping around the edges kept dangerous players like Phil Waugh occupied and honest. The majority of possession enabled the Highlanders to attack throughout with straight aggressive running which was very effective. The odd occasion that the ball went wide was met with solid defense from the Waratahs and Tony Brown resorted to the inside pass up the center providing his loose forwards with ample opportunities.

Matt Burke, captain inspiration, was a bit quiet on the day and similar to so many other influential players, the team’s performances depend on him firing. The spoils however went to the Highlanders and it is unbelievable how teams can return from an off weekend like last week and perform so much better. Their play was authorative and more like the power rugby one tend to expect from a team hosting many All Black incumbents.

Referee Kaplan did a fine job in letting the play flow and the player’s commitment to running rugby made his job far easier. Obviously the raised stakes in the second half of the competition ensure that players are more focused on their job as the pressure mount for semi-final spots.

Both these teams are in with a shout and a lot depends on their performances this weekend.

Stormers 29 Reds 27

How the Stormers used their get out of jail free card that is how one could label this matcht. Little George, a stunning town in one of the fairer areas of South Africa hosted their heroes from down South and in the end got their moneys worth with a win for the “home” team.

The Stormers were feeble and the Reds seriously disrupted by late changes did almost enough to win a rare away victory. Some of the “men in black’s” mistakes were kindergarten stuff with many a reputation dented, surely there are better players in the squad and don’t they deserve a go? It is easy to sit back and criticize however when highly paid players commit the kind of errors as was seen on Saturday, such questions must be asked.

The Stormers’ defence was poor and Braam van Straaten, fine player that he is, was not up to the speed and skill of Latham. The fullback whose had a quiet season thus far chose to turn on the magic and when he plays like this it is easy to see why he was the Reds player of the year in 2000. Robbie Fleck was also in buoyant mood and maybe his true vocation is inside centre, who will forget Ellis Park last year?

The Reds played well and were hard done by after a spirited and professional display from the resources available although two points is not enough though after everything pointed towards a win. Ultimately Bobby Skinstad scored a try from a Robbie Fleck pass and the definitive big moment player, Braam van Straaten atoned for the lapses on defence with a marvelous conversion to secure what looked like an unlikely victory.

The Stormers’ have problems, they are not the team of a few seasons ago and with the Crusaders in town they might reflect on a turning point in their fortunes after their win two years ago against the same team. They need to improve by a great margin to beat a team fresh from annihilating the Bulls. Hopefully Newlands provide the spark to achieve the ardous mission of a place in the semi-finals.

Chiefs 22 Cats 18

The match was one that can be reflected upon endlessly, rhetoric questions fired at will. And yes how did the Cats manage to lose this one? The statistics as they so often do was in complete contrast to the outcome of this clash but as Oom Boy Louw use to say “looks at the scoreboard”.

The Chiefs made a fine start by scoring a penalty try when Roger Randle was infringed in the chase to the try line after a kick forward. The try was scored legitimately but the referee rightly so adjudged a penalty try, one of the few if not first we’ve seen in this year’s competition. Soon after a penalty by Jackson, making careful use of the wind put the Chiefs in charge.

The Cats through the magnificent prowess of their forward pack managed to dominate every phase of the game, churning out ball for the loose forwards and backline players to almost attack at will. Attack they did however mistakes aplenty robbed them of the final touch to convert promising moves into points. The Chiefs’ forwards found the going rough and was severely beaten up in the scrums yet produced just enough to hold on for dear life. The defense was awe inspiring and one of Churchill’s many plaudits to the great resolve of the British people would do for the Chiefs efforts on the day… never have so brave with so few ball manage to beat so strong a foe, apologies, I digress.

The match was quite a spectacle and there was some good running rugby with excellent interplay between forwards and backs, Rassie Erasmus once again proved his worth and Vos and Venter contributed with the hard graft that make the trio so an effective a combination. Not outdone at all was captain fantastic, Deon Muir, this man is an inspirational player and seems to signify the resolve and determination of the New Zealand players of old. The backlines were even matched but one wonders what players like Randle and Lowen, who came on as a replacement, would do with the surplus of opportunities the Cats had.

The bad boy of SA rugby, Japie Mulder had a good game and even though he was up to his shoulder charging tricks he managed to beat the napping defence for a good try. One could make a good plea for attacking the smaller and weaker flyhalves like Jackson and for that matter Koen from a set scrum, that area is only protected by a loose forward obliged to stay bound. Koen and Jackson traded penalties and ultimately the few missed would have made a difference, the Cats probably never thought that a kick would have meant the difference between win and loose in a match they dominated in such a way.

The short and sweet of the contest; the Cats threw it but the Chiefs deserved victory with such a determined effort to defend their line in front of the partisan crowd, ecstatic with the win. The Cats will ponder lost opportunities and that elusive first win but they are a good enough side to overcome the small hiccup. The Chiefs march on!

Bulls 29 Crusaders 42

ThThe clash at Minolta Loftus was a much-anticipated affair; the Bulls, perennial wooden spoonists of the Super 12 displayed a lot of promise on their tour to Oz and New Zealand. Every supporter and some were hoping that against a struggling Crusaders team they would finally shrug of their losers tag.

The Bulls played some good rugby in the first half and they exposed a few problem areas of the Crusaders. Attacking through the center of mauls they found some space and the loose forwards and Joost van der Westhuizen sniped away at this weakness. They scored a few very good tries however their lack of self-confidence compounded by the silliest of schoolboy errors like not kicking ten yards and a blatant disregard for the basics cost them this match.

The Crusaders were without Mehrtens but then have been for most of the season although there were a few elementary errors allowing for tries against them, they never looked in danger of loosing this match. The forwards dominated the second half after a lackluster display in the first. Marshall had a field day with all the quality ball he received and played a very influential game. The backline quite inept in the first half was far better in the second and ruthlessly exposed the inexperience of Jacobs and the inadequacy of Franco Smith, a poor shadow of the player that earned Springbok colors, he should head back to Britain and the pound seats..

The Bulls to their credit never stopped trying even though they faced an uphill task in the second half but their old foe, themselves were once again to blame for what was a very forgettable 40 minutes. The old master himself, Joost after a great charge down he only needed to fall on the ball in the goal area, he chose to pick it up, and with his eyes on the posts he knocked it. He was not the only one, many knock ons and stupid mistakes resulting in turnovers and penalties from his team should make the video session look like a Laurel and Hardy affair.

A ray of light was the display of James Dalton, he looked a bit unfit but then was not exposed to the rigor of pre-season training. What he did do was throw the ball in straight, tackle well and provide some direction to a capable pack. Victor Matfield is playing excellent rugby although he did not display any precocious chip kicks he put in a mountain of work in both the tight phases and defence.

The Crusaders played like we all know they can and they will be very happy to get their campaign back on track, 5 points on tour is a rarity and with a Stormers team at Newlands awaiting this win was more than welcome. Ben Blair’s kicking is phenomenal and his pace injection to the game is great to see. Brad Thorne is a thorn in the flesh with his size and strength, he almost scored a try but for the gargantuan tackle of Joost two meters from the line. Bet the league boys could not believe that.

The Crusaders can similar to two seasons ago begin their assault on the title at the former fortress of rugby power in South Africa and they will look to repeat their feats in Cape Town, Bobby stay away from any cars son!

The log after week 7:

Sharks     28,   Brumbies     24,    Cats     23,    Waratahs     20,   Highlanders   19,    Chiefs    18,    Hurricanes    15,     Crusaders   14,    Reds    10,    Stormers   10,   Blues    10,    Bulls    2   


Opinions and Views

Foul play/disciplinary committees:

  • Why must it always turn into a war? Whenever two South African teams clash in a Super12 fixture, the man is played as opposed to the ball. All three matches have produced a basket of yellow cards. When an Australian or New Zealand derby takes place these moments aren't experinced. All that happens is bad blood is created in the eventual Springbok squad that is to be announced later in the year and an empty bag of injuries is filled up. The players only have themselves to blame. They are killing the game without even realizing it.    Duncan Damon
  • The weekend's matches were far better disciplined and cards were mostly related to obstructing and dangerous play than outright thuggery, we must remember this is a contact sport and things like that happen but what we don't need is fist fighting, Mulder charges and headbutting.    Shane from Durban
  • Isn't strange how certain players are targeted for cards rather than warnings? Reputations exceeds the "bad boys" and they get sent off sometime completely unjustified. The referees, supposedly biased and from a neutral country may cost a player his livelyhood like the cricketers by carding based on recognition of the player and not the merits of the deed.    AD
  • Anybody see Japie Mulder up to the same tricks as his charge on Barry? If he tackles as well on the ball as he does off it he might resemble the old Japie of 1995!    BBB
  • James Dalton played very well and fitness permitting should be in contention for Springbok place. The current crop of Marais and Smit are good players but they are not doing well in one of their primary jobs, throwing into the lineouts, James excelled. There was also no question of his discipline as Corry suggested in last week's issue. Good on you "Bullet"!    Wimpie R.
  • Stormers are strugling and the joke last week of a Mickey Mouse outfit seem to be more than true!    Anon.    (They won the match and that is all that counts in the long run    Ed.)
  • How do the players who all are presumably talented individuals look so mediocre when confronted with 15 opponents and some pressure? How do they train and do they knock a similar amount of balls in training as they do on the park? I certainly hope not 'cause you play as you practice and judging some of the matches these guys practices must be a sorry sight to see!    Kallie Lategan
  • There is only one thing to say about the Bulls "Ag shame!" They will never win a game when so called Springboks like Franco Smith insist on playing worse than a schoolboy and I'm sure there will be a few of them (schoolboys) feeling affronted by this statement!    Peter from Krugersdorp
  • The Cats was shocking, how the blazes do you lose a match after that much possession and territorial advantage? The Chiefs were so relieved it looked like they almost won the competition! Laurie Mains will no doubt have a lot to say to the team but I'm sure Rassie will be speaking in far more explicit terms to his charges, maybe some of the Afrikaans boys just don't understand Laurie's foreign accent.    K. de Lange

The player who is not honest with himself will not get far. This honesty must, however, not be aimed only at his weakness but also his strongpoints. He must know where he is good or bad or less than good, so that he can maintain his strength and develop it and use it properly, and he can remove his weakness and hide it as long as it is there.    Danie Craven
On Jonah Lomu - There's no doubt about it, he's a big bastard.    Gavin Hastings
The relationship between the Welsh and the English is based on trust and understanding. They don't trust us and we don't understand them.    Dudley Wood
Back Row - These are fine fit fellows who, like a bunch of hermaphrodites, are confused as to what their role in life should be. While they know they are undeniably linked to the forwards, there are those among them who long for the perfect hair and long flowing gowns that come with being a back. Some relish the forward role and will do anything to win the ball and there are others within this group that will break the prime directive of the forward and do anything to prance foolishly with the ball. Generally, these guys are not all bad, but I, personally, have to wonder about any forward who brings a hairbrush and a change of clothes to a game.    Peter Fitzsimmons

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
  1. Robbie Kempson   
  2. Anton Oliver       
  3. Greg Somerville    
  4. Mark Andrews    (replaces Johan Ackerman)
  5. Victor Matfield        
  6. Johan Erasmus              
  7. Phil Waugh                 
  8. Andre Vos           
  9. George Gregan
  10. Stephen Larkham   
  11. Joe Roff             
  12. Trevor Halstead   
  13. Tana Umaga       
  14. Matt Burke          
  15. Christian Cullen   

Answers:    1.      1892    2.      Prince Alexander Obolensky    3.     Gavin Hastings     4.      1951    5.     1909    6.      Barry John    7.      Andy Irvine    8.     Aukland Blues    9.     England     10.    Colin Meads






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