Editors Note


Volume 2, Week 15

Editors Note

Brilliant!    What an eventful weekend and week! The one thing rugby fans cannot complain about is that it’s a dull and boring sport - the goings on and off the field reads better than a Jeffrey Archer novel or should I rather say his real life! 

For the SA sides the torture of the Super 12 was over long before the final weekend but little did we expect that the second place team and by common agreement one of the best performing sides, the Waratahs’ would share a most humiliating experience usually reserved for that other wearer of the light blue shirt, the Bulls. Our Australian friends will be quick to point that finishing second is far better than 12th, 11th, 10th and 7th respectively and I agree 100% BUT it is great to see some records tumble at the wrong end of the scale without the Bulls involved!

A few of the old timers were speculating during the week how Natal was soundly beaten in the run up to the 1990 Currie Cup finals – the very same year they won it for the first time in 100 years. Now this does not mean the Waratahs will come back and “klap” the Brumbies based on one light point in history and go on to win the competition but for rugby players, all well balanced (chips on both shoulders), competitive sportsmen a defeat like that will serve as the ultimate motivation. Motivation and determination counts for a lot in a rugby match and yes the confidence will by no means be 100% but a wily old fox like Bob Dwyer will use the defeat in a positive way. He is the most experienced coach in the Super 12 – do not forget that fact.

And another Springbok leaves, Percy Montgomery, the fair headed WP fullback has decided to quit Springbok rugby for “security” reasons. In conjunction with his agent they demanded a contract from the coach until the RWC in 2003. The whole saga is a bit of a strange one; Percy is contractually bound to WP until the end of the year, he is arguably a shoe–in for the test team with some solid to brilliant performances in the Super 12, he is a goal kicker therefore a valuable commodity, he only has to play one trial match (let’s face it he only needs to run on do a bit of kicking, tackling feign a hamstring strain and walk off) and he is sure to be selected there is very little doubt that Straeuli would have told him this (re the selection, not feigning!). Why make these demands when the coach publicly admitted that no Springbok would receive contracts u ntil after the trials? Was Percy best served by the “advice” of his agent? Were the two of them trying to call the coach’s bluff?

The one revelation to come from this episode is that Rudolf Straeuli is willing to stick to his principles and keep to his word, a noble characteristic and hopefully one that continues during his reign. 

The Springbok trial group was announced and it contained as per usual a few surprises and shocks, there are a few worries; the goal kicking is spread very thin, the experience in backline players is not vast and the front rows look to be a bit vulnerable. Straeuli’s strengths will have to come from combinations, as there are maybe only two players who are in the world-class league on current form, Corne Krige and Victor Matfield. The potential is there to include more, never write off a fit Bob Ski nstad, Johannes Conradie needs to take the step up to international level and centres like Joubert, Snyman and Jacobs can scare any opposition backline. However with a time constraint of less than a month it will be vital to pick the correct combinations first off to avoid a Bulls scenario where a different player plays every week. Easy it will not be and patience will be a virtue for every Springbok supporter who demands nothing but the best, yesterday!

The Ausies and the Kiwis are battling each other to claim the right to the Super 12 final, back in Week 4 Rugby Forum predicted the following finish; Brumbies, Crusaders, Blues, Highlanders - out by one is a success rate of 75%, not bad! Based on history the first-time defending champion wins again but this year might be a different story. The Waratah/Brumbies clash tends to go with home ground advantage and despite the severe defeat of the weekend the Waratahs will be no pushover against the old enemy, the match will be close but the champions should proceed.

The South Island rivalry is one that dates back to many decades before the origin of the Super 12 and with the Crusaders in such rampant form, the proud record of NEVER losing in a semi-final and the Highlanders injury concerns, they have to be the overwhelming favourites to play in their fourth final.

The weekend sure is something to look forward to, not only are there less matches to concentrate on but they should be of infinite better quality. The trials match on Sunday will be a first for many viewers and as anybody who’s been involved in trials know, it will be a boring affair. The only wish is that there are no injuries, something Straeuli can ill afford at this time of the race.




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Preparation for Battle by Desmond Organ

South Africa begins a new era with the trial match scheduled for the weekend. A new coach has been appointed with new ideas and training plans and possibly another change in the captaincy. It is not so much the thought of so many changes that bothers rugby followers; it is the consistency with which seasoned veterans are discarded onto the woodpile of international club rugby. 

Several weeks ago I was awakened by an article referencing the number of players of colour that would be required by the World Cup. I ignored it, confident that the rebuttals of several administrators were proof enough that such demands were not going to be made. Yet here we are at the beginning of yet another international campaign and the words of the media appear to have told the truth yet again.

The decision by Percy Montgomery and Peter Rossouw to pursue the lucrative English market has created a situation where we may well find ourselves fulfilling the quota requirements of the Minister of Sport. It is pleasing it must be said that the players will as a result of the Percy and Peter dilemma make the team purely on merit. It will be a great day to behold, notwithstanding the fact that the team could have been substantially stronger were it not for the abovementioned decisions. Add to this t he decision of Andre Vos to ply his trade abroad and it is stating the obvious.

In an attempt to understand the causes of this talent drain one has to consider a number of factors.
The players that best serve as examples of these are none other than Braam van Straaten, Percy Montgomery, Andre Vos, Peter Rossouw and Thinus Delport. 

All of these players have one thing in common; they have at one time or another been left out of the Springbok team, only to be re-called at a later stage. It is also true that they have been forced to prove themselves in more than one position in order to ensure selection. But it is the handling of these players and the nature of their contracts that is the most disturbing. 

Andre Vos is perhaps the leading example of this, even though he is perhaps the most unrewarded player to have worn the green and gold. The removal of the captaincy from Vos was made by one of the most unsuccessful coaches of all time. Vos was told that he could no longer be guaranteed a place in the team and was forced to re-invent himself. The fact that he did this so successfully is a testament to the man and his ability. England’s gain is South Africa’s loss.

Percy Montgomery, or “Purse” as the Aussie media refers to him has been a villain and a hero in the eyes of the South African fans, but nobody is celebrating his decision to quit South African rugby at the end of this domestic season. He was informed at the end of last year that his contract was no longer certain and this and the decision of the previous coach not to play him on the end of year tour counted against him turning a deaf ear to the English Pound. 

It is indeed quite ironic that the same coach removed Braam van Straaten from the national group, only to recall him when it was obvious that he was needed as a kicker. Van Straaten can only be assured of one thing. The Pound is worth a lot more than the Rand, especially when you can earn it for a definite period of time. 

Pieter Rossouw and Thinus Delport are victims of the times that we live in; constantly changing coaches has left them with little choice as to their futures. Roussouw is the greater loss because of his ability to impart knowledge to the players of the next generation. One can also not blame these players for considering alternatives, they clearly have no guarantees that they will be required in the medium to long term.

The administrators are quick to point out that players earning Pounds have to pay for their keep in Pounds, what they forget is that Pounds typically have a greater value in the long term and are less likely to suffer the devaluation that is customary of the Rand. It also appears as if they are getting longer contracts than those that are typically being offered at home.

The only positive thing to come out of the latest exodus is that the national coach has made it clear that he will not be dictated to by players and their agents. This is indeed the right approach; it is just a pity that several players have had to suffer because of the way rugby is run in South Africa. One can only hope that we will learn from these lessons and not make the same mistakes with the stars of the future.


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Super 12 Log


Played Won Won
Lost Lost
Crusaders 11 11 6 5 0 0 0 469 264 55 29 7 51
Waratahs 11 8 5 3 3 0 1 337 284 41 33 7 39
Brumbies 11 7 5 2 4 2 2 374 230 45 22 10 38
Highlanders 11 8 5 3 3 1 2 329 207 34 20 6 38
Reds 11 7 5 2 4 1 3 336 287 36 29 6 34
Blues 11 6 4 2 5 1 4 318 249 37 26 5 29
Stormers 11 5 3 2 6 3 3 310 314 34 33 7 27
Chiefs 11 4 2 2 7 3 4 323 341 39 42 8 24
Hurricanes 11 5 3 2 6 3 3 232 317 24 38 3 23
Sharks 11 4 3 1 7 3 4 221 309 25 33 4 20
Cats 11 1 0 1 10 5 5 228 407 23 52 2 6
Bulls 11 0 0 0 11 6 5 232 500 31 67 4 4

Springbok Trialists
Name Provence Position
Barry, De Wet WP Centre
Botha, Bakkies Blue Bulls Lock
Britz, Warren Sharks Flank
Conradie, Johannes WP Scrumhalf
Dalton, James Falcons Hooker
Davids, Quinton WP Lock
Davidson, Craig Sharks Scrumhalf
De Kock, Neil WP Scrumhalf
De Villiers, Jean WP Centre
Du Preez, De la Rey Lions Hooker
Gerber, Hendrik WP Flank
Greeff, Werner WP Flyhalf
Human, Daan WP Prop
Human, Wylie Bulls Wing
Jacobs, Adrian Falcons Centre
Jantjes, Conrad Lions Fullback
Joubert, Marius WP Centre
Jordaan, Norman Blue Bulls Scrumhalf
Julies, Wayne Boland Centre
Krige, Corné WP Flank
Labuschagne, Jannes Lions Lock
Loubscher, Ricardo Sharks Fullback
Le Roux, André-Henri (Ollie) Sharks Prop
Lombard, Friederich Free State Wing
Louw, Hottie WP Lock
Matfield, Victor Blue Bulls Lock
Meyer, Willie Lions Prop
Paulse, Breyton WP Wing
Pretorius, André Lions Flyhalf
Rathbone, Clyde Sharks Centre
Rautenbach, Faan WP Prop
Roux, Wessel Blue Bulls Prop
Russell, Brent Pumas Flyhalf
Sephaka, Lawrence Lions Prop
Seconds, Egon WP Wing
Scholtz, Henro Free State Flank
Skinstad, Bob WP Eightman
Smit, Phillip Sharks Lock
Snyman, André Sharks Centre
Sowerby, Shaun Sharks Eightman
Swart, Francois WP Flyhalf
Terblanche, Stefan Sharks Wing
Van Niekerk, Joe Lions Flank
Venter, AJ Sharks Flank
Visagie, Cobus WP Prop
Van den Heever, Tjoepie WP Hooker

Rugby Forum Springbok XV (selected from the trialists)
1 Daan Human (WP)
2 James Dalton (Blue Bulls)
3 Faan Rautenbach (WP)
4 Victor Matfield (Blue Bulls)
5.  Hottie Louw (WP)
6 Corné Krige (WP)
7 Joe van Niekerk (Cats)
8 A.J. Venter (Sharks)
9 Johannes Conradie (WP)
10 Andre Pretorius (Cats)
11 Friederich Lombaard (Free State)
12 De Wet Barry (WP)
13 Marius Joubert (WP)
14 Breyten Paulse (WP)
15 Ricardo Loubscher (Sharks)

If only the Crusaders had declared at halftime.     Peter Jenkins

I am embarrassed for the Waratahs, they must be ashamed of themselves. This is the blackest day in NSW rugby history.      John Connolly

It was as if they were playing with 20 men out there.    Matt Rogers

There was just nothing there, no fire. There was no real intensity or effort from them. So we kept hammering away and the tries kept coming.     Reuben Thorne

It is always disappointing when a player is not prepared to stick it out and fight for his place in a national team. Rudolf Straeuli

We can never allow ourselves to get to a situation where players see it as a right to play for the Springboks. Playing for your country is something that is earned.      Rian Oberholzer

Letters to the Editor (letters@rugbyforum.co.za)
Hi Ed

My abiding memory of the past years of Super 12 rugby is just how exceptionally poor the performances of the Blue Bulls have been. The memory is not of the Sharks thumping the Highlanders in a most entertaining game at Kings Park, or the current Crusaders thrashing the Warratahs at Jade Stadium last weekend, its about how a stupid decision by SARFU has resulted in the dismal Bulls and the resulting missed opportunity for development.

Surely even a doff, blind d**s can see that the best rugby development area in our country is the Free State? Year after year they produce players of skill, verve and excitement who are snaffled up by the other unions and franchises who have benefited from SARFUs ineptitude.

I know that there is a huge financial population base in the Gauteng area within which Pretoria and Johannesburg fall but that shouldn't have dictated SARFUs diabolical decision. The welfare of our sport is what should dictate their decisions. Its time now to redress that stupidity.

The Bulls franchise should be absorbed into that of the Cats and the Cheetahs should be given the fourth franchise to at least have the chance to prove how good they are at producing fantastic players. Could they do any worse than the Bulls? And SARFU must let the Free State rugby administrators select their own team management and coaches or the development will die.

Having Loftus or Ellis Park as home grounds for the Cats/Bulls shouldn't be a problem as the stadiums are so close together in comparison to travelling to Bloem. The Stormers, Sharks and Cats/Bulls could continue to plough their respective paths in future Super 12 seasons, and we could all look to the excitement and skills of players being developed under the freed from shackles Free State programme.

All this from a fanatical Natal supporter - but how much of our glory has been built off the backs of Free State developed players?

Storm Ferguson

Dear Ed

That was BRILLIANT! It doesn't matter whether you are Chinese, Japanese, Swahili, South African, Ozzie, or what, if you call yourself a rugby supporter, you have to agree, it was BRILLIANT! Just imagine, deep into the 2nd half the penalty and free kick count was, Crusaders 4, Warathas 1! In all my 58 years I haven't seen such a rugby match. Well done Crusaders! You have shown us what rugby is about!

Nou ja, verder sal ons nie daaroor in Engels uitwei nie, netnou kry hulle grootkop soos die Ozziez.

Soos ek gesê het, dit is waaroor rugby gaan. As ons na die wedstryd kyk is die eerste opvallende aspek die behoud van besit. In die eerste helfte het die Waras omtrent nie die bal gesien nie, behalwe as dit agter hulle doellyn geplant word of deur die pale trek. Die tweede aspek wat opmerklik was, was die konstruktiewe benutting van balbesit. Elke Kruisvaarder het presies geweet wat om te doen om die beste vir sy span te doen. Maw die besluitneming was reg. Die hantering was uitstekend en aangeë was nie eenkeer doelloos nie. Elke ontvanger was in 'n goeie posisie om verder te speel. Die derde belangrike saak was die ondersteuning in algemene spel. Daar was altyd iemand om die bal te ontvang, vas te maak, aan te gee, te dryf of deur te hardloop. Die vierde uitstaande aspek, was die manier waarop die Kruisvaarders die Waras se skrum met minagting op die agtervoet gedwing het. Die Waras se swaarder voorspelers kon niks teen 'n ligter pak wat soos eenman saam stoot vermag nie. Dan natuurlik die skoen van nommer 10. Dit moes hartverskeurend wees om elke keer te sien hoe Mehrtens die bal, meer male uit moeilike hoeke, tussen die pale deurjaag. 

'n Verdere opvallende aspek was dat die Kruisvaarders nie eenkeer soos die sokkerspelers te kere gegaan het as hulle punte aangeteken het nie. Die persoon is geluk gewens met die gebruiklike hande tik of handdruk, maar nooit is daar na die toeskouers gewaai of enige verwaande streke uitgestal nie. Oorwinning met grasie! 

Ek hoop alleafrigters van enige span in Suid-Afrika het hierdie wedstryd op video opgeneem, daar is heelwat lesse wat daaruit geleer kan word. Van onder 9 tot die Springbokke kan iets wys word deur gereeld hierdie wedstryd deur te speel.

Nou wag ek in spanning op die laaste 2 wedstryde van Super 12 2002. Ek hoop regtig nie dit gaan so 'n antiklimaks wees soos wat die plekke op die punteleer reeds weerspieël nie. Al wat ons vra is: GOEIE, KONSTRUKTIEWE, EERLIKE HARDE OOP RUGBY.


Dear Ed,

My Bokteam to play Wales :

15.Breyton Paulse
14.Stefan Terblanché
13.Marius Joubert
12.De Wet Barry
11.André Snyman
10.André Pretorius
9.Johannes Conradie 
8.Shaun Sowerby
7.AJ Venter
6.Corné Krige(Captain)
5.Victor Matfield
4.Albert van den Bergh
3.Cobus Visagie 
2.James Dalton
1.Daan Human 

16.Thinus Delport
17.Werner Greeff
18.Craig Davidson
19.Bob Skinstad
20.Hottie Louw
21.Ollie le Roux
22.Johan van Wyk

John Smit,Lukas van Biljon,Rassie Erasmus,Joost van der Westuizen,André Venter,Rob Kempson,Dean Hall,Deon Kayser,Pieter Rossouw,Percy Montgomery and Robbie Fleck were not concidered.

It is a pitty that Chris Rossouw only played 40 minutes of Super 12. André Pretorius's defence was dissapointing in the Super 12. Greeff was our best flyhalf in Super 12, so let's give him a chance at international level.If Chris Rossouw wasn't injured at the beginning of the season,he would probably have been Bok-flyhalf. It was difficult to choose between Pretorius and Rossouw for the bench.

Percy is good enough to take the place kicks. 

Joe van Niekerk also didn't get a lot of game time because of injury, so did Skinstad, but Skinstad looked good when he was on the field. Bob is a special player,and makes my bench.

Joubert had a great second half of the Super 12. I hope he can carry that form over to international rugby. If he doesn't peform, Snyman can move to no.13 and Terblanché to the wing. Snyman has looked very sharp this year.Wing isn't his best posistion,but SA needs him there at the moment, with Hall injured and Rossouw leaving the country. 

Botha and Jacobs are also promosing, although they are small. 

This team can still change quite a lot cause there are so many injuries to top players. But the above 22 should play against Wales and I'm sure we will beat them with this team.

Johann Loubser

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