Editors Note


Volume 2, Week 21

Editors Note

Brilliant!    Amidst the cold gripping South Africa at the moment, there is something predestined to keep the heart warm – no, not Old Brown Sherry or Alto Port but good old-fashioned test rugby! The men from the valleys of Wales proved to be as tough as their coalminer fathers but this coming weekend the Springboks meet the Pumas of Argentina - on the rock hard  surface of Springs on the highveld. Judging by their “A” team's performance on Wednesday night this will be a far sterner test for Rudolf Straeuli’s young guns, caramba

The SA “A” team’s victory over a very game Argentinean side was slightly auspicious; yes, “it showed character” and a load of other bollocks to win in the end but this was not a good performance of what is seen as a “merit” A selection. If this is the second best team of representative players in SA one can see why there is a continuous struggle with basics. The catching, passing and defence was atrocious and only on rare occasions was the runner behind the ballcarrier or the pass neatly in front o f the supporting player. When they did get it right notably with Butch James at the helm there was a spark and points were scored.

Quick service from De Kock made James’ long awaited first class return look impressive. The silky skills remain, his kicking is strong though his defence wasn’t entirely put to the test – maybe the Super 12, 2001 did not feature in Argentinean preparations? The other returnees was an obvious unfit Mark Andrews who by own admission struggled over 80 minutes, the big guy played well though for a while and it will be one of Straeuli’s challenges to get him fit and involved for the Tri Nations. Dean Hall looked impressive with the ball in hand but his work rate was obviously less than his norm. Robbie Fleck received a longer than usual run around and needs a lot more game time to regain the old sharpness and burst of speed. 

Victor Matfield is an impressive lineout exponent but one can see why Rudolf decided he could make do without him – blame this entirely on a season too many with a very weak Bulls side. Players like Johan Roets and Friederich Lombaard, given a golden opportunity, did not exactly grab the chance with both hands, they fumbled their way through the match and Roets’ positional play was weak – is SA in dire straits at fullback?

The SA under 21’s victory over the “Baby Blacks” caused great happiness amongst all Springbok supporters, the magnificent match was not only entertaining but also real exciting at deaths throes. A pity that a good victory was soured by continuous boasting from a television announcer, it makes the next fall so much worse – humility in victory is an admired trait and one aptly displayed by Hugo Porta on the evening of the Jaguar’s historic victory over the Springboks in 1982. Dan Retief of Supersport recalled in one of his articles the great man’s victory speech in which he reminded his men to remain calm and savor a rare an honoured occasion. Victories between SA and NZ are similar, at any level - pity Dan’s colleague did not read or chose to ignore the article!

The weekend’s feast of test rugby will see Australia take on the French who were very far from their Grand Slam-winning best last week. Frankly the team who played such magnificent football all year and ranked as one of the best disappointed me. Lets hope this match live up to its promise. SA take on the Pumas, it will be tough and with a slight disadvantage with history at this field (I seem to recall Doc Craven vowed never to stage a test match at this venue again after a defeat against France, older readers??) the young inexperienced team will face a tough task. It is also a huge challenge for new captain Corne Krige. The backs need to win this match on the basis of a strong forward showing, an inexperienced England team and France in the second half showed that by running at the Pumas they are vulnerable in defence. Expect them to dictate via the boot of Gonzalo Quesada by using the hard fields to roll the ball to the corners. This will play into the hands of Russell, Paulse and Terblanche who need to thrust and parry and make them pay by scoring tries.

A final question, does anybody out there know why some of our esteemed commentators insist on declaring that the {whatever team} are playing in their “third” of the field? Who is playing in the third “third”?




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Hier Kom 'n Ding by Tom Marcellus
Although it is not recorded in any history books, the very early 1980's were a period of unbroken success for the Springboks. Glorious victories were gained over numerous touring sides, reaching a climax with the series victory over Billy Beaumont's 1980 Lions. Matches were not, however, played at the conventional test venues of the day like Newlands and Loftus, but on the lawns of a smallholding in the Natal Midlands, and the sum total of spectators to these epic struggles invariably were an in different gardener and a mangy Labrador, licking its nuts under a hot African sky.

Although the popular recollection is that the Boks triumphed 3-1, it was, in fact, a mighty drubbing, as the green-jerseyed hordes ran in try after try. Mordt and Gerber, Serfontein and Botha, and Louw and Du Plessis, each played a pivotal role in these famous victories, although it was invariably left to the burly Zimbabwean to swallow-dive to glory in the far right corner of the field. This was a favourite place for play to take place, as a leaky tap had left the grass long and luscious, and he roes were able to make a muddied dive for the line in relative comfort. Of course, each sweeping backline move, each try, and each line-out ("En Willie Kahts lek die bloed van sy fingers. Dis 'n taai stryd hier op Boet Erasmus") was accompanied by the gravelled commentary of the late Gerhard Viviers, whose enthusiasm occasionally reached hysteria as Gerber broke through (with bellows of "Hier kom 'n ding, hier kom 'n ding"), flicked it back inside to the ubiquitous Louw, only for Mordt, as ever, to take the final scoring pass.

Indeed, such was the gritty determination and unmatched skill of the Boks in those carefree days that they were able to batter opposition XV's into submission. Occasionally other teams managed to put together muted rear-guard actions: for the Lions, the bearded Welshman, Ray Gravell, was a handful at centre, and Andy Irvine, the Scottish fullback, was brave under the garryowen. For the All Blacks a year later, Bernie Fraser displayed the grit and fire that he was famous for, and Murray "The Unsto ppable" Mexted, in true Pimpernel fashion, was here there and everywhere.

But one man stood out amongst all these opponents as something special, even to this hardened fan of the Green 'n Gold. Wearing the rainbow colours of the South American Jaguars, Hugo Porta burst onto the local rugger scene at the start of that eventful 1980 season. Although both tests (the real ones, this time) were won by the Boks, largely thanks to a youthful Pretoria policeman, one HE Botha, the veteran Argentinean no 10 was superb: grubbers, jinxes, dummies, little chips – every time he touc hed the ball, local fans grimaced in terrified expectation.

Porta's greatest moment came in 1982. After his side had been well and truly put to the sword 50-18 by Wynand Claasen's Boks in the first test op Loftus, with Gerber and the debutant winger, Carel du Plessis, in mesmerising form, further slaughter was expected in the second test, a week later, in Bloemfontein. Still basking in the glory of the previous Saturday, the Boks, not unexpectedly, were also not unduly concerned in the days building up to the match.

But things were a bit different in the South American camp, where plots were underway to upset a complacent home side. On the day, the Jaguars came out snorting, and, with a strengthened pack and with their now 31 year-old skipper in sublime form, they produced one of the greatest turn-abouts in local sporting history. But it really was Porta's day: he somehow managed to guide his team of no-hopers to a 21-12 victory, in doing so scoring all their points with a try, conversion, four penalty goals and a dropgoal: ge-place, ge-drop en ge-score, . Frik du Preez would have approved.

Underestimate these Argeys at your peril.

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Test the Best by Desmond Organ
It is every sports reporters dream to unveil the hidden truth behind a coaching strategy. As if driven by some instinctive trait we desire to be the first to bring the breaking news to the world and to show that we have some edge over the people actually participating in the events themselves. Yet at the same time we are the first to admit that through a bizarre collection of events and circumstances we are often not on target. 

It is with this in mind that I have been somewhat perplexed by the selection strategy of the latest Springbok coach. Are we witnessing a real genius who has mastered the art of controlling the wishes of the media or are we in the presence of a man who has learnt from the successes and failures of those that have preceded him? The reality is that it may well be early days for the current coach. He may also have been assisted by the failures of Harry Viljoen, yet it is also wise to remember that there is a fine line between success and failure and it is often true that the foundations of a successful team are built out of the ashes of the past. 

One cannot deny that the Welsh touring party provided an ideal opportunity for the coach to select a young team based on players of the future. It was also an opportunity to test players that have promised a lot at Super 12 level and who are bracketed as being from disadvantaged communities. The same can be said of the captaincy, the mere fact that it has become a hot potato for the incumbent is as much to do with the availability of players as it does with the bizarre strategies of those that coache d before. The circumstances have played into the hands of the coach, or perhaps we are dealing with somebody who quite frankly knows how to take advantage of the circumstances around him.

If we had been visited by a full strength English or French team, the picture could be quite different, we may have had a couple of defeats staring us in the face and the Russian roulette selection circus of several years ago. Wednesday’s match between the South African A side and the touring Argentineans may well be the stroke of genius, however circumstantial, that Mr. Straeuli has been waiting for. The players that he has selected for that game are the who’s who of the last couple of years. The ma jority of the players have either represented South Africa or they have been on a touring party. There are also several questions that will be answered by this match.

The fitness and long term viability of players like Mark Andrews and Joost van der Westhuizen, the tackling problem of one Butch James and the performance of Andre Snyman in the right position. The one thing that is surprising though is that several of these players may well consider this to be a test. Who would be able to blame them for making the simple statement? What is good for the goose is good for the gander. The reason for this is that there are several current players in the national team th at have flown right back into their positions without being put to the test. They shall remain nameless for the sake of those reporters who potentially would be forced to once again display their secondary role as fan club marketers. 

The coach may well be taking advantage of the circumstances at his disposal. The teams that represent Argentina on Wednesday and Saturday will be fairly similar. It is an ideal opportunity to test the performances of those competing for the same position; it is also an opportunity to test the squad system that has so long been a part of Mr. Straeuli’s strategy. The best horses for the best courses may well be the legacy of the current era. If this is in fact the case it will be a great opportunity to sell the concept to the administrators, the players that are chosen for the national team going forward will be a group that allows the coach to operate under a variety of circumstances. The marketing of a national squad will be the obvious result and this will potentially allow the coach more leeway to select the right players based on form and conditions. There will hopefully be less scrutiny from the politicians if the mix is not as they deem it should be because the make up of the bigger whole will me et the requirements. The question then remains, is this circumstantial or the work of a shrewd leader who has a clear picture in his mind?

Upcoming International Fixtures
Sat 29 June South Africa vs Argentina Springs
Sat 29 June Australia vs France 2nd Test Sydney
Sat 6 July South Africa vs West Samoa Pretoria
Sat 13 July New Zealand vs Australia Christchurch
Sat 20 July New Zealand vs South Africa Wellington
Sat 27 July Australia vs South Africa Melbourne
Sat 3 Aug Australia vs New Zealand Sydney
Sat 10 Aug South Africa vs New Zealand Durban
Sat 17 Aug South Africa vs Australia Johannesburg

Halftime speech at the Six Nations match against Italy. "For those who have turned up here just for the pay cheque, go now and don't ever come back."     Bernard Laporte 

Why are we insulted with second rate venues?         Federico Mendez

He has become very strong in his religion and I think that has helped him a hell of a lot.       Justine Krige (wife of Springbok captain Corne)

In my time we committed 40 percent of our expenditure to development, but you soon realise that you can only spend so much and then your expenditure gets taken up by officials.      Louis Luyt

No-one is really assured of their place now. It is a fantastic situation for the coaches to find themselves in, although maybe not the players.      Ben Kay

South Africa vs Argentina Statistics
Date  Team For   Opponent Against Place
12-Nov-00 South Africa 37 vs Argentina 33 Buenos Aires
16-Nov-96 South Africa 44 vs Argentina 21 Buenos Aires
09-Nov-96 South Africa 46 vs Argentina 15 Buenos Aires
15-Oct-94 South Africa 46 vs Argentina 26 Johannesburg
08-Oct-94 South Africa 42 vs Argentina 22 Port Elizabeth
13-Nov-93 South Africa 52 vs Argentina 23 Buenos Aires
06-Nov-93 South Africa 29 vs Argentina 26 Buenos Aires

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

I wish to express my gratitude to SARFU for seeing the light regarding strength vs strength. Just a pity that the "old school" rugby administrators of this country did not see the advantages of having the top 120 players contracted to SARFU for the Super 12. It means less money that the unions have to cough up to pay these players, as well as a chance to give the top 120 an even chance of playing in the sport shoe and brewer's green and gold.

Regarding the issue of strength vs strength, we can bring in another factor, that of development. With the current structure, the top 6 will play in the "A" section, and the other 8 in the "B" section. Would it not be more of an advantage if the the top 8 played in the "A" section, the other 6 in the "B" section and having 2 "teams of colour" competing in the "B" section, too? That would mean a return of the legendary WP League and maybe have a team form the Eastern Cape (East London, Port Elizabeth, George) forming a league team too. This will have a bigger impact on development, as set out by SARFU. With the WP/EC regions the traditional strong holds of rugby in the coloured communities, this could only help them achieve their goals.

The top 8 would incorporate teams such as the Lions, WP, Cheetahs, Sharks, Bulls, Falcons, Pumas/Boland/Griekwas. The "B" section would then include Bulldogs, Griffons, Leopards, Eagles, Pumas/Boland/Griekwas and the 2 coloured teams. I can also see the WP League side making it into the top 8
within 5 years.

These league teams should include white players to fill the gaps where coloured teams are traditionally not strong, such as prop and lock.

A competitive coloured team would mean more to rugby development than a few clinics a year.

Keep up the good work

Beste Red

Nadat ek Saterdag weer soos ouder gewoonte na die Bokke gekyk het teen Wallis het ek by myself gewonder wat sien Mnr. Rudolf in ons kaptein. Volgens my moet die kaptein mos `n voorbeeld stel in die manier wat hy speel en hoe hy hom gedra. Wel met sy gedrag kom daar niks skort nie, maar hoe hy speel dit is `n ander saak.

Ek wonder soms of hy besef hy speel rugby en dat dit beteken dat jy eintlik `n bal moet kan vang. Rudolf het die Bokke lekker fiks gemaak so dit beteken Bobby is net lui. Hy staan 80% van die tyd in die agterlyn en niks doen nie ek dog dan `n loosvoorspeler se werk is en veral `n agsteman om altyd by die bal te wees hy moet eerste of tweede by die losskrum wees en as die ander span skop moet hy gaan dek en ou Bobby doen dit nie eens meer nie.

Lyk my hy het ook nog nie gehoor van `n agman scrum nie ,want hy is een van die min agstemanne wat glad nie sy kop indruk nie hy hou net vas aan die slotte. Joe van Niekerk is `n baie beter speler as Bobby en verdien `n kans volgens my moet Bobby nie eers in die 22 groep wees nie daar is beter losvoorspelers soos Shaun Sowerby om net een te noem.

Ek sê ons moet van Bobby ontslae raak miskien sal hy dan weer begin om rugby te speel en nie aan te gaan asof dit `n mode parade is nie. Ek kan, maar net hoop Rudolf sien deur sy act. Ek bedoel hoe gaan jy van die bench af na kaptein toe? Daai een moet Harry my nog kom verduidelik as hy tyd het.

Met Dank

Nardus Oelofse

Ps: As daar enigiemand is wat nie saamstem nie of saam stem oor die feit laat weet, maar.

Geagte Red.

Moet net nie daardie geliefde woordjie, "BRILLIANT", van jou gebruik wanneer jy oor hierdie wedstryd skryf nie. Daar was hoogs-tens net vier SA-spelers wat as briljant beskou kan word, nl. Butch James, Dean Hall, Hendrik Gerber en Hendro Scholtz. Sowerby sal ek ook miskien nie te veel kritiseer nie en so ook De Kock en Sephaka. Hulle het konstruktief gewerk om die SA-span vorentoe te laat gaan. Vroeg reeds kon mens sien Mark se stoom is aan die opraak. Victor moet liewer daaraan dink om flank of No. 8 te speel. As dit een van sy vaster wedstryde was, dink net hoe los was die ander! Ek sal ook die res van die voorry krediet gee vir hul skrumwerk. In die los het Coetzee en Du Preez nie te vrot gevaar nie.

Wat Julies en Fleck in die span gemaak het, weet nugter! Hulle kon mekaar nie vind nie en het ook nie juis goeie diens aan die vleuels gelewer nie. Fleck se manier om 'n bal in 'n goeie agterlynbeweging sommer so aan te klap na die buitespeler, is iets wat mens glad nie soek by 'n man wat al 25 toetse agter die blad het nie. Arme Friedrich Lombard kon maar net sowel tuis gebly het en die wedstryd op TV gekyk het. Ek dink hy sou dan beter gesien het. Werk soek is blykbaar nie juis sy beste talent nie. Heelagter Roets weet nie hoe om by 'n agterlyn aan te sluit nie. As hy dit wel probeer doen het, het hy heeltemaal van die aanvalspunt af weg gehol en ge-isoleerd geraak, of aangeslaan.

Kom ons by die plaasvervangers dan moet mens seker sê hulle het die span in die tweede helfte eerder ontwrig as versterk. Joost moet nou ernstig daaraan begin dink om sy skoene op te hang. Jy was BRILJANT op jou tyd, Joost, maar daar kom een of ander tyd 'n ding wat mens uittree noem, en ek dink dis nou tyd vir jou. Jy kan nie stry nie, jy kom stadiger by die afbreekpunte, jou breekslae is nie wat dit was nie en dit plaas druk op die res van die span. Gaffie, ja, ons almal weet wat jou potensiaal is en wat Mallett met jou aangevang het destyds, maar dis darem nou al jare verby. As dit nou nog in jou onderbewussyn rondlê moet jy baie dringend 'n kopdokter gaan spreek. Bakkies, en toe jy op die veld verskyn wil die ouens sommer vuisslaan? Nee, ek sê nie dis jou skuld nie, maar dit moes jou dadelik beïnvloed het. Dis menslik. Te min tyd om iets te wys. Wessel Roux het Sephaka vervang en goed geskrum maar verder niks gewys nie. Wayne, ook opgegaan en verdwyn.

André Snyman, wat het met jou gebeur? Waarom moet so iets altyd met dieselfde persoon gebeur? Een ding is seker, niemand kan jou die skuld gee vir 'n wedstryd wat weggespring het met alle beloftes vir SA-A en toe platgeval het nie. Jy kan amper sê jy was nie eens daar nie.

Nee wat, met al die groot name wat in die span was, kan ons verseker wees ons rugby is in die woestyn. Maar gelukkig het ons darem nog 'n onder 21-span wat vorentoe iets sal kan vermag. Ons sal maar hoop op die toekoms.

Mag die Bokke Saterdag beter vaar op PAM Brink.

Kys de Wet

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