Editors Note


Volume 2, Week 4                                                 

Editors Note

Brilliant!   Yes! The Super 12 competition is up and running and there was no stuttering or farting about, the first round was exceptional with high quality displays and a try scored by every single team. Ok, the Chiefs and the Bulls were bad but the matches they were involved in were as exciting as the Crusaders and Brumbies clashes. The early prognosis: Super 12 rugby – fit, healthy and ready to thrill!

The coming weekend will be the turning point in the Six Nations competition when favourites England face the old enemy, France. Angleterre would like to wrap up the competition with a win over arguably their strongest opposition but a French side on home soil is never easy to beat, ask the Springboks, Australians and the Kiwis. Clive Woodward’s team will be with inspiring captain and chief enforcer Martin Johnson who miraculously escaped suspension through a myriad of vague rules surrounding appeals for a ban and his presence with the genius of Wilkinson could spoil any French dreams of a Six Nations title. France for a win, close but yes cigar.

The focus in the Southern Hemisphere is now on 12 franchises willing and able to beat the living daylights out of each other, legally of course. Compared to last year’s shocking disciplinary records in the opening round most teams have realised that 14 men can rarely overcome the odds however the try of the weekend was scored by a side sporting only 14 men at the time, the Reds. Ben Tune displayed some amazing attacking skills and what a delight to see this wonderful player fit again, from a rugby co nnoisseurs point of view of course! Opposing sides do not want to see the back of this man… unfortunately his side was beaten by the reigning champions, the Brumbies.

A week ago I reserved judgment on the final standings in this year’s competition until after the first round. Well here we go, my prediction for Super 12 2002:

1. Brumbies
2. Crusaders
3. Blues
4. Highlanders
5. Bulls, Cats, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Reds, Sharks, Stormers, Waratahs, (will make up the numbers so frankly who cares in what position?)

That is correct, no South African sides in the final four, last year was an extraordinary year with the Kiwi sides in turmoil, this year they have hit the ground running. A new national coach with a no nonsense attitude makes a huge difference, players know that if they produce the goods an All Black jumper awaits, no politics, no names pure merit. The Brumbies are a well-drilled side and the history of the competition dictates – a first win guarantees a second. 

A few comments, it is extraordinary but not the first time a player announced his retirement at a relatively young age, Barry John springs to mind and now Andre Vos. His decision to leave the international game aged 27 is a sad day for the country, the man is a wonderful player and there were few more committed than he even in the direst of circumstances when stripped of the national captaincy. This is not a warning to administrators of the rigors of modern rugby schedules; it is a hard cold slap in the face!

Danie Gerber, all time great and every schoolboy of the eighties’ hero underwent a triple bypass operation for a hereditary cholesterol disease, we all wish this brilliant player a speedy recovery and may he continue to part his phenomenal skills on young players in the country.

A very strange thing has happened in New South Wales where a paralysed player took the NSW Rugby Union to court over the injury he suffered as a result of rugby. The incident took place 20 years ago! South Africa has through the Chris Burger and Petro Jackson fund been able to care for this unfortunate and ultimate sacrifice to the game, surely with the healthy state of world rugby’s finances a special trust can be created to cater for what is a real threat in the game. More players (and their parent s) at all levels will be able to play the game with some assurance that there is somebody out there to look after them.

The new Springbok coach is down to two candidates and after another indifferent tactical display from the Sharks many pundits are looking towards the “wrong” Rudy, Joubert that is to win a World Cup for South Africa. The new coach will be known come Saturday and don’t be too surprised if the “wrong” choice is made.

This was seen on the excellent Sharks website this week in a “chat” with Andre Watson, “My first trip to Aussie had me refereeing a club game the Saturday before the test match in Brisbane. I was overwhelmed by the amount of talking by the players. As we were fresh out of isolation I was willing to allow it in order to learn. After about 30 minutes, I was fed up with all the talking (to each other and to me) and I said: ‘Come-on guys, there are way too many referees on the paddock’. One mumbled a rep ly: ‘that's right mate, and you are not in the top 10!’

This weekend is another bumper rugby weekend, don’t forget to support the teams live at the park!




Political Agenda by Desmond Organ

At the centre of many debates around transformation in sport is the “means and ends” debate. Put simply the concept has it’s origins in the political philosophies of Karl Marx and the neo Marxist movements that followed him. 

It is not my intention to bore readers with a philosophical approach to the weekly article, but perhaps it can shed some light on the events that are surrounding the current status quo in South African rugby. The concept oscillates between two fundamental principles, that on the one hand the end result justifies the means that are instituted to achieve it and on the other hand, that the very means employed will have an impact on the results being aimed for.

In the highly charged political environment of South African rugby we are faced with the ongoing debate around transformation of the sport at an administrative and participative level. Many of the administrators in rugby are motivated to change only because there is a penalty for failing to do so, hence the concept of fixed quotas as a key component of the transformation process. Without these quotas it is highly unlikely that several of the rugby unions would have changed at all. The quota system is then seen as a positive means of bringing about the ultimate transformation of the game.

The politicians in South Africa are often motivated by their ability to sell a final solution to the electorate. South Africa is in the somewhat tragic situation of having a government that is unlikely to be challenged for power by the political opposition. This enables many politicians to focus on the end result, without being too concerned about the impact of incremental events. In such situations the demands for change are at the forefront of their actions, that the end result of transformation is achieved is the ultimate prize and the consequences of poor selections and poor results are immaterial, because it simply makes no difference weather the loyal supporters of the game are affected by it.

It is no wonder that the administrators that attempt to run the various sporting codes in South Africa are bouncing off the walls like rubber balls. I do not envy the head of the South African Rugby Football Union or his counterpart in the cricket establishment.

They get hammered by the politicians, hammered by the press and the supporters and then if they are lucky, they get a telephone call from the one and only press secretary to the Minister of Sport.

Remaining motivated in such a situation is hardly expected and the results are going to suffer as a result. Fortunately there is light at the end of the tunnel. South Africa possesses if anything; a passionate obsession for sport and the culture of playing sport competitively has enabled us to remain competitive. The successes that we have had since returning from isolation have more to do with a passion to play than they do with the administrative sectors of the game. 

Clarity is everything in the current South African situation. The next time an administrator turns on the players and castigates them, he had better realize that the one thing keeping South African sports alive is the passion for playing. The quota system is a valuable piece of the transformation process as it is bringing forward players that are otherwise ignored, but the means in which it is done is farcical at times. 

How is it that the Sharks and Stormers are able to meet all their quota requirements and still perform on the field of play, the same cannot be said of the National team in cricket or rugby. The answer is clear, set the requirements and allow the people who run the game to manage their day to day affairs. I am personally sick and tired of hearing administrators blame the players for lack of motivation and a poor performance when they are anything but consistent.

Thank goodness we have coaches and players of ability who can survive in these troubled times. The transformation process must continue, that is the end objective, but the way in which it is done is going to affect the final outcome.


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 Ladies and Gentlemen: Round Number One by Mark Foster

What a wonderful weekend of rugby, a cracker jack start to the Super 12 exceeded all expectation with tries aplenty and some dazzling display of skills, fitness and teamwork. The most impressive performances were undoubtedly from the New Zealand and Australian outfits, probably the reason why all the titles are shared between them!

The Northern Hemisphere in the guise of England set a standard a week ago that few thought possible to surpass however two matches were of infinite quality, the Crusaders/Highlanders and Brumbies/Reds clash. Not surprising the two champion sides overcame their opposition but the Crusaders were hard pressed by a strong showing from Laurie Main’s Highlanders. In a repeat of the NPC final the Highlanders put up a far more committed effort and was it not for the old maestro Mehrtens’ boot and the departu re of the brave Tony Brown the result would have been reversed. The Highlanders were clearly disappointed as they rued missed opportunities.

The other brilliant match was a Brumbies victory over a marvelous Reds team, the size of the victory as in most matches against the Brumbies did not reflect the Reds’ effort accurately. The champions remain a well-drilled team who with the superb organizing skills of Gregan and Larkham will be hard beat for a second title. The changing of coach and departure of key players like Joe Roff seemed to make no difference. The Reds proved a bit of a revelation as the try of the tournament suggested a more o pen pattern than previous years when Latham finished an inspiring run by fit-again Ben Tune. 

The Brumbies and Crusaders are leading the charge with a rampant, resurgent Blues team following in their wake but how did the South African sides perform? There were two local derbies and in a repeat of the Currie Cup final an injury depleted Stormers outfit confounded belief by yet again beating the Sharks with a supreme second half effort after trailing by what most thought was a match-winning margin. The Sharks have only themselves or rather their kickers to blame as a lackluster display in this department cost them the match - Gaffie Du Toit’s been called upon countless times to prove his BMT, maybe it is time to realise and accept he has none and move on.

Take nothing away from the Stormers, inspired by Pieter Rossouw, the “men in white” displayed all the qualities vacuum packed in their skipper, Corné Krige. Brave, ingenious and with an iron determination the Stormers succeeded in pulling off a very important away win. A lot has been said of the display of Johannes Conradie, let us not heap to much pressure on some very young shoulders but nobody can wish for a better debut in the Super 12 than his display on Friday night. He is a conventional scrumh alf with obvious talent yet possesses the vision and the pluck to attempt and succeed with a drop goal from the base of a maul. The Stormers need to capitalise on the confidence factor especially with a few home games on the trot.

The other big South African match produced very little in fact it was reasonably tight at the end but too many errors made this the weakest match of the weekend. There were of course highlights but mostly individual brilliance from the likes of Gcobani Bobo, the three try hero of the Cats sent a clear signal to the future Springbok coach and selectors that he should be included as a merit player and none of the quota bollocks. The Bulls were once again dreadful in the kicking department and they look ed slightly under prepared for the occasion which is a surprise after all the good things everyone was led to believe before the start of the competition. I guess nothings changed.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend of rugby and week 2 will undoubtedly provide for some mouth watering match ups. The pick of the weekend’s full round of matches will be the Reds/Blues clash, both teams are in good nick and full of running so expect a host of tries. The Sharks are facing an acid test in the House of Pain against the Highlanders who will be like a bear with a sore tooth after the narrow defeat against the Crusaders. Rudolph Straeuli’s team may live to regret their first round loss as a punishing overseas schedule will make it difficult too win more than 50% of their games in Australasia and then its an uphill battle to the semi-finals.

The Cats face the Brumbies and this might prove an embarrassing encounter against the champions if they play in similar vein as against the Bulls. There should not be an upset here as Gregan and his men are virtually indomitable on home ground but new coach; Frans Ludeke will do well to bring back a bonus point. The Bulls are playing the Hurricanes and for Heyneke Meyer and his team this must present an opportunity to record an elusive win over a team from New Zeeland. The Bulls need to tighten up th eir defence considerably as they will be up against world-class finishers in Cullen, Umaga et al. The forwards will need to dominate with Matfield contributing and a start for Danie Rossouw, if they can dominate the tight phases it is not too far-fetched a notion to record a victory at the high-altitude of Loftus Versfeld.

The Stormers at Newlands, once again an impressive home record should see the Sharks victors overcome the Waratahs who are notorious bad travellers. The New South Welshmen are on a high though after one away victory in New Zeeland and with the deadly accurate boot of Matt Burke the Stormers better not make any mistakes or leave it till late, Burke will not be as forgiving as Gaffie Du Toit. A fanatical crowd will boost the “men in black” and an almost full Newlands stadium is a sight to behold add th e “Slaptjips&Monty” factor and this will be a very entertaining match indeed.

The second round will find it hard to improve on the records set in the first with most teams aware of other’s strengths and weaknesses, video material and analysis will play a major part in defence patterns. The difference will always be individual brilliance, an ingredient jam-packed in the Super 12 series.


Super 12 Log


Played Won Lost Points
Blues 1 1 0 5
Waratahs 1 1 0 5
Cats 1 1 0 5
Brumbies 1 1 0 4
Stormers 1 1 0 4
Crusaders 1 1 0 4
Highlanders 1 0 1 1
Sharks 1 0 1 1
Reds 1 0 1 0
Bulls 1 0 1 0
Chiefs 1 0 1 0
Hurricanes 1 0 1 0

Week 1 - Opening Round Review

The first round of Super 12 action is history and after an exhausting 12-hour television marathon poring over every match there is plenty to write about! The general consensus was of a very successful beginning to the toughest and most exhilarating competition in rugby. It certainly provided spectators with great entertainment as they witnessed a record number of tries and the highest scoring opening round in the competition's history. With e ach side scoring at least one try who said rugby has become defence orientated?

Hurricanes: 7     Blues: 60

The opening match or more accurately mismatch was an incredible reminder of the unpredictability of sport, the Hurricanes with All Black superstars in the backline were thumped 63-7 by a rampant Blues side in Wellington. The two-time champion’s problems due to the loss of key personnel and coaching staff a few seasons ago seem to be a thing of the past and other teams better beware. The Hurricanes need as usual, forwards to do the job and discipline - it is difficult for the likes of Umaga, Cullen and Lomu to do it all without enough quality ball. They will however upset a few teams along the way.

Sharks: 18      Stormers: 25

The Stormers once again pulled the wool over the eyes of their Durban based archrivals, the Sharks. The premier South African derby was a very exciting affair although riddled with some basic errors – not to worry, as far as first serious games of the season go this was an acceptable display. Unacceptable and palpably frustrating for the legions of Sharks’ fans was the recurrence of the “squander-litis” disease also diagnosed in last year’s Currie Cup final. An 18-8 lead at halftime did not prove eno ugh for Corné Krige and his band of Springbokless-men, inspired by a fine display from Pieter Rossouw and Johannes Conradie the Stormers hauled in the Sharks and gained a valuable away victory.

Chiefs: 25      Waratahs: 42 

The Waratahs was too strong for the Chiefs and Bob Dwyer’s side played some excellent football, last year’s young guns will be far more formidable and the presence of Matt Rogers inspiring. Burke at centre may ultimately prove a disaster for Australian rugby but his experience and team commitment is beyond doubt. The Chiefs are strong on the counter attack and in Roger Randle they possess a lethal finisher but without John Mitchell and an injured Dion Muir the going could be tough.

Crusaders: 30     Highlanders: 28 

Undeniably the highlight of the weekend was the South Island derby between the Crusaders and Highlanders, the teams played magnificent attacking football and the mercurial Mehrtens displayed fine form early in the season. Both teams can take heart from solid forward displays combined by excellent three-quarter skills from the Mauger brothers, Paul Steinmetz and Geoff Wilson who finished off one of the best tries of the day. The two Kiwi sides are destined for the play-offs and with excellent coaches in Deans and Mains, All Black rugby stand to benefit immensely this year.

Brumbies: 29      Reds: 19 

The all-Australian affair between champions Brumbies and the Reds was another scintillating display of quality Super 12 rugby. The Brumbies played their trademark organised phased play and the loss of key players Kafer and Roff was hardly felt. The forwards led by Jeremy Paul are multi skilled and were superbly driven by Gregan, the guvnor. Larkham kept the defences guessing and the return of Mortlock and his combination with Howard will make this backline a dangerous threat in the weeks to come. The Reds played very good rugby and Larkham’s try scored after a brilliant counter attack initiated by Steve Kefu and conceptualised by Ben Tune was of the highest order. The big whoa, Wendell Sailor is nothing but an oversized speedy wing who are two a penny in the Kiwi teams, he tackled well and ran well but in this match did nothing special to warrant his “superstar” tag.

Bulls: 31        Cats: 44 

The final match of the day between the Bulls and the Cats was a bit of a shocker, the Cats surprised a lot of pundits with their play and the Bulls surprised nobody with theirs. Individuals shone and in a match where there were countless errors and breakdowns a few players stood out; the star of the show was undoubtedly Gcobani Bobo, with three tries and more enterprise than a teenager on his first “sure thing” date he reminded many a spectator of how a centre should play the game. Willem Stoltz was a pleasant surprise and the big man can develop into a classy lock, Danie Rossouw looked the business, with loads of speed and great hands (this does not always translate to safe hands, ditto Bob Skinstad) one wonders why he began the match on the bench. The Cats won and that short statement just about sums up the play.

Rugby Forum Super 12 XV

1. Bill Young (Brumbies)
2. Jeremy Paul (Brumbies)
3. Willie Meyer (Cats)
4. Justin Harrison (Brumbies)
5. Willem Stoltz (Cats)
6. Corné Krige (Stormers)
7. Owen Finnegan (Brumbies)
8. Paul Miller (Highlanders)
9. George Gregan (Brumbies)
10. Carlos Spencer (Blues)
11. Pieter Rossouw (Stormers)
12. Aaron Mauger (Crusaders)
13. Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies)
14. Doug Howlett (Blues)
15. Matt Rogers (Waratahs)

16. Dave Hewitt (Crusaders)
17. Lukas van Biljon (Sharks)
18. Simon Maling (Highlanders)
19. Scott Robertson (Crusaders)
20. Johannes Conradie (Stormers)
21. Paul Steinmetz (Highlanders)
22. Chris Latham (Reds)

Physically I am no longer up to Springbok rugby.      Andre Vos

They are so used to this sort of thing happening I should think they train with 13 men.     Murray Mexted on the Hurricanes

The Naas Botha Rose 'grows into a neat compact bush covered with healthy leaves and soft pink buds with a silvery reverse'. 

It's hard to read the writing on the wall when your back is against it.      Phil Pretorius

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

I can't believe that Australia and South Africa are pushing for a Super 14. New Zealand has the depth of players to field 5 complete sides, but South Africa clearly doesn't. That would explain why almost every year a South African side finishes at the bottom of the log. Australia is also a slightly different case because the three sides they do field are all competitive and almost never finish near the bottom, but Rugby Union is not even close to being the national sport in a nation with only 18 million inhabitants. The number of sides in the Super 12 should not be based on even numbers, but representative of the number of registered players per country.

The prospect of a Super 14 is a wonderful one for the spectators, but oh my word, the poor players: imagine playing the hardest rugby in the world for at leat 15 weeks of Round Robin, and then a further two for the sides that excel, the best side playing for 17 weeks at its peak! That's almost 4 straight months of rugby ... in one competition. Someone's got to give. The list of injuries to key players at the beginning of this super 12 is evidence of how stuffed up all our players are getting! Almost our entire Bok team is buggered or carrying injuries: Kempson, Toks, Fleckie, Paulse, Halstead, James, Skinstad, Andre Venter, the list goes on... Good start SARFU Pty (Ltd) cc & Son, or whatever you call yourself.


Dear Ed

When are the so-called rugby brains of SA (and Natal) going to realize that Gaffie is a waste of time. He may show potential at training but on match days he plainly sucks...no match temperament.

Marty. H,

Geagte Red

Eintlik is hierdie in antwoord op wat C. Hale, "an old Province supporter", in verlede week se uitgawe van RF kwyt geraak het. Dit is betreurenswaardig dat 'n man sy provinsialisme so voor op stel, dit selfs noem, en dan oor al die pakke slae wat WP in die jare 80 van N-Tvl gekry het via die skoppe van Naas Botha, nog so seer kan maak. Toe gegee, Naas was 'n wêreldklas skopper, maar dit was nodig om te wen, dis tog immers waaroor dit gaan. Om mooi rugby te speel en belangrike wedstryde te verloor, is 'n pynlike gedagte. Net so is dit om te verloor sonder om na die wedstryd te kan sê ons het ons bes probeer, soos dit soms in 2001 gelyk het. Of die voorspelers nou met hul gesamentlike massa oor die doellyne van ander spanne gebeur het na 'n lynstaan 5m, of selfs minder in daardie dae, van die hoekvlag af of nie, dit het die punte op die bord gesit.

C. Hale noem mnr. Mallett as die mees suksesvolle "Bokwagter" in die moderne tydvak. Kom ons kyk bietjie na die intimiderende taktiek waarvan hy ook gebruik gemaak het. Hy het dit wel van Markies ge-erf, maar tog ook gebruik. Die Bokke kry 'n strafskop binne trefafstand maar skop hoekvlag toe. Hoekom? Om met die voorspelers se groter massa oor die doellyn te dryf en 5 punte te kry, eerder as 3 van 'n strafskop. Was dit nie presies wat Naas ook maar gedoen het nie.Deesdae doen al die spanne dit! Selfs die WP! Al verskil was, Naas was só briljant dat hy dit in spel kon doen en nie nodig gehad het dat 'n skeidsregter spel moes stop en 'n kolletjie moet aandui waar hy vandaan moes skop nie. 

Oor die salvo op Rudolf as "Bokwagter", kan mens maar net kop skud en lag. Waar was die Sharks, én Natalse Haaie, voordat hy oorgeneem het? Waar het hulle ge-eindig sedert hy oorgeneem het. Onder Hugh Reace-Edwards was hulle verlore, laaste op die Super 12 leer en ook nie ver van agter in die Curriebeker kompetisie nie. Sedert Dolfie se oorname, twee jaar na mekaar in die semi's of finale! WP het in beide jare die Curriebeker gewen, tuis en weg. Briljant! Ek stem 100% saam dat Carel en Gert hulle ree ds bewys het as van die beste afrigters, huidiglik, maar waarom het hulle nie om die pos aansoek gedoen nie? Moenie kom met die storie van versteekte agendas ens. nie. As dit in die hof bewys moet word sal 'n mens dalk bedroë daarvan afkom. Feit bly, Dolfie hét aansoek gedoen, Carel en Gert het nie. Dolfie staan 'n kans om "Bokwagter" te word en die ander twee here nie. 

Ek sal nogal daarvan hou as Dolfie, sou hy aangewys word, vir Carel aanwys om met die agterlyn te help. Die Bokke kan net baat daarby as hy nog vir Naas ook nader trek om losskakelspel te ontwikkel. Die beste sal natuurlik wees as hy heeltemaal afsien van 'n 'verdedigingsafrigter' en 'n "AANVALSAFRIGTER" aanwys. Ek glo daar is in die verlede te veel klem gelê op die verdediging en te min op aanval. Dit is waarom die Bokke onbeholpe gelyk het as die bal tussen die agterspelers beland het. 

"Hoe verdedig mens met die bal in jou besit? HELP!" 

"Skop, man, skop!"

"Waarna toe?"

Dan is die bal in Cullin se keelgat af geskop en ons het moeilikheid.

No, Mr. Hale, let go of your provincialism and support South Africa. That is the only way to help our beloved sport to get back to where it belongs.


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