|Volume 4, Week 19|
Brilliant! Times are a changing. A Springbok victory and series win was eclipsed by a US Open title win by Retief Goosen in circumstances more bizarre than an IRB disciplinary hearing. Congratulations to Retief for a heroic effort on the toughest course in memory and also overcoming an unbelievably one-eyed partisan crowd and commentating team. As this is a rugby publication, certain parallels will be drawn with England later on
The Springboks, on the back of an excellent first half and 10 minutes effort celebrated a series win over the Irish. Many believed that this match would reflect the true strength of the two countries, and it did. The Springboks were the better team and certainly in the forwards proved to be dominant enough to overcome a very organized and experienced Irish tight five. Last week Bakkies Botha played like a Trojan and this week, Schalk Burger and Os du Randt carried the mantle.
There is little doubt that this pack has the making of a world-class outfit especially with the big but mobile front row of Smit, Andrews and Os. There were a few questions over Andrews’ binding but as a complete cretin with regards to the underworld dealings of the ABC club, no comment. However, why was it not a problem the previous week? A simple answer could be referee’s interpretations and a more sensational approach would be to accuse coaches of ‘playing’ the referee in pre-match interviews i.e. influencing his decisions before a scrum was set in anger. What to make of it? The Springboks will become as streetwise as Mohamed Ali and with a good bench and squad referee’s decisions can be negated in relatively short time by replacing the ‘all-of-a-sudden’ offender.
The rise and rise of Schalk Burger is an interesting one, the Irish all praised the young man’s ability and he is a brilliant prospect however he needs help in his noble cause. The top teams employ a tough-as-nails workaholic ‘opensider’ to do all the underhanded grafting required to steal and slow down ball and to destruct the rhythm of the opposition’s playing pattern. This first player to do so was Hennie Muller and he was so successful that teams of his day wanted the laws amended to combat what they called the ‘destructiveness’ of the ‘Windhond’.
This is not a plea to amend the laws, but for Schalk to be assisted by a ‘deputy’ – a replacement in the last 10 minutes when the man is out on his feet and his effectiveness is reduced to the level of justice in a Winnie Mandela court case. The All Blacks, use McCaw, Holah or Newby, the Aussies have Waugh and Smith and the trend is to replace a nuisance with another nuisance when the game is in its most delicate phase. So, Jake please help Schalkie! He can compete against all these guys on a one-on-one basis but it’s a long shot to expect him to deal with a fresh George Smith after battling for 65 minutes against Waugh.
More thoughts on the game…. The Springbok backs were good on defence yet wasted a few opportunities on attack that they cannot afford against the All Blacks. Fourie du Preez, learnt the hard way to play to the whistle and not trust a Frenchman… Percy was excellent in the kicking department, a totally unexpected performance and as a critique of his play in the past, it came as a pleasant surprise – why go to Wales of all places to learn all that Percy? Marius Joubert, tackled and tackled and grubbered away possession, hopefully he will resort back to the lethal attacking weapon with the pressure of dealing with BOD out of the way. It was however a brilliant tussle but the crown as the best outside centre in rugby remains firmly on the blond streaked locks of the Irishman. Well done Breytie you are playing like a 40 something test veteran should.
England. A lot has been said of this game in the press and a lot of nonsense has emanated regarding the sending off of Shaw. Rugby is a physical game but it is a game with rules, playing the man and especially foul play is not condoned and the way Kaplan dealt (not) with it the previous week, in a way, set the path for an English performance they can hang their heads in shame for. If a few yellow cards were handed out the previous week and suspension followed, the offending parties would have been wary to attempt the same kind of skullduggery we saw in the first ten minutes. Clive and his team need to take a good look at themselves. After attending the Springboks match at Twickenham in 2002 and the after-match press conference, all one can say to that condescending hypocrite (Sir Clive) is that, that is what teams resort to when they are outclassed, outskilled and outplayed. The wheel always turns.
Saturday, the Springboks take on a very adventurous Wales and this will be a far difficult game to deal with than the Irish. The Welsh will avoid the set pieces where possible to negate Springbok strength and attack with every piece of possession; this will demand different skills from the young Springboks and especially from captain Smit. He needs to assert his influence over the game and ensure the Springboks do not resort to a free for all as that would be the Welsh objective. They succeeded in doing that to the All Blacks at the World Cup and almost scored a brilliant victory, so Springboks be warned!
Australia face England and this supporter will definitely be backing George and his boys and they might need it. The Australians have not yet kicked into gear and with a lot of pride at stake will feel massive pressure to beat this England team. If they stick to rugby and get their brilliant phased play going, they are virtually unstoppable but they need to front up in the forwards and here they might lack in personnel to do so.
Enjoy yet another fantastic weekend of test rugby and to all those golf fans, did it not break your heart to see Mickleson three put the 17th? Not!
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|Blitzed by Desmond Organ|
Save for the Welsh the Northern hemispheres has been blitzed again this past weekend and nothing indicates that it will not be the same this coming weekend. The Springboks were quite magnificent at times in defence and left me wondering why I had ever doubted them in the first place. The reality though is that they do have to improve at least 50% in the areas that I passionately described last week.
The English , despite claims to the contrary turned in a performance of cheap shots worthy of comparison with the infamous Twickenham debacle. The fact that captain and coach attempted to defend actions that were despicable is quite amusing for me; having lived the experience of shame at Twickenham. Intent is 90% of the law in rugby when it comes to foul play and nobody is going to convince me that there was no intent to injure a player in such circumstances. Dallaglio has slipped from grizzled lea der to cheap shot specialist and passing threats of revenge might be in vain if Woodward adopts a similar strategy as coach of the Lions.
The English press true to form has embarked on a campaign of discrediting players and officials alike in a manner not seen since they were attacking the injustices of the South African approach, well! you reap what you sow in such circumstances and they can write as many lines of drivel as they wish. England were drawn, measured and found wanting. The same cannot be said of the Scottish who have travelled down a longer road in terms of games played and in terms of casualties to players. At present such is their limited access to resources that you can almost hail their efforts as victorious. The Aussies will have to pick up their game against England but memories of Sydney might just be sufficient.
The Springboks have embarked upon a new journey that will be marked by success and failure and I hope that everybody, myself included puts it all into context. Despite having raised the issue of selection criteria with much vigour in the past, there is one area where I believe that change is required. The press, supporters and administrators need to abolish the use and reference to quotas. Yes there are questions around selections at every turn, but take away the quota debate and your good old Sout h African supporter will find something else to complain about. I personally have been inspired by the performances of Breyton Paulse especially; and Wayne Julies is a good player without being exceptional. It is indeed quite magical to look at the list of players that could be playing for South Africa in the next few seasons.
South Africa need to blitz the Welsh this weekend to show that they have the ability to really stand up and take a team apart. They showed glimpses of this at Newlands and now they need to do it for the full 80 minutes. The defensive alignment has got to be worked on to ensure that passion is for those games against the Worlds best and not in games against opponents that might not be as good as we make them out to be. The defensive lapses of the first two games will be somewhat erased by the increa sed familiarity amongst players but that alone is not enough. Imagine what a Frank Ponissi or an experienced Ray Mordt might bring to the mix. The tries scored by the Irish were not just the work of a brilliant player, they were also as a result of poor defensive strategy and this must be dealt with in the context of what lies ahead.
From a Southern Hemisphere perspective the results have vindicated the quality of players available without necessarily hailing the Super 12 structure as beneficial to the well-being of the game as a whole. The fact remains that the season is not structured to ensure player health but rather to maximise profitability. The complaints that the Southern hemisphere have beaten sides at the end of a season should be seen in the context of the results the Southern Hemisphere teams achieve in their end of year tours.
Team of the Week
15. Percy Montgomery
14. Breyton Paulse
13. Brian O Driscoll
12. Dan Carter
11. Joe Rockocoko
10. Carlos Spencer
09. George Gregan
08. Xavier Rush
07. Schalk Burger
06. Joe Worlsey
05. Malcolm O’ Kelly
04. Nathan Sharpe
03. John Hayes
02. John Smit
01. Os Du Randt
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|Replay results by Vinesh Naicker|
Well the All Blacks have sent England packing with a comprehensive 2-0 beating in the series, as have both the Wallabies and the Springboks.
I find it ridiculous to hear the way that Clive Woodward is complaining that the second test between England and the All Blacks was ruined as a spectacle by the sending off of Shaw. It is even more unbelievable to hear that he thinks that England were the better team on the day.
I wonder if he remembers a day in November 2002 when England played South Africa at Twickenham and Labuschagne got a red card for a tackle on Wilkinson. I don’t remember Woodward getting on his soapbox and declaiming what a tragedy it was and how the people at Twickenham had been deprived of watching a Springbok team in its full glory.
I don’t think that there is any argument that the sanction of a red card remains a necessity in rugby and that certain actions do merit one. Did Shaw deserve one? Personally I don’t think so. If his kneeing of Robinson had been an upward motion on a defenceless player I wouldn’t have had a problem with it, but the way he put his weight on Robinson’s back wasn’t going to hurt the player and Robinson himself said that he hardly felt it. A yellow card would have been more appropriate in the circum stances.
My general impressions of the game are firstly, that the All Blacks struggled to put away a 14 man English team, conversely though, the English never really looked like winning. Their backs were clearly inferior to that of the All Blacks and their forwards at no stage before the sending off had dominance.
Secondly, Daniel Carter's try wasn’t one in my opinion. He was tackled before he got to the line, was held in the tackle and failed to release the ball before getting back to his feet and going for the line. Forget the grounding of the ball, that should have been a penalty for England. Did it have a major impact on the game? Probably not.
Thirdly, there were less forward passes than in the previous game, although I still suspect that the final pass leading to Spencer's try was forward.
Nick Evans struggled to make the step up to test rugby, he was still in “Super Fluff” mode for most of the game. He seems to have all the skills though, and it will only be a matter of time before he makes an impression.
Putting aside the negatives though, and they are only minor ones, there is a lot to look forward to with this team. For the first time since 1996 the focus is back on getting a combative forward pack whose primary task is to gain set piece dominance. Allied with a phenomenally quick and skilful back line, this All Black team is set to go places.
It is great to hear Henry continue to emphasise the need to gain and maintain a hard edge in the forwards. The selection of specialist forwards to win the line outs, scrums and rucks is the ongoing priority.
In some ways NZ was unfortunate that in the era ending in 1996 we had an incredibly talented forward pack. Not only were they able to do all the tight work with ease but they had the skills and mobility to play a very wide and fast game. In our infatuation with the fast game, and Hart and Super 12 were the main culprits here, we lost sight of the primary functions of the forwards. Instead of seeking set piece dominance we were content to pick players who could maintain continuity but not necessa rily obtain parity in the set pieces. Despite the obvious signs, that this was not the route to World Cup success it has taken the example of England's style in the last World Cup and the appointment of Henry as coach for our rugby to start moving back in the right direction. Let’s hope the renaissance continues.
There was nothing really worth commenting on in the Australian game, despite their try hard attitude the Scots are not really much of a test for anyone. The Australians were hardly impressive in their win, however, they have always demonstrated that they have a big game mentality. They can stutter and splutter their way through most of the year and then fire on all cylinders in the big games.
The Springboks once again dominated a classy Irish team. There is a lot to be pleased with in the current Springbok team, especially the burgeoning ability of the back line. Since their re-introduction to international rugby Springbok back lines have struggled to appear competent against good competition, they have been invariably lacking in skill and fluidity. Most times their only purpose has seemed to be to prevent the opposition back line from functioning. This seems to have changed this ye ar and in both test matches the passing has been a lot more accurate; players have been running onto the ball and even the new players are showing a maturity with the ball in hand. The Bok back line looked as good as the Irish one for most of the game. The Irish back lines is normally one of the better ones in world rugby but last weekend they were the ones who were blowing their try scoring opportunities.
I’ve never been a great fan of Montgomery’s but his time overseas seems to have done him a world of good, he seems to be way more solid and settled than he was. He’s a much better bet at fullback than du Toit, who although playing well in his last game, always seems to have that edge of fragility to his game.
Schalk Burger has been a revelation for the Boks as Gibbes has been for the Blacks. Despite the undeniable talents of Krige and Thorne and all their sterling work in cleaning up, it is now obvious to all of us what has been previously missing in the number six jersey for both teams.
The games this weekend are against the Pumas, Wales and the Pacific team, it will be a major surprise if all three Tri-Nations teams don’t finish the weekend at 3-0.
If we don't win on Saturday, people will ask if the team has gone backwards. Now, I doubt it, but we may not have gone as far forward as we thought.
Maybe I didn't pick on form last weekend, we made errors in selection but we needed that game to find it out. Clive Woodward
I would rather have won the World Cup and be getting a few hammerings now than the other way round. The fallout since the World Cup has been more dramatic than I thought it would be but it's not something I'll lose sleep over. Either we front up or we stay in our rooms and lock the door. Clive Woodward
As long as this team learns from these sort of tests and leave New Zealand with some respect as to how we play rugby then I'll be happy. At the moment I don't believe we can walk around saying we have that respect because we haven't earned it here. Lawrence Dallaglio
Nobody takes any prisoners over here (New Zealand). We know we're not incredibly popular, and we accept that, people are entitled to their opinion. What I find very unpopular is us not playing to a level that I believe we should do every time we pull on a shirt. Lawrence Dallaglio
Outmuscled is not a word I like to use for a forward pack I've been involved with but you have to accept that, that was what happened. Lawrence Dallaglio
Government support is vital. I'm just a dumb Dutchman and a forward so we need to get more expertise on board. Francois Pienaar on being appointed as RWC bid CEO
I'd say his goal-kicking is now in the same league as that of a Braam van Straaten. Andy Marinos on Percy Montgomery (pre test)
It doesn't matter what I say, because one of the teams will want to shoot me. However, I know it's going to be a very tough and very tense Test. Dion O'Cuinneagain
It is not for me to comment, but I do not think a boxer after 12 rounds should fight another who has just had two rounds. Eddie O'Sullivan on the long season
They are a quality side and deserved to take this series, we rested on our laurels a bit after getting that early try and they made us pay. Brian O'Driscoll
Shaw is not a dirty player ... he is clumsy. It was a poor call [by referee Williams] and it ruined the game. Clive Woodward
Shaw couldn't get his leg high enough to stand on him so he put his knee between his shoulder blades to make him know he was there. Anyone who knows Simon Shaw knows he's not a dirty player. Clive Woodward
I don't know where I got the strength (to tackle Humphreys). I just wanted to show people I could play 80 minutes. Os du Randt
I'd be lying if I said I never get scared in this job. I get scared of failing because if you fail as Springbok coach your profile is so high that you tend to fail big. I've always said, though, that if you're going to buy a rugby nation then this would be the one you'd look at. Jake White
You had a referee and a touch judge who are both world-class officials, they decided it was serious enough to warrant the guy being sent off. Yet the judiciary take a contrary stance. I mean, they ask coaches not to criticise refs. They ask players not criticise refs. And you've got a judiciary system that does exactly the opposite. Eddie Jones
Sir Clive received his knighthood for services to rugby. The way England have played so far on tour, it should be amended to services to thugby. Spiro Zavos
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|Letters to the Editor|
Ek het ongelukkig nie week 17 uitgawe van RF ontvang nie, maar dit is ook nie die dood van Katryn nie.
Wat ek eintlik wil sê is dat ek my dood gril en gruwelik vererg het toe ek Colin van Rensburg se brief gelees het, "FIVE NATIONS" in week 18 se uitgawe.
Ek stem nie saam met die uitbreiding van die 3-Nasies kompetisie na 'n algehele Suidelike Halfrond kompetisie nie. Dit sal die geleentheid vir die eilandbewoners van die Stille Oseaan skep, om heelwat meer Suid-Afrikaners se bene en nekke te breek. Daardie mense het 'n ingebore talent om vieslik vuil te speel, kyk maar wat het nou weer met die Skotte gebeur. Eintlik behoort hulle verbied te word om rugby te speel. Die Argentyne, dink ek, sal die enigste span wees wat daarby kan baat, maar selfs hulle sal ook nie 'n groot invloed hê nie.
Die ding wat my onmiddellik die bliksem in gemaak het, is die voorstel van 'n sogenaamde "TRIPPLE CROWN" en "GRAND SLAM", wat die heer Van Rensburg maak. Mens kan nie anders as om die kolonialisme en Britse doepa daarin te lees nie. Nie een van die moontlike wenners van die "TRIPPLE CROWN", het iets met dié of 'n kroon te doen nie. Dis nou te sê as die Zulu-kroon buite rekening gelaat word. Dit is in elk geval ook nie 'n kroon nie, maar 'n enkele bloukraanvoël veer. Al wat ons met die kroon te doen h et is die gouden diamante wat die Engelse van Suid-Afrika gesteel het om daarin te sit.
Toe lees ek ook van 'n "GRAND SLAM"! Sies! Wat vir 'n ding is dit?! Weer 'n Britse gier! Nee wat, ou Colin, dink liewer aan beter name. Of beter nog, laat sommer die na-apery van die Britte heeltemaal weg. Dit was as gevolg van al die na-apery wat Bok-rugby in die penarie sit waarin hy nou sit. Laat ons maar liewer hou by wat ons het en rustig daarop bou totdat dinge reggekom het, dan gaan verniel ons die TRIPPLE CROWNERS en GRAND SLAMMERS.
Laastens, Jake, baie geluk met jou eerste oorwinning as afrigter! Dit was sommer lekker om weer Bok-rugby te sien. Doen so voort, Meneer, en ons sal bo uitkom.
Baie sterkte aan die Bokke op Nuweland!
Oom Kys de Wet
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