Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 20

Editors Note

Brilliant!       Ahhh, it may be very premature but don’t you get that warm fuzzy feeling that everything is going to be OK? Kind of like a little boys unreserved faith in the strength of his father, that world peace can work (get rid of Bush), that Kylie will always look like a teenager, that Os will never go backwards in a scrum and that equilibrium has finally returned to world rugby – after an absence of a year or two. If you do, read on.

The so-called autumn internationals are over and done with and the collective egos of the Tri Nations is stroked and boosted after a few rampaging victories over two of the best sides in Europe. England met their Waterloos in three successive weekends and their final capitulation against a team they have not lost to since 1999 ends one of the longest seasons in the history of English rugby - obviously seen from their point of view. Agreed and acknowledged, it was absolutely ridiculous to embark on this tour after a truly immense year littered with great accomplishments. The problem is though they did and in 20 year’s time nobody will read the remarks column in the statistics because there isn’t any.

What went wrong for the world champs? The change of personnel is the obvious answer but to a large extent the underestimation of a very good coach that their void could be filled by lesser mortals. One only has to delve in recent All Black history to discover the massive impact the departure of a Fitzpatrick, Dowd, Brooke and Bunce brought to their game. The good news though is that no player or coach is irreplaceable. England will rise again but history also proved that a truly remarkable team is destined and forged by events and as most know, lightning hardly strikes twice in one place. Which brings us to the Wallabies.

The ‘best team in the world for 99 minutes’ rose to the occasion and despite an average performance in the forwards, managed to put 50 points past England. Mostly thanks to one of the slickest backlines seen in world rugby for a long time. They are, excluding Lote Toquiri, the Brumbies starting line up and this Super 12 winning combination played with an incredible amount of faith and coherence on defence and attack. Add individual brilliance like Clive Rathbone’s and the reason for Eddie’s turnaro und against Clive become evident. Well done Australia, great effort.

The Springboks took another successful step in their 13 test journey of 2004. Watching in a little country pub in the heart of Grabouw with a roaring fire fighting the cold and rain outside and too many bodies crowed in front of a small TV, the match looked very loose and loads of bad options prohibited a ‘proper’ drubbing of Wales. The forwards, again were magnificent and finally one of the pre-season wishes came true, the fervent hope for the return of the real Os Du Randt. The other wish? Beating the All Blacks, anywhere!

For 3 matches in a row the big man displayed the form that accorded him the accolade of best loosehead in the world at one stage. He is back to his imperious best and like Connor Macleod, immortal. If this is one of Jake White’s cornerstones to Springbok resurrection, he has a foundation noteworthy of praise. For the moment.

The Springboks overall display was not too great in this writer’s humble opinion and although there has been strides made compared to the last two years of shambles, the true test await. The Tri Nations. Jake White is no fool and he knows that Australia and New Zealand is the measure of his team, his own ability and his performance clause. He remains however quietly confident yet constructively critical and this should be admired. On the strength of the Wales performance, there is work to do (again Jake know this) however one senses in the current setup a lot of positivism and an appetite for hard work for the challenges ahead. 

It was difficult to spot individual performances (apart from the obvious - Os) in this match amongst the throng of rather large farmer’s bodies, spilt drinks, hanging on to one’s own drinks and the size of the screen. But here goes; Victor Matfield looked good in the lineouts (like complimenting a Miss SA on her beauty) but also had a good run through weak defence. Brent Russell was a busy chappie but the tactic of playing back to a midget coming into the flyhalf channel will provide the organized All Black and Australian defence with easy cannon fodder and the surgeons with business – not his fault though. 

Jaco is a worry, he is not consistent and his options were either brilliant or poor – stop the chipping! Schalkie again worked hard but needs help as he exhausts himself. John Smit did very well and his try was an athletic an effort seen from a hooker since the great Uli Schmidt. Breytie again impressed with some excellent running angles and a willingness to go for the line. Marius Joubert played more of the linking role and his defence was huge as usual, look out for his battles with the Australas ians!

Finally, Percy. He played very well, yes, he missed a tackle at the end but the finisher was one of the deadliest in world rugby and the score did not matter. What did matter was another brilliant kicking display to goal and out of hand and his running into space. Well done Percy.

The Currie Cup kicks off this weekend and this writer will be out there supporting the local teams and the future Springboks, also an opportunity to watch Big Joe, Jean De Villiers, De Wet Barry, and Corne Krige – remember him?

Enjoy the break from test action before the Springboks begin part 2 of their 2004 rugby odyssey down under!



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Crunch Time by Desmond Organ
When all is said and done it will be the tour down under that determines Jake White's level of success in his first several months as Springbok coach. Sure there is a lot of merit to beating the Irish when you are underdogs and beating the Welsh who are showing signs of recovery, but in the end all measurement points towards the Tri-Nations.

The fickle South African fan has a short memory both in terms of defeats and victories; anybody remember how recently we were the worst thing in world rugby. A trip to any local rugby pub from Sydney to Madrid will remind all Bok supporters that fans from around the world tend to have a much longer memory. It has become something of a social sport to mock the Springboks and victories in the last three games has changed nothing. It is only the really informed fans that realise the benefits of a retu rn to prominence for the Springboks.

The Wallabies are blessed with incredible talent in the three quarters and don’t even think about the All Backs as it could put every loyal Bok fan into a cold sweat for a week. The forwards appear to be the area to exploit in the coming internationals, however the average age of the South Africans tends to indicate a rosier two year picture. If there are victories abroad in July it will be a massive achievement and will elevate Jake White to a position of prominence similar to that of Nick Mallett . The reason for this is quite simple, we love to beat the teams from the Six Nations, but it is the Aussies and All Blacks that are a true measurement of our success.

Despite the score line in Saturdays test against Wales there are still plenty of opportunities for improvement. The defensive patterns are improving but it appears to be a rush defence which is thriving on the dominance of the pack and the slow ball being won by the opposition. We are yet to see the Springboks being matched at forward and under pressure from rapidly recycled possession. If the current defensive lapses are allowed to continue, we could be in for a long hard tour. Passion in defence will only get you so far in the international arena. One positive is the fact that the Boks passion is not just limited to the customary 30 minute testosterone effort. Jake White has really motivated the team to believe in themselves and that is a huge improvement from the headless chickens of the former coach.

The stability of the front row has lead to a rejuvenated loose forward trio that not only contests but dominates the loose ball, several turnovers on Saturday can be attributed to over enthusiasm and might be a lot more costly against the likes of Phil Waugh and Richie McCaw. The passion from Os Du Randt is a sight to behold, Duncan McCrae, author of the book Winter Colours sang his praises several years ago and he was on the money. This is the second week in a row that I can happily write of Du Randt sizing up and cutting down a three quarter from the opposition at a point in time when they threatened to break down the Bok defensive effort. Lawrence Sephaka should take a leaf out of Du Randt’s book and realise that he has the potential to be a similar typ e of player.

The squad selected for the trip to Australia and New Zealand has a lot of promise and a lot of youth to it, the decision to include several recently returned players is questionable but is beneficial if it serves to eradicate the mental scars of the former head coach. Like it or not Straueli is being humiliated every time that something goes well for this new group of players, hats off to those that put up with the frustration of being coached by an amateur for the pride of representing their count ry and of course earning a lot of money at the same time.

Team of the Week

15. Joe Roff
14. Clyde Rathbone
13. Marius Joubert
12. Matt Giteau
11. Lote Tuqiri
10. Andrew Merthens
09. Fourie Du Preez
08. David Lyons
07. Schalk Burger
06. Richard Hill
05. Victor Matfield
04. Simon Shaw
03. Faan Rautenbach
02. John Smit
01. Os Du Randt

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There has been too much emphasis on the professional arm of rugby in this country at the expense of the amateur game, this has resulted in the decline of our rugby. The game has been neglected at many levels.  Brian van Rooyen

There is a nice culture in the squad. The spirit is very good because there is freedom for the players to express themselves. It is definitely affecting the way we play. A happy team makes winning easier to achieve.    Gert Smal

We are not a team that throws cheap shots around. We are a team that tries to be physically intimidating and dominate a match. We have been successful in achieving that against Australia recently and we are going to set out to do it again.       Lawrence Dallaglio

He is the sort of bloke that when he's winning, he's on top of the world, he's your best mate, and when he's losing, he's always looking for excuses.         Eddie Jones on Clive Woodward

They win two games and they think they're world-beaters.       Wales manager Alan Phillips 

You can trace [suspensions] over how many years since rugby has been professional and there is no real consistency with what an infringement equals in terms of time away from the game or a penalty in terms of money. Players are aware of that.       George Gregan

We've only won two tests and we aren't really in a position to be c*cky just yet. But it is good that the public is beginning to have more confidence in us. It gives us faith to continue what we are doing.      John Smit

I suppose when you win a Test match by 50 points, you should enjoy it a lot more.     Jake White

We've been found out, you have to accept that, take your hidings and walk away.       Clive Woodward

It was a massive embarrassment. I look at some of the players that I know are champion players and that wasn't a fair reflection of the players that I know.       England's defence coach Phil Larder 

When we train it works so well, looks so good, but then the 15 other guys turn up on a Saturday and spoil our party.     Jake White

The youngsters must follow (me). But I'm just happy to be in a position where I can lead and be of worth and do something that the youngsters can look up to.        Os Du Randt

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Top Ref? 

I was sparked to life by Vinesh’s mention of a forward pass leading to a try, something that our ‘experts’ fail to comment on in any form of the media.

I discussed the level and ‘slightly’ forward pass that seemed to be becoming prevalent in Super 12 with Jonathan Kaplan some years ago, as it gives the defensive team no chance of defending. He commented at the time that they (Refs) were allowing the practise as the key issue was that the game should flow and be attractive. Sadly the practise has worsened and we all have become so used to it that we don’t even comment on it anymore. Just work out for yourself how a level/’slightly’ forward pass gives the attacking team a 1.5 – 2m advantage. Should the pass be made correctly (read the rules) the receiver would be caught by the cover defence thus requiring better line breaking skills, like swerves, jinking, sidesteps, changes of pace, etc., from an attacking team (now a lost art!). Remember how ‘attractive’ it was watching a Phil Bennett jinking or a Mannetjies Roux/Carel Du Plessis sidestep? Now line breaks are more the result of a ‘Brumbie Shuffle’ (they have perfected the art of reading a Referee!) than any real skill. The anomaly though is the rugby skill of BOD - why he is the best (and most pleasing to watch?).

Jonathan is regarded by many as the top Ref but I find his lax attitude to the rules and his constant chirping, seemingly being followed by more and more additional Refs, enough to make me change channels as the game stops being a contest. Seems the Brumbies have his attitudes and actions down to a T!

Two other points:

1. Have you noticed how poor the passing is at International level?

2. What does the Rule Book say about punching or the intention to punch? Is it an automatic red card or does the Ref have latitude regarding whether it landed, was hard enough or a fly swat?

Storm Ferguson

Hi Lucas


So far so good. The Bok forwards look world class and ready to take on the best the rugby world can offer. However, the backline, barring Percy Montgomery and possibly Fourie du Preez, are not yet on the same level. They will not get away with the same mistakes and lost chances against the AB's and the Whinging Matildas. Thankfully they are trying to play rugby, but the slick skills and intuition are a wee lacking. Jaco vd Westhuizen has not set the world alight yet, but it's good that Jake White is not panicking by giving him some more opportunities. Hopefully he will grow into a flyhalf that the opposition fears.

One gripe though. The design of the rugby jersey may be high-tech, but it looks bloody AWFUL ! Even the AB's jumper resembles a rugby jersey to some degree. The jerseys of the Boks, Poms and Frogs look like too small aerobics T-shirts. Surely the sponsors don't have all the say....SA rugby bosses must have some input. Or is this monstrosity of a jersey their design ?

Hope remains that the Boks will upset the AB's and Wallabies this year....despite the nauseating design of the jersey.

Jakes Jacobson
Auckland, NZ

Watch out for a new design in the next Springbok test. Canterbury Clothing Company is taking over as sponsor from Nike and their design will be similar to the Irish, Australian and Brumbies jerseys i.e. a return to the traditional.


Hi Lucas

Antwoord aan Oom Kys

Of die bestaande Drienasies-reeks uitgebrei moet word na 'n Vyfnasies-reeks, is ek bevrees, sal ek en Kys maar moet ooreenkom om te verskil. Ek meen steeds die kruisbestuiwing sal suidelike halfrond rugby in die algemeen baat en die toernooi boonop interessanter maak.

Ek wil net graag op 'n paar ander punte antwoord.

1. Kys sê: "Dit sal die geleentheid vir die eilandbewoners van die Stille Oseaan skep om heelwat meer Suid-Afrikaners se bene en nekke te breek." Daar is meriete in dié stelling, maar onthou dat vele van hierdie manne reeds daardie geleenthede het deurdat hulle in die Super-12 vir Australiese en Nieu-Seelandse spanne speel. Deur 'n Suidsee Eilandse span in die uitgebreide toernooi toe te laat, sal eerder verhoed dat Nieu-Seeland (bv. Joe Rokocoko) en Australië (bv. Radike Samo) met die eilande s e kalwers ploeg, en daardeur 'n onregverdige voorsprong op Suid-Afrika verkry. Ek is juis verheug dat Rupeni Caucaunibuca voorheen vir Fidji gespeel het...

2. Ek propageer beslis nie die naam "Triple Crown" nie, maar bloot die konsep dat daar iets op die spel is - hoewel nie-amptelik - bo en behalwe die eerste prys. Dit kan "Southern Cross Championship", "Antarctic Rim Title" of wat ook al genoem word. Boonop dink ek die Iere sal baie ontsteld wees as die suggestie aan hulle gedoen word dat die woordjie "Crown" in 'Triple Crown" na die Britse kroon verwys!

3. Ook die term "Grand Slam" het niks met Brittanje uit te waai nie. Indien 'n tennisspeler byvoorbeeld in een jaar al die groot toernooie wen (insluitende die Australiese en Franse opes... beslis nie Anglofiliese nasies nie!) word dit ook as 'n "Grand Slam" bestempel. 

4. Wat Argentinië betref, het hulle moontlik nie die flambojansie van die eilandbewoners nie, maar dit bly darem mooi om agt voorspelers onder een kombers te sien speel, soos in vervloeë dae.

Oom Colin van Rensburg

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