Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 21

Editors Note

Brilliant!       Some readers will instantaneously recognise the significance of the 7th day of the 7th month. Today - this morning in fact - a whole bunch of men (only) who included religious zealots, half drunken maniacs and a few calculated heroes ran with the bulls in Pamplona. There were, of course Ausies, Kiwis and South Africans that joined in as part of a weeklong party oblivious to the religious significance of the festival of San Fermin. Helloooo rugby? Well, here are some clues: analogy, Pacific Islanders, Ausies, Kiwis, hit by a bull, Rathbone…. Get it?

Our good ‘mate’ Eddie Jones and half his team got rattled over the weekend by the ‘robust’ Pacific Islander rugby team. The injury lists were long and at present, the captain and Joe Roff seems to be out for a while after suffering injuries against the bully boys from the Islands. And poor Clyde Rathbone looked like Mike Tyson ‘did’ him… 

This interested observer watched the match and was not surprised at all by how the combined team played the game because that is how players from this region have been playing for ages. No use complaining now. In 1995, André Joubert became really famous for playing a World Cup semi and final with a broken hand, thanks to our ‘friends’ from Samoa. There are quite a few test players limping around with shared orthopedists and a ‘been-walloped-by-Brian-Lima medal’. So - nothing new.

This weekend it is the All Blacks turn however the men in black will be a bit more difficult to intimidate. Coach Henry will select his team carefully to deal with their ‘assault’ and have enough fit players left for the Tri Nations opener against Australia in a fortnight. The addition of Rico Gear will not deter the visitors however Henry does seem to think along the lines of ‘giving some of their own medicine’. 

Apart from their kamikaze-like tackling technique and a tendency to eliminate key players, the Islanders are not a bad rugby side. They showed remarkable skills and ball retention abilities and if the Aussie were not as good as they are at defence it could have been a very embarrassing evening for Eddie and Georgie. Heck it can become embarrassing for Graham and Tana/Jake and John over the next couple of weeks!

The question out there, if this team has merit in world rugby, should meet with a resounding yes. Individually those nations will have the odd great game, Samoa against England in the 2003 RWC or a few other isolated victories but together, professionally coached and prepared they could be contenders. They should not be left to lament like the great Brando’s character in On The Waterfront.

The Springboks have new kit sponsors, Canterbury SA has announced their sponsorship of SA rugby in a deal worth a lot of money. The jerseys will change back to something resembling a rugby jersey and although the female supporters out there will rue the opportunity to see their heroes in body hugging space outfits – its good to see some tradition creeping back in the game.

The weekend’s beginning to the Currie Cup was a very entertaining one and although it provided countless copy for the advocates of the strength versus strength debate, this supporter enjoyed some of the good rugby on offer. A few players caught the attention and Willem De Waal displayed the kind of talent this writer raved about when he was included in the Bulls Super 12 squad. He is not a fullback but the real deal at flyhalf. Watch this kid. The Sharks almost saw their proverbial and was very lucky to win their opener against an inspired Griquas outfit with Braam van Straaten back in the fold. The Durban men were out of sorts until a Henno Mentz and Craig Davidson inspired period provided victory.

A year or so, South African rugby was in dire need of quality scrumhalves. The call has been answered and there are quite a few very promising young players announcing their credentials. Michael Claassens from the Cheetahs is a very good prospect. Having experience at playing this position, there are two, no, three things that contribute to a scrumhalf looking ordinary, good or great. They are the scrum – a good scrum will allow a scrumhalves attacking, kicking and positional play to develop, as will a weak scrum enhance his reputation for 'clearing' if he does the job brilliantly going backwards, his defence and decision-making under real pressure.

The second is a good eightman. The no 8 is your best buddy, he needs to protect you, provide you with good ball, have a good tactical awareness and he must be able to carry the ball. Rassie Erasmus is in a class of his own and the ideal player to partner. The third and final cog is the flyhalf. A very good flyhalf makes his scrumhalf look brilliant. Naas Botha only had good scrumhalves, ever wonder why? Willem De Waal is his flyhalf. Me thinks this young man will go far. Tertius Carse of Western Province is another name to watch.

Enjoy the big clash at Ellis Park where the Lions take on Province, this writer will be flicking channels between the rugby and the Wimbledon ladies final re-runs…



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War of the Minds by Desmond Organ
Creating a positive frame of mind is the single most important aspect of the Springboks preparation for their upcoming games against the All Blacks and Australia. In the last several years there has been a consistent pattern to the Boks wins and losses against their Southern hemisphere counterparts.

The most alarming factor is the inability to win away from home and this has got to be one of the most frustrating things from a supporters' perspective. Contrast this with the difficulty Australia have with winning games in South Africa and you come up with a similar theme, differentiated only by the margin of defeat. The Springboks have won only once in Australia for as long as I can remember and the Aussies have only defeated the Springboks in Durban in the dying seconds of a fiercely competitiv e encounter.

The All Blacks on the other hand have reigned supreme and the embarrassment of massive defeats in New Zealand has been tempered only by our ability to push them to the limit in games at home. Last years defeat at Loftus was the beginning of the end for the incumbent coach and he never did recovery any sense of consistency in selection. The sad thing is that in many ways he started off his tenure pretty well and showed that small pocket rockets can run big boys close and on some occasions in quite s pectacular fashion. What then are we to make of the so-called new era under Jake White?

The availability of talent is the same as it has always been and were it not for the poor management of player talent, we might have a lot better record than we currently do. The state of mind debate is perhaps best illustrated by our obsession with the inside and outside centre positions. We have not been a settled team since the days of Muller and Muir.

The current squad has plenty of potential in that there is a blend of experience and youth, if only this had been the case in the last few years. The appalling management of players like Andrews, Vos and Skinstad has only proved that we have the talent but lack the ability to perform unless the best 15 are always available. The press thrives on the paranoia of the South African fan by playing along with the uncertainty. Headlines around the unavailability of Werner Greeff point to only one thing, t he press has got used to writing about losses and writing about the fickle South African fan.

Jake White knows what he wants and in selecting players like Julies he has taken a risk that he believes is worth while. De Wet Barry seems to be the backbone of the backs as far as fitness is concerned and even he has had his moments. History shows that you need a pool of at least 4 capable centres to be able to compete at the highest level. In Julies, Barry, Joubert and De Villiers we have at last got that. Sure there are likely to be injuries but at least the core pool has been identified. It is no surprise that the Aussies can deal with injuries to players like Elton Flatley and Striling Mortlock because they have brought through Giteau and Rathbone and had players like Burke and Nathan Gray to fall back on.

The administration of the game in South Africa has always lacked consistency and the number of serious injuries to players in key positions is about equal to the number of coaches that we have had in the last five years. This brings about a lack of self confidence from the coaches to the players to the spectators and with it comes a self belief in keeping the score down or competing for the first 20 minutes, throw in the complex nature of South African society and the need for transformation and yo u have a mind set that is all about short term goals and short term survival. 

Jake White is making the right moves as far as consistency is concerned and he has shown an ability to adapt when found wanting. The players at last have an opportunity to develop a positive frame of mind, something that the administrators and supporters could well learn from.

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It would definitely be to the benefit of the South African system if there were no links or ties between the selectors and provinces. It would kill off any talk of bias.       Carel Du Plessis

We will not have a gun put to our head. It is unfortunate for AJ, but it is time we put a marker down and say, 'Enough'.     Andre Markgraaff

England don't actually have a pattern. They play patternless rugby, while the Islanders actually have a pattern. They have some structure, but within that structure, because of the large range of skills, they are a far more dangerous attacking side.     Eddie Jones on the Pacific Islanders

I don't know if that was a game of rugby tonight or a game of rugby league, AFL, minkyball or speedball. I don't know what it was. But I've got nothing to say about them. You make your own judgment.     Eddie Jones after the match against the Pacific Islanders

I just think the business about the hard tackling or whatever has been blown out of all proportion. I think it was just another typical international rugby game in which there was good, hard tackling on both sides.    Graham Henry

Sponsors are coming in because they get good bang for their buck.      George Rautenbach, executive chairman of Megapro re Springbok sponsorships.

My one worry is not having out-and-out pace in the backs you can't compensate for that. When it comes down to a footrace, as Kitch Christie said, there's no substitute for pace.     Jake White

The players are definitely not happy at the moment . . . the attitude. . . from the powers that be is astounding: it dates back to the 1960s.     Hennie Le Roux

He's a hell of a nice boy. I don't think he will ever change because his dad will donner him! His dad knows what it's about!       Jake White on Schalk Burger Jnr

The one who would take the icing on the cake would be George Gregan. He's like a parasite. He gives it to you and you just can't seem to get rid of him. He disappears and then he pops up in the weirdest places and he causes havoc. He's only half my size, but mate, he brought me down. He does really, really well and he's a feisty character. He is a great leader and an awesome player.     Jonah Lomu on his 'toughest Wallaby competitor'

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Pacific Islanders

I doubt whether Jake White is still in two minds whether or not he must rest key players for the match against the Islanders after watching the match Australia vs Pacific Islanders. It is like playing against 15 angry Butch James' . You can not risk your key or semi-injured players against these Neanderthals. Maybe the All Blacks will sort a few of these guys out before we meet them. I am not sure whether there is a place in world rugby for such a team. Surely they can not have a great sense of nationality coming from three countries who have their own rugby traditions.

Charl Grobbelaar

Hi Lucas

Your comment about George Bush

I didn't appreciate your world peace comment about George Bush. Have you forgotten already what happened that caused Bush to take steps against those ba.stards?

Please think before you write your 2 cents worth, and stick to rugby.

Hans Brienen
Florida, USA

Dear Hans,

Thank you for your mail. Unfortunately I don't know how long you have been a subscriber (don't seem to have your address?), but my comments - especially in my intro paragraph - are mostly made in jest and I try to be
topical. I also tend to stick to rugby for 95% of my mail, you obviously did not read further...

President Bush is an interesting case, because one of your countrymen, Michael Moore, has just released a movie on the subject - hence the reference.

As to you comment, of course I think about what I write - writing this column, or anything else, is accomplished by thinking!

Fortunately or unfortunately everyone in this world has a different sense of humour, and although I will not apologise for mine I will try and consider others. Your unappreciation is noted and as one of a few thousand people who read the mail, at least you wrote in to object. I will bear that in mind for the future.

Good luck and I hope you and your president can continue the great work on maintaining world peace.


Hi Lucas

Dit gaan goed met ons rugby as ons "ooms" so van mekaar verskil in hul menings. Koos Carelse, waarom het jy skielik so stil geraak ? 

Manne, pasop !!! Dit lyk goed, maar 'n lyk is 'n dooie ding. Ons manne het hulle sover besonder goed van hul taak gekwyt, alhoewel ek glo ons moes die Ierse-toetse ook verder gewen het. Die oomblik van waarheid sal eersdaags aanbreek wanneer ons hierdie twee "spanne" van die Suide aanpak. Toegegee, ons het 'n jongspan wat waarskynlik nie die ervaring het nie, maar as ons "guts" kan wys, dan is ons klaar op die regte pad. Die middelveld bly maar vir my 'n probleem, en dis daar waar die All-Blacks en die Aussies vir ons gaan laat les opsê. Danie Coetzee bo Gary Botha verkies ? Komaan manne, dis 'n bespotting. 

Was dit nou nie lekker om te sien hoe die Ingelse opgefoeter word nie ? Shame, hulle kry swaar : Krieket, Sokker, Rugby en toe sommer vir die kersie op die koek is hulle enigste hoop op Wimbeldon ook daarmee heen. 
Geniet die rugby, kan natuurlik nie wag dat die Curriebeker begin nie.... die spog reeks in Wereldrugby !!!!!!!!! 

Das Villoen

Hi Lucas

Ek staan by die gevaar van uitbreiding, waar die eilanders in die kompetisie opgeneem word. Wanneer hulle in die AB- of Oz- spanne opgeneem word, is dit slegs enkeles en is die kans dat 'n Bok deur een van hulle onthoof gaan word, nie so groot nie. Dit kan gebeur dat 'n Bok in die hele toernooi nie eenmaal deur een van hulle bygekom word nie. Speel jy in een wedstryd teen hulle gaan jy elke keer as jy aan die bal vat, met 'n stywe arm, 'n hoogvat, 'n swaaiende voorarm of wat ookal te doen kry. Dit be teken die moontlikheid dat beserings opgedoen kan word, is soveel groter. Die voordeel wat die ABs en Ozzies het dat hulle van die mense in hul spanne gebruik, is 'n feit soos 'n koei. Maar sover het dit darem gelyk of die invloed van die meer beskaafde manier van rugbyspeel, die enkelinge in bedwang gebring het. Ek is egter bevrees, as hulle weer saam met hul eilandgenote in 'n span gegooi word, sal die ou gewoontes terugkeer.

Welgedaan tot dusver, BOKKE! Doen so voort!

Oom Kys.

Hi Lucas


Die fout wat Kaplan Vrydagaand gemaak het met Harley Davidson se drie het die hele gang van die wedstryd geswaai. Selfs 'n student-skeidsregter sou nie so fout gemaak het nie. Jammer Griekwas, julle het dit nie verdien nie. En was dit 'n geval van bloed is dikker as water ? Daar was teen die einde beslissings wat 
hy gemaak het wat die oë laat rek het. Tappe mag nie vir die Bulle blaas nie, maat Johnny mag Natal blaas ? Vra maar net. 

Smith, Fourie en van Niekerk is nie beskikbaar nie weens beserings ? Komaan, wat 'n grap, hulle was van die begin-af nie reg nie. Wie wil jakes en sy slimkoppe probeer be-indruk met hul stellings.  Natuurlik het Rassie, Gary Botha en Anton Leonard weer bewys hulle is in 'n klas van hul eie. Sorry manne, maar erens het julle vreeslike sonde gepleeg teen die keurders en hul aanstellers. Miskein moet julle maar vergifnis en versagting gaan pleit, want dis al hoe julle raak gesien sal word. Vir Rassie, hel, oorweeg asb 'n come-back, in belang van SA Rugby. 

Das Villoen

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