Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 23

Editors Note

Brilliant!       Finally, the weekend all supporters have been pining for! And no, it is not a repeat of the Madonna/Britney on stage dalliance but rather big Os du Randt against the might of the All Blacks! The result, one trust (and hope) will be the same… the older, established star ahummm getting the upper hand!

The Springboks took another step forward in their 2004 voyage with a good victory over the Pacific Islanders in Australia. For 50 minutes the Springboks played magnificent, well drilled and life wrenching rugby to dominate the Islanders, scoring through the unnerving boot of Percy and excellent tries from set pieces. 

Understandably for some, they relaxed and before they knew it - faster than lightning - the two opposition wings scored 3 tries (boy, are those guys quick or what?!). Long time ago, a schoolboy coach with considerable knowledge of the game insisted that your training should be done at the same intensity as during the match, rightly saying that you play the way you train. If this was the Springboks final training run, they have a problem – by gad, it is the All Blacks come Saturday!

About a year ago in the dust of a Springbok defeat against the All Blacks (at Loftus) this writer pronounced the ‘greatest rivalry of all’ to be dead and buried, R.I.P. Little has changed as the word was best defined by Andy Roddick after his defeat against Roger Federer at Wimbledon when asked about their rivalry. He said, ‘I’ll have to start winning some matches in order to call it a rivalry…’ it sums it up for the Springboks in what will be a watershed match for Jake White and his team.

Can they win? The same question we ask weekly and the answer will always be yes, they can, but realistically? No, they will not. The All Blacks have shrewdly picked a short front row to emulate the 1997 Lions who dealt with a big Springbok pack in thrift fashion. Os will remember those days and hopefully prepare accordingly but this could neutralize Springbok scrumming power and all the Blacks need is parity. In the loose, Marty Hollah played a blinder and they have recalled Jerry Collins so the only vulnerability could be lineout time.

Talking of lineouts, for some ridiculous and really unfathomable reason the top Springbok lineout specialist, Matfield is sitting in Pretoria… it seems rugby and getting the best 15 on the park is far from the national bodies interest. Anyway. The lineouts ‘could’ be a Springbok advantage but Albert van den Berg, bless his soul and luck (he won R750,000 in the casino the other day) has hardly played any competitive rugby this year and he is expected to perform, 8 kg heavier, in the cauldron that is Christchurch? More than just good luck is needed!

The forwards we pronounce even - although Schalkie will die to make a difference - it is out wide where the Springboks play second fiddle. They do not have the speed and nouz of the All Black backs. Jaco has not played against Carlos in a one-on-one situation and it takes a bit to know this bloke and unfortunately, ‘getting to know him’ means one mistake and that is try time for the All Blacks. 

De Wet Barry cannot be expected to save the day by his lonesome on defence, even though his tackling would put the fear of God amongst most men. Carter crudely exposed a miss-timed rush when the Stormers played the Crusaders and there is little doubt Barry’s style will be Wayne Smith, the All Black backline coach, main attacking focus in his planning this week. Big advantage to the All Blacks.

The kicking is a very even contest and our man Percy (who would ever thought…) has passed the legendary Naas Botha as all time Springbok test points record holder and on his current kicking performance, deservedly so. Out wide Dougie Howlett and Rokocoko possess better finishing skills than any young ladies expensively schooled in Switzerland.

The final piece of evidence and damning if there ever was is Christchurch and home ground advantage. The Springboks has won there, in 1965 and 1937 but the last time on New Zealand soil in 1998. Ouch!

Mitigating factors for a Springbok upset, are: 

· Loads of rain
· Illness in the All Blacks squad as reported this week
· Good old ‘gees’ or heart to show they are better than everybody think and expect.

Unfortunately there is very little or ‘hard’ evidence available.

To conclude, South African supporters live in hope and rightly so. One has to support your team, in good and bad times and even more so against the All Blacks. Come Saturday morning this supporter will be there - logic be damned - shouting, cursing and praying for a victory. And after Ernie Els’ second narrow defeat, what could be worse?

Hopefully a new rivalry can emerge come 09:30 Saturday morning – watch it!



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Ponissi Please by Desmond Organ
Despite what many people may think, the key to victory against the All Blacks is less about psychology and more about how we perform defensively at the weekend. The positional changes to the backline have been brought about by the inability of van der Westhuizen to consistently close down the channel between fly half and inside centre. Fourie Du Preez’s selection has got to be an attempt to remedy a weakness that was exposed by the Pacific Islanders. 

Earlier this year Mark Keohane ran a discussion on his website with regards to this very issue and the answers that came from one Frank Ponissi highlighted what for many is the one major area of weakness in the current Springbok management set up. Van der Westhuizen for all his prowess when playing for Leicester has not produced the same form for South Africa; despite the fact that he is arguably behind an even stronger forward platform. The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly Jake White has err ed in not taking a defensive specialist with him to New Zealand and van der Westhuizen is not the defensive equivalent of a Werner Greeff or a Henri Honiball. The latter is perhaps an unfair comparison for he was quite dominant in this role.

What the Springboks do have is an inside centre with many of the defensive skills of a Dick Muir and with time we may well see Jean De Villiers in this role in what would represent a more complete package of the Dick Muir type. Many may see this as unrelated but a quick glance in the record books will show that this was the time when the Springboks dominated in the international stage. The success of the current team appears to be built along many of the same principles including; strong leadership , player involvement in the team structure and a genuine desire to perform at the very best level. There were several burning issues within SARFU at the same time and this is why it is not that surprising that the current team has had such a good start to the international season.

The game against the Islanders also points to the fact that you must play to your strengths for 80 minutes and if the lapse of concentration that brought a flood of points is anything other than that then we are in for some real challenges. One cannot begin to believe that a tactician as shrewd as Jake White has allowed his teams weaknesses to be exposed on video for the likes of Graham Henry and his coaching staff. I for one believe that White might have been trying to lull the All Blacks into a f alse sense of security. If he had Frank Ponissi as part of the current set up I would be even more confident that this was the case, the fact that he does not has left me in doubt as to whether the Boks can actually pull one off against the All Blacks.

This is where psychology plays such a significant role; if the Boks concede points early or leak a few tries in a space of minutes then they will not be able to recover and their minds will begin to dwell on the thought of another big disappointment in defeat. The All Balcks have also strengthened even further in an area where we thought we could match them and if last years team of Springbok forwards was up against this All Black pack they would be given a well orchestrated hiding. The All Blacks are perhaps an even stronger unit than they were a year ago and the only limiting factor is the fact that the backs are not quite the set up that they were a year ago. 

The strength of the All Blacks three quarters is awesome and they have always had incredible talent in this regard. Few will remember the 76 tour to South Africa but there were some real geniuses in that team, the same talent was there in the flour bomb tour and the same talent has been there ever since. Graham Henry has not really surprised me at all and this is built on observation and a discussion that I had with a former NZ Colts player several years ago. He was adamant that whenever Henry coaches a team it is the forwards that he focuses on and the backs are not the centre of his game plan. He even went as far as to say that if Henry had his way then the All Blacks would have open side players on the wing. 

Reality is that Howlett is not in the mould and Rokocoko is such a phenomenon that any reference to that end with regard to him would probably not hold water. The big debate surrounding the three quarters is the fact that they are not as fluid as they were a year ago and do not represent the same finesse of the Auckland Blues. This is despite the fact that the Blues were greatly influenced by Henry a year ago, my belief is that the talent was always there, the major change is that the head coach is less concerned about backs and more concerned about the forwards.

Saturday will show whether the Springboks are a force to be reckoned with and I am quite convinced that they may well leak a few tries through the defensive limitations of a defensive system that is looking like it is based on rush defence on opposition ball. Frank Ponissi might just have given us a few more options when we most need it.

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The law is quite clear that you can clean out a coffee table [size area around the tackler], it's not a boardroom table - seems most coffee tables are a bit bigger over here [in New Zealand].    Eddie Jones about the All Blacks clearing out methods.

When New Zealand played England, England got involved in fisticuffs. We're certainly not going to endorse that sort of approach but we'll have to deal with it.     Eddie again.... enter Brendan Cannon....

Kaiyava Salusalu travelled by dugout canoe and horseback to get to the assembly place. He was an astonishing centre - powerful, high-stepping.     rugbyrugby.com's take on one of the players from the South Sea Baa-baas of 1987, pre-deseccors to the Pacific Islanders

It's an honour to meet them and we have a huge respect for them. Those who are playing them for the first time will have some nervous jitters about the legendary size of the South Africans and how brutal they are in
mauls and rucks.     Islanders captain Inoke Afeaki 

All the negative publicity and criticism does get to you, no matter how much you try and cut it off or pretend otherwise. That was the biggest influence in my decision not to play for the Boks again.      Corne Krige

They [the players] wanted to show that they will not be pushed around. This is a great, great show of player power.      Piet Heymans on the Springboks white armbands

You have look at the video. You tell me what happened. Have a look how Brendan Cannon got split and you tell me.     Eddie Jones

We've had three test matches involving New Zealand (twice against England last month and Australia) with similar incidents - I think someone else can make the judgment.      Eddie Jones

The first 50 minutes was exactly the way we wanted to play and after being 33-0 up most sides would have probably laid down and died, but all credit to the Islanders because they definitely didn't lie down, they kept coming at us.     Jake White

It is a huge honour and not an opportunity that comes along too often for coaches - only a select few - it is a huge honour and remains the dream of every coach to try and beat the ABs in NZ.       Jake White

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas


After a brilliantly controlled first half against the Pacific Islands, the Springboks reverted to what we know only too well and one watched with a sinking feeling as the game developed into an unstructured, typical SA shambles. No wonder John Smit was very unhappy.

Or was this all a subtle ploy and message to Brian Van Rooyen, along with the white armbands protest. "OK we are going to show you how we can play, and then show you how we used to play....and you get to choose, Brian."

On this evidence, beating any team in the Tri-Nations will be hard indeed. What is wrong with our teams and coaches that makes it impossible for the Boks to pay 80 minutes of concentrated rugby? The contrast with the clinical Kiwis against Australia, where they kept up merciless pressure from beginning to end, could not be greater.

Another matter is the backs were nearly incapable of making line breaks and did ball flow wide from setpiece even once? And this was from going-forward ball. Neither will the pack have an easy day against the structured Kiwi front 5 and cannot guarantee better than 50-50 ball. Imagine the situation for the backs in that scenario.

SA rugby begins to resemble English football, almost there - but forever in a state of denial and disbelief!

Peter Giraudo
Nairobi, Kenya

Hi Lucas

It is fair to assume, and that in itself is dangerous, that we are reasonably happy with the performance of the Bokke against the traditional “weaker” or lesser teams in world rugby so far. A grave concern is how we will measure up to the big guns, knowing that we have a new-look team and coach. The threat posed by the Islanders was handled with more ease than was anticipated or reflected in the score line.

I’m reasonably confident provided our boys keep their heads down, scrum and tackle ferociously without fear and work the ball out wide. Keep it simple manne !

My biggest concern is that we don’t have the answer at no. 10 yet. I dare to say that I would like to see how Russell will perform behind our pack dominating and going forward. Could be worth a shout?

Koos Carelse

Hi Lucas

Ek is nog altyd 'n Noord-Transvaler, en dit sal altyd my span wees. Vrydagaand se wedstryd tussen die Bulle en die Pumas, sou ek nie gekla het as die Suidoosters gewen het nie. Ek glo hulle het nou finaal hul groentjieskoene ontgroei, en my komplimente aan die bestuur en afrigters van die Unie. 

Die Bulle het nie verdien om te wen nie, klaar. 

Een probleem wat ek graag met julle deel, is meneer Katzenellenbogen. Vraag 1 : Hoe het hierdie man op Sarvu se paneel van skeidsregters gekom, en vraag 2 : Hoe kry hy dit reg om steeds daar te wees ??? 

Ek sal graag Freek Burger se antwoord hierop wil hoor. Hierdie man hoort nie in daardie geselskap nie, want so onbekwaam kan nie beskryf word nie. Op daardie vlak maak jy nie sulke onverskoonbare foute nie. 

Vra ek weer: is vorentoe-aangee nou wettig ? Dis ongelooflik hoeveel mvorentoe-aangee daar deesdae plaasvind, en dit word nie geblaas nie. Sekerlik is dit deel van die grensregter se plig om behulpsaam te wees met sulke klein goedjies. 

Hoor van julle 
Das Villoen

Hi Lucas

Hoop vir die bokke!

Ek het weer hoop vir die Bokke! Verlede saterdag het die Bokke vir 40 minute uitstekende rugby gespeel. Daarna het hulle afgekoel, mynsinsiens geregverdig om sodoende beserings te beperk. Gelukkig was daar nie beserings mie en het die Eilanders binne die reels teen die bokke espeel. Al wat hulle kort is spoed en nogmaals spoed, dit dink ek is die een faktor wat ons duur te staan gaan kom teen die AB's.

Die WP het my egter sommer naar gemaak! Selfs die spellers wat gewoonlik bestendig is het lelike blapse gemaak. Hulle skopwerk was pateties en hulle het die bal telkens na die Cheetahs se vleuels geskop. Willem de Waal het na 'n goeie afgeronde speler gelyk en het die spel gedikteer. Nog 'n Kapenaar wat die WP bestuur laat verlore raak het. Ek troos my daaraan dat die WP vêrreweg die meeste spelers aan die Springbokgroep afgestaan het.

Die lys is soos volg:

Eddie Andrews
Quinton Davids
Schalk Burger
Joe van Niekerk
Neil de Kock
Bolla Conradie
De Wet Barry
Marius Joubert
Jean de Villiers
Breuten Paulse
Gaffie du Toit

11 Spelers, ek glo nie dat daar 'n ander provinsie is naasteby soveel
spelers aan die Bokke afgestaan het nie. Ek glo dat 'n paar van die spelers Saterdag 'n verskil sou gemaak het.

Marius Stegmann

Geagte vriende en dan veral Cheetah ondersteuners.

'n Baie warm hallo hier uit Bloemfontein, waar die son nog nooit so lekker warm geskyn het in die middel van die winter nie. Hier loop ieder en elk na afloop van die naweek se rugby met 'n spring in hul stap, en dit is nie a.g.v. die koue wat hul in die agterstewe byt nie. Nee, dit is die naweek se vernedering van die gestreepte bandiete op Nuweland wat die spring in die stap en die hitte van die sonstrale gee.

Ek het gister my siel versondig deur sekere WP-ondersteuners se verskoning vir die naweek se vertoning te lees. Ek sien party gaan so ver as om die Springbokspan met die WP te verwar. Ek moet erken, ek kan die rede sien hoekom dit dalk kan gebeur. Die laaste dertig minute van die Springbokke se wedstryd het hul so baie agter die pale gestaan, dat enige persoon dit met die WP kon verwar.

Baie WP-ondersteuners gaan dan verder en sê dat die rede hoekom ons dit so geniet is om rede dit so min gebeur. Wel, ek dink die Cheetah se rekord teen die WP die afgelope paar jaar spreek vanself (WP het laas in 2001 gewen). Vir die Cheetahs is die WP deesdae 'n sekere vier punte op die punteleer. Nee, daar moet 'n ander rede wees hoekom ons dit so geniet. 

Ek het toe terug gegaan in die geskiedenis tot by die eerste Cheetah-ondersteuner, naamlik Piet Retief. Nou Piet, net soos ons ware Cheetah-ondersteuners, kon nie die windmakerige verwaandheid en algemene houding van Engelse en WP-ondersteuners vat nie. Na jare se marteling het hy en 'n groot klomp Cheetah ondersteuners besluit dat hulle eerder in die Vrystaat saam met Moshes en sy trawante sal gaan bly, as om 'n dag verder in die geselskap van 'n WP-ondersteuner te bly. Dit het goed gegaan vir 'n paar jaar, maar by die draai van die negentiende eeu het die WP-ondersteuners en Engelse soos 'n ongenooide gas weer hulself kom opdring in die geselskap van die Cheetahs in deur die Vrystaat binne te val. Deesdae sit ons nou hier met 'n lastige ongenooide gas in die binneland, naamlik die WP-ondersteuner. Kyk jy kry hom oral, Vrystaatstadion, Ellispark, Loftus, ens. Die enigste manier om ontslae te raak van 'n ongenooide gas, is om hom in sy huis, voor sy eie mense, 'n goeie loesing toe te dien en dit vir hom duidelik te maak dat hy nie welkom is nie. Dit het die Cheetahs dan die naweek op Nuweland (die bakermat van WP-rugby) gedoen. Ons sterk papvreters hier uit die binneland het met 'n ons derde stel stutte die WP geskrum dat hulle vinniger agteruit hardloop as wat hul agterlyn vorentoe kan hardloop.

Dit is dus nie die feit dat WP volgens hul ondersteuners 'n sterk span het, wat hul so gehaat maak nie. Nee, dit is hul dom astrante ondersteuners wat gou is om 'n gestreepte vlag in jou neus op te druk, maar nie 'n pak slae met die nodige selfrespek kan vat nie, wat 'n oorwinning so soet maak. Baie ondersteuners wat nog nie eers een wedstryd op Nuweland belaaf het nie, maar die feit dat hy Desember vakansie daar verby gery het maak hom 'n ondersteuner.

Namens alle ware Cheetah-ondersteuners wil ek vir die WP-ondersteuners sê dat die Cheetah met nuutgevonde krag en energie in die binnelandse vlaktes rond hardloop, terwyl die Disa duidelik uit seisoen is.

Steyn Strauss

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