Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 24

Editors Note

Brilliant!       All Blacks 23, Springboks 21. This nail biting scoreline caused more hearts to flutter than that modern day Lothario, Sven Goran Erikson. With a brave display of guts the Springboks broke the world tackling record and lead the much-vaunted All Blacks for 79 minutes. At the end it was not the fat lady but Dougie Howlett that signaled the end to one of the most remarkable tests between these two countries.

A lot has been said and written on the 64th test and there are a variety of opinions on this Springbok performance. The 2-point losing margin certainly suggests tambourines and dancing girls since barely a year ago, there was almost 40 points difference between the two teams. It would however liken the defeat to a small ‘victory’ a la England a few years ago in Manchester against the selfsame All Blacks. After a careful study of the expert opinions of much better writers than this one, listening to work colleagues and ‘people in the street’ this humble critic had a tough time in comparing ‘intra-match elation’ with ‘post defeat blues’ and ‘Monday morning sobriety’. But let us try.

Intra-match elation: The Springboks made a dream start to the test when Jean de Villiers scored a great try after some slick handling and the cheer rising up in the neighborhood almost exceeded the World Cup host announcement. This was repeated a few times in the next 40 minutes and almost in disbelief, the Springboks had scored three excellent tries and ‘let in’ a few unnecessary penalties.

The second half was punctuated by a few more ‘soft’ penalties a good old shout at the ref for not spotting Rokocoko’s knock on and Muliaina’s carry over but obviously dominated by the final minutes of sustained All Black pressure. Not even the Americans with all their firepower could emulate the amount of sorties by the relentless All Black forwards. And of course the heroic Springbok defence.

15 phases and that try.

Post defeat blues: Most Springbok supporters are expert at it, the ‘what ifs’ and ‘we should haves’ and the immediate consensus was that ‘we were robbed’, the Springboks ‘lost that match’! 

Hello, what are those stats on the screen??

Monday morning sobriety: The Springboks produced one of the most remarkable defensive displays since the crumbling of Troy. They made a phenomenal 321 tackles to the All Blacks 72 (stats from Keo.co.za – he would have counted them…) and the possession percentages was 73% to 27% and there are no used Datsuns as a prize in whose favour that was… 

Logic defies the scoreline and almost victory. Was the All Blacks really bad? Yes. They were put under severe pressure and for 75 minutes they could not make anything out of the obvious advantages they enjoyed. They had no answer for the defensive pattern – the forwards insisted on going round the fringes to ‘suck in’ the almost offside line of Springbok braves and Carlos was way to flat to deal with kamikazean efforts from Barry et al. They knew however, it would take one opportunity and they wait ed… and pounced.

The Springboks were not dominant in the forwards, for all the pre-match hype there was little but a huff and a puff and even more embarrassing a turnover scrum in the dying minutes to concede the game. Not to mention the lineout throw over the head of everybody. When present, apparently, the lineout calls are made by Victor Matfield, not John Smit…

The biggest problem was and this was touched on at length in columns was the lack of phases. The Springboks could not recycle any ball pass the 3rd phase. Yes correct, even more damning, Dan Retief went and counted all of this season’s games and could hardly spot where more than 3 phases were exceeded at all! It is simple really, without the ball and sustained pressure, no team can win a match even if they put in more tackles than rice in China.

These criticisms all hold merit and they are coaching issues that can be sorted out. Nobody, (hear this Mr van Rooyen!) can fault this Springbok team’s commitment and passion. They are dedicated and focused on doing their country and jersey proud. The captain’s words after the match came as a healthy surprise and the attitude of ‘we are better than that and we can improve’ is that of a winning team in the making. Also, the way the Springbok players dealt with their success, while scoring, was a very professional and subdued celebration. The focus was on getting back to the job on hand. In short they were not surprised at all in scoring tries, unlike the hugging and kissing of the past few years…

This supporter can see a positive change; this critic can see improvement but serious attention is required to attacking options and creating pressure to convert into penalties – this will take a while but the fundamentals are there and the plan should be to improve on a weekly basis. With the same core and players knocking on the door the battle is half won.

Saturday, the Aussies in Perth. What will happen? The Springboks have possibly lifted themselves too high for the All Black game and will struggle to produce a similar gutsy display. This can be rectified by playing smarter. They must eliminate the penalties, stop throwing the ball away and attack from every possible angle. The Aussies are far better than the Kiwis at playing away from the contact situations and the rush defence will be exploited. Barry and Jaco need to keep their heads and not ope n the door for Larkham. He will not be as bad again as he was last week especially with Gregan back.

All in all, the Ausies have a bad record in Perth and somehow it can be regarded as an ‘almost’ neutral venue. The Sydney Stadium atmosphere is absent and the home ground advantage is somewhat nullified. For some reason the Aussies have not come to grips with playing South African sides all that well and Jake White’s team is fitter and better prepared than most visiting these shores. The Springboks will sneak this one.

The Currie Cup is well worth watching just to see some of the more favoured, big budget teams get a bloodied nose. Support your teams at the park and hopefully enjoy a super Eddie Jones whinge session about 2:30 pm Saturday afternoon!



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The Test of Time by Desmond Organ
A famous slogan from a well known beer commercial has influenced my thinking regarding the Springbok team in the last few days. Behind the euphoria of yet another, we won because we came close statement, lies a chilling reminder that we are a long way off where we need to be. The specific details of what needs to improve can be gleaned from the opinions of Nick Mallet, former Springbok coach and Dewey Morris, former England scrumhalf of some reputation.

Nick Mallet commended the players for their commitment on the field of play and their ability to play as a team. Herein lies the often forgotten element of on the field performances, the degree too which leadership and personal motivational play influence the final result. Considering the amount of possession that the Springboks had it is amazing that they were in the lead up until the final minute of the game. A year ago they were blown off the field at Loftus with similar possession and were for all intensive purposes on a hiding to nothing in the build up to the World Cup. Saturday was different simply because not only testosterone but a great deal of self belief and a little bit of humility.

At the post match press conference John Smit and Jake White were on the button with their comments, they knew why they had lost and they knew that they had not only come close to victory without hailing the return of the Springbok performances of old. Despite what Eddie Jones may think the Springboks have improved because we have the ongoing benchmark of administrative bungling and incompetence from the administrators. Teamwork is the order of the day for this team and this in ultimately reflected in the inability of the coach to select the same team. Not for a minute am I suggesting that Jake White has the decision making dilemma of his predecessor, quite far from it but it is a fact that he has not selected the same team on consecutive weekends or between test matches.

The team has been able to accommodate the appearance of a lock forward who has not played Super 12 rugby this year and who could not make the Sharks Currie Cup team. This was quite evident in his match day statistics and nobody can be surprised that he has been dropped to the bench. We have the personal agendas of a disgraced racist to thank for this selection and who knows maybe he will bless us with another marvellous selection in the next few months. Despite his turnaround in race relations some of the older habits have been retained. There is also the agenda of the politicians to consider and who else to represent them than the current head of SARFU, quite an exemplary example of the modern third world politician, bureaucrat and dictator all in one package.

The team selected for this week has the big boss’s fingerprints all over it and nobody needs to bother to do the mathematics on this one, Davids is dropped along with Coetzee and surprise surprise Shimange is back in the match day 22. Jake White had managed this complication quite well because Shimange was selected ahead of Coetzee earlier this year. It is not quite as easy when it comes to Markies mate. 

Dewey Morris in his weekly article praised the Springboks for their ability to define a simple game plan and execute it to perfection, sounds like the hallmark of a recently successful World Cup Team. In this regard he is on the money and we all know what the outcome might be in the future if the coaching staff can iron out some of the handling and possession problems. Personally I am a lot more optimistic than some of the press who are paid for their efforts. Spiro Zavos and Dan Retief to a lesser degree are less than impressed with the Springboks. I think that the motivation in the team is carrying them through this first few months and it will be very interesting to see where they get too if the all important recycling statistic can be improved. 

It is not beyond comprehension; Mallet’s men were not exactly in a position of bliss as far as SARFU’s political stability is concerned. He was able to produce statistics of recycled possession that this current team is still dreaming about. Time will tell if this is all a fluke or the start of something quite special, the faces of the All Blacks at the end of the game have given me a great deal of optimism.

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Why aren’t we celebrating? by Vinesh Naicker
The Boks have suffered their first loss of the season and the All Blacks have won both home games of the series. The All Black supporters should be celebrating and yet the majority of us are not. Why is that?

The main thought that springs to mind about the game last week is that the Boks deserved to win it and for all but 60 seconds of the game they led. The statistics of the game tell another story, the All Black forwards ensured that their team had over 75% of the ball and the ruck and maul count in favour of the All Blacks was massive. Just looking at the statistics without having watched the game you would have to draw the conclusion that a team with that much possession could not help but win the game. The fact that it took until the last minute for them to scrape through to a victory is an indictment on the back line.

It seems apparent to everyone that the flat back line formation that Wayne Smith favours cannot be successful in the face of resolute defence. Justin Marshall and Carlos Spencer do not have the passing skills to set their back line moving in the face of a flat defence.

Throughout this season Marshall has been lauded as a great halfback by most commentators in NZ. This is only half true. I agree that Marshall is a great player, primarily due to his competitive nature and the way that he has maintained his enthusiasm for the game over all these years. Is he a great halfback? No. The people that have been raving about his abilities have had to acknowledge the fact that he does not have a good passing game. Where Marshall is outstanding is his ability to carry the ball up like another loose forward. This is such an important part of his game that I now no longer regard him as a number 9 but as an 8.5. I cannot help but think that this type of play is primarily useful in a game where the forward pack is getting beaten, which explains why Marshall has been in the team over the last few years. With the newfound hardness that is coming through in the forward pack this is becoming less of an issue, let’s face it if they no longer need four loose forwards to match the oppositions three, then the fourth loosie becomes a bit redundant and the need for a true halfback becomes more urgent.

Marshall has been a great servant of NZ rugby but, as was the case with Joost, he and his style are now getting past their use by date. Byron Kelleher offers the same combative skills that Marshall does in the tight but has the speed and agility of a younger man, as well as a better passing game. Marshall and Kelleher are too similar in style for the All Black team to carry both of them, it is time to bite the bullet and play Kelleher as the starting halfback, with Marshall supporting from the be nch, until a true half back with a long pass and quick clearance can be found to replace him.

Spencer was the other failure in the back line, I have alluded to his abilities in previous articles, Spencer is a game-breaker not a match winner. Unfortunately, as is now obvious to everyone, Spencer becomes largely ineffective when his outside running game is shut down. The Boks achieved this admirably by having the inside back rush up on his outside while the outstanding loose forwards covered him on the inside.

I need to take a moment out her to acknowledge the outstanding skills of Schalk Burger but even more so AJ Venter. Venter is a man who has in the past rightly been vilified for his stupid acts of aggression, but even taking that into account the way that he has moved from loose forward to lock and back to lock on the international scene is testament to the true class of the man when his mind is properly focussed. His play and that of Burger was superb in the weekend, playing behind a badly beaten tight five their speed around the field was impressive. 

I won’t delve into the issue of the off-side line, but suffice it to say that Spencer was shut down. His kicking was wayward and for some reason the majority of his kicks were of the up and under variety, which Montgomery covered easily and more often than not punished by running them back so effectively. It is basic tactics that, when a backline is rushing up that quickly in defence but the fullback is remaining in position to cover the deep kick, the best option is to put in a grubber kick or c hip kick to by-pass the defence. I was screaming out for Spencer to do this all game long and never saw him do it once. The fact that the team played mindlessly for 40 minutes before they could obtain guidance from the coach at half time characterises the lack of thinkers in the team. It has to be admitted that in the last few years Marshall and Spencer have not been in the same class as Gregan and Larkham.

I went through an exercise to see who out of the current All Blacks I could envisage as world champions in three years time and here is my assessment.

Kees Meeuws
Kevin Mealamu
Carl Hayman
Greg Somerville
Chris Jack
Simon Maling
Keith Robinson
Jono Gibbes
Jerry Collins
Richie McCaw
Marty Holah
Xavier Rush
Mose Tui’ali’i
Justin Marshall
Byron Kelleher
Carlos Spencer
Andrew Mehrtens
Daniel Carter
Sam Tuitupou
Tana Umaga
Aaron Mauger
Joe Rokocoko
Doug Howlett
Mils Muliaina
Nick Evans
World champion material in 2007?
Potentially (not at fullback though)

Having unfortunately lost confidence, trust and some respect in the leadership of SA Rugby, I am now merely doing what I believe is the right and honorable thing to do in the circumstances. - resign!      Keith Parkinson

There is more to a good forward pack then being big fat bas.tards - otherwise I'd be an All Black...   The BartMan on www.thesilverfern.co.nz

This isn't a look of relief on my face, it's a look of pride.      Tana Umaga

I think the biggest disappointment for us is that we didn't lift ourselves in this game as much as we have in our other games this season.        John Smit

Obviously we've got to be realistic - we didn't have much ball. What hurts the most is being 10 seconds away from winning. You don't have much to say when that happens because it hurts, but the message I've conveyed is that we've got to learn from those things.       Jake White

THE bruisers of world rugby are back.        Jeremy Guscott in the Sunday Times

Their defence was immaculate and they scored three tries to one so they deserve a big pat on the back.  Graham Henry

For my generation, South Africa have always been our No.1 rivals. But for those in their late 20s and under, Australia are clearly regarded as the All Blacks' main rivals.      Ian Jones

The Springboks had a Test against the All Blacks where every bounce of the ball went their way. They still couldn't win. This sort of luck comes around once every 100 or so Tests. My guess is that it won't be there to save them against the Wallabies in Perth.        Spiro Zavos

He (Marius Joubert) is feeling a lot better and was playing table tennis last night, we'd only pick him if he is 100 percent and with two days complete rest I'm sure he'll be fine.      Jake White discloses his 'fitness selection criteria' against the Aussies

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas


The Boks and their supporters must feel like the guy who had a date lined up with Kylie Minogue, but ended up visiting his grandmother in the retirement village instead ! Saturday night's end was cruel, but when you look back, you have to admit that you cannot expect to win at that level, when you give away so many penalties, kick away so many hard-won balls and don't score tries in the offering !

However, it appears that Jake White and his team are on the right track. Jake is hopefully objective enough to address the penalty issue. What is alarming though, is that the same players are continuously making the same mistakes. DeWet Barry can be a great tackler, if he can learn to keep it legal. He cost us too many points on the night, as he has over the last few seasons. A serious fatherly chat from Jake White should solve that one. 

AJ Venter is growing in stature with every game. If he can continue to avoid the rushes of blood to the brain, he'll develop further into a kingpin for Bok success. En baie dankie Os. Jy's eintlik al 'n "ou" bul, maar speel soos jong wildebees. 

The backline has now seen they can penetrate the All Blacks. They must just realise you have to do it with ball in hand and not with ball on boot ! Bokke, rumour has it that you spend a lot of time on golf courses. In golf, you have to keep your eye on the ball to avoid a duff....same goes for avoiding knock-ons in rugby. 

Boys, you're a hair breadth away from recapturing respect and awe for the Springbok jersey and its proud history. Take another step in the right direction and play Eddie Jones and his whinging Matildas off the park coming Saturday and then sort out the All Blacks properly at Ellispark.

Jakes Jacobson

Hi Lucas

Sitting there afterwards, very sober, with no-one to share my thoughts and feelings with, it was kind of strange, uncommon to my usual self, to be that quiet, almost in disbelief that I could sit through and witness a game, so vital, so importance to us, so quiet, so still and so sober. That wasn’t me, I was neither in shock nor in denial, my behaviour must have stemmed from my pre-match mindset, which was, “no big expectations this time”. To put it mildly, I could not decide whether or why I should “gooi ‘n dop” or not, for a “glorious loss” or just for losing to the old foe and referee again, so I did not.

The game itself showed that, in a battle, like in war, victory will go to them that attack and/or defend successfully, bearing in mind that the effort shall be coloured with patience, leadership, skill, guts, coolness and more, however, a few serious mistakes were made that influenced the outcome of the match, some of our own doing and some major one’s by Mister Cole, the dentist. If he misses that many obvious infringements in one game, one must surely and with good reason, be concerned about the co ndition of his patients’ dentures. To put it mildly, the end of the stick that he handed the Bokke was poisonous. It killed any chance they had of winning the match. He, Mr. Cole need not be disheartened, he’s joined an elite gang of anti-Bok-success-referees. I need not mention them, the whole click that is living proof that they will teach us “Japies” a lesson. It has been going on for quite some time now. Isn’t it so Mr. Freek Burger? This also contributes in a large way to my mindset of “no great expec tations” as long as we have to put up with biased referees and officials.

They, whoever they are, may say that possession is 9/10th of the game. Allow me to state that it is what you do with whatever possession you have, that counts.

Vir ons Afrikaanse “Japies” onder ons, ek het doelbewus hierdie gal oor eenogige “skuinsregters” , in Engels gebraak.

Koos Carelse

Hi Lucas

Once again the rugby forum is starting to heat up, with some excellent comments and notes. It is good to see and hear that Currie Cup rugby is turning back to it's old traditions, I for one being an English, South African, Shark supporting person thoroughly enjoyed Steyn Strauss is comments regarding last weeks game against WP, plus his bit of history. It is good to read of the passion that at one stage began to dwindle, but now is making its return back to Currie Cup which together with Super 12 is the pivot towards Springbok selection. From a Shark point of view regarding the Springbok selectors at least they got one selection right, in order to star winning again a captain from Natal had to be called in, especially as so many can recall that long string of wins under a that (should have been knighted cad)born, bred, schooled (English of course)and rugby played in the last standing British Outpost Natal. Gee that felt good, I only wish we could win or steal the Currie Cup and bring it home to where it truly belongs. I know when this e-mail goes out we may have lost the match against AB's but I was typing this e-mail on 22nd July 2004, six days after the Sharks fattened themselves on the Lions carcass again(which for me is as good as winning the Currie Cup hehehe). It was great to see Luke(not spelt Lucky) Watson play well and after critising Conrad Barnard(methinks who should still be with the Cheetahs), I cannot understand how the Sharks did not make an offer on Braam van Straaten and either sell Ri cardo Loubser to WP. My Lions man of the match must go to Bobo who behind the microphone can talk a great game. 

Let's see what happens this weekend

Kind regards
Yea ole Shark supporter

Hi Lucas


I find it quite incredible that on programmes such as Superrugby and in some of the press reports that people are suggesting Derrick Hougaard be the Bok fly half.

This guy has been pitiful in the Super 12 . No surprise that Joubert dropped him. What surprises me is that Joubert is accused of killing Hougaard and that he is to blame for the young mans bad play. Calls for Joubert’s head for this crime are aplenty. At the same time no one is blaming Chester Williams for the poor form of Andre Pretorius and no one is baying for his head on account of Preturius;s lack of form. Perhaps all the supporters of Pretorius are worried about being called racist if they sug gest Williams is to blame for Pretorius’s form.

Compared to Hougaard, de Waal ahs been outstanding at getting his line going and he has also kicked well. Hougaard who is essentially a kicking fly half is incapable of getting the backs away and when he runs he runs sideways. I have no doubt Joubert never gave him an instruction to do this. Hougaard’s positional kicking out of hand has been woeful. I can’t believe Joubert instructed him to kick badly and without any sort of foresight or inspiration.

As far as the Stormers are concerned I wish them good luck. Hopefully du Toit will practice at kicking the ball out for a change and not kicking it into the grateful hands of the opponents whereafter in true SA style we all stand and watch as the run past and score tries.


Hi Lucas

Ek het net een vraag vir Mnr Steyn Strauss, die ware Cheetah-ondersteuner: Wanneer laas het Vrystaat/Cheetahs die Curriebeker gewen? Sien julle die 23 Oktober 2004 op Nuweland, maar ek twyfel of die
Cheetahs daar gaan wees !

Johan Pistor

Hi Lucas

Antwoord aan Steyn Strauss

Jou span was gelukkig om teen die WP B span te kan speel. Die WP het 13 van sy spelers aan die Bokke afgestaan, teen die 2 van die Vrystaat. Ek praat ook nie van andersynds beseerde spelers nie. Die manne sou definitief ‘n verskil gemaak het. Jou houding herhinder my aan die kaalnaeler se hounding toe hy vir FC Smit ‘n paar tree van die doellyn platgeduik het. Enige iets gaan solank dit net ‘n wen is. Wat vir die WP ondersteuners die kwaadste gemaak het destyds was toe ons in die koerante moet lees dat die Vrystaat Rugbyunie vir die kaalnaeler met ‘n ete getrakteer het en selfs sy boete betaal gekry het deur ‘n ondersteuner. Blykbaar was daar talle ondersteuners wat sy boete wou betaal het. As dit op Nuweland gebeur het, sou die man nooit sy voete daar meer gesit het nie, en ek ken nie WP ondersteuners wat ‘n soortgelyke optrede van die WP ondersteuner sou goed praat nie. Die Cheetah was beter as WP verlede saterdag, dit was net ‘n wedstryd, en rugby is net ‘n sport nie ‘n lewe of ‘n lewenswyse nie. Dit is nie nodig om persoonlik te raak nie.

Marius Stegmann

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