Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 25

Editors Note

Brilliant!      The latest Tri Nations test match ended in yet another defeat for South Africa. A close loss, admittedly but Springbok players must be well and truly fed up with a competition where they continually end up playing second or rather third fiddle to New Zealand and Australia. Supporters certainly are.

Saturday’s 4-point defeat in Perth has highlighted a few false truths we have come to believe and accept as fact in South African rugby these past few months. In no particular order, they are:

1. The absolute and utter bollocks that Perth is actually a ‘home’ game for the Springboks. Rubbish dear readers, how many green jerseys did you see in the crowd? Hardly any. Did you hear any part of the custard clad mob sing along to the anthem? No - only a poor reggae-ish rendition from probably the only ex pat who knew the words…. well almost because he did sing ‘waar die krane antwoord gee’ instead of ‘kranse’! For our English readers, the singer substituted the word ‘cliffs’ with the plural o f ‘tap’. Ag shame!

2. The Springboks have a great forward pack…. we will dominate the set pieces. This phrase is ranking right up there with the world’s favourites, ‘your cheque is in the post’ and ‘I did not inhale’. The Springbok tight five was humiliated two weekends in a row. The lineout was a pitiable mess from a team who selected 5 ‘jumpers’ to only 2 (!) Aussie specialists. The scrum got another hiding and they conceded a tight head - something akin to seeing a dinosaur walking in Trafalgar Square. 

3. The team is disciplined. Yeah right! There is a better chance of hearing Charlize Theron speak English with an Afrikaans accent. The amount of penalties in two matches for not observing the off sideline has cost this team two victories. The high tackling is once again a problem and it is bad discipline because the transgressors have been playing within the rules for quite a few games.

Now all this may sound negative as we ‘only’ lost by 4 points and this team is young and inexperienced and we scored 6 tries blah blah blah. The truth is that two victories were thrown away. Jake White and his team know that. We all know that. The players are not taking that step up and justifying their coach’s belief in them. The structures are there; continuity in selection, enhanced fitness, organised defence heck, they got their contracts and everything. It is time for some payback.

Against the All Blacks and Australia nobody could doubt their heart and commitment, what we are referring to is their ability to play the game smartly and to the extent of the talent in the squad. Every player could have produced and extra 20% on the day and what difference would that have made? 4 points? Definitely.

If we look at the game as a whole, there were specific moments where concentration and application was lacking and to the Aussies’ credit they exploited them unmercifully. Monty’s kicking, bad for the first time this season. Nobody under the inevitable high ball to Tuqiri. Jaco rushing Larkham, without covering his man. Uneven rush on Larkham again and he was covered by poor Eddie Andrews, no chance! Lost lineouts, a tight head and finally some poor defence that hammered the final nail in the coffin, Rathbone’s try. 

On the subject of Rathbone. This writer mentioned a few issues ago that he is an Aussie, forget about him - finish and klaar. So why get all hot and bothered by him scoring the winning try? He is an AUSSIE. What is worth getting hot and bothered about was his uncalled for rush and shoving (from behind) on Marius Joubert. Clyde, even as an Aussie, you are a better player than that – that was disappointing regardless of the provocation or sledging during the game which one might add your fellow count rymen are proven masters at. Show us more of your excellent rugby playing ability and not your childish petulance.

This coming weekend, the Aussies need to beat the All Blacks for the competition and Springbok hopes to stay alive so, come on Clyde, go you Aussie good thing, go!!

One of the big games this weekend and one this armchair supporter cannot wait for is the big clash at Newlands between the only two teams that has won the Currie Cup in the 21st century, the Blue Bulls and Western Province. The Currie Cup is as exciting as everyone could hope for and with the Springboks returning in three weeks, the gist could change dramatically so all these games are hugely important and also great fun to watch. 

Prediction time, Aussies with 10 points and Province to eke out the Bulls in a cliffhanger. Enjoy the rugby and rest those frail nerves for next week’s match between the All Blacks and the Springboks at Ellis Park – whoa!



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One Way or Another by Desmond Organ
There is more than a little bit of irony in the results of the last two test matches in which the Springboks have been involved. Firstly there is the fact that valuable players are left out of the mix and secondly there is the fact that players who could well have been wearing the green and gold are instrumental in one of the defeats.

What to make of it all, simply put, one way or another we have contributed to our own defeats. We simply do not have the collective intelligence of a well-drilled Australian outfit and neither do we have enough game breakers in the mould of the All Blacks. There is however plenty to be positive about because there is truth in the argument that skill alone does not make for a winning outfit. A couple of game breakers and the right structure can be the right recipe for success.

In Jean De Villiers and Schalk Burger the Springboks have two of the most gifted players in the world, every time that De Villiers got the ball he looked to have the ability to completely mesmerise the opposition and if he can develop the conditioning of a Clyde Rathbone he will be quite a spectacle. Burger is a legend in both Australia and New Zealand and if there is one thing that needs to be done it is to find a way to play Luke Watson as fetcher in the same side. It will hopefully only be a mat ter of time before Jake White learns the inside track on selections and game planning that Eddie Jones has become a past master at. Dowey Morris has praised the Boks for their collective effort and although this might be part of a well orchestrated propaganda campaign ahead of the end of year tour it is still good to read about.

The so-called dominance of the South African pack has been exposed as a rumour and this is not such a bad thing because if we can come that close without dominating in the forwards then who knows what a little fine tuning will do. The players are young and if they can find the continuity that has so cruelly deserted the national team in the past then they could well become a headline story. If there is a lot of youth there is a lack of maturity and I wonder what a Rassie Erasmus and a Victor Matfie ld would have meant to the cause, no doubt in my mind that Matfield is in a class of his own in competing for opposition ball. 

Britz for all his enthusiasm is still wet behind the ears in international terms and let’s remember how long it has taken for Bakkies to become a force. It is quite clear that he is not the same force in Matfield's absence and we need to think about Britz in this manner, he will need a seasoned Bakkies to become a class act.

The backs are looking a lot better than they have in a long while but I am convinced that Russell would have made a difference against Australia if he had indeed enjoyed game time. The substitutions that Jake White made against the All Blacks were a week early and even he has got to be humble enough to acknowledge that, if he continues to play his cards the wrong way it will be a case of told you so and by the way you no longer have a job. This is the least that he can expect from the likes of Van Rooyen and company. 

There have been references in the media about the number of players of colour that completed the last 30 minutes of the game, well I was certainly far too absorbed in the game to have given a damn, 1 or 15 as long as we find a way to be competitive and representative on a continuous basis. It is probably not that surprising those former South Africans parents have come out and said that we might lose other gifted players; we have been losing them for years. It is indeed time for SARFU to clean up i ts act and remove the ailments that continue to pollute our game. It is ironic that in a fortnight we have lost two sensational games, witnessed the resignation of yet another executive, seen a South African plying for another country, read of savage behaviour amongst our supporters in the Cape and had time to remember how many minutes that Paulse was on his own on the field. 

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Ask Aunty Agony by Vinesh Naicker
It has got to be heart-breaking for Springbok supporters to see their team beaten in the last few minutes of the game; All Black supporters know the feeling because they have seen the Wallabies beat their team in the same way several times in the last few years. 

Does it make it any easier to lose in the last minute? No. If you were a Welsh or Scottish supporter you would probably be inured to your team losing by now and be celebrating the fact that your team got so close to winning. However, the Springboks, much like the All Blacks, have a proud history and for their supporters nothing but a win is good enough.

In the aftermath of the game I have heard a lot of questions raised and I thought I would try and answer them from a neutral perspective.

Q: Was Larkham's try a double movement?
A: Four out of five times it would have been called that and the Boks would have got a penalty.

Q: Was du Toit taken out by Latham?
A: Yes.

Q: Was it a penalty try or yellow card offence?
A: No.

Q: Should the Boks have got a penalty?
A: Yes.

Q: Would Montgomery have kicked it for three points?
A: We’ll never know.

Q: Is this another case of the great rugby conspiracy against South Africa?
A: No. Frankly the rest of the world thinks that sometimes you are hard done by but then so are everyone else. Most people in NZ are of the view that before neutral referees were appointed South African referees and touch judges were the most biased people the world has ever known. (The unspoken consensus is that the only reason the All Blacks never won a test series in South Africa before 1996 was that they were playing against 18 men) South Africans came to see this state of affairs as being normal and so when they see an actual impartial official, because every decision is not going their way, they feel the official has a bias against them.

Q: Were some of the referee’s decisions c**p and did they impact on the final score?
A: Yes and probably.

Q: Are you sure that the referee isn’t part of some great conspiracy?
A: Yes. The poor guy doesn’t have the benefit of great camera angles and slow motion replays. He does the best he can with the tools he has.

Q: Why can’t the referee and touch judges get better?
A: Probably the same reason the bloody players don’t.

Q: But the other tries were good weren’t they?
A: No. Once again forward passes are too prevalent in the game down here in the Southern hemisphere. The Springboks first try and the Wallabies last try should both have been disallowed because the last passes were forward. I suppose that at the end of the day they cancelled each other out.

Q: Is it just me or has Paulse lost a yard of pace?
A: Paulse has lost a lot of pace, he needs to get back in the gym and out on the track and build up some leg speed because he has definitely lost some top end speed. At the moment he’s a bit of a passenger as his defence isn’t much to write home about either.

Q: Why did the Springboks lose the game?
A: Because the much vaunted tight five were shite. They were once again stuffed in the scrums and line outs by the Wallabies. As a result there was no real platform to dominate the game or launch attacks.

Q: Should Smit be replaced as captain and hooker?
A: On the one side he did give away a tight-head and stuffed up a number of lineout throws. Throwing to the rear when your backs are against your goal line is almost criminal. On the other hand he’s not the one making the lineout calls and his two props have to bear a lot of the responsibility for the scrums. Also he doesn’t seem quite as dumb as Anton Oliver who thought you could score an eight point try to win a game. White should probably let him play out the rest of the season and not make any decisions until the end of the next Super 12.

Q: Is this Springbok team as bad as last years?
A: No. They have been pretty competitive so far and with a bit more luck could have won six out of six games. They do have a lot of potential.

Q: Where does the Bok team need to improve?
A: The tight five is the area of biggest concern. Os seems to be doing his share but the other prop seems to be missing in action. Botha needs a better locking partner, and their needs to be a lot of sweat and blood put into the scrums and lineouts. The backs seem fine, after all they have scored more tries so far than the All Black or Wallaby backlines. Head high tackles and off-side play seems to be their biggest problem. Overall the whole team needs more mental toughness and it seems the o nly way you get that is through experience.

Q: Why did the Wallabies win?
A: Because Gregan and Larkham are without any doubt the premier halfback-flyhalf combination in the world. Marshall and Spencer are dysfunctional and the South African combination are currently just babes in the woods. Overall the Australian team has more rugby intelligence than either the All Black or Springbok teams.

Q: Will the Springboks beat the All Blacks at Ellis Park?
A: I’ll let you know next week.

As for the late charge of the replacements that seems to happen in almost every match these days, I'm sick of it. And I'm quite sure the fans and the armchair viewers have had enough of it as well. Some matches are in danger of being turned into a shambles because of the number of substitutions. I would love to see this area of the game tightened up because there are consequences all round.          Chris White

I am still a little bit surprised, because at lineout time they are going to be more vulnerable.    Jake White before the match on Australia playing two fetchers.....

We know that a lot of Australia's attacking play comes from their lineouts. With this pack of forwards we obviously back ourselves in all first phases.        Jake White..... again.......

I thought it was a high quality game. Both teams went out to play positive rugby and there was a high skill level. George Gregan

You get an ex-player who dives in the corner and takes the game away from you. He played well, ran hard and it probably hurts more like that.           Jake White on Clyde Rathbone's try

I'm now an Australian and my home is here. I will remain here for the rest of my life I know the anthem has three languages, but I can't remember it anymore, because I haven't sung it for ages.      Clyde Rathbone

You could never accuse Campo of engaging his brain before speaking, and some of us were kind enough to point out to him that his own company helped represent Gregan.       Jeremy Guscott

I wouldn't say we missed him against the All Blacks and Wallabies, but his experience in the lineouts would definitely have helped.        Jake White on Victor Matfield

Did the Boks miss Matfield? I don't think so. Gerrie Britz did a good job. We don't necessarily need the athleticism of a Matfield. The Boks probably have 35 lineout combinations but what you need against a team as well-organised as the Wallabies is 70 or 80 so that you go into Tests with combinations the opposition hasn't seen.       Nick Mallett

THE baby is due in mid-December. We're still not sure if it will end up playing for the Springboks or Wallabies. David Campese, whose wife Lara is SA-born.

You are going to have a lot of fun not having to blow George Gregan anymore.....     Joel Stransky to Andre Watson on Inside Rugby

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Something just clicked as to possibly why we lost so many line-outs, especially in the second half of Saturday's test. In typical South African fashion, here is my conspiracy theory.

Jake White has hinted that the Aussies worked out all our line-out calls by listening to the ref's mic and, come half-time, the team was informed and took the field in full understanding of the Bok line-out strategy.

Because the line-out calls are traditionally made in Afrikaans, it would've been gibberish to the Aussies ... unless a South African was there to interpret it for them.

Now, Rathbone is the obvious suspect, but he was on the field and was certainly not taking notes. In addition, he's a backline player. No, the Aussies needed a forward to take notes ... or even better a lock-forward.

The catch is that they needed this South African lock-forward to be in a position to take notes during the 1st half to communicate his findings to the team at half-time.

Enter lock-forward Dan Vickerman: on the bench until the 82nd minute, with a full understanding of Afrikaans.

Probably just a "devil-behind-every-bush" approach, but who knows ... where there's smoke there's fire.

Thanks for an awesome newsletter!


Hi Lucas

Thanks for your usual insight on the performance last Saturday I am sure that if we have the same coach and 75 % of the squad for a couple of years we will start to add handling and possession skills to our huge commitment , so I like most of the contributors in this weeks letter have grown in confidence that this team has the potential to beat any of the top 3 sides we may play against. If we stutter in Perth I will not be to concerned as we need to take it up one more level before we can say that the Boks are back where they should be. I for one think that between this squad and some in the nursery have the potential to be that team we all have been scanning the Currie Cup for , for such a long time.! Please do not forward to SARFU.

George Fanning

Hi Lucas

The performances of our Springbok team the last couple of matches has put faith back in every Springbok fan for the future. Our forwards are looking great except for one or two twitches but the same can not be said of the backline. I think we need a different tight head at first, Eddie Andrews is not the answer. Maybe look at Richard Bands again. He has the strength he just needs to work on his technique. Next I think we should have long ago find two new centres. Barry and Joubert are not performing and Wayne Julies was not as well. Why not look at Halstead or Dries Scholtz and of course Ettiene Botha and Frikkie Welsch. Our wings are also in a joke. How can Henno Mentz not make the team. The man is a try scoring machine and vicious on defence. Paulse has lost his speed and is not up to the defence. Jean de Villiers has potential but he needs to start tackling. Schalk Burger can not make everyone's tackles. Victor Matfield is another name that I need to mention. Why is he in South Africa when he is rated as one of the best in the world. Gerrie Britz is just not as good. The same counts for Jacques Cronje, he is just not as good as Juan Smith. If I could pick a 22man squad now it would look much different. 

15. P. Montgomery
14. J. de Villiers
13. E. Botha
12. D. Scholtz
11. H. Mentz
10. J. vd Westhuyzen
9. F. du Preeuz
8. J. Smith
7. A.J. Venter
6. S. Burger
5. V. Matfield
4. B. Botha
3. R. Bands
2. J. Smit (C)
1. O. du Randt

16. G. Botha
17. C. Bezuidenhout
18. J. v Niekerk
19. A. vd Berg
20. C. Davidson
21. B. Russel
22. G. du Toit


Hi Lucas

Hoe sê hulle, déjá vu, of overgeset synde, ons het dit reeds gesien of sommer net plainweg, action replay en siedaar, verneuk, gestruikel en verslaan, of is dit verslae? Another Bok-team bites the dust, en die rekordboeke getuig net van wen en verloor en maak nie voorsiening vir dinge soos “biased referee’tjies “ en hulle kant-trawante nie. OK, ons het self mildelik bygedra tot ons eie ondergang, maar daaraan kan ons iets doen, aan eenogige skeidsregters en kie is ons oorgelewer en hulle kom skotvry, keer op keer. Kobus Visagie se uitlating destyds dat die lot skeidsregters reken hulle kan maar teen ons blaas soos hulle wil want ons is mos maar net ‘n 3de wêreldse landjie, kry opnuut meer betekenis wanneer ons klokslag aan die kortste end trek met ooglopende swak beslissings. Die lys van die tipe beslissings word by die dag langer. Chris White se “vertoning” verlede Saterdag was net ‘n voortsetting van sy swak hantering van die 2de helfte waar hy oorgeneem het in die “Piet van Zyl - toetswedstryd” in Durban. Sy hantering destyds tydens die openingswedstryd tussen S.A. en Wallis in die Millenium- stadion is nog vars in die geheue en raai wie het toe ook nié gewen nie? 

So, wat moet ons doen om die netelige ou sakie reg te stel? Dissipline, dissipline, dissipline, beperk foute tot die absolute minimum, en les bes, verdedig aanvallend en teen ‘n hoër intensiteit as dit wat ons teen N.Z. uitgepak het, ja, duik die rook uit hulle uit. O-ja, en kies daarby ‘n losskakel (Russell) en agsteman (?) wat rugby kan dink én speel sodat hierdie Bokspan se driedruk-potensiaal tot sy reg kan kom.

Niemand moet vir Rathbone kwalik neem dat hy nou vir ‘n ander land presteer nie, niemand nie. Hy het ‘n baie goeie en volwasse besluit geneem, en basta. Hoeveel ander manne het nie al die pad gevat as gevolg van swak “trainertjies en keurdertjies” nie, om nie eens al die ander kwade in die land te noem nie. Kyk net hoe mors ons met Russell, hy het sekerlik al eelte en splinters in sy agterstewe van die gesit op die reserwebank. Dit moet ‘n absolute marteling vir hom wees om te sit en kyk hoe ons hui dige losskakel ‘n hanswors van homself maak. Dit dryf my tot raserny en drankmisbruik en daarmee sê ek sommer ook ghoebaai want ek voel opnuut ontstig.

Koos Carelse

Hi Lucas

Bokke - Wallabies

Ten midde van die verloor teleurstelling moet mens darem ook dankie se vir die verbetering in trots waarmee die ouens speel. Jake moet so aanhou, maar ook sorg dat hy nie dieselfde foute as van sy voorgangers maak nie. Die beseerde spelers in sy groep en Markgraaf laat mens net wonder.

Verder is ek teleurgesteld in ons agterlyn. Dit wat Barry en Joubert doen, kan A. Jacobs, E. Botha en F. Welsh beter doen. Daardie hoogvatte en onsekerheid op die aanval is pateties. Watter verskoning kan nog aangevoer word om Jaco vd W se keuse te regverdig. Ek glo hy het talent, maar dit lyk of hy vir die kameras speel met die snaakse goed wat hy aanvang. Hul moet hom vra om rugby te speel en nie probeer beindruk nie.

Kyk mens na die Curribeker, sien jy n handvol losskakels en vleuels wat ook beter is as die wat huidiglik in die span is. Daarom wil ek vir die wat nie nou in is nie se; 'hou aan, die publiek is nie blind nie. Die beste spelers
moet in die span wees."

T. Coetzee

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