Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 29

Editors Note

Brilliant!     It comes as no surprise that after a lay off of two weeks from the rigors of rugby writing there has been more changes in the game than Elton John outfits. A shining knight resigns while a Bath Springbok faces arrests for a dirty mouth and our tired players receive the invigorating news of an expanded Super 12 and Tri Nations. Little has changed...

The biggest news of the last couple of weeks was the resignation of Sir Clive Woodward from his post as England manager. The reasons were numerous but essentially he could not continue with the way rugby is administered in England, the old club versus country debate. This writer does not like Sir Clive but he must be admired for his accomplishments in taking the under achieving England rugby team and building them into world-beaters over a 7 year period. If anything, the man has resilience and dete rmination and his resignation, as arguably the highest profile coach/manager in rugby, is all the more noteworthy as a profound reflection on the state of the modern, professional game. 

Rugby in its current form is heading for a burnout, the demands made by countries, clubs and provinces on their main assets; the players are spiraling out of control. The professional game is copycatting football to realize the ‘market potential’ read monetary gains however the nature of the game does not allow for unlimited matches. The player’s bodies cannot deal with it. This is a well-debated and documented fact however the exploitation of these assets rivals that of the great Rand Barons of ye steryear. More is better. Or is it?

According to SANZAR, the body overlooking professional rugby in the Southern Hemisphere, more is better. The Super 12 has been extended to the Super 14 and the Tri Nations to 3 tests between each country. Whether this deal was accepted by Rupert and his NEWS group (and for how much) is unclear but the announcement was made and we are already looking for that 5th side to prop up the bottom. 

The extension of the two competitions will be the death knell for the Currie Cup and the NPC as the premier competitions in SA and NZ. Internationals will not be able to play for their provinces, given their ‘new’ workload. It will therefore be Super 12 rugby and the tests and a feeder competition to ‘look’ for talent, hence the insistence of returning to an extended Currie Cup. The CC is no longer seen as the cash cow, in fact it will be reinvented as the ‘Vodacom Cup’. What will happen? Without t he lure of the Springboks, the competition will suffer the same fate as cricket in this country. But it is fine, because of all the millions to be made from even more tests and extended hidings in the Super 12. Not.

The Currie Cup is producing some of the best rugby seen in this competition in ages, there are the odd upsets, inevitably involving the Pumas, Griquas, Sharks and Cheetahs and the ‘blue bloods’ like the Blue Bulls and Western Province marching on. Historically this armchair critique would rather have supported Rob Mugabe’s land reforms than cheer for the men from Pretoria but no longer. The Bulls under Heyneke Meyer is a class outfit that play the game hard and with no deterring the end goal of winning the match and the Currie Cup. They are the epitome of winning rugby and they know what they want, a team of this caliber is good for SA rugby.

On the opposite side of the pole is WP, the free running and enterprising side from the Cape whose brand of rugby inspires young kids to play the game especially if they can wear the famous hooped jersey. The return of some mega stars have elevated them from the ordinary and rugby supporters can look forward to an almighty tussle for this year’s honours. At a glance, the strength of the two unions is reflected in the better national showing and that is great news.

As for Mr. Van Rooyen and Robbie Fleck, surely there are better and more important fishes to fry? One can start in the Boland with all the turmoil in club rugby that is so 'close' to the president's heart.

Enjoy the weekend’s matches and hopefully next week, these questions will be answered…

* Can Kevin Putt and his team win anything?
* Are there any Springboks left outside of WP?
* Will Brian involve Interpol with Robbie's incarceration? He certainly reported it wide enough....
* When will Gary Botha see a green blazer…..never?



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Blah, Blah, Blah by Desmond Organ
Robbie Fleck is apparently in the proverbial dog box for his comments about our “esteemed leader” of SARFU, so much so that a renowned web site has remarked that he might be arrested in the UK. This is quite a dramatic turn of events which actually amounts to nothing. Corne Krige was supposedly going to be in the dock several months ago and nothing has come of it. Despite several attempts to obtain clarity regarding actual processes to be followed when a player has supposedly brought the game into disrepute and despite my attempts to get a response from the official responsible I have ended up empty handed.

This quite clearly sends a very strong message to the armchair critics and more professional pundits that as long as you say something that might have an element of truth to it, the most that will happen is that you will be threatened, publicly scolded or in the worst case scenario actually promoted for your efforts. What else are we to assume if we consider the manner in which one Mr. Hoskins of the Sharks was given a verbal dressing down by the President one week only to be offered a position of importance within SARFU within several weeks? His crime had been to challenge the way in which certain policy decisions were being made. The price he paid was a little bit of a smack on the wrists followed by an opportunity to operate in the higher echelons of the SARFU gravy train.

Sounds like the good old National Party to me, make some criticisms, get booted out and you end up with a new job in a more powerful political party or perhaps even a possible position in the Foreign Office, or to push it to the extreme; blow up a building and you might just become an Ambassador to Mozambique. The point is not to get us to look back at our chequered past but to ask ourselves why the bad things are often forgotten when things are going well at the national level. The Springboks are winning; our new representative to the IRB has the right connections in the South African government, has the right background and racial heritage, if you care about that sort of thing, and even has a history of having played the game for some team that nobody has ever heard of.

Things are so good in the land of the perennial short sighted that the columns in the press and on the web are almost boring to say the least. What are we South African fans to do when there is no scandal to confront our embattled national team, the simple answer is to look for it in the new Provincial structures for the Super 12 and in the return of the elongated version of the Currie Cup. Whether we will even remember these things in two years time will be one miracle, sure the media will remind us, but not many people will really care. The people will focus on what they see as the long term future even if it extends to a matter of weeks. It seems like years ago since we lived under the evil empire of Kamp Staaldraad and headless chicken training, but in reality it was a mere several months ago. Now we are being lulled into believing that all is well and the worst thing happening is that Robbie Fleck is in trouble.

Behind the scenes there are several really troubling realities; transformation has become a behind the scenes activity, membership of the renowned club of snack consuming Provincial rugby chiefs has once again been enlarged, so much so that we will now get to see many more overweight administrators at more meaningless encounters between the haves the have not’s. If you look a bit further you will notice that the violence engulfing the club scene in Cape Town has continued and Clyde Rathbone had his story about life in crime rich South Africa vindicated in the most alarming of ways, his own mother was the victim of an unprovoked and meaningless act of breaking and entering. 

Then there are the beleaguered Sharks Fans, the record reads four wins from nine and the reality is that it will be a bit of a miracle if they reach the knock out stages of the Currie Cup, the first time since 1992. Now there is a little bit of dirty laundry to hang out in the yard.

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Honesty and candour are the best options... When I am in doubt, I choose to be upfront, when I've made a mistake, I'm man enough to own up. If I'm mad at something I say so, when I'm disappointed I let people know. That's my style and I make no excuses for it.     Brian van Rooyen

The last three years have been a treadmill on which I could not get off.       Lawrence Dallaglio

I never had that passion for rugby I have for football. I never got into rugby in the same way.  Clive Woodward

I believe this is the biggest job in world rugby - bigger than the All Blacks.      Clive Woodward

People said I hadn't even coached a professional football (soccer) team. Thanks for that, but I did realise that without being told.       Clive Woodward

We don't have a rugby problem in New Zealand, we have an experience problem.      Frank Bunce

The No 1 reason players are leaving is the lack of financial security in the (New Zealand) Rugby Union's contracts.     Rob Brady

We fire one d***head, then hire another one in Brian van Rooyen. If ever there was a blo.ody racist, it's that oke.      Robbie Fleck in an interview with SA Sports Illustrated, Dave Moseley

The police will arrest him there [in Bath]. That is for sure. I have also brought a civil action against Moseley and Fleck, and I have also reported it to the Human Rights Commission.     Brian van Rooyen's response to Fleck's comments

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Thank you for the Forum, a quick comment on the club violence in South Africa. The administrators are losing site of the 'real' rugby played in this country and currently it is a disgrace with all the fighting and yes even killing during club matches in the Boland. 

It is no longer safe to play the game we love and all we ask is that something be done to rid the game of the criminal element before the game itselfs dies.

Thanking you
Albie Visser

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