Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 30

Editors Note

Brilliant!     September is one of those ‘celebrated’ months where spring is in the air and everyone is gay and carefree with glorious summer on its way. Or that is how it is supposed to be… certainly in the lyrics of popular songs and dodgy Hollywood teenage movies but definitely not in the world of professional rugby administration…

In fact, the last week a casual observer cannot be blamed for thinking that a huge amount of pollen was blown up a few administrator’s noses and the subsequent heaving and sneezing caused a few interesting outbursts and declarations. It began of course with Brian van Rooyen and the whole Robbie Fleck debacle – Fleckie is still at large, as South Africa does not have an extradition treaty with Britain (or Equatorial Guinea), which will ensure that rugby’s latest fugitive is a ‘marked’ man when he tr ies to sidestep through customs at Cape Town International. But of course when the main honcho sets the tone, the rest will follow.

Koos Basson, the president of Western Province Rugby Union, in a venerable case of ‘footinthemouthitis’ launched a stinging attack on one of the country’s best players, Schalk Burger. The player who was born and bred in WP and not bought and paid for from Free State, was until Saturday the most lauded player of the Tri Nations for his ability to steal and slow down opposition ball. Young Schalkie was shown two yellows and an automatic red for misdemeanors of some kind and president Basson in his sp eech at the after-match function, took exception to his team losing a game everyone expected them to win due to ‘playing with only 14 men’. He made an interesting accusation that Schalkie’s nefarious activities might cost the union ‘millions of rands’…. 

In theory and indirect, he has a point. If you think about it, a missed home semi-final can cost a union a massive amount in gate money. The point however raises the question of how players are held responsible for their actions. We all know that in most teams there is a fine system in place for yellow cards and rightly so, if the card was warranted then the player should pay. But, stretching that accountability to the ‘lost millions’ in gate money? Don’t think so. If that was the case, the Sharks players would be playing for charity alone and the Springboks of the last 4-5 years should hand back their wages as well, not to mention overpaid coaches and chief executives. And what about all the ‘missed’ sales suffered by sponsors like Canterbury, can they sue the yellow-carded player? Can you sue the referee if he made a wrong call? Now that may be a point worth pursuing….. but in essence it is a ridiculous notion to hold one person responsible in a team set up. The game is about players and their supporters, served by administrators.

As for the very public washing of dirty laundry by a president of a rugby union well that reflects a lack of class and as another journalist wrote in the week, it smacks of arrogance. Come the next player revolution, the administrators, especially the gravy trained presidents will be the first to follow Marie Antoinette.

Despite the continuous shenanigans of the game's administrators, there is a huge amount to be positive about in SA rugby at the moment. The Currie Cup is producing healthy contests and the logjam is indicative of a hard and uncompromising competition where teams have to produce on a weekly basis or face the consequences (heck, players will think twice about yellow cards now!). All of this can only be good for Springbok rugby where a good provincial standard will contribute to a strong team and that is what is needed for the end of year tour.

Jake White has managed to wring some training camps out of the provinces (eat your heart out Clive…) and assembled an interesting squad. The Tri Nation policy made it clear that the incumbent will be hard pressed to lose his place. Obviously a huge loss of form will necessitate change but the current crop is producing some excellent performances every week (despite what Koos Basson thinks) and they are visibly determined to hold on to their positions. Additions like Brian Habana reveal a plan to continue with youth and promise and after watching a fine display from this young man at Newlands over the weekend one cannot fault the fast tracking of a prodigious talent. It worked with Big Joe, Schalkie and Fourie Du Preez and who knows how many more potential great players are out there? Jake, with his intimate knowledge of the young players in South Africa seems to know the answer.

The real fight for the Currie Cup semi finals will be in the next few weeks and this salivating supporter is of a firm opinion that ‘local is lekker’ at the moment. So, get out there, support your team and hopefully the unions can make some money without having to put individuals under the cosh to the tune of millions.



For all the latest rugby news visit sarugby.com

Apart from playing for the Springboks, winning the Currie Cup will be the highlight for me. Winning it will give me more pleasure than winning the Super 12.       Gaffie Du Toit

London Tribe would also be ideal for players just out of school to learn the game in a different country, experience the different fields and conditions. Also for men coming to the end of their careers, they'd be able to teach something to the youngsters. They'd then be able to go back to South Africa in better shape for international rugby.       Dale Jackson of Prosport International, the project managers of London Tribe

If you really wanted to have that kind of backline you need a five-eighth like Stephen Larkham, who I feel is the best running five-eighth in the world at the moment.        Tana Umaga on the All Blacks 'flat attack' 

I think that . . . the help that New Zealand gave us in the revival of Australian rugby should never be forgotten. John O'Neill

A Pacific Islands team would have added another dimension to the competition, it could have provided another level of excitement. It would have been a fantastic opportunity to draw new viewers to appreciate the game of rugby. But in the end the decision came down to money.        PIRA chairman Peter Schuster 

The game is played with 15 on a side, not 14 against 15. When it happens to you that 14 play 15 and you lose, then there can be an impact of millions. So I am asking you players, we pay you well, please make it possible for us to do what we want to do.         Koos Basson, president of WPRFU

In 31 years of being in rugby receptions I have never heard such a diabolical speech. If that is the president's point of view, obviously there is no way he (Schalk) can stay in a province like this.       Schalk Burger Snr.

Luke (Watson) has been released with immediate effect and will no longer form part of the squad in 2004.    Sharks chief executive Brian van Zyl

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Currie Cup Log NPC Log
Team Played Won Draw Lost BPts Pts
Blue Bulls 10 9 0 1 5 41
Cheetahs 10 6 0 4 8 32
Lions 10 6 0 4 5 29
WP 10 5 0 5 8 28
Sharks 10 5 0 5 6 26
Pumas 10 5 0 5 3 23
Griquas 10 3 0 7 7 19
Eagles 10 1 0 9 2 6
Team Played Won Draw Lost BPts Pts
Taranaki 5 5 0 0 3 23
Wellington 5 4 1 0 2 20
Waikato 5 3 0 2 4 16
Harbour 5 2 1 2 6 16
Canterbury 5 2 1 2 4 14
Bay of Plenty 5 3 0 2 2 14
Otago 5 2 1 2 1 11
Auckland 5 1 0 4 5 9
Southland 5 1 0 4 1 5
Northland 5 0 0 5 0 0

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Couldn't agree with you more. The thought of more Super 12 and Tri-Nations games just elicits a big yawn and the thought of a downgraded currie cup makes me wonder (not for the first time since 1997) why I bother with season tickets at Newlands. I do not for one minute suggest that the passion and intensity of the Tri-Nations is boring but I do start finding that one can have too much of a good thing. I was hoping that the Tri-Nations could be played once every two years. I just find that watching th e same players who performed in the Super 12 play for another two months in one decent game a weekend becomes a bit staid. A far better idea would be to accommodate decent tours by international teams who could play maybe three tests against the Boks and play a couple of top provincial sides.

The top players play too much rugby. Of that there is no doubt but there is a simple solution. Cut down the number of tests. Twelve a year is too much. I would far rather watch strength v strength Currie cup with three high intensity games every weekend than the same tired players trying to get motivated for a once off game with Samoa or some such international team. I feel really sorry for the players just below international level. They probably don't play enough rugby. Heyneke Meyer (apologies for spelling) on Boots on All the other evening was saying the same. There no longer seem to be A team, Club rugby or age group (U 21 or U 23) matches so he is desperately trying to give all of his squad some match time.

Also the players just outside the International level play 11 weeks of high intensity super 12. Then they go into hibernation while the final rounds (semis and finals not generally involving SA teams) are played and the Tri-Nations squads start training and playing warm up matches. Then their second season starts with the Currie Cup and if this is downgraded what chance do they have of improving their performances and being up to speed by the time of the next Super 12? What chance do up and coming pl ayers have to hone their skills prior to be being thrown to the wolves somewhere like Dunedin?

There are many reasons why SA rugby improved this year (Jake White being a principle one) but I also have no doubt that last years return to strength v strength was also a contributor. At this rate I can enjoy the remainder of this years Currie cup, look forward to next years Super 12 and after that... well I just don't know. Probably schoolboy rugby. 

Rob Laing

Hi Lucas

A small request. It woc be great if you guy's could add a log onto the newsletter to show the points of each team for every week, depending on which competition is in hand at the time.

Thanks for your great newsletter.


Francois du Toit (WP)

Hi Lucas

Moet se dit is lekker om weer positief te kan wees oor ons rugby. Nie dat ek pateties negatief was nie, maar moedeloos omdat mens weet daar is beter spelers en afrigters.

Interesant nou is die super 12 wat 14 gaan word. Of dit ons rugby gaan help, is n goeie vraag, want hoe gaan dit ontwikkeling help en toetse beinvloed?

Graag wil ek net n paar snaakse en wonder maar net punte uitwys in ons rugby al gaan dit goed met die bokke:
Rudie Joubert het die bulle gebring waar hulle is, maar moet loop oor een speler ? Redes kan net bespiegel word. Kevin Putt wat nog niks met die Sharks as Curribeker en Super 12 afrigter kon bereik nie, bly aan. Hoe verklaar jy so n teenstrydigheid?

Adriaan Jacobs is die beste binnesenter in SA, maar word buite aangewend.Hy is n goeie verdediger, aanvaller, bal verspreider en het goeie vaart. Beter as Wayne Julies en De Wet Barry. Hoekom is hy nie in die bok oefengroep nie?

Die leeus is n goeie span ,maar vaar swak. Hoekom? Hul skrumskakel is pateties. Goed op die aanval, maar kan nie n bal uitgee en so sy agterlyn ruimte gee nie. Dit was al duidelik met die super 12, maar steeds kies hul die Januarie. Klein dingetjies wat mens soms woedend laat, want mens wil net graag he almal moet goed doen. Dan die WP wat nou spog met hul goeie prestasie. Waar was hulle voor die bokke terug was in die span?

Kyk na die Vrystaat. Hulle het nooit iets nie, maar laat menige span op hul neus kyk. Verskonings moet nie
gesoek word oor te min bokke nie, maar by trots en afrigting. SARVU kan gerus meer geld aan die Vrystaat
gee sodat hul meer van hul spelers en Bokke kan behou.Hoekom moet ander spanne spog met hul oorwinnings en bekers gewen met spelers wat hul nie groot gemaak het nie?

Vra maar net, want ek is moeg vir WP, Bulle of Sharks wat spog met n Curribeker, wat hulle met Vrystaat spelers gewen het.

Viva Rugby
T. Coetzee

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