Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 35

Editors Note

Brilliant!     The Currie Cup, dear readers is won in October – a fact Naas use to bandy about with typical aplomb in his playing days. Well, the time has come and for the two protagonists Saturday will be a culmination of a lot of hard work and some luck. Or, as those in the shadow of the mountain might think on a rain cloud and a prayer…

The plucky Cheetahs, provided for an upset by beating the more fancied Western Province in a poor game marred by a huge rainstorm. The amount of handling errors in this single match almost equaled the season record of that ‘great’ 80’s Transvaal centre pairing of Van As and Maritz. Ironically the Cheetahs, where rain only falls at the behest of rain queen Modjaji when presented with the equivalent of the crown jewels proved to be the more effective at spluttering and up-and-unders than their opponents. Face it; WP is a team built for slicks and not even intermediates with Michael Schumacher as driver, would have been adequate.

The Cheetahs deserved their victory as their forwards provided enough pressure and security to place the death knell on the weaker Province pack. Behind the forwards, Willem de Waal proved to be far more of a duck than Werner Greeff and the rest of the Springboks made some schoolboy errors at times. This was a timely wake-up call and a wet slap in the face for Jake White that the Springboks will be playing in similar circumstances on their end of year tour. Luckily he knows that.

In Pretoria, the Bulls clinched a tough victory in front of an adoring home crowd, reminiscent of the 1980’s glory years. The swagger is back in Pretoria and deservedly so given their lowest of doldrums barely 2 or 3 years ago. The Lions put in a mighty effort but with players dropping down injured like Italian footballers, it was difficult to maintain a rhythm in the face of the blue onslaught. On the whole, the stronger, more professional and better-prepared team won the day.

Saturday’s final will be an interesting one and sentimentalists will favour the Cheetahs to provide another upset and for Rassie Erasmus to hoist the Cup in his last hurrah as provincial player. This writer has always been a huge admirer of the Bloem icon and remembers sitting in a freezing Parc des Prince in 1997 when a rampant Springbok team inspired by his phenomenal skills trounced the French, 52-10. He was c'est magnifique as my French host said with arms raised and eyes rolling. Unfortunately, rugby finals have no place for sentimentalism and it comes down to opportunities and who are best equipped to take advantage of them.

The Bulls at home is like Fort Knox – impregnable and as good as gold, and for the Cheetahs to beat them they require more concentration than Ernie Els and probably the promise of his winnings for 4 days of work! It is not impossible though and in Rassie they have an astute captain always willing to innovate. What must they do to win the Cup? 

1. Exert the same pressure up front as they did three weeks ago. They have an experienced front row to neutralize the Bulls pack.
2. Concede the opposition lineout ball in favour of stopping the maul i.e. isolate the jumper and pull him down immediately when his feet hits terra firma.
3. Do not kick the ball out and create more lineout opportunities, test the wings and fullback (who loves to run) with well-placed up-and-unders and exert enormous pressure to force mistakes in the opponents half by tackling like kamikaze's on E.
4. Kick every conceivable penalty from 55 meters out for goal, all the other penalties should be a line out where the force a short maul to bring the defence up and repeat point 3..
5. Send crown jewels to queen Modjaji.

For the Bulls to win they need to, pitch up, keep their heads, play according to their strengths and do not deviate or panic. Leave the rest to Derrick.

The other big happening of the weekend is the announcement of the Springbok touring squad. The vast majority will be the Tri Nations winning squad but who will be the replacements? As an unblinkered and independent selector the following players deserve their business class seats: 

Gary Botha. New kid Schalk Britz needs a Super 12 to prove his worth especially amongst forwards.
Danie Rossouw. He is a very good impact player with the type of skills and size to excel in the cold of Europe.
Pedrie Wannenburg. For one good reason, the match he produced at Twickenham in 2002, yes that match.
Tertius Carse. Conradie, De Kock and Januarie are out. The young WP scrummie has a cool and calm presence, call it a feeling or as big Rudi use to say, a 'coach’s selection' The young man has the goods.
Willem de Waal. Newlands 16/10/2004 enhanced a budding reputation and he can kick penalties from all over the park in weather fit for ducks, red wine and duvets.

Enjoy the final and may the best team (on the day) win. Hopefully the losing team’s call on hold song next week will not be Elton John’s ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’. So sad, so sad.



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A Tour Too Far by Desmond Organ

We will all have the benefit of hindsight at the end of November; stories will have been written, rumours will have circulated, players will have excelled or been found wanting and there will be a Grand Slam or another long wait for one. I for one, live in constant fear that the schedule and Northern Hemisphere conditions might just be too much.

The last team to complete the feat was the Australian team of 1984 and Andrew Slack has stated that the achievement is on an equal footing to the World Cup victories of 1991 and 1999. The Springboks last tried the feat under the leadership of Nick Mallett and Gary Teichman; with a team that was at the pinnacle of its successes and sadly on the brink of starting to slide into obscurity. I remember the loss to England more for the failure to break the record for consecutive victories than for not achie ving the Grand Slam; but that is history.

History teaches us that the teams that win Grand Slams do not always stay at the top in all form of competitions, combine that with the rigours of the current structure of the game and it is almost a guarantee that it will not happen. Those that have been close to the game for years and have battled early morning sessions or been lucky enough to listen to crackling voices on a radio know what such a tour represents. It is both an opportunity to achieve something quite unique; on a par with a World Cu p or a series victory in New Zealand. Really great teams achieve Grand Slams and often it is a combination of skill, leadership and good old fashioned guts.

The Australians of 1984 were such a bunch, just like the Lions of 1980 and the All Blacks of 1996. Teams that were hungry for success in a hostile environment combined with desperation to achieve success which will be spoken of for years. The psychological pressure associated with such desire cannot be underestimated and Jake White is going to have his work cut out for him just to get the players in the right frame of mind. Just like Nick Mallett he will spend hours thinking about weather the Tri Nat ions group are the right mix for the Northern winter.

One thing he has on his side is a mixture of youth and experience and a group of players that are potentially as talented as any that have come out of South Africa. Success will be built on a group basis and not on the 15 that go onto the field of play each consecutive Saturday. The absence of mid week games must be tempered by a collective will to achieve something special, something that will make South Africans proud and something that very few have achieved in the past. 

The last time we all had the opportunity to savour the special atmosphere of a tour was with the Lions in Australia and that was an experience for all that had the opportunity to observe it for it unearthed the heroes of the next few years and left us with images of pure genius in the mould of O Driscoll, Robinson, Eales, Larkham, Gregan and many more. This time round it will be no different and there will as always be incidents on and off the field that will eventually form part of what is spoken ab out in pubs across the world in years to come.

Having personally attended the World Cup last year in Australia this upcoming tour represents an opportunity to tick off another item on the list of must haves from a rugby fanatic’s perspective. What else could be more thrilling than a trip to Edinburgh in the hope that the dream is still alive and newspaper headlines will say: Three down and one to go? 

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That is a joke. Have any of them earned the right to do this? This flies in the face of everything that Jake White has been trying to do by giving the Springbok emblem and the jersey back its value by not dishing it out to every Tom, Dick and Harry.      Former Springbok flank Rob Louw on administrators being wearing the Springbok emblem on their jackets.

The challenges in English club rugby are different. It is a financial challenge to keep clubs moving forward. You have to cut your cloth according to your finances.      Rudolf Straeuli

I do love Australia and the Australian people, although I'm not sure they feel the same way about me.     Clive Woodward

Harry Viljoen dropped me in 2001 because he did not rate me as a player, and to be honest, I did not rate him as a coach.     Rassie Erasmus

The guys are confident, especially after the win over Province (in the semi-final) and I believe we are better prepared than ever before. We have a few senior guys that we are counting on to pull it
through for us.      Os du Randt

Our preparation is going well and the guys are working hard to rectify the mistakes we made against the Lions, I'm confident we will be ready for the final.     Heyneke Meyer

I am absolutely shocked and extremely disappointed at missing out (on both the semifinals and the final)," said Kaplan. I've had higher marks than ever before in the Currie Cup. To be rewarded with a touch-judge appointment is bitterly disappointing. To end off such a successful campaign on a bitter note ... I am very upset. Jonathan Kaplan

I was going to finish my career in England, but came back here to give the Currie Cup one last go. Winning this trophy is important to a lot of people, including me, and we've now got the chance.      Naka Drotske

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Letters to the Editor
Dear Lucas

Once again a brilliant forum, while pondering on last weeks semi-finals, it was great to see the Cheetahs ouster the WP (Springboks) because the last time the Cheetahs beat them, their supporters (Province) were whinning about having a weak side because all their players were representing the Springboks. I wonder what the excuses in the Cape is now, maybe the weather. 

With regards to the Cheetahs getting to the finals, I would be interested to know how this is going to affect their chances of becoming part of a Super 14 franchise. I can just imagine the board making their decision now, on what grounds (I sure they could probably find plenty of reasons, development been definitely one of them ) would OFS not get the nod and now reaching the finals would make their decision more difficult and if they should win the Currie Cup, what a dilemma that would be for the bo ard. 

From a Shark point of view, Kevin Putt it is time to send out the scouts and find some new talent, especially in the following positions 1 - 15(include coach too) sorry just kidding in positions 15, 10 and 9 (Butch and Craig) are to come back but we need better back up.

Kind regards


Goeiedag Lucas

Dit voel soos laas week wat die Cheetahs die eerste keer WP op Nuweland pakslae gegee het en baie van jou lesers my daarop gewys het dat slegs 'n vloek was. Hulle het almal die opinie gedeel dat, kom einde Oktober, die Curriebeker op Nuweland beslis gaan word en dat die Cheetahs nie teenwoordig gaan wees nie. Die naweek moes hul swaar sluk aan hul woorde terwyl hul so tussendeur die reën gesit en huil het.

Benewens die feit dat die WP se oormatige selfvertroue moontlik kon lei het tot hul uittrede uit die Curriebeker, moet daar egter nie gedink word dat dit blote geluk is dat die Cheetahs in die finaal is nie. Net deur die twee spanne se rekord hierdie jaar teen die ander spanne in die
semi-finale te vergelyk verdien die Cheetahs soveel meer om in die finaal te wees. Dit was wensdenkery om die WP as gunstelinge teen die Cheetahs te sien na hul slegs daarin kon slaag om een van hul wedstryde teen die ander semi-finaliste te wen. Verder het hul laas in die jaar 2000 teen die Cheetahs op Nuweland gewen. 

Dit bly egter soos 'n paal bo water staan dat die WP-ondersteuners en hul geïndokterneerde sportskrywers altyd met 'n vindingryke verskoning vorendag kom. Amper soos 'n Sub B seuntjie wat nie sy huiswerk gedoen het nie en gevang word deur die juffrou. Die vorige pakslae wat hul op Nuweland gekry het was die Springbokke se skuld, want (en ek haal aan) "die hele WP-span het vir die Sprinbokke gespeel". Die week lees ek hul nuutste vindingryke verskoning. Weer gee hulle die Springbokke die skuld. Tim Noakes het gevind dat rugbyspelers nie meer as 12 weke aaneen kan rugby speel nie. Die naweek was dit dan ook so dat die WP se Springbokke hulle dertiende agtereenvolgende wedstryd moes speel. Hoe ironies. Ek is seker as hul volgende week verloor het was Tim Noakes se bevinding 13 weke gewees en nie 12 nie.

Die Cheetahs se oorwinning oor die WP die naweek het egte twee sake aan die lig gebring waaroor Jake White baie bly kan wees:

1. Die "Springbokke" het 'n af naweek volgende week en kyk die Curriebekerfinaal op die TV.
2. Gelukkig speel die Springbokke nie die Cheetahs met die toer aan die einde van die jaar nie.

Benewens bogemelde het die wedstryd ook 'n paar teer punte in SA Rugby in die kollig geplaas. Onder andere:

1. Watter grond het Brian van Rooyen gehad om die Cheetahs oor te sien met die toekenning van Super 12-spanne en hoekom suig die Cheetahs aan die agterste speen as dit kom by die toedeling van TV-regte inkomste? As jy die Cheetahs se gemiddelde posisie op die Curriebekerleer die laaste tien jaar neem, is die Cheetahs (met 'n skamerige begroting) die tweede mees suksesvolle span naas Natal. 
2. Hoe gaan die Springbokke in die Noordelike halfrond vaar waar reën 'n gereelde verskynsel is gemeet aan die WP se vertoning die naweek? Hier het 'n speler soos Willem de Waal gewys dat benewens die feit dat hy kan skop en hardlooprugby speel, hy ook 'n wedstryd in enige omstandighede kan lees. 

Steyn Strauss

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