Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 38

Editors Note

Brilliant!     What a sporting weekend for South Africa! Hendrik Ramaala won the New York marathon, Retief Goosen came from four shots behind the leaders in the season ending Tour Championship to beat none other than the great Tiger Woods and the Springboks beat Wales in Cardiff, just.

Hands up all those Springbok supporters who sat shaking their heads in disbelief after Saturdays test. There was a potpourri of brilliance, incompetence and downright stupidity in every facet of this test match almost like the Shabir Shaik trial in Durban. Lucky for the Springboks, they scored more points than the opposition and one more than requested in last week’s column.

First the brilliance, it came from some unbelievable long-range tries by the Springboks who counter attacked with the mastery of a German panzer brigade in the desert. Their deft handling touches would have embarrassed a Tube pickpocket and the running angles would have had Pythagoras salivating. The Welsh tenacity and never say die attitude, previous the sole domain of Yasser Arafat, can be added to this list.

The incompetence could be found in a few places and actually one can write a rather long list… but then, the major culprits. The commentators were probably the most incompetent set of pundits ever resembled for a test match. Aussie commentators sound like well informed, unbiased and sporting compared to these two gentlemen. They clearly had an axe to grind with the referee (more on him later), they did not know the lineout laws (you CAN step in and not receive the ball – imbeciles!), they got the n ames horribly wrong (it was Jean de Villiers, sparkys!) and they did nothing to contribute to the game of rugby but moan, be one eyed and incompetent. 

Paddy O’Brien was poor, incompetent may be too strong but he made quite a few mistakes and he was not at his usual best. Maybe he was forced to listen to that commentary…

Lastly the stupid, Schalkie made a few stupid mistakes and it cost his team dearly. The man is in more credit than Jacob Zuma with all the hard work he does on the field but all he needs to do is concentrate that extra bit more. As a player he is a phenomena and his work rate unsurpassed – we all learn to deal with the good and the bad – his bad can be curbed and then watch him jol! 

The other stupidity was the Springbok management team for not getting the tick behind the clock – they should have timed how long it took to drink all those bottles of water stacked in front of them in the first half and realized there is something wrong in the second. Not to mention handing out Springbok caps willy nilly, something that prohibited certain players from touring… nooit man! Never assume as it makes an ‘ass out of u and me’. At least they will learn, as for those commentators - no chance.

The general impression this writer got from the game was that the Springboks were always stronger and better than the Welsh. Gavin Henson played very well and is a very good prospect but there is not enough firepower in the red jerseys to win the big games. Compete they will and admirably so but that next step up require a few players who can count amongst the world’s best.

Where did the Springboks go wrong? The problem was their concentration, more than anything else. The scrum was not concentrating for every scrum and Eddie Andrews was again not too convincing. The Springboks pride themselves on being this formidable forward outfit yet in every test this year they have made the mistake of not concentrating on every scrum. The last effort with Shimange taking aerial photographs should never have happened and he, like Nick Mallett advised on a rugby program on Sunday, should stick to getting basics right and spare his opposition a tongue lashing before the first scrum. Anyway, a scrum should be reset when a front row goes up, Juan Smith should have picked up the ball at 8, something he was guilty of in the RWC last year as well and that try not awarded. Bygones.

This old scrumhalf really enjoyed the good tussle at halfback and Fourie Du Preez again underlined his splendid credentials with an excellent performance. Make no mistake, that was a shocking pitch, both falling apart and wet and he dealt with it like a legendary hero of the very opposition he played against – Gareth Edwards. High praise you will remark? Indeed – he is a very, very good player. Peel was impressive as well and Wales have a very gutsy and busy player to follow in the footsteps of the great Robert Howley.

The good thing about this match was that it happened against Wales, that it is over and there was no embarrassing defeat. There were a few positives but there is a tremendous amount of work left before the Irish beckon at Lansdowne road. The match will be very different and very difficult as the Irish probably has the best preparation and insight of a team they played twice already this season. This will be no Irish joke and the forwards will have to step up at least a few gears and commit some men to the breakdown, as much as Bakkies and Victor do, they cannot deal with 8 mad Paddies. Eddie will have to come out of his mediocrity and prove his test metal in conditions ill suited for scrumming and the loose trio will have to play a lot smarter.

The backline battle will be an absolute belter, it is a pity D’Arcy is out of the reckoning as that would have pitted two of the most exciting centre pairings in world rugby with another. As it is, Brian O’Driscoll will be on his turf, he has the experience of playing on a wetter surface but De Wet Barry and Joubert will relish the confrontation.

Can the Springboks win? Of course, they have beaten the same team twice this year but somehow this match is the most likeliest to lose out of the 4 and hopefully last weekend was the wake up call they needed. The Welsh match served a vital purpose in delivering the message (to everybody) that there is a very good reason why Grand Slams are only won every second decade or so. 

Enjoy another weekend of great test rugby, the French take on the Aussies and the All Blacks Italy. Go Bokke!



For all the latest rugby news visit sarugby.com

  Millennium Stadium by Desmond Organ

Posted 06 November 2004.        The teams’ entrance onto the pitch was quite extraordinary; this is indeed a special place as far as the game of rugby is concerned. The Springboks have kept on their track suits for the anthem as it is a tad on the chilly side. One of the unique aspects of a game in Wales is the outstanding band and choir that occupies the opening ceremony.

The first few moments of the game saw a fiery Schalk Burger make contact with Hal Luscombe in a friendly reminder of where he comes from. From the opening scrum Eddie Andrews got a great right shoulder and gave the Boks their first real forage into opposition territory. The second scrum was a disaster for the Welsh as they were literally wheeled at will.

Joubert’s inside break that set up the move for van der Westhuizen's try was copybook, executing a break back inside through the Welsh inside centre channel. The conversion was good and South Africa was into a 10 point lead in no time.

South Africa’s flat line of defence so heavily criticised by many during the Tri Nations opened the way for Wales to open their account in the 11th minute of the game and these points inspired the Welsh too take the game to the Springboks and establish some healthy forays into Bok territory. The Welsh tackles were coming hard and fast and forcing the Boks into some handling errors and the intensity of these may have had more than a fair share to do with Montgomery’s lapse of concentration. Ano ther penalty from the flat line defence and Wales were right back into the game. 

By the twentieth minute South Africa were well and truly playing on the back foot, pressurised into errors and missing the coordination required by the back three. Some adventurous passing was costing the Boks dearly and was it not for some unfortunate body positioning form Ryan Jones the Boks would not have had the break away try from van Niekerk, brilliantly architected by Montgomery from the midfield.

South Africa’s adventurous approach and somewhat individualistic play was leading to a number of handling errors towards the latter part of the first half. Perhaps the most significant aspect of play in this period was Matfield's constant presence in the lineout and his ability to contest opposition throw- ins. On South Africa’s ball he was reining supreme as point that did not go unnoticed by the press surrounding me.

Ten minutes without Schalk Burger was not what the Boks needed, but that is what transpired when he pushed the letter of the law a little too far. Paddy O’Brien had been refereeing the game strictly and was not going to allow killing of the ball when the opposition was in an attacking position. The loss of Burger brought a sustained period of intensity from the Welsh and another 3 points to bring them within 8 of the Boks.

Wales as I predicted earlier in the week were sending the ball into the corners courtesy of Stephen Jones, particularly putting pressure on Ashwin Willemse who was looking tired and jaded after so many months of inactivity. Montgomery took another head on bashing and Wales scored shortly thereafter sending the stadium into a delirious state. South Africa’s passing and over enthusiasm was letting them down badly.

The tenacity of the Welsh game was taking its toll on the Springboks and the more the Boks struggled to come to terms with the passion of the Welsh the more the errors seemed to creep in. Jones meanwhile continued to put the ball in the corner or pepper the Boks with up and unders.

Willemse’s replacement heralded a sense of urgency from the Boks and in no time an excellent break from Barry and a great straight run from De Villiers brought them another well worked try. It is becoming somewhat of a habit for De Villiers to create something from nothing.

Welsh replacements were coming thick and fast and in the process the Boks started to stamp some form of authority on the match and deprive the Welsh of possession. The Welsh persisted with their spirited approach and kept the game a spectacle even though the game was by this time out of their grasp. South Africa will rue the missed opportunities but be very appreciative of getting such a good opening challenge from the Welsh.

Thinking forward to next week Jake White will have to focus on sharpening his troops and ironing out unnecessary errors.

The post match press conference was an interesting affair and perhaps the highlight was Jake White’s sense of humour. Not only did he make humorous comments about having a roof on a stadium and not closing it; but he was quite amazed that the stadium clock was not accurate. He mentioned that he was on his way down in the lift to the changing rooms and only realised that the game was still on because none of the on the pitch players were there. 

That being said he did spend an extra 10 minutes talking to the media after the press conference was over. What a difference it makes to have a coach that sends a positive message about South Africa and what a difference from a year ago when such an experience would have been almost unthinkable. 

Subscribe to Sharkmail, weekly E-Zine sent to you from the heart of Natal Sharks Rugby. Get the latest news and competitions. Subscribe at sharksrugby@mweb.co.za

I think he was brilliant for Welsh rugby when he arrived in Wales. It really put Welsh rugby on the map and I think he's been superb for the Dragons.         Wales captain, Gareth Thomas on Percy Montgomery

Overall, and I am not being arrogant in any way, I can't see how they can beat the Springboks.     Kobus Wiese on Wales chances before the test

I have been blessed with success in my rugby career and I am grateful for that. But when new challenges such as the captaincy come along, I have no hesitation in accepting.     Jason Robinson on the England captaincy

De Wet and Marius are powerful men. They have come through the same teams and played alongside each other so often they are like a husband and wife. They know each other's game inside out.     Kobus Wiese

I like having pressure on me, people talking me up. That's when I perform best. It's ideal for me.    Gavin Henson

We have got a lot of confident youngsters and we don't fear the Springboks. If we achieve 50-50 parity in the set-pieces we will be good enough to win because we have one of the better back-lines going.    Gavin Henson

Custom House will write Rugby Canada a cheque for $100,000 when Canada defeats England on November 13, 2004.       Ian Taylor, Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing for Custom House

To win the World Cup again, I think New Zealand are going to have to be tougher. Tougher and wiser.   Bruce Reihana

It's a multi-million pound stadium. It said 80 minutes on the clock and there were still eight minutes to go. I was a bit amazed by that. The roof was open, the clock wrong but other than that it was fine.     Jake White

Burger doesn't play. He storms, he rampages, he destroys, he tackles. He gives away plenty of penalties as well but why pillory one weakness when it is possible to celebrate so many other areas of prowess?       Paul Ackford

Schalk will have to learn to listen when the referee talks to him. If the referee warns him to stop doing something, he must stop immediately.      Jake White

Join the SARUGBY news and discussion group for the fastest sarugby news and the most intense debates around the South African game. Send a blank email to sarugby-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Copyright 2004 Rugby Forum. All rights reserved. This e-mail may be freely distributed, provided that the document is left in its original form. Submissions are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the editor or owner.