Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 40

Editors Note

Brilliant!     This column will not contain any winging about another pathetic Springbok performance. Nor will it care to elucidate inexplicable game plan errors or attempt to illuminate some of the pathetic management booboos. In fact this column will not even mention how pitiable some of the Springbok players performed against England on Saturday… oh what the hell, why not? 

A great year in modern Springbok terms were royally stuffed up on Saturday when they were taught a thorough lesson in the art of test match rugby by an aggressive and confident English side at Twickenham. It was widely described as a ‘boys versus men’ encounter however the Springboks' bumbling resembled that of the great Hrundi V. Bakshi’s deliberate demolishment of a plush Hollywood home in 'The Party'. It will not surprise this writer if a few men dressed in green blazers were caught mumbling ‘birdie num num’ repeatedly at the after match function.

Where to start in one’s analysis? The dismal attempt at the singing of the national anthem before a ball was even kicked in anger probably hinted at what was to follow. The first kick-off certainly confirmed that the Springbokus horribilis pitched up to play and after the initial scrum and customary retreat that made even the Italian's Second World War effort look laudable, supporters knew it was going to be one of those days.

Much has been made of the ‘strength’ of the Springbok scrum during the season but the 9kg heavier pack was weighed and found way too light by two of the most menacing looking men in world rugby. Heck, a poster of those two beauties will provide English parents with a great means to discipline their naughty children. They certainly controlled the Springbok props with ease – all three of them! John Smit at hooker was popping out more often than Pamela Anderson’s assets, which rendered a very good loo se trio about as effective as a weapons inspector in Iraq.

With all this happening in front it was no surprise that Fourie Du Preez struggled to dictate with his boot and that outside him, Jaco van der Westhuisen was merely a passenger in the game. Ditto Barry and Joubert. The creative, attacking force of a few months ago was easily neutralized by intelligent play from Charlie Hodgkinson, who bought his defensive line up very quick and shallow. He was ably assisted by the marauding England loosies who snacked Springbok biltong like it was a delicacy served at the Dorchester with every inside break or turnover behind the advantage line.

Enough of the players, there is not enough space to continue, they have by now seen the video (Peter Sellers, if he was alive would have been perfect as numbers 1,2,3,4,7,10,12 and 13) and hopefully they can rectify it against a team probably watching Mel Gibson’s Braveheart and a replay of the 2002 Murrayfield victory every three hours between Haggis eating comps. But then there are a host of changes to the Springbok lineup and those guys must be swallowing Imodium’s by the dozen.

The Springbok management errors are well worth repeating as they reflect and probably inspire their charges deeds on the field. The clock in Wales is old news, training indoors during the week because it was expected that Twickenham would be dry in November was like walking into a Turkish market expecting not to find a carpet. Then there is the studs story, apparently some players studs were too short because they did not think it will be as soft underfoot. Huh? Soft underfoot in England in the winter…. Let’s think about this one… COME ON will you! Add to that, the esteemed manager sharing his own incompetence by saying a recce was required of the conditions etc. blah blah blah – indicting himself one and two conveniently forgetting he was the manager of the Springbok touring party in 1998 with Nick Mallett… where to, ummmmm British Isles perhaps?

There are no excuses for p*ss-poor-preparation and the Bok management needs to take stock and question hard and honest if the right people are there doing their job. Methinks not. Woodward for all his easy-to-dislike manner believed that at that level 1% can be the difference in winning and losing – the Springboks are way behind on that detail.

Doom and gloom? Funny that but this writer does not think so, Jake White may be a seasoned rugby coach but he is a relative newcomer on the international scene. Does he have the correct structures to perform under? If not, he needs them quickly. The Tri Nations opposition is a known factor and there are loads of videos and expertise around to help with them, where is the English rugby specialists? The French rugby specialists? Brendan Venter, Nick Mallett et al would have been invaluable if pulled in as consultants… Somehow this can all be rectified and rather easily. What is required is buy in from the highest level. That dear readers, is a different story altogether.

Saturday, the Springboks take on the Scots who believe they have a firm chance of repeating their feat of 2002. And why not? Their opponents appear to be hanging off the ropes and unless an Ali like performance is forthcoming, the Springboks might find themselves in another pickle. Talented they are, players they have, what is required is an effective game plan, a massive reduction in their error rate and some commitment to the cause. If they do, the Scots will be found wanting by some bit. If not – prepare for another tongue-lashing!

Enjoy a weekend filled with great international rugby. It is the pride of the Southern Hemisphere on display and even Australia will receive this voice of support! 



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Reality Check & Boys vs. Men by Desmond Organ

“I was worried about Ireland, but England was always going to be a victory.” – Springbok fan outside Twickenham after the game.

What went wrong, what is happening and why did the coach not adapt to the conditions of the Northern Hemisphere? These are the best ways to sum up the questions of the average Springbok supporter after the second loss on a tour that promised so much and has yet to deliver. The game on Saturday marks a turning point for Jake White as far as support is concerned; close defeats to Australia and New Zealand away from home and sensational victories at home erased the memories of the World Cup and brought the cynical Springbok supporter a bite of hope.

Perhaps if they read the words of Gavin Rich they will continue to have faith, he for one believes that this could be a great team in the future, compare this with the words of Mark Keohane who said that Saturday’s game was as bad a performance by South Africa as the worst performances under Harry Viljoen and Rudolf Straeuli and it leaves the average supporter thinking that this is just another case of early success followed by grim reality.

We are still failing to come to terms with the reality of professional rugby as far as preparation and conditioning are concerned. Our “best” team is playing week in and week out and some of the players appear to be out on their feet. The forwards who did battle in the Southern Hemisphere are not coping with the heavier conditions and perhaps there is some truth in the belief that the Bulls forwards would have performed at a higher level. There is even talk amongst the supporters that the Bulls forwa rd combined with Fourie Du Preez and Hougaard would have created a more imposing front than the current combinations.

The forwards were outplayed in the tight loose and the only piece of salvation was our performance in the lineout. Seems to indicate a scenario where you kick for touch and play the percentages. This is by no means a call to return to the “archaic” ways of playing the game, but if England can dominate up front, kick their goals and grind the opposition down then surely we should be able to do the same. Their appeared to be no creativity amongst the backs and the rush defensive pattern proved ineffect ive against the English who appeared to be prepared for everything that the Boks threw at them. We had sufficient possession to be competitive but were programmed into a style of play that is unsuitable to the conditions and sadly predictable.

Their should also be no illusions as to the experience of the players that turned out for England, this years Six Nations was a transition from the previous group of core players to a group who have been competing for positions for the last 3 years, something that cannot be said of the South Africans. It speaks of professionalism and preparation and a system that produces results despite the odd hick up along the way. If Jake White has learnt anything from this tour it is the fact that the odd win or two does not propel you up the World rankings, that requires consistency and perhaps a great flyhalf and we have not had that since the Nick Mallett era. 

Boys vs. Men

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece describing how the intensity of the Grand Slam schedule might represent a “Tour to Far”. Saturday at Twickenham vindicated many of the concerns of this armchair critic. The games against Wales and Ireland highlighted many weaknesses within the Springboks approach and the shrewd English management maximised this to the full.

Jake Whites pre-tour motivational speeches came crashing down to earth and the coach himself was his charismatic self in acknowledging that it was like Std 8 pupils playing against Matric boys. Dig a little deeper into the match statistics and you find that not only were the Springboks out muscled; they were beaten up. The frequency with which this current vintage is giving away penalties reminds me of the era of the Straeuli years and the only difference is the leniency with which the press are handling the current incumbent.

The statistics reveal a number approaching 40, which for an international side is quite despicable; no team can expect to win close test matches when the opposition is scoring around 70% of their points through penalties. Saturday was no different and despite the fact that we conceded only two tries it could well have been a far greater number had the English team realised the level of their ascendancy earlier in the game. I happened to overhear Phil Larder stating that such was the dominance of the English pack the difference in the teams could have well exceeded 30 points.

It was as destructive a performance as I have witnessed in many a long year; Perth at the World Cup was a thumping, this was a clinical drubbing. I overheard several media personnel articulating what a Joe van Niekerk would have achieved behind such an England pack, so what is my response; he is playing for South Africa behind a tight five that have bungled their way through the tour so far. There is a lack of cohesion at scrum time; the loose forwards are not adding their weight at the point of enga gement. Fourie Du Preez who has had the luxury of a dominant pack so far this season did extremely well to manage the possession that he received as most of it was on the back foot.

John Smit seemed to spend as much time popping out of the scrum as he did knocking on in contact situations and this is simply unacceptable at this level. Os Du Randt has been overplayed during the course of the season and despite his best intentions appears exhausted. The dominant loose forwards of the Tri-Nations are a shadow of the force that was so evident during the home leg matches against New Zealand and Australia. Burger was his ever preset self but was blown away by the combined efforts of C orry, Worsley and Moody. The English loose trio that played on Saturday were every bit as effective as the trio that won the World Cup and in many aspects even better.

The statistics for South Africa in the backs left a sad and sorry story, at least three tackles were missed on Charlie Hodgson and the cross kick that left the Boks for dead was as a direct result of turn over ball and a rush defensive system that has been found wanting on the heavier fields of the Northern Hemisphere. The only three quarters that left with any credibility were Jean De Villiers and Fourie Du Preez. De Villiers deserves special mention simply because he always appears to have so much time at his disposal as opposed to the bungling efforts of his first five eighth and second five eighth. Marius Joubert has been left with little option other than to receive man and ball at the same time and no matter how capable he is, nothing much is going to come from it.

Saturday was as big a wake up call as any coach could receive and the next two weeks will reveal if the current coach has the ability to ride out the bad times, adjust his approach to the conditions in the Northern Hemisphere and come to terms with the fact that he has a lot of work to do. Failure against Scotland will leave this tour in complete disarray and it will rank along with the tour of 1992 as the year in which Springbok rugby was left for dead.

Player Analysis

15. Montgomery – 5 out of 10 (Kicked all his penalty goals but failed to break the English defensive pattern)
14. Paulse – 5 out of 10 (Had very little opportunity but defended well.)
13. Joubert – 4 out of 10 (Another average day at the office.)
12. Barry – 3 out of 10 (One break during the game.)
11. De Villiers – 6 out of 10 (Positional play was outstanding, marred only by the cross kick that lead to the second English try.)
10. van der Westhuizen – 3 out of 10 (One great break that led to a try, the rest was not worth thinking about.)
09. Du Preez – 5 out of 10 (Cleared well but needs to learn to play to the whistle.)
08. van Niekerk – 4 out of 10 (Hardly broke the advantage line, outplayed by his opposite number.)
07. Venter – 4 out of 10 (Took the fight to the English but outplayed by his opposite number.)
06. Burger – 4 out of 10 (The English loose trio.)
05. Matfield – 5 out of 10 (Solid but not as good as last week.)
04. Botha – 4 out of 10 (Never saw him.)
03. Andrews – 3 out of 10 (Outplayed and outscrummed; he is out of his league.)
02. Smit – 4 out of 10 (Spent too much time popping out the scrum, team lost composure for the second week in a row.)
01. Du Randt 4 out of 10 (He was outscrummed and looked exhausted.)

Team Performance – 4 out of 10

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In hindsight, the management of the team felt it was better all-round that Breyton plays. Both from a transformation point of view and from the experience he brings to the team.    Arthob Peterson, Springbok manager

Off the pitch I'm a really easy-going guy. On the pitch I'm not going to try to hurt you but I'll do everything within the laws of the game. I'll ruck you if you're on the wrong side. I'll really take it hard to you. I don't show any mercy.     Os Du Randt

Their confidence will be very high, after their big win over Australia last week. And they have the added incentive that they have never lost in Marseille. But maybe we can take advantage if they are overconfident. Pumas flanker Lucas Ostiglia 

We cannot keep on doing this. We beat Australia one week and then lost to Argentina the next... it is not good enough and we must stop making excuses.     Bernard Laporte 

That's Mike Tindall, who has gained fame recently because he dates the Queen's grandmother, Zara.     Hugh Bladen during test match commentary....

And still South Africa cannot win at Wimbledon... um, Twickenham.      Hugh Bladen, again...

This is the best team in the world at the moment. It is the best team we have played all year. It is the most physical team. They beat us up today. Physically, my side was like a bunch of Std 8 schoolboys out there. They tried but they were not strong enough to handle the English. This defeat had nothing to do with a lack of skill on our side. We just could not cope with the physical beating.       Jake White

We did not realise how soft and wet the field would be and not all the Boks wore 21mm studs.     Gert Smal

We believe it was an oversight on our part not to do a recce tour of the UK to see the conditions.      Arthob Peterson

South Africa are a good team - Tri-Nations champions - and will be a big challenge, but if we can live with Australia for large parts of the game, then we can live with South Africa. I feel we can look forward to that game with optimism and a bit of confidence because we are playing good rugby at times.    Chris Cusiter, Scottish no 9

You can't build weight and muscle if you are playing every Saturday. We need to address this now. You've got to fix the roof while the sun is shining, not wait until there is a disaster.         Jake White

Winning both these awards is a great honour, especially as they are voted for by professional players from all over the world. It has been a fantastic season, with South Africa winning the Tri-Nations, and now this caps an incredible year for me.       Schalk Burger

I don't know what the French psyche will be like. It's a bit different from ours - I assume that if we got stuffed we'd be harder to beat the following week. And I assume that is what they will be like, but who knows?   Graham Henry

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Hi Lucas,

We sit with the strongest Bok team in years, but there is something wrong with them (or not).
Here can be your solution.
The players are tired, Full stop !!. Tired in their minds, soul, and their bodies.
After 11 months of gruelling rugby they need desperate player management.

Most of the top players played the following"
1. Warm up games for S12.
2. A gruelling mentally hydrated S12 (Some of them played S12 semi Finals).
3. Gruelling Tri -nations (Won this).
4. Gruelling Curry Cup (Best competition in years).
5. And then a Super-duper-Grand-Slam Waste of Time. All this, to enrich the coffins of others not playing on the field.

1. Why did they play very well in the first half of the year. Was it due to no contracts, or due to players more fresh after a rest period - December.
2. Why do the Northern hemisphere players get 13 weeks off, at the end of their season?
3. Why does the Bok coach not get enough time with his players.
4. Why cant there be a synchronised rugby season throughout the world?

Shouldn't we look at our player management again
2 weeks rest after the S12. 
One round of Curry Cup Only. 
2 Weeks rest after Curry Cup. 
8 weeks of rest at year end.

Room for thought-Hein

Dear Lucas,

Why I expected anything more from the Boks on Saturday is beyond me. And that's not to say the Boks just decided to not try. On the contrary, I thought the boys put in a huge effort: the mind was willing, but the body was not. I feel so sorry for them, to end off such a memorable and fantastically exciting season with another Northern Hemisphere "snotklap". I could pick holes in the game-plan (or seeming lack thereof), but I believe the problem is two-fold:

1. What is the aim of the end-of-year tour?
Currently: to send the best team, who have played together all year, to take on the best of the North.
That is fine, but item 2 highlights where this falls flat.

2. What is the selection policy?
Jake has stated that he will stick with his team, and that for someone else to challenge for a place, they must be really brilliant. The result of this is a lack of depth and experience, with those gaining the experience being too fatigued to put in the performance they are asked to. As Heyneke Meyer will tell you, you have got to blood young players to ensure a constant stream of talent, and to eliminate injury crises. The answer is not to send your budding super-stars off to Argentina where the national coach cannot hope to keep an eye on their progress.

The Springbok team is there to showcase the best rugby talent available in South Africa.
Games against France, England, Ireland, Australia & New Zealand should always demand the strongest team.
Games against Scotland, Argentina, Wales, Italy, Canada, Fiji, Samoa etc... should be used to blood the next-in-line. SA 'A' tours should be used to expose those still wet-behind-the-ears to overseas teams and conditions.

Separate to the team selection, tour-exposure selections may be made, but they must be empasised to be tour-exposure selections. There should not be any hope of any of these players being selected for the Boks, nor should any of these players be excluded from selection for SA 'A' if they are good enough.

The order of selection is therefore as follows:
Boks - only if you're good enough
SA'A' - didn't make Boks, but are next in line
Tour Exposure - didn't make SA 'A' but are ear-marked for future greatness

For end-of-year tours where games against Scotland & Argentina are scheduled together with Ireland & England, the Bok squad should be expanded to 30 by promoting the best of SA 'A'.

My suggestions are not racist, because inherently, there will be some who will think that it is my intention to keep SA Rugby "white" (excuse the pun...). Actually, more damage is done to SA rugby by fast-tracking young players of colour than by allowing them to follow the natural learning curve:

Kaya Molotana
Owen Nkumane
Lawrence Sephaka
Gcobani Bobo (What is his future?)

... to name just a few of the players of colour seemingly never to return in full force to the Bok squad.

Breyton is entirely different, having earned his place, and the subsequent 50 test caps, but is now showing signs of a drop in form. Why keep him on when Brent Russell, Gaffie du Toit & Jaque Fourie, all with sublime skills, are waiting in the wings? Breyton is clearly struggling with his game, and it is an injustice to him, and damaging to his character.

Consider the Proteas for an example of a sh!t selection policy. Those guys have been playing together for so long it's ridiculous, and the best thing that could have happened was to drop people like Boucher from the team. There is a very fine line between keeping someone on to show confidence in his selection, but not dropping him when a better player is hungry for his place is just wrong.


Hi Lucas


Gutless, stupid and damn awful display by 15 jokers masquerading as Springbok rugby players. A disgrace to the once proud history of the Springbok jersey !

This hiding was on the cards when Jake White named his touring team and the best centre and hooker of the season was left out in the cold. Even if this motley bunch beats Scotland.... and it could quite easily not happen....this tour is a disaster for South African rugby. You win games and admiration on the field by playing better than the opposition.... nothing else.

The Boks are back where they were when Strauli got the sack.

Jakes Jacobson

Hi Lucas

Met die jongste gebeure in die Springbokspan en die bekendmaking daarvan vir die wedstryd teen die Engelse kry ek toe mos sommer so naar smaak in my mond.

Transformasie is suiwer 'n ander woord vir politiek. Sarfu is 'n patetiese verskoning vir 'n rugbyunie. Rugby het dus 'n politieke sirkus geword, met van Rooyen en sy klomp narre in die hoofrol.

Vir die jong rugbyspelers wat 'n passie en ware liefde vir die spel het, ry........... Pak jou tassie, ry Jan Smuts toe,en vlieg na die buiteland. Daar waar julle nog steeds julle liefde kan uitleef, en waarskynlik waardeer en geloof sal word vir julle bydrae tot rugby.

Hier sal dit nie gebeur nie, nee, hier gaan 'n tweede Zimbabwe gestig word, waar sport net deur politiek oorheers en gemanupileer word. Dit is tyd dat die publiek rugby begin boikot tot die dag dat reg en geregtigheid sal geskied.

Ek kan en sal my nie vereenselwig met hierdie Springbokspan nie, want dit verteenwoordig nie die beste spelers in die land nie. Laat die ANC jeugliga en politiek alles oorneem, en 'n nog groter gemors van alles maak. Miskien, eendag in die toekoms wanneer alles weer terugkeer na normaal en die land weer reg bestuur word, sal dinge weer regkom. 

Lank lewe rugby waar kwotas en transformasie nie betrokke is nie.

Haal af die Springbok, en vervang dit met met die Protea, dit sal die bespotting makliker maak.

Das Villoen

Hi Lucas

Toe word die grand slam die grand bang !!

Engeland : 32 Transformasie : 16

Julle is seker al moeg vir my negatiewe insette week na week, maar deur hierdie medium kan ons minstens ontslae raak van ons frustrasies, veral as almal weet waaroor dit gaan.

Vandag wil ek graag van Sarfu weet waarheen nou ?

Daar was met die aankondiging van die Springbokspan beweer die spelers van die Drienasie wat so goed opvorm is, niks gedoen het om nie gekies te word nie.

Almal het gesien wat het op Nuweland gebeur in nat weer tussen Vrystaat en W.P., maar tog word WP oorheersend in die Bokspan gekies. Almal het geweet WP het vasgeval in hierdie weerstoestande, en Saterdag is dit weer bewys.

Geen spelpatroon, geen Losskakel wat spel kan dikteer nie, en senters wat niks beteken nie. Weereens was die Bokspan op 'n leerskool, soos ons al die afgelope klompie jare gehoor het. Ons gaan mos nie rugby speel nie, ons gaan leer.

Die Engelse was nie beter as ons nie, ons suiwer net vrek swak !!!

Stel asb tog 'n Kaptein aan, wat waardig is as 'n leier. 'n Persoon wat spel kan opsom, leier-eienskappe het en wat die respek het van sy mede-spelers verdien.

Moeg ? Dan hoort hulle nie daar nie.

Rugbygroete, miskien sal Skotland ons genadig wees !

Das Villoen

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