Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 42

Editors Note

Brilliant!     They think it’s all over, well – it is now. The local rugby season came to a shuddering halt on Saturday in far off Buenos Aires after one of the most startling years in recent memory. After three previous attempts at summarizing a year in Springbok rugby it made a lot of sense to create a checklist rather than an unorganized rant and rave. Here goes.

A. Coach – check, the yearly replacement of the Springbok coach duly happened. Out went big Rudi (deserved) and in the new messiah – Jake White.
B. Captain – check, new coach = new captain. John for Corné.
C. Results – check, well hello! The report card is a good one! Officially the 3rd best year in winning percentage, since re-admission in 1992. 
D. Trophies – check check, one times Tri Nations silverware! 
E. Players – CHECK, a few world-class contenders and the IRB Player of the year in Schalkie, a South African first and finally in Fourie du Preez, a scrumhalf we can be proud of!
F. Administration – check, the usual shenanigans surfaced yet again, new faces but the same old (boring) story. Fortunately, C. interfered and the focus returned to where it should be, on the game and E.

The Springboks outing against a weakened Puma team left very little to report, as it was a game of ‘two halves’. The first 30 minutes or so produced some decent rugby and then the lure of some of the Cape’s finest vinicultural products proved too much for even this hardened rugby fan to continue watching. The season had finally taken its toll and the players and coaches protestations of too much rugby are vehemently endorsed by this armchair critique. Enough was, well, enough and on the evening it came in the form of a superb magnum of Buitenverwagting Cab Sav 1998 - a particular fine year for Springbok rugby as well!

Earlier in the day, the Barbarians lost against a crack New Zealand 2nd XV – the usual festival rugby was not forthcoming as the invitation side in particular Matt Rogers never really threatened the cohesion and sharpness of the All Blacks. One player impressed all and sundry with his great display, Jerome Kaino – the IRB U21 player of the year made a huge impact in his first match as this level. 

All in all it was a wonderful rugby year that began with an excellent Super 12 competition. The SA sides made some inroads on their dismal traveling record and the eventual champions, the Brumbies played magnificent rugby throughout the competition. The Tri Nations produced its first year of genuine competitiveness with each team winning their home games and next year will hopefully continue in similar vein.

The Springboks under Jake White, deserve a mention and even with a slightly derailed end-of-year-tour (EOYT) supporters can be proud of their team and growth after a nightmare year before. As for the All Blacks – the Tri Nations was not exactly their crowning glory as players struggled to come to terms with new coaching philosophies but their EOYT proved a monster success after a big scalp in Paris. Sir Clive, for all his technological wonders and attention to detail will find the going tough next year with the Lions. This ‘Lions tour supporter’ cannot wait for this series as the concept of Lions tours is what created international rugby originally. As for our ‘mates’ the Aussies – well, a win at Twickenham crowned a semi good year after pulverizing the World Champions at home. 

For Rugby Forum, it has been a long year. The commitment of Desmond Organ is unsurpassed (thank you Des!) bearing in mind that none of us make any money out of this publication and only do it for the love of the game. Yip, we are amateurs in the true sense of the word! For yours truly it provides an ‘altruistic’ opportunity to poke fun, berate and summarize the weekly rugby scene. Hard work it is although this year, a successful Springbok year, it was worth every second of the effort in particular being part of a wonderful crowd at Kingspark when the Springboks achieved the mind-boggling feat of winning the Tri Nations trophy after 3 years of reporting on their mediocrity. Nuff said.

This is the final issue of the year and we will be back just before the start of the Super 12 to resume business as normal. Thank you for your support and all the wonderful letters throughout the year. A joyful and safe festive season to all!



For all the latest rugby news visit sarugby.com

Learn, Learn, Learn by Desmond Organ
Victory against Scotland has temporarily relieved Jake White of the intense pressures associated with being the South African coach. A week earlier people had been questioning the preparation, team selection and the make up of the management team. The IRB annual awards went a long way to swelling his persona, if ever that needed any encouragement.

The reality however is that a number of avoidable and critical mistakes were made by both management and the players during the course of the tour. The most embarrassing was the lack of match day preparation as far as timekeeping and equipment is concerned. There can be no excuses for not having a handle on the actual period of elapsed time and if Jake White does not have a timekeeper then what is the Team Manager doing during the game. The apparent absence of longer studs for the boots in the game a gainst England is another diabolical error that sits with the Kit Master and the Team Manager.

In this day and age it is critical that team preparation is carried out with the utmost precision; there is enough pressure for the coach and players to be dealing with, without having to worry about logistics. Clive Woodward became a Team Director of sorts even though he remained as Head Coach. He made sure that everything else was taken care of and that there was a responsible person. Mediocrity is unacceptable in professional sport and if the Springboks are condoning it then they can kiss the Worl d Cup in France goodbye.

Player preparation and adjusting to the conditions are two key aspects as far as the actual 80 minutes of game time are concerned. In this regard it is quite evident that despite his popularity Jake White has a lot of work to do. It was not one, but many journalists who questioned his self confidence and the team selections that he made. Several players could have been rested or were just not suitable for the heavier conditions in the Northern Hemisphere. Referring to Australia’s lack of activity dur ing the Currie Cup is a cop out because the All Blacks have consistently performed in the end of year tours. It also does not take a rocket scientist to learn from the mistakes of previous years. Jake White underestimated the effect of the conditions in the Northern Hemisphere and paid dearly for it.

The physical conditioning of the players should improve, but this was not the reason for the loss to England, Australia was quite comfortable with the physicality of the English and yet it appeared as if we were not. The reality is that we were stretched physically by the number of games in the run up to the match against England. Australia and the All Blacks held back for the major encounter on their tours. South Africa would probably have done better had they played one less match and not had the t wo best teams in the Home Nations as opponents on consecutive weekends.

Several of the players lived on reputation and seldom displayed the skills that were apparent in the Tri-Nations; some are simply not suited to the conditions in the Northern Hemisphere or were simply worn out. The lack of variety in the defensive patterns of the Boks also exposed a lack of understanding of the conditions. It seemed as if the rush defensive patters were not sufficiently adjusted during the tour and several of the tries scored against the Springboks were caused by players being out of alignment or simply out of positions. The tries against England could and should have been avoided and if there is one thing that this past Saturday taught us it is that the English team can be beaten at home.

Jake White and his Springboks have the potential to become a great team, but only if professional performances are demanded throughout the Springbok organization. Failure to do so will only result in disappointment against the top teams in the World.

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The statement that the more games there are, the more money there is, is a fallacy. The players cannot be used as mere fodder to fill the coffers. It's a short-term route to riches and a long-term route to ruin. The public want quality, not quantity, at all levels.        Western Province rugby president Koos Basson

He is definitely a talent. When talking to the Barbarians about the make-up of the squad, I didn't have any hesitation that Matt Giteau was worth approaching. He is potentially the best scrumhalf in Australia, he is the best inside centre and potentially the best flyhalf in Australia.        Bob Dwyer

New guys in Super 12 invariably start to struggle after about six games. Schalk has managed to go a lot, lot further than that. He is a phenomenal athlete, he's a big guy and a freak athlete. But to be quite frank, I think he needs a rest.       Bob Dwyer

I have had a bit of everything over the last few weeks, a couple of yellow cards, a couple of awards and now a game for the Barbarians. Some of these guys are like my heroes so this is unbelievable.       Schalk Burger

"Time to stop grilling Burger, says coach"       Evening Standard headline

There is a great deal that can be done off the field. I must say the administrators have been great this far. They have given me everything I have asked for. But then the players have also got to do their bit.          Jake White

More than anything, I've got to improve my physique to keep up with and pass the Rokocokos and Umagas of this world.         Bryan Habana

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Hi Lucas 

Fall Tour - Failed Tour?

I thought to put forward my opinion safer having heard a number of very irate opinions bandied about on various websites and by the press. I think mine is a different opinion, not the 'correct' opinion, but hopefully one a little more lucid than not.

The first thing I would say is that the issue of 'transformation' in SA rugby has been mis-managed and has led to a very concerning rift amongst fans and supporters. On the one hand, I can understand how this was a failsafe mechanism, put in place to ensure fair play and pre-empt bias, but again, it has backfired and been mis-managed. Any race related issue is going to be sensitive in SA, that goes without saying. In this case, I feel that it is therefore up to the powers that be to exercise maximum astuteness and the best judgement when dealing with such a matter.

Is it necessary for us to have such mechanisms? I must say, yes, absolutely, because I think the vehemence of protest and the general reaction and thought that having 2 players of colour on the field indicates that the racial climate is still one that many would not hesitate to manipulate. That is one scenario I would not stand for and certainly would hope will NEVER EVER rear its ugly head in ANY aspect of SA life. Period. However, I think that there must still be a concerted effort to raise standards and numbers of players so that selections will not be disputed. One can't please everybody, but like they say in boxing, a KO is hard to dispute.

That said, I feel that the last match of the Euro leg of the tour was the greatest triumph since that Tri-Nations. In the wake of the debacle at Twickenham, Jake White made a very bold move and selected 2 new caps as well as a total of 4 starting players of colour. These lads ran on to the field under immense pressure and did the only thing acceptable - They played their hearts out and WON. Solly Tybilika in the number 6 jersey faced perhaps the greatest pressure. He inherited the task of filling Schalk Burger's boots. Not only that, but the position is vital to our style of rugby and has been representative of the reputation the Springboks have long earned through the legacy of great players who have worn that number. In recent times, these would be Francois Pienaar, Bobby Skinstadt, Corne Krige and the splendid Schalk Burger Jr. Solly played well for 80 minutes and scored on debut. What a proud moment for ALL South Africans who really care about a peaceful and competitive country. Considering his background too, this was a dream test for Tybilika. Gurthro Steenkamp came in for the legendary Os Du Randt. No mean feat in itself and certainly a Herculean task - pun intended. He had a huge game and can be proud of himself for his country. Wayne Julies played a solid game but the story has to end with the fairy tail full-test debut of Bryan Habana.

I don't think anybody who knows rugby and SA players doubted his ability. I don't think, especially after the Twickenham MASSACRE that any one person could fault this young man who had saved his country's last vestige of credibility and honour the week before. He went on to deliver the massive display that must surely place him alongside Schalk Burger as the next Find for the Springboks.

To me, what better end to such a pathetic and lacklustre tour could there have been? Schalk wins EVERY award possible and our new cap, our sizzling debutante, strikes a massive blow for transformation, merit based selection, SA rugby in general and the game of rugby period. That was enough to send me toward caroling at Xmas time with satisfaction. Representative is an ugly word to some, but to me, the word signifies the silencing of some of the loudest detractors of the transformation program. It's a word that adequately describes the arrogance of a Bok side that hopefully learnt a lot. It's a word too easily attached to the sobering reality of what it means to be a South African in this day and age. Our tour was not a failure, it was a huge lesson, a revelation and our introduction to the world after a horrible RWC 2003 campaign. This is South Africa, we are the Bokke, know what we have come to do. Though still a work in progress, you know what we are capable of and what we are determined to achieve. Best to the team through next year's tests and on to Paris 2007 !

Ngoli Nyirenda
Los Angeles, California

Hi Lucas

Thanks for a good year, Boks

One has to congratulate the Springboks - including the management team, the players and yes, even right through to the administration - on a wonderful season. Anybody who does not believe that it was a highly successful season does not know what he is talking about. After 5 straight years of propping up the Tri-Nations table (yes, Manie, that means coming stone cold last) the Boks won the title almost out of the blue. They recorded 9 victories from 13 outings. The awesome truth is that, with just a little bit better luck, they could have won the two outings down under as well. And the sad fact is that, with just a little bit of better planning, they could have achieved the Grand Slam.

However, 13 from 13 would probably have been the worst result for the future. There is nothing worse than a bunch of arrogant and over-confident Safricans, and - besides - the important lessons of those defeats would not have been learnt.

Two of the most obvious lessons emanating from this end-of-year tour, in my book, are:
You need at least two players in each position who are (almost) equally good; and 
You need to play "horses for courses".
Thankfully, for the first time in a long, long while SA can probably field two sides of (almost) equal strength. The talent is there and the depth is certainly better than in ages.

This may sound "wise after the event", but I actually opined before the tour that the "B" side of the touring party (i.e. basically the side fielded against Scotland) should have been playing Wales, Scotland and Argentina, leaving the "A" side to only play Ireland and England. Hopefully this kind of decision-making will result from this tour.

Anyway, a wonderful festive season to you all, and we have a lot to look forward to next year.

Colin van Rensburg

Hi Lucas

How the hell can the IRB issue out rewards for International Team, Player and Manager of the Year based really on only 8 months of international rugby. Surely the year end tours should be taken into account and then the rewards issued either late in December or early in the new year. If one had to take into account the Springboks performance and Jake White's coaching performance on their year end tour, they definite would not have been worthy winners. Schalk Burger was a worthy winner even if the yea r end tour was taken into consideration.

My international game of the year was Wales versus New Zealand. Best Currie Cup game, Bulls versus the Sharks, International Team of the year was the All Blacks (there was nothing in it in the Tri Nations) and Player of the Year Schalk Burger. Regrettably no Referee of the year. Worse co-commentator, Kobus Wiese. @rsehole of the Year, Paul Honis who still had the nerve to defend his try giving decision against the Springboks. Worse comment, Jake White "only three Irish players would make the Springbok team".

Have a great festive season.


Hi Lucas

Disappointment of the year - Sharks failure to continue the good form that saw them in 2nd on the Super 12 log at one stage
The inexplicable of the year - Jake White's exclusion of Brent Russell
Best Bok display - Vs NZ in the Tri Nations at home
Worst Bok display - vs Ireland in the EOYT
Worst referee - Paul Honiss for that try
Biggest blunder by a commentator - Hugh "pass me another double" Bladen - "He's dating the queen's grandmother"
Worst commentator - Kobus Wiese - Repeats in Afrikaans everything that Hugh says in English - doesn't possess a single original thought.
Worst rugby law (and there are tons) the entire ruck and maul situation which is a total balls-up
Worst TV ref decision - Gurthro Steenkamp's disallowed try - seemed legitimate
Best Law change to be implemented (we all wish) - give the benefit of the doubt to the attacking team (See Gurthro Steenkamp above)
Best thing the IRB could do - Make a global season a reality
Haircut of the year - Schalk Burger!


Hi Lucas

I am a proud Springbok supporter and I must say, that the past tour burns a hole in my heart. I can't believe that Jake stayed with basically the same Tri Nations side and still left out the game winning players that we have. I still can't believe that Jake picked John Smit and Shimange, when two other hookers out performed them. Yes I believe our captain should not have made the squad, sad but true. Here is the 22 that I would have sent onto the field to face the mighty England.

15. J. Fourie (Percy is not doing anything special)
14. J. de Villiers (He has scored a lot of tries this year)
13. B. Habana (What more can I say)
12. E. Botha (Incredible is a bad description, someone needs to tell Jake that)
11. A. Pitout (What more does he need to do)
10. W. de Waal (He can kick and run and tackle, he is brilliant)
9. F. du Preeuz (Deserves his spot-excellent player)
8. J. van Niekerk (Springbok colours fit him very well)
7. A.J. Venter (The grunt man, he is the perfect partner for Burger)
6. S. Burger (Need I say more)
5. V. Matfield (Excellent is all I can say) (C) 
4. B. Botha (Who wants a piece of him - no one, our own Martin Johnson)
3. R. Bands (How many times does Eddy still need to be scrumed off the ball)
2. G. Botha (He deserves it more than anyone else)
1. O. du Randt (No contest)

16. G. Steenkamp (Os in the making)
17. S. Brits (A wing trapped on hooker)
18. J. Cronje (Good impact player)
19. J. Smith (He just needs to settle again)
20. M. Claassens (Better than our other back ups)
21. P. Montgomery (We need a extra kicker, and that is the only reason)
22. B. Russell (The perfect impact player, plus he can play every postion in the backline)

Thanks alot 

Nardus Oelofse

Hi Lucas

Dis nes jy sê Das

Ek wil gou net 'n klein stuiwertjie gooi by wat Das Viljoen te sê had oor die onkantspelery rondom die skrums (en losskrums).

Daardie boosheid van ouens "wegvat" om die losskrum begin alweer sy kop uitsteek. Ek praat van die manne, gewoonlik die groot, dik voorrye, wat langs die losskrum plek inneem en die skrumskakel beskerm terwyl hy sy hande op die bal hou, opkyk om te sien waarheen nou, en die verdedigers deur obstruksie wegkeer. Ek weet van net een skeidsregtere wat al 'n strafskop teem so 'n "loshanger" gegee het en dis André Watson. As skeidsregters werklik begin iklim onder hierdie ouens sal rugby ook verbeter en da ardie talmende skrumskakels sal leer om skoon te maak as die bal uit is. Nou raas en blaas die skeidsregters teen die ouens wat hierdie "loshangers" uit die pad wil kry. 

Ek sal graag wil hoor wat André Watson, te sê het op my opmerking en, as hy met my saamstem, sommer onse skeidsregters vir 2005 daarop wys om vroeg-vroeg in die seisoen al teen "loshangers" op te tree.

Geseënde Kersfees vir almal en sommer 'n baie goeie Nuwe Jaar ook!

Kys de Wet.

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