Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 6

Editors Note

Brilliant!        Yip, I know what you thinking… why go and put the jinx on every SA side by heaping praise in a public display of emotion after only two victories? A hard lesson was learnt indeed therefore this week; a column devoted to my friends up north, the irresistible Irish!

A few years ago before the joys of writing a weekly rugby column began this intrepid traveler accepted an invitation to visit the fair (and very wet!) shores of the Emerald Isle. Luck is an important part of the Irish composition but it had little to do with the ‘small coincidence’ of the Rugby World Cup being in full swing. There was however a large amount of luck involved in securing an invite to a RWC round robin match at the beautiful Lansdowne Road stadium next to the Dodder River in Dublin 4.

Expecting to attend the match between Ireland and Romania all by myself it was a very pleasant surprise to be included as part of a ‘business party’ before the kick off. Again luck conspired as the benign benefactor of the ticket, a big, burly son of an Irish international lock of yore, was entertaining a group of South African businessmen and what better place to take visiting South Africans than to the rugby? Armed with the correct credentials, i.e. a South African accent this fortunate supporter of the game found himself in a luxurious reception room of the company who sponsored the national team, ordering a pint of the best Dublin Guinness – and it does taste different there!

Rumour had it that the chairman of the sponsoring company, a fiery supporter of the oval game who followed the game extensively across the world, was interested in acquiring the sponsorship for the national team. Unfortunately another company already owned the sponsorship rights and for a few years as well, this however did not present a huge stumbling block for the determined businessman as he bought the sponsoring company!

After a few pleasant drinks and a rather awkward introduction to the celebrated chairman perpetuated by a beautifully attired butler that stopped serving this thirsty punter mid-order for a port looking man with a large cigar. A bit miffed by the sudden plunge in the so far excellent service, a protestation or two was made to the previous acquiescent butler, but to no avail – he only had eyes (and service) for ‘Mr Went’. ‘Mr Went’ to his credit ordered the disbelieving man to finish my order and I thanked him with a rather familiar nonchalant pat on the shoulder. Later ‘Mr Went’ turned out to be David Went, chairman of the Irish Life Group, sponsoring company of the national team and a thoroughly entertaining rugby fanatic!

Lansdowne Road is a magnificent old stadium and flanked by a beautiful young lady sitting on the grandstand, out of the rain anybody would feel quite close to the game they play in heaven, this supporter certainly felt he was in heaven. The Irish lilt is attractive indeed and their singing was quite superb as for their play, well the Romanians did not offer too much resistance and the great Keith Wood scored a marvelous try.

The real party started after the game in one of two pubs below the grand old stadium, the amount of Guinness consumed contributed to forgetting if it was Munster or Leinster’s clubhouse but what a festive atmosphere. The Irish, win or lose know how to celebrate and there was a lot of celebrations that evening and I venture to say every evening! Much later in the Temple Bar area celebrations continued in similar vein to cement what is probably the greatest rugby memory of this humble writer.

So, to the Irish, congratulations on a truly magnificent win over a team everyone may not like but have all learned and come to respect. And boy did the Guinness flow!

A few quickies, the Stormers were woeful – everything has been said of the absolute shocking lineout display. A good thing is to see responsibility for actions from players; that is already a step in the right, professionalism direction. The Bulls, two times out of three they were tactically naïve… coach or captain? Are teams so drilled into their game plan that changes on the fly are impossible to execute? It was raining for two days in Pretoria though and maybe like a Blue Bulls coach of old, Kit ch Christie Rudi should have contacted Disneyworld for weather data, not tactical data…

The Cats are really weak and since they ‘only’ have tackling problems, how difficult is that to sort out? Defensive lines can be taught and broken however when it is your turn to tackle a man, you need to front up and make the physical challenge. Are they scared? The poor Sharks, they deserved a win if not a draw. Davidson scored a magnificent try and as a usual fell critique of his play, he deserves acknowledgement for his performance and the yellow card, well the NZ ‘smoothie’ got it wrong.

As for the weekend, a far bigger test await the SA teams, the pace setters are on local shore and it will take supreme efforts to stop the Brumbies and Waratahs. 

Enjoy the weekend’s offerings!



Visit www.rugbyforum.co.za for statistics, all the quotes and an archive of previous issues

Super Stuff by Desmond Organ
Finally we have a decision from SARFU that leaves me with the hope that there might be something positive about South African rugby. Please note however that I am not referring to the humorous manner in which the racial scandal was swept under the carpet, it is so appalling it does not deserve mention. What I am referring to is the decision to potentially select the Springbok team from both local and overseas resources. This is itself could be the best piece of news this year, especially if you loo k at the performances of the South African players in the Super 12.

At the beginning of the European season there were several adverse comments about the quality of the rugby that is played in the Super 12. Many have called it the basketball of rugby and have argued that it is the dry conditions in the summer that lead to the plethora of points being scored. Whilst this may be the case when it is compared to the wet conditions of the Northern hemisphere, it is not necessarily the case when Super 12 games are played in more difficult conditions. There have been seve ral great games this year and more surprises than in preceding Super 12’s of the last several years. The only piece of consistency appears to be the “catastrophic cats”, who have kept to the form book.

The debate around the Cats is quite amazing, the team has played appallingly and yet the media appears to spend ninety percent of the time analyzing whether or not the coach is capable or not. Quite frankly the results speak for themselves and if a coach has a great record in the past it is worth nothing on any given Saturday. One thing is clear, the team has failed to execute the basics and the coach is not entirely responsible for this. The coach is however responsible for making progress and in this area all I can see is a list of motivational speeches and psychological excuses. It is indeed wrong for a reporter to say that a particular nationality of coach is not suitable to a national culture, but it is also wrong for a coach to fail to make any marked improvement to a team that he has been in control of for more than one season.

The saddest factor is that the coach may well have blemished his record in terms of gaining the best opportunities for himself when he leaves at the end of the season. The players in the team have also blemished their chances of national selection, apart from one Ashwin Willemse who gives 100 % every time that he plays. The fact that the other players have not performed is not all doom and gloom. I personally see a lot of talent going to waste because of the presence of several overrated players an d several that are ripe for retirement. Let’s just hope that the national coach can see past the coaching debate and those that are not up to it.

One thing is clear, the players do not appear to be motivated to perform at the required level and this is affecting their ability to execute the basics like tackling. The players that do have potential are being pulled down by the excess baggage of their counterparts. The talented players have the ability and we know this from their performances under Tim Lane as Renegades coach and under Jake White at U 21 level.

The other astonishing factor in this year’s Super 12 is the emergence of several new faces that are out performing their senior colleagues. This, combined with the closeness of several of the matches has contributed to a far more competitive set up than at the corresponding time last year. It bodes well for the pre Tri Nations test matches and might just have the Northern hemisphere re-thinking about the quality of the rugby that is played in the Super 12.

Challenge your mates in sarugby.com's brand new fantasy league, which starts in round 4 of the 
Super 12 - register now at www.sarugby.com

The World Cup semi-final replay by Vinesh Naicker
I know I’ve been harping on for the last few weeks about how it seems that once again the NZ coaches and players seem to have learned nothing from the World Cup failure; the game that kicked off the weekend, Blues vs. Chiefs has done nothing to dispel my concerns.

For those of you who missed the World Cup semi-final between NZ and Australia let me just say this, if you had thrown black jerseys on the Blues and gold jerseys on the Chiefs then it would have been very difficult to tell the two games apart.

The Blues favoured the high pace, high risk game that has become the Holy Grail of NZ rugby. In contrast the Chiefs, written off as underdogs by most people, including myself, decided that they needed to keep it simple, get the basics right, tackle like demons and take the points on offer.

This simple formula, admittedly executed very well, broke the attacking momentum of the Blues, as the Crusaders were so patently unable to do the previous week. Once again the Blues doggedly stuck to their game plan to kick for touch rather than kick for points. When injuries forced them to consider alternatives they were unable to execute effectively as they really hadn’t thought about it too much before. The continuing inability of NZ teams to even consider varying the style and point of attac k is worrying.

Blues coach Peter Sloane has had an armchair ride for the last two years, only having to graft a couple of players onto the successful Auckland NPC team and let them loose. Sloane was part of the disgraceful All Black coaching squad of 1999 and has lingered on. The fact that Hart sings his praises is probably condemnation enough in most people’s minds. Now with a lot of his stars out of action we may be able to examine Sloane's coaching abilities for the first time.

As I said last week, this season the Chiefs will be there to keep the other teams honest. The addition of Tom Willis and Byron Kelleher has given the Chiefs forward effort a lot more focus and cohesion. They have lacked a first class hooker since their inception. If they can continue to produce the same effort and commitment that they have shown so far this season, they could conceivably make the top four. However, there are a lot more games to play and I feel they still lack that finishing pow er in the backs to allow them to win consistently.

The suspension of prop Deacon Manu for two weeks won’t help the cause much. In my mind, there are still big questions around the whole citing and suspension process, with offenders like Finegan getting off scot-free for rucking a players head while Manu gets suspended for a swinging arm. If Spencer hadn’t been injured in the tackle I doubt any more would have been made of it. Players should be judged on their intent and actions not on whether they were lucky enough not to seriously injure someon e or not.

The Reds looked like a rejuvenated team after their first round loss to the Highlanders, showing great individual commitment but still seeming to lack cohesion.

The Crusaders desperately needed a win to get their campaign back on the rails. Despite the desperation they must have been feeling, they still really failed to fire. Deans had to overcome his obvious dislike for Mehrtens and pick him to start the game at flyhalf, as the backline has been dysfunctional this season.

Although the backline showed some cohesion, Mehrtens is not a panacea and the rest of the backline need to take responsibility for their collective failure. Carter has been the only one to perform so far.

Ben Blair has been a revolving door at fullback; the fact is that he is too small to play the game at the highest level without perfect tackle technique. In addition he lacks the size, pace or swerve to beat defences unless he is put into a hole by a good pass.

Caleb Ralph has nothing to offer in attack while rookie winger Koonwaiyu has been starved of possession.
If the Crusaders are to make the play-offs this season they really can’t afford to drop any more games.

The Waratahs spanked the Cats who look like they are once more making themselves comfortable at the bottom of the points table. The Waratahs are really starting to look the goods this season. Their big test will be the Brumbies.

The Brumbies vs. Sharks game was one that went to the wire. The Sharks demonstrated a lot of what Murray Mexted would refer to as “intestinal fortitude”. Butch James played and kicked will and Craig Davidson’s try was a gem, not only for the way it was scored but because of its impact upon the game. The game was marred by some poor refereeing decisions. The Brumbies were robbed of an early try when Rathbone's effort was disallowed by the TMO and Steve Walsh only seemed to be refereeing one team in the last 20 minutes of the game. The two most outstanding decisions were Davidson’s sin binning and the last second penalty. Davidson didn’t deserve to be sent off; in fact the penalty could quite easily have gone the other way. The last second penalty was a bit harsh as the two props were retiring and, despite doing so slowly, didn’t really interfere with the play of the ball.

The right score-line might have resulted as the sum of these decisions (who says two wrongs don’t make a right) but they obviously leave a sour taste in the mouth of Sharks supporters.

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

There are a number of well-known (and also lesser known) players playing their rugby overseas. Sarfu knows who they are and recognises their potential. We are currently working on a system which will address this situation in a meaningful way.     Brian van Rooyen

If you get all worked up and attach emotional things like this to the game, it usually doesn't go too well.     Corne Krige, pre-match comment of his 50th cap for the Stormers.

I feel they are just one result away from it [being among the top sides] and we don't want to be part of it.   Blues coach Peter Sloane before the Chiefs match.

Hopefully we can give the prawn sandwich brigade at Twickenham something to choke on.     Brian O'Driscoll

I am in charge so I take responsibility. We've lost, we've had a bad day, but I am not going to over-react to this. Unless we got the ball, we knew it would be hard. We didn't have a good day and Ireland deserved to win.   Clive Woodward

We make too many basic mistakes - that is probably the main reason why no South African team could win a match in the Super 12 this past weekend. Our players must start thinking on their feet.    Alister Coetzee, assistant Bok coach

I spoke to Songezo (Nayo, SA Rugby CEO) and he offered his help. I don't think we need it, unless they're willing to send someone who can tackle.     Tim Lane

I know what happened at the camp, I know how unhappy and insulted Quinton felt and how the situation had upset all the black players in the squad.       Gcobani Bobo 

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

Team of the Week
2003 2004
Position Name Team Position Name Team
15 Doug Howlett Blues 15 Matt Rogers Waratahs
14 Joe Rokocoko Blues 14 Ashwin Willemse Cats
13 Andre Snyman Sharks 13 Seru Rabeni Highlanders
12 Paul Steinmetz Highlanders 12 Nathan Gray Waratahs
11 Shayne Austin Chiefs 11 Lote Tuqiri Waratahs
10 Carlos Spencer Blues 10 Butch James Sharks
9 Chris Whitaker Waratahs 9 Craig Davidson Sharks
8 Pedrie Wannenberg Bulls 8 Jerry Collins Hurricanes
7 Joe van Niekerk Cats 7 Richie McCaw Crusaders
6 Piet Krause Bulls 6 Luke Watson Sharks
5 Jono West Waratahs 5 Simon Mailing Highlanders
4 Simon Mailing Highlanders 4 David Giffen Brumbies
3 Richard Bands Bulls 3 Kees Meeuws Blues
2 Brendan Cannon Waratahs 2 Tom Willis Chiefs
1 David Briggs Chiefs 1 Gareth Hardy Waratahs

Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Na 3 weke.....

Is hierdie seisoen se Super-12 nou nie vir jou ook 'n raaisel nie? Al die spanne wat in die eerste week moes wen, het verloor. Al die spanne wat in die tweede week verbeter het, het weer verswak in die derde week. Snaakse game hierdie.

Maar dit nou daar gelaat. Ek wil hierdie week my mening lug oor die manier waarop Steve Walsh die SHARKS bedonder het. Kyk, ek is nie provinsialisties nie. Ek ondersteun elke Suid-Afrikaanse span in die kompetisie, selfs al speel hulle teen mekaar. 'n Skeidsregter moet dus nie met ons spanne mors nie, dan is ek onmiddellik die blikskottel in. Twee doele, twee strafskoppe en 'n geelkaart is verlede week teen die SHARKS geblaas om die Perde van doer onder te laat wen, en nie een van die klomp was reg n ie. Ek gee nie om wat André Watson sê om sy kollega te beskerm nie. enige ou wat iets van rugby weet sal vir jou kan vertel dat die Brumbie-haker hande in die losskrum gesteek het om die bal te kry en oor te kruip, en die "drie" is verdoel! 7 Punte! Daarna word blatante obstruksie in die lynstaan gepleeg sodat die Brumbie-voorry ook 'n "drie" kan gaan druk en die is ook verdoel! 14 Punte!! Dan word Craig Davidson gegeelkkaart, sonder dat hy oortree, en die "strafskop" is ook oor! 17 Punte!!! Daarna kom die uiters gekke "strafskop" na die sirene reeds die einde van die wedstryd aangekondig het, reg voor die pale. 20 Punte!!!!

Trek mens dit nou van die Brumbies se totaal van 25 af, bly daar maar 5 oor. Met ander woorde, die SHARKS moes eintlik die wedstryd gewen het (4 pute) en die Brumbies moes glad nie 'n punt gekry het nie! Dit sou mos 'n reuse verskil gemaak het. Vergelyk mens mnr Dickenson se wedstryd van die vorige week in die Bulle se wedstryd met dit wat Walsh opgedis het, is D.ickenson (oor wie ons in die verlede so te kere gegaan het) vanjaar 'n A+ skeidsregter en Walsh lyk soos 'n beginner wat O/9 wedstryde in die C-liga moet hanteer. Selfs Clive Norling het Saterdag na 'n beginner-bedrieër gelyk met dit wat Walsh opgedis het. Maar soos sake nou staan moet die SHARKS nog harder terugveg om iewers te kom omdat Walsh getango het toe hy moes wals.

Waar kan mens uitvind hoe te werk gegaan moet word om met SANZAR se base in kontak te kom dat hierdie uiters swak tipe optrede van skeidsregters uitgeroei kan word? Dat selfs die Ozzie komentators oor die eter gesê het die beslissing teen Davidson was te hard, spreek vir my boekdele. Dis nou nie juis ouens wat maklik so iets sal kwyt raak as hulle bevoordeel word nie, tog het hulle dit herhaal ook. Lyk my noudat ou McHugh uitgetree het, probeer Walsh sy plek inneem. (Pieter van Zyl is jy reg?)

Mens kan ook na die ander drie wedstryde waarby ons spanne betrokke was, kyk en sekere dinge uitlig, maar ek dink hierdie gevalle met die SHARKS is genoeg vir hierdie week.

'n Kort woordjie aan ons plaaslike skeidsregters: Menere, julle is eintlik ligjare beter as die res van die wêreld se skeidsregters. Maar om Vadersnaam, moenie hulle blapse en vrot blasery probeer toesmeer nie. Ons Suid-Afrikaanse rugbypubliek is nie van vandag af ondersteuners nie, ons weet darem genoeg van die spel om te sien julle lieg met gekruisde vingers agter die rug as julle so optree. Ek dink hulle sal anders optree as ons skeidsregters ook 'n lawaai begin opskop oor die vrotsigheid waarmee ons tevrede moet wees. Erekode, gedragslyne of wat ook al, is regtig nie ingestel om die water oor die akker te laat loop nie. Julle het mos julle forums en verhoë waar die lawaai gemaak kan word. 'Seblief manne, al die ondersteuners vra net dit van julle. By voorbaat baie dankie!

Mag hierdie komende naweek se rugby sommer groot hoogtepunte oplewer en ons hou duime vas vir al ons spanne.

Oom Neels

Hi Lucas

Wysheid en Strooi

Vir die van ons wat nog nie kennis gemaak het met James Allen se wyshede nie, kyk 'n bietjie hierna, sit dit in jou pyp, en rook dit. Hy, James Allen en hy het ook al aanbeweeg, spreek so; "Your life(rugby), and everything in it, is a direct result of the mental image you hold" en "all that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve (in rugby) is the direct result of his own thoughts" en laastens " you will never achieve sustainable success(in rugby) that exceeds the image you have of yourself". 'n Bekvol wysheid, nie slimmigheid nie, waaraan ons die toestand van ons rugby kan meet. Ons rugbyprentjie is nie meer so mooi soos toentertyd nie, om die waarheid te sê, ons "image" is in sy maai, die trofeë-kas is leeg en vol stof en helaas sit ons met 'n patetiese bestuur en 'n klomp "under achievers" op die veld. Ons het gekapitileer, agteruit beweeg, gestagneer, noem dit wat jy wil.

Vir almal wat wil hoor en veral die Katte wil ek net sê, ons gryp na strooi as ons dink deur oorsese afrigters se hulp in te roep, ons sodoende sukses sal smaak. Ga! Waar het jy nou gesien 'n Ausie of Nieu-Seelander, Bleekbeen of watter rugbynasie ookal wil in sy diepste wese, 'n suksesvolle S12 of Bokspan beleef. Nie dat ek hulle vermoë onderskat of minag nie, nie in die minste nie, dis net, ek vertrou die blikskottels eenvoudig net nie. 

Ja, toe hervat die Stormpies teen die Hurricanes, net waar hulle gelaat los het na die eerste 30 minute van droogmaak teen die Highlanders, en maak die hele 80 minute droog op groot skaal, om die waarheid te sê, dis moontlik dat hulle rustyd in die kleedkamer net so lekker drooggemaak het. Dis die enigste logiese aanname wat 'n man kan maak, hulle het dan net na rustyd bloot aangekarring en almal van ons tot die uiterste gefrustreer met dit wat wat hulle opgedis het in helfte nommer 2. Praat van onbe holpe! Ek vang sommer ernstige angs as ek dink watse drek hulle rerig in staat toe is. Daar is min vertroosting in die moontlikheid dat die lot nie slegter kan speel nie, of kan hulle dalk, wie weet?

Van die Katte en hulle kattewkaad wat hulle op die veld, en moontlik elders, buiten die kleedkamer, aanvang, wil ek nie eens praat nie.

Die Haaie se byt is terug, hopelik, en as ek 'n "Haai" was, het ek sweerlik 'n mother van 'n "lovebite" op daai ref gewerp wat hom sou laat verstik het aan sy fluitjie. Aan die anderkant, wie wil nou aan so 'n ou byt? Soveel van twyfelagtige beslissings, en ek gee nie om of Andre Watson of enige van sy fluitjiegebroeders sy beslissings probeer regverdig nie, dit was "biassed" en basta! Kyk maar net wat gebeur met ons spanne wanneer ene Paddy O'Bribe en Kie die dag rerig lus voel om ons op te neuk. R egverdig se voet, man.

Die Bulle, wel, die Bulle is die Bulle, en nes jy dink, hier kom 'n ding, amper nes die Stormers, dan baar hulle 'n miskoek van 'n poging.

Heng, nou het ek lekker gal gebraak. Darem het ek dit ingelui met 'n bietjie wysheid , of hoe?

Koos Carelse

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.