Editors Note


Volume 4, Week 9

Editors Note

Brilliant!       And there is one less Ausie in the house… few supporters will begrudge Sarfu’s decision to dismiss Tim Lane as Cats coach last week. After all, the team ‘affectionately’ dubbed as ‘Lane’s flying circus’ delivered the same miserable performances to rival the Bulls of a few seasons ago.

Reading an article written by Tim (or maybe he just ok’d it a la Bobo…) on www.keo.co.za it was interesting to note his direct reference to ‘political agendas’ and ‘behind the scenes shenanigans’ in South African rugby. As yet this armchair critic’s mind is not quite made up as to the claims of Tim Lane’s coaching abilities. In all fairness, as a non-player one can only judge by results and performances on the field and here lies the discrepancy. He obviously tasted World Cup success with the Wallabies and was credited for this century’s best Springbok attacking performances in 2002 when we all thought the national team turned the corner. Yet the Cats, under his guidance were woeful for the best part of last season and this entire one.

As for the political agendas, it does not take a brain surgeon to figure that out, neither is he revealing any new truths. A political agenda is part and parcel of Springbok rugby and has always been so, provincialism and xenophobia rules in this sport of ours and do not construe the latter as only a mistrust of foreigners, it embodies every meaning of the word. The sad news is, that in this day and age with the advantage of hindsight, it has become even more ubiquitous!

Lane, one of the last vestiges of Harry Viljoen’s ill reign as Springbok coach will in all probability be a very successful coach elsewhere and it is this writer’s belief that his methods was probably too professional for these particular players’ mindset. The dictatorial success of Laurie Mains enforces this belief and as the only coach, local or foreign to taste success with this motley crew the facts speak for themselves.

The sacking however was justified and regardless of previous results or politics, you are only as good as your last game and with a reputed salary of over a 100k a month results should be forthcoming to substantiate any return on that large an investment. This episode must again serve as another reminder of the incurable malady of fusing two disparate cultures and team ethoses’s into one and expect results against formidable foes. It is in the interest of the national game to disband this franchise forever. If nothing else was gained, at least learn that much from this particular Ausie.

Rugby Forum joins the rest of the world in offering our condolences at the death of young John McCall, the Irish U19 flanker who so tragically passed away after collapsing on the field of play in the U19 World Cup in Durban. His life was ended too soon playing the game we all love.



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An Apple a Day by Desmond Organ
They say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, from my side of the world a laugh a day keeps the doctor away; especially if you are keeping in touch with the soap opera called SARFU. It is no longer surprising that the most unprofessional rugby administration in the world has so many episodes of incompetence, it is expected. Perhaps the best thing for all die hard supporters would be for Jerry Springer to set up shop in Cape Town.

The postponement of the so called disciplinary hearing for Corne Krige is laughable, not because of his correctness in speaking out against his employer, but because of the bumbling idiots that manage to concoct one failed investigation after the other. For goodness sake, if they could not resolve the Geo Cronje/Quinton Davids issue, how could you expect them to solve an issue of discipline? It just goes to show that if you have these types of people running the game then you are bound to get some version of bottom feeding behaviour.

It is amazing that the players are able to continue to play the game with any form of discipline and commitment, perhaps this is one of the reasons that we have seen lackluster performances from both the Super 12 and national teams in recent years. It is becoming an exception for the representative teams to perform with any distinction and it is these scraps of success that the supporters pay for when they go and watch the teams play. Somehow it is hard to believe that amongst all the inefficiency there is some hope. The Sharks appear to be running a professional outfit, closely followed by the Stormers and lagging a little behind are the Bulls.

Jake White has some job on his hands and it is a refreshing perspective that he is supposedly bringing to the national teams organization. How he manages to do it is quite beyond me, but then again he does appear to have some kind of track record in this regard. It was after all his U21 team that performed so brilliantly a couple of years ago. His record at the U21 level speaks for itself and maybe, just maybe he has some kind of positive influence over the old farts that are running SARFU. I can j ust imagine what players would say if they had the opportunity. What is absolutely amazing is the attitude of several armchair critics that provide opinions on local websites in South Africa.

There are supporters amongst us that believe that players have no right to make judgements about the decisions of the controlling body and that their failure to adhere to strict codes of conduct deserves disciplinary action. Try selling that to a Trade Union in the face of unfair labour practices and see what you get. I would be absolutely delighted if Corne Krige had the opportunity to challenge his so called professional employers with an unfair labour practice; in the event that they discipline him. I am sure that this might just be one of the reasons that he has stuck to his guns regarding comments about the quality of a member of the selection team responsible for selecting the national coach.

He gave an opinion, which in all likelihood might just be based on substance. The fact that he is being challenged for an opinion is laughable, especially when you consider the coaching credentials of the person involved. It might just be the truth and in that case there is hardly any possibility of there being a judgement against him. SARFU will in all likelihood sweep this under the carpet as well so as to prevent being taken to the cleaners by other players in the future. The reality of the matt er is that if you treat professionals like children they are going to behave in accordance with whatever they feel brings them the most benefit. In Corne’s case he had an opportunity to vent and he took full advantage of it. Free from the shackles of the captains’ role and a future salary from SARFU he spoke his mind.

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Week Six: Super Twelve Review by Vinesh Naicker
It’s getting to the business end of the tournament and for the first time, in I don’t know how long, there are no New Zealand teams in the top four of the table at the end of round five.

New Zealanders had started to take it for granted that our teams would dominate the Super Twelve this year, as has been the case since the inception of the tournament. For most rugby supporters in New Zealand, and probably many in South Africa and Australia, it was not so much a question as to whether the Blues would make the top four, but as to whether they would go through the round robin unbeaten. This has certainly not been the case with the Blues consigned to the bottom end of the table with only one win and a draw to their credit. To all intents and purposes their chances of making the top four are dead and buried. As far as I can see they will need to win all their remaining games, with bonus points, to have even the faintest hopes of reaching the top four at the end.

The most pleasant surprise has been the performance of the South African teams, with the exception of the Cats. The Stormers and the Bulls have both performed well at home; the real test for them now will be to see how many points they can capture on the road. I suspect that we will see both teams slipping down the points table as they progress through the overseas component of the round robin. The South African team with the greatest potential to be in the top four at the end of the competition seems to be the Sharks, who have done very well to capture the number of points that they did in New Zealand. With all their remaining games being played at home they have every chance of finishing well.

Both the Blues and the Hurricanes needed to win the weekend game to have any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. The Blues have lost several key players to injury, the most significant being the loss of flyhalf Carlos Spencer. Tasesa Lavea deputised at flyhalf in his stead and in what seemed to be a really strange decision coach Peter Sloane replaced him with Ai’i midway through the second half, just when Lavea seemed to be finding some confidence and form. Ai’i’s contribution to the game was not great and his decision making for the twenty minutes that he was on was quite suspect. In his defence the Blues were under pressure to score for most of that time. This was only one of several strange substitution decisions that Sloane has made over the last few weeks. The decision to take Caucaubica off after about 60 minutes in both of the last two games when he has been the player most likely to succeed in scoring the points that they desperately need, is also quite inexplicable.

Another fact that really came home to me, while watching the game was just how much experience the Hurricanes back line now lacks. The loss of Christian Cullen, Jonah Lomu and Tana Umaga has been a huge blow to them. The enormous talents of these three players, over the years have meant that the Hurricanes back line was always a threat. Their loss has meant that a number of talented but inexperienced youngsters have been thrust forward and left responsible for improving the fortunes of the team. The Hurricanes forwards have battled on manfully, but as expected lack the grunt to be able to overpower other teams, and so provide their backs with front foot ball. The obvious influence of coach Colin Cooper can only really be seen in the fact that they now play a much more structured and disciplined game.

It was therefore surprising to see how incapable the Blues forwards were of dominating their opposition. Last season they were able to blow over rucks quite often and provide quick ball to their talented backs. This year they have struggled to maintain any cohesion and thus provide consistent ball to their backs. What ball they have been able to provide, the backs have squandered. Doug Howlett, a star in last year’s All Blacks and Blues team, is a prime example of this; more often than not he h as dropped the ball or thrown a Hail Mary pass. In the end a draw was not an unreasonable result for both teams, although this means that both teams have suffered as a result of only gaining two points each from the weekend. This will have pleased the South African and Australian teams immensely as this is the best result they could hope for.

The Crusaders managed to find quite some form against the Highlanders. Both the backs and the forwards performed on the day with the Crusaders new number eight being freed up by his tight five to run with ball in hand, an opportunity of which he made the most, of making several telling runs throughout the game. This will have been a relief to Richie McCaw who, in many ways, has been carrying the Crusaders team through the first few games of this season.

However, for me the game of the weekend had to be the one between England and France. England had to beat France by eight points to win the Six Nations; on the other hand France needed to beat England to win the Grand Slam. Despite the coach denying it, France were also looking for redemption for their poor performance in the World Cup semi-finals, a lot of players had payback on their minds.

The two most impressive aspects of the game were, firstly, the speed of the breakdowns, by this I mean the strictness with which the referee required the players to roll away from the ball after they had made the tackle. This requirement was much more stringent than has been required of the players in the Super Twelve. In the past New Zealanders, especially, have accused the English of slowing down the ball, in the game with France this did not seem to be a factor. The second aspect that was imp ressive were the rolling mauls, in the past few weeks there have been complaints by two of the Australian teams about the difficulty of combatting the rolling maul. In the France versus England game there were several rolling mauls, both teams displayed an ability to combat the rolling maul of the other team, even though, in many instances, the attacking team had managed to get some momentum. Several times the defending team were able to stop the opposition from progressing too far and seemed to do this quite legitimately without getting penalised. Obviously the rolling maul is a technique that needs a lot of practice to perfect; it therefore also means that to stop a rolling maul, a lot of practice is required as well. As the Australian teams seemed to be incapable of successfully mauling the ball, it is not unexpected that they are also incapable of stopping a rolling maul. To complain when other teams are successful in accomplishing the rolling maul, seems to me a bit over the top, it is akin to c omplaining about the size, the strength or the skill level of the opposition. If you can’t be bothered practicing the skill then you should not begrudge it to others who have practiced it.

France played quite well in the first half although they did make a number of mistakes, fortunately for them England was unable to capitalise upon these. It was not until the second half and the introduction of Mike Catt into the team at inside centre that the England back line began to perform to the standards that we saw last year. It demonstrates the importance of having players in your back line with vision and the ability to pass the ball accurately over a reasonable distance in other words the skip pass. The ability of England to strike back in the second half, and end the game only three points adrift demonstrates that despite France seeming to dominate the game, even an England team having an off day is still a force to be reckoned with. Obviously the loss of players such as Johnny Wilkinson has been quite a blow to England but they still seem to have reasonable depth and I have no doubt they will recover over the next year. With a coach that has the vision, resources and meticulous pla nning skills of Clive Woodward they will remain a force to be reckoned in the next few years and also at the next World Cup.

 The Super 12 is still wide open after round 6! by Dingo Marshall
With the Brumbies the only side to move away from the pack after round 6, the remainder of the Super 12 competition is sure to be a roller coaster ride with no certainties until the last week of the regular season is over. Four wins to the hosting team and a draw in the other game has resulted in the log becoming even more of jam. 

In my humble opinion the Sharks are the best placed SA side with 6 matches in succession at the Shark Tank to round off their campaign. They effectively only require 4 wins out of 6 and 2 bonus points to make the final 4. The Brumbies have just started to find form and the remaining 2 spots are totally up in the air. I’m not so sure how well the Bulls and Stormers will perform on the road and one thing that is a given is that the Bulls will get a very cool reception in Australia after the antics di splayed by the ground announcer when the Waratahs played there recently.

Lucas and I were fortunate enough to be at Newlands last Saturday for a very tough local derby between the pride of the North and then Men in Black from the South. Special thanks to Vodacom for providing both of us with a very nifty pair of binoculars to enable us to see more of the action up close. Also a special thanks to Malcolm Dumphreys for looking after us so ably at Newlands this season. These binocs enabled me to pick up plenty of exchanges between Willem Stoltz and man mountain Victor Matfield. Words were exchanged before the kick off and continued right throughout the game culminating in Stoltz hurling Matfield’s headgear into the Railway Stand. I am a firm believer in playing the game very hard but these tactics surely belong in the junior school playground. Matfield’s comment on the incident after the game ‘Stoltz is a young player who wants to get to the top quickly. Not a clever move by him.’ 

The Stormers played a very hard game but didn’t perform at their best but did succeed in snuffing out any chance the Bulls had of winning the game. The Bulls would be disappointed with this loss and to date they still have not beaten the Stormers in the Super 12 since inception. Both teams will enjoy the bye before departing for Australasia. It could conceivably be Corne Krige’s last game at Newlands in Stormers colours and he fittingly was on the end of a push over try to effectively seal the win for the Men in Black. Rugby Forum wishes Corne and Victor memorable visits down under. 

Congrats to France for wrapping up the Grand Slam with a nail biting win against England after seeming to have the game won at 21-6, to scrape home 24-21. Congratulations also go to the boys in Green on winning the coveted Triple Crown when they defeated Scotland to the tune of 37-16.

There are some major clashes between genuine Super 12 contenders in round 7 and none more important than the Brumbies vs. the Crusaders in Christchurch and the Waratahs vs. the Blues in Auckland. A loss for the Crusaders and either Blues or Waratahs will make their chances of making the final 4 that much more difficult.

Enjoy all the action. Until next week.

Team of the Week
2003 Week 6 2004 Week 6
15 Chris Latham Reds 15 Joe Roff Brumbies
14 Roger Randle Chifs 14 Marika Vunibaka Crusaders
13 Tana Umaga Hurricanes 13 Aaron Mauger Crusaders
12 Aaron Mauger Crusaders 12 De Wet Barry Stormers
11 Rupeni Caucaunibuca Blues 11 Mark Gerrard Brumbies
10 Carlos Spencer Blues 10 David Hill Chiefs
9 Jason Spice Hurricanes 9 Justin Marshall Crusaders
8 Scott Robertson Crusaders 8 Scott Fava Brumbies
7 Jerry Collins Hurricanes 7 Schalk Burger Stormers
6 Rich McCaw Crusaders 6 George Smith Brumbies
5 AJ Venter Sharks 5 Willem Stoltz Stormers
4 Simon Mailing Highlanders 4 Brad Thorn Crusaders
3 Fletcher Dyson Reds 3 Eddie Andrews Stormers
2 Anton Oliver Highlanders 2 Keven Mealamu Blues
1 Eduard Coetzee Sharks 1 Daan Human Stormers

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All I can say is that a decision has been taken, there is a media conference in the morning (Thursday) but I won't be there.       Tim Lane

John (Smit) is not a fly-by-night, he has captained many sides before and he has served his time. I have full faith that he will pick himself on merit and not only as captain.       Jake White

I've always wanted to play the game because I get satisfaction out of rugby, but I wasn't a campaigner for leadership roles. The captaincy and leadership thing has followed me since I was a young boy.  New Springbok captain, John Smit

It was quite enlightening for me to sit at a table with management and be asked what I thought.     John Smit

Now Staaldraad is irrelevant. It has been raped, people have lied and created their own scenarios. So it makes no difference now. The longer we talk about it the longer it will hang over us.     John Smit

Extra motivation for us is that this match is on at prime-time viewing back home and we're all looking forward to it. England-France games are usually feisty affairs and this one should be no different.       Josh Lewsey

I don't think the Bulls will win many games on the road. In fact, I don't really rate them at all.    Waratahs lock Justin Harrison

I can't say it was only from alcohol because he went to the doctor for treatment for a stomach virus, but alcohol contributed to it, although it was only later in the week that I became aware alcohol may have been a factor. Reds coach Jeff Miller on benching Josh Valentine for being 'unfit' to train due to alchol abuse

"Our South African tour from hell"      Headline in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper

If you aren't passionate about rugby, you're not really from Agen. We're born with oval-shaped brains.    Philippe Robert

It isn't going to be an easy ride. Believe in yourself and your philosophy and be prepared to listen. Oh and watch your back. The politics in South African rugby is ugly and dirty.     Tim Lane's advice to Chester Williams

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Ek kon nie glo wat ek vanmôre op die voorblad van SPORT BEELD (29 Maart 2004) lees nie! "BLASER: EK WAS REG" verwys. Dat iemand wat homself 'n skeidsregter noem, só vir homself kan lieg, gaan my verstand te bowe!

Meneer Katzenellenbogen, ek dink - en ek glo meeste rugbyondersteuners in die land sal met my saamstem - dat jy nie eerlik met die Bulle, én jouself is, met so 'n uitlating nie. Verklaar vir ons asseblief hoe dit moontlik is dat 2003 wêreldbekerspelers ewe skielik die verkeerde ondersteuningstegniek in die lynstane het. Elke keer wat Bakkies Botha of Victor Matfield horisontaal op die gras te lande gekom het in Australië, het die skeidsregter die opponente gestraf vir óf aftrek, óf stampspringery in die lynstaan. Skielik is daar fout met die ondersteuning en dit nadat die ondersteuning vir vyf weke in die 2004 Super-12 kompetisie heeltemaal gesond was! Daar is mos nie 'n manier hoe 'n speler so deur sy spanmaats op die grond gegooi kan word nie! Selfs die Stormers se kaptein sê hulle was daarop uit om veral vir Matfield by te kom. As hy dit erken, is daar mos rede om te glo, jy, meneer Katzenellenbogen, is 'n oneerlike skeidsregter. Daar was mos vroeër die week al 'n beriggie dat almal in die land we et jy is eintlik 'n WP-fên en jy het mos kastig gesê jy is nou eintlik in Natal woonagtig en daarom onpartydig. Niemand hoef te vrees dat jy oneerlik sal optree nie.

So terloops, hoeveel van die Bulle se verdedigers, is onwettiglik aan die trui teruggetrek in die beweging voor Paulse se "drie"? Jy weet, maar het dit "nie gesien nie", nê? Gaan kyk asseblief weer na die video en dan vra jy om verskoning omdat jy nie ten minste een van die twee strafskoppe toegeken het nie, maar wel die "drie". Ja, jy het dieselfde Paulse tog gestraf vir die vashou van iemand in die begin van die wedstryd. Maar jy kon wragtag nie anders nie, dit was so naby en vlakvoor jou dat hy jó ú amper gegryp het in plaas van die opponent. Regdeur die res van die wedstryd het die Stormers daarmee weggekom omdat jy eintlik in jou binneste nog 'n WP-fên is. Dit is eintlik verbasend dat die Bulle hulle so kon inhou, om nie 'n paar Stormers op wrede wyse by te kom nie. Daarvoor moet mens hulle erkennig gee. Vuilspel in rugby kan deur die manier van blaas deur die skeidregter, maklik aan die hand gewerk word. 

Ek hoop net die Stormers leer hierdie trix vinnig af voordat hulle oorsee vertrek, want glo my, die refs in Australasië sal dit nie duld nie. Daardie ouens het ook na die wedstryd gekyk en gesien wat jy aanvang en toelaat. Dan kan die hele veldtog ontspoor. Gert Smal en die span sal dan net vir jou hê, meneer Katzenellenbogen, om te bedank vir 'n gunsie in die wedstryd teen die Bulle.

Selfs as jy die vlag dra langs die kantlyn is daar mense wat wonder of jy die magic het om 'n witlyn so effe te verskuif, of x-straal oë wat dinge sien wat eintlik nie bestaan nie. Onthou asseblief, die rugbyondersteuners in Suid-Afrika is nié onder kalkoene uitgebroei nie. Ons kén die spel en die reëls. Daarom het meneer Piet van Zyl daardie skelm McHugh destyds platgeloop. Dit kan dalk met jou ook gebeur. Dis nie 'n dreigement nie, maar 'n waarskuwing.

Eerlikheid kos niks en is 'n baie mooi eienskap.

Kys de Wet

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