|Volume 5, Week 21|
OK, straight out with it. This writer watched very little of the
Springbok Wallaby matchup over the weekend and frankly dear readers,
there will be no rush to check it out on video either!
In fact, it is a far more opportune moment to discuss the reason for missing the test in the first place… regular readers will know that a game of golf at a special course is just about the only thing that will prevent me from watching rugby. Tribute therefore must go to the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus and his excellent creation in Knysna, Simola Golf Club. This coming weekend just happens to be the great one’s final hurrah at a major in The Open at St Andrews so the timing of the trip was uncanny – in fact so uncanny it prevented watching a full 80 minutes of agony!
Reports from friends and reading newspapers certainly did not help either as the Springbok performance was labelled – predictable and pathetic, and those were the printable opinions. From the sounds of it, Jake White and others were made to eat all their pre-match statements of bravado. Oh yes and not to be absolved from any blame… this really bad predictor of scores will take yet another ill-fated prophecy squarely on the chin. Blame it on being one-eyed and way too passionate!
Reading in the last few days through two weeks of articles and quotes it was quite amazing how much diatribe is conceived in a build-up to a test match. Last week was very much the White and Woodward show, the first putting his foot in it and the other not knowing how to keep his foot out of it.
Jake White, fell into the same trap yet again where his obvious honest (and usually refreshing) opinions were interpreted and reported in a certain way to make him look foolish and South Africans in general stupid. He certainly is not an arrogant so-and-so like the fallen ‘messiah’ from the Lions – in fact quite the opposite. One wonders then why he repeats the same old mistakes. One of modern rugby’s greatest fallacies is the supposed lack of Australian scrumming power? And every time after they beat us the obvious is rubbed in our faces, they are smarter!! This time it was no different. With Alastair Campbell in search of a job, maybe the Springboks should approach him to spin Jake and his boys a better story for the future… something in the line of… ‘geee whiz those Aussies are good at playing rugby, they have 2 World Cups and 1 runner up in 5 starts’ or something to that effect.
That brings us to the boys from down under. The Super 12 unearthed a few alarming chinks in their armour and to Eddie Jones’s credit, he rectified their sudden loss of attacking fervour in only a couple of matches. Gone are the 2005 Waratahs’ and Brumbies kick-the-ball-away-under-pressure gameplan. Against the French and Springboks the Wallabies displayed a remarkable sense of counter attack with the flair and aplomb of their predecessors from the eighties and early nineties like Ella x 2, Far-Jones, Campese, Little, Lynagh, Horan et al. And remember all of those great players played behind a Wallaby pack of so-called ‘powder puff’ dimensions… Methinks not then, not now and hardly ever in the future. So, Jake White – shhhhhhtttt, quiet, zippit, www… zippit…dotcom!
For the Springboks it will require a serious re-think of the gameplan and also the execution. Apparently the tackling was diabolical and the kicking abysmal, both can be coached but changing a gameplan has been one of the Springboks biggest ever Achilles heels. The players seem to take a while to adapt to change, not that they are stupid or anything but their coaching at provincial and Super 12 level suggest they are not very conducive. Hopefully Jake White can rely on his squad, as retention is important but form needs to be challenged within a squad system otherwise complacency creeps in. Drop the culprits from the run-on XV but retain them in the squad or on the bench. That will ensure continuity and the best performance from everybody every weekend.
The Lions flopped. Say no more, read the quotes, wait for the DVD.
Rugby Forum would like to express its heartfelt condolences to the people of London and those who lost relatives and who were injured in the terrorist attacks a week ago. Every now and then terrible events like these put all things back into perspective – sport and attempts at humour are but specs in the greater reality of life and the loss of life.
No serious rugby this weekend, the Currie Cup has started and the schoolboys are playing the Craven week. This supporter will be focussed on the fairways, bunkers and greens of St Andrews, a Kiwi may have won the last major but South Africans are second to the States with major titles in the modern era! Any takers for a Golf Forum?
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|Big and Dumb by Desmond Organ|
The title of this week’s piece comes straight from the mouth of a jubilant
Australian who was clearly enjoying the rampaging Wallabies on their way
to a 5 try drubbing of the archaic Springboks. An opportunity lost to
experiment ahead of the Tri-Nations or an exercise in getting the
opposition to believe that this is the best that we have.
Rudolf Straeuli began his coaching career with a team made up of players like Andre Pretorius and Brent Russell and they took a beating in the equivalent match several years ago; weeks later in the Tri-Nations Russell was outstanding and engineered a victory with a scintillating performance. If you go back even further than that you will recall the strategy of Harry Viljoen against Argentina where the players were not allowed to kick the ball for most of the match. There were also the desperate attempts by Viljoen to take the technical skills of the Boks to another level.
Why is it then that certain players with upwards of 20 plus caps have not developed to the next level, players who have been groomed in the style of traditional South African rugby seem to be the ones that end up with the job of trying to bash the opponents into defeat. Younger players who still have a level of unpredictability because of their natural talent are left on the sidelines or introduced at points in the match where there is little likelihood of them making any major impact. Our Head Coaches all start with the same ambitious statements about how they will embrace transformation and leverage the traditional strengths of South African forward play whilst revitalising the three quarters.
How surreal that players like Montgomery had to go overseas to prove their ultimate value to the team and the game as a whole, how depressing that other supporters are unaware of the fact that he has been playing rugby all the while, just not in the South African jersey. It is however a real pleasure to hear them applauding how brilliantly he is playing and how he breaks the advantage line at will. We need more players of the calibre of Montgomery, players that have been able to develop outside the constraints of the amateur South African establishment. If we do not do something to enable our players to think on their feet and make decisions on the field, then following a game plan that is not working is simply dumb.
What was most disappointing for me on Saturday was the fact that players who really can make a difference and offer something other than the bash it up approach are in positions on the field where they cannot dictate. De Villiers is crying out for an opportunity to play at inside centre, make no mistake Barry is not bad, but he is not going to win us the World Cup. Marius Joubert needs some time to regain his form and we need an outside centre that can use the opportunities that a player like De Villiers will create. Jason Little spent the latter part of his career playing on the wing and there is no reason why Joubert cannot play there.
In the forwards we simply are not making use of the depth of talent that we have at loose forward; we are playing people out of position or not using the correct combinations. Cronje at no 8 is fine as long as you have players like Burger and Van Niekerk to compliment him. Playing Roussouw in the same set of loose forwards as Cronje is simply not going to work. Burger cannot play the fetcher role as well as chase down every movement. Roussouw is a lock and should be warming the bench or operating as a back up to Bakkies Botha in the same way as Van den Bergh operates as a back up for Matfield. The process of experimenting with Sephaka also makes no sense, pick a tighthead and a loose head and have another tighthead on the bench.
If Jake White continues down the road that he is on at the moment he will not have learnt from any of his predecessors, he will simply have made the same mistakes.
12. De Villiers
10. Van Der Westhuizen
9. Du Preez
7. Van Niekerk
3. Van Der Linde
Van den Bergh
Clive is going to be remembered as the coach who lost the Lions series
after telling everyone it was going to be the best prepared side, I
don't necessarily think they WEREN'T the best prepared side. So I don't
think he has pulled the wool over everyone's eyes in that area. But I
think he has got it wrong in the way he has used Alastair Campbell. I
think he would have been far better off leaving him at home.
That was clearly wrong in my opinion. What you want, is your Welshmen bunking with your Scots, your Irish bunking with your English et cetera. That's how tours are always done, isn't it, with room-mates? That's how a big bunch of guys bonds together in a short space of time. I think that was one of Clive's biggest mistakes. JPR Williams
I don't worry about (the future), I just worry about winning. That's up to the coaches, they look 3-4 years down the track. As a captain I'm just about making sure we get the performance on the day. Tana Umaga
I don't have any thoughts about referees other than they're fantastic, we're not going to comment on any referees' decisions this year. For us the referee's not part of the equation. Whatever the referee does on the field we've got to be good enough to cope with it. There has to be an acknowledgement along the lines they're refereeing the hardest game in the world. Every time they have got to make a decision, because we've got a good contest for the ball, they are going to get some right and they are going to get some wrong. Eddie Jones
Yes, they (SARU) were elected but believe you me, the real direction in sport in this country, and I don't care who says what, does not come from the elected officials, it comes from sponsors. Sport Minister Makhenkesi Stofile
Personally, I believe it has been a successful trip. I’ve lost a lot of games (in his coaching career), yet just because you lose, you haven’t got to be down on yourself. I think from the Lions’ point of view, behind the scenes, the players have been fantastic. In four years’ time (South Africa), I look forward to seeing how my successor will handle this. You have to juggle a lot of things, but I have absolutely no regrets the way I have gone about this trip. Clive Woodward
I don’t intend to defend myself. We are who we are and we made decisions. I wouldn’t change anything we have done. Clive Woodward
I wouldn't say they are a better team than us but they are an outstanding team. Clive Woodward
South Africa is a completely different kettle of fish to every other Test-playing nation, so we have to play well against South Africa, they defend in a very different way than the French, they attack in a much different way, they run through you, they don't run around you. Eddie Jones
If he [Bill Young] rocked up at Stellenbosch [University] and said he played rugby, they'd send him to the fourths and if he said he was a prop, they'd probably send him straight to the seventh team. Jake White
I don't know how many blokes play in World Cup finals, win Bledisloe Cups, play in Tri Nations championships, manage to retain the No.1 spot for over six years, play over 40 Tests and can only make seventh grade in Stellenbosch. But that's his opinion, that's fine and now we'll see how things progress on Saturday night. I look forward to the challenge against a few dinosaurs. Bill Young
Look at what Bill Young has done in Australian rugby, having played in World Cup finals and won Super 12 trophies. His achievements are unbelievable, and he has definitely batted above his weight. But in South Africa, where we have a perception you have to be big and strong to be a prop forward, had he come along with his togs to a training session, he probably would have been told to go to the top field and train with the fourth grade. Jake White again, explaining his earlier statement
I'll let Jake make the sideshow this week. Jake will do enough talking for both of us, so we'll just worry about preparing well. Eddie Jones.....
Larkham is an extraordinary player but he isn't a great flyhalf. Scratch below the surface of the man's aura and there is a tedious list of times when he's cracked under pressure in Test matches. Naas Botha in SA Rugby magazine
I'm used to media pressure from New Zealand and Australia, indeed I thrive on it which probably comes from being English. You learn a lot about yourself and it's very challenging. That's why I set up the tour the way I did and I have no regrets. Clive Woodward finally revealing the reason for the Lions' tour debacle... to learn about and challenge himself...
My gut feel was that the South Africans may have their nose in front of the Australians at this point in time. I just wonder what the significance of these two games will be when it comes to the Tri-Nations. I think some teams might be keeping their powder dry. I wouldn't read too much into the [Sydney] result. Graham Henry
You can think up a lot of excuses, but we are not going to. We know our defence was bad and our tactical game in the first half was not up to standard. You simply can't miss that number of tackles at this level. Those are things we will have to work on before the next Test. De Wet Barry
First thing I read this morning was that Jake White is unhappy about the refereeing on Saturday night. Jake White.... were you at the game ? I did not see the ref kick aimless hard earned Springbok balls onto the Ozzie back three, who then, with the rest of the Oz backline, ran freely through the non-existent Bok defence. Even John Smit tried a kick and showed the world why hookers and props should not. I did not see the ref miss tackle after tackle on those cheating Ozzies. It was not the ref who chose the 3rd best South African scrumhalf in the starting line-up. Neither was it the ref who picked Marius "Useless" Joubert and De Wet Barry as the Bok centre pair. For their country's sake and their own best, the pair need to be dropped. Things turned to custard especially whenever Marius got anywhere near the play. As for their "rushed defence" technique.... how much longer does Jake White need to realise that it does not work. It creates the gaps the AB's and Wallabies thrive on. Time to bring De Villiers into the centres, with anyone but Joubert and Barry. Maybe then will Bryan Habana see some ball and show the world how good he is.
Danie Rossouw was once again exposed as being too slow as an international loosie. He is a grafter, so consider him as lock in the place of Bakkies Botha, who is not the shadow of the player he was a year ago. If Sephaka is
one of the best props in SA, then Springbok rugby is in more trouble that we realise.
The second half was much better from the Bok perspective, until Marius Joubert fancied himself as a scrumhalf, for no apparent reason, and the Ozzies ran through the resultant gap to nail another try. There were a few of positives though. It appears, apart from Albert "Off-sides" vd Bergh, that most of the Boks got hold of a rule book. That aspect was much improved. Secondly, Os du Randt is another game closer to retirement. Thirdly, Joe van Niekerk looks ready to join the starting line-up and finally, Schalk did not get a yellow card.
Getting back to Jake White. Stop taking Eddie Jones on in the mind games. You have and will always come off second best. Concentrate on what you are being handsomely paid to do.... coach the Boks. When will the Boks put two consecutive good games together ? I'm afraid Jake, it was not the ref, but your own troops who fluffed it.
In spite of everything that has been said and done, written, half-wit would be politicians and my hypertension, I am still seeing the same problems with the springboks that were seen 2-3 years ago. Specifically:
1. VERY slow on the uptake (Support play). Centers, Schalk & Os are the exceptions.
2. They have no idea how to kick-off from the 22- and half way lines. One surmises that kicks should be for advantage. Other countries do. Monty is the exception.
3. The fly-half has no idea what a tactical kick is. If you kick into the opposition's hands, at this level of play, you WANT to lose ground and kill your forwards. Kicks should also be followed up. Somebody please explain it to them.
4. As with the super(!) 12 teams, of Stormers, Cats and Sharks, half the team cannot hold on to the ball and half cannot tackle. In connection with the latter can one imagine the encouragement to an opposition player when he gets patted on the back instead of being tackled. As with point (1) he becomes supercharged.
Believe it or not this person still insists that we have the best rugby players in the world. Training in the very basics is, however, necessary.
Best of everything,
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