|Volume 5, Week 4|
about you readers but this old campaigner has that warm fuzzy feeling
that only comes when the rugby season has kicked off a proper. It seems
that this will be yet another busy rugby year and like Michael
Schumachers’ trophy cabinet maker one needs to make room for a lot more
of the same. And with whingeing Poms, poor referees, government
intervention in rugby, Bulls/Sharks defeats in the Super 12 and David
Campese quotes it is safe to say that all is well in the wonderful world
The first weekend of Super 12 was generally disappointing and teams did not perform to the lofty expectations set by fans and critiques alike. The mistakes were numerous and the skill standards poor apart from the repeat of last year’s final in Canberra. The two most consistent performers of recent times produced a spectacle of high quality as befitting the champions and runners up. It was remarkable that in a match with plenty of injuries and replacements, the structures remained and a very good game of rugby was played.
One thing that struck as very interesting was the influx of new blood in the competition. A lot of ‘older’ players have moved on and new talent is taking the step up to the big time. While it is very good for the game, it does create an experience void and as has been proved so often in the past, experience make a whole lot of difference – ask Jack Nicholson.
The local matches in SA were quite entertaining, any live match regardless how dour experts deem them to be is a great occasion for this part time writer. Watching favoured players and seeing how moves unfold combined with crowd interaction is impossible to replicate on TV unless of course you are watching WWE or whatever they call those big clowns in underpants. The Stormers were the victors of the Sharks, again and the team sheets demanded no less from a Springbok studded line up.
All the Springboks’ performances were not quite up to scratchthough, the biggest disappointment was one of this writers all time favourites, Marius Joubert. The forgettable traipsing of one of last seasons stars did his considerable reputation no good. Breyten Paulse and Brent Russell showed that size does not matter anywhere but in women’s magazines – masterful technique, canny anticipation and great acceleration made these two ‘midgets’ the best players on the field.
As for the Cats beating a one dimensional Bulls outfit? The famous words of Paul Roos can be attributed to a surprise victory – scrum, scrum, scrum. Big Ollie Le Roux and Marius Hurter presented a formidable amount of calories and they were apathetic by the reputation of the best pack in SA. Two craftsmen of considerable skill and experience scrummed out a warning to other teams that to beat the Cats they must be tamed up front. One victory does not make them contenders but with some consistency and confidence they will surprise many with their competitiveness. Andre Pretorius was glorious and his phenomenal personal skill makes him the ideal Super 12 pivot and kingpin of a much better Cats campaign.
For the match of the weekend, one had to cast the eye up north where bread fell from heaven and Wales produced the type of performance that this Nostradamus impersonator warned of last week. France started the game like players wanting to prove a point to a disbelieving public and some scathing criticism of their previous performances. They did so admirably but Wales hung in there and with fantastic skill and a lot of confidence managed to overhaul the French, at home for a famous victory. They are now the favoured side to win the Grand Slam and Six Nations trophy with Scotland and a possible final against the Irish at the Millennium stadium. Tom Jones is definitely changing his itinerary to fire up the crowd with Delilah.
In Dublin, the Irish fought out a rousing victory against England and although the match was not as good as the Wales/France clash it outperformed it in the popularity of winner stakes. Face it, England will never be supporters’ ‘second’ team, you are either an England die hard or you will back any team playing against them. Admirable as their conduct was in winning the World Cup, they have derailed in spectacular fashion and their behaviour towards the referee of Sunday is deplorable. In many ways they can find themselves very lucky that they were not saddled with Mr Veldsman…
To the nitty gritty of Super 12 predictions, here goes in no particular order the teams that will occupy top, middle and bottom of the log:
That is it for this week, this coming Saturday is yet another cracker of a weekend and a there is a lot of interest in the North vs South clash, another round of Six Nations – go Ireland/Wales! and the Super 12. Support your team at the park!
For all the latest rugby news visit sarugby.com
|Weekend of Surprises by Desmond Organ|
A disastrous weekend as far as my predictions is concerned, well that is
if you do not factor in the collective coaching genius of the Cats and
the dire refereeing from Messer’s Veldsman, Lawrence and Kaplan. I am
still convinced that England were robbed and that the Welsh could
consider themselves extremely lucky not to have conceded a penalty try
for repetitive collapsing of the scrum.
All in all a typical weekend of great attacking rugby coupled with the mediocrity that we have become accustomed to. The Scots, Italians, Reds, Sharks and Highlanders all belong in the class of what the hell was that. The Welsh, Brumbies, Cats and Blues delivered the class, depending on what your definition of class is. So much has been said of the greatness of the Welsh and Irish performances that it is somewhat controversial to debate the point here; I like Nick Mallett am of the opinion that the France and England have lowered there standards. The performances of the Bulls and Reds has me believing that not much has changed as far as the brains vs. brawn debate is concerned, no reference to the Welsh Jerseys being intended.
As good a coach as Heyneke Meyer may be, he has not got the experience or shrewdness of the likes of Venter, Erasmus and Williams. When you are a class above the rest it is obvious for all to see and if the Cats coaches get the coaching award for the week, then the Brumbies get the team award and the Welsh the perseverance award. Meyer will now no why Jake White did not select the entire Bulls pack, perhaps he could select several more of the players and coach them out of their current mindsets. He is going to have to hope that several of the Springboks from last year step up a level because if they do not then there is going to be some serious pain later in the year. Having begun with Meyer, I will end with him, what fool plays a class centre like Habana on the wing: Go figure.
I was extremely disappointed with the refereeing performances of Messer’s Veldsman, Lawrence and Kaplan. Not only were their decisions questionable, they have earned the ire of players and coaches. Perhaps this is a bit of in your face from a South African perspective. We have been living with the likes of the Australians and others for years now, all I can say is that the rest of you now have a little bit of an idea about what it means to have been a South African supporter for the last several years. At the end of the day the referees decisions stand and I would think that if a South African coach had made the kinds of remarks that Robinson did, he would be in a lot of trouble with the IRB. Maybe the time has come for the Saintly English to be compared with Demons as opposed to Angels. They win and they are the best, they lose and it is somebody else who is responsible.
South African fans will be hoping that the Bulls, Cats, Stormers and Sharks do well this weekend, it is imperative that we get behind our teams and support them. I personally am looking forward to the weekend for the following reasons. Firstly Gert Smal has finally given Jean De Villiers a centre start, Secondly Marius Joubert has been given a wake up call, thirdly because it is great to see brains running the Cats and finally because the Sharks might eventually win a game again. I am disturbed by the treatment that has been handed out to Bryan Habana, if JP Nel is a better player he would have been selected as a Springbok by now, he has not and unless 10 players get injured he will not be in the future.
|Super 12 Team of the Week||SA Super 12 Team of the Week|
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|The Super 12 is back! by Dingo Marshall|
The Super 12 is once more upon us. It doesn’t seem that long ago to last
year’s very entertaining final in Canberra. As you would expect from
this type of competition there is always the odd upset or two. Very few
pundits predicted that the Cats would knock over the Bulls. Four of the
six teams won at home. The exceptions being the Reds and the Highlanders
who were both very poor.
Lucas and I were in attendance at Newlands to see the Stormers dispatch the Sharks in a very bruising, no compromising and often in your face type of affair. It wasn’t the greatest spectacle but the match was entertaining nevertheless and full of passion and aggression that one always expects from a South African derby. Kevin Putt was very impressive at the after match press conference and while his coaching skills may be questioned his charm and charisma are obvious for all and sundry to see. It will be very interesting to see if he can turn around the performance of the Sharks over the next few weeks and keep his job. It didn’t help his cause last Fri night that he had 8 new caps in his team. The Sharks are struggling and without the sterling performance of Brent Russell at the back the margin would have been greater than 14 points. He was simply sensational.
Speaking of sensational, Mat Rogers stamped his return to Super 12 rugby after missing the majority of last year through injury with a magnificent effort to help the Waratahs to a convincing 25-7 win over the Chiefs. He was superb in general play but his kicking was off as 6 kicks went wide of the posts. This has to be rectified if the Waratahs want to maintain their impressive start. Previous Super 12 campaigns have been likened to a balloon where they fly high then end up deflating and ending disappointingly. Rogers was in doubt leading up to the game after injuring his hip during a warm up a few days before the game. The Waratahs campaign appeared to end last year when Rogers seriously injured his foot and they need him fully fit as Saturday’s performance so obviously showed. News this week is that Brendan Cannon may be leaving the ‘Tahs at the end of this season to take up a senior playing role with the new Perth franchise to be coached by former All Black coach, John Mitchell, when the competition expands to 14 sides. Cannon is looking for more game time after being sidelined as the ‘Tahs number two hooker behind Adam Freier.
The Brumbies worked their magic again against the Crusaders in a repeat of last year’s Super 12 final, winning this one to the tune of 31-21. The Brumbies management would not have been pleased to see Stirling ‘Captain Insanity’ Mortlock hobbling off the field with a grade 2 tear to the medial ligament of his right knee. An identical injury to the one that ruled him out of last year’s final. He will be sidelined for 4 weeks and will miss the Brumbies’ tour to South Africa. Matt Henjak replaces George Gregan who has been installed as Captain of the Tsunami Southern Hemisphere team to face the might of the Northern Hemisphere this Sat at Twickenham. Other notable Super 12 players called up for the game are Schalk Burger (Stormers), Victor Matfield (Bulls), John Smit (Sharks), Tana Umaga (Hurricanes), Chris Latham (Reds) and Phil Waugh (Waratahs). Should be a ripper of a contest.
The Reds were very poor against the Hurricanes at Ballymore and will welcome the return to the squad of seasoned veteran Ben Tune who hasn’t pulled on a Reds jersey since April 2003. The ‘Canes won to the tune of 24-10 and the Reds never appeared to be in the frame. Elton Flatley has also been reinstalled at fly half after playing last week in the centres and will resume the kicking duties after being unable to kick in last week’s match due to a knee strain.
I love the Super 12 and eagerly look forward to each round of games. This year is no exception. Bring it on! Until next week, enjoy yourselves and do the things that you love.
SA Rugby is aware of certain measurables that they need to adhere to for
our support of their bid (2011 RWC) to continue. To that end the
ministry has informed them of our choice for the new South African Super
14 franchise. Ministerial
spokesman, Bongani Majola making it 'clear' where the franchise should
go - Eastern Province
I don't like his attitude, but I won't say that we want to see him ousted. Democracy will take its shape there. Others will see his shortcomings in due course. Butana Khompela (chairman of parliamentary sport committee) on Brian Van Rooyen
The way I see it you have to make sure you get a home semifinal if you have serious designs on the Super 12 trophy. Nick Mallett's advice to SA teams
They [the IRB] just need to get off their backsides and start employing new concepts to be able to develop the game. By the looks of it, the richer countries get stronger and stronger while the weaker ones stay as they are. Nick Farr-Jones
It's six-and-a-half of the one and a dozen of the other, wasn't it. Tony Johnson, commentating Reds vs. Hurricanes.
In the second half we seemed to go to sleep but the Cats deserve credit, they were certainly very strong on defence. Victor Matfield
We will focus on the positive aspect of the match against the Stormers, such as our excellent defence. We do not accept losing, but have already forgotten about the match. Kevin Putt
It was great, that is a night we will really enjoy for some time. Chester Williams.
I don't think I've been called a 'Fat F***ing Hamburger Eating C**t as many times in my career as happened in an hour on Saturday. I just told them to keep on looking at the scoreboard. Ollie Le Roux
We are upset now, but the referee is in charge and he has called it his way and we have got to be able to cope with that. We did everything we could have done to win the game. I am very proud of my players and, with a couple of decisions, this could have been a very famous victory. Andy Robinson
I want to speak to the IRB about it. I think only one side was refereed. Andy Robinson
Jonathan Kaplan is in the top 20 in the world but that wasn't an international performance. It would not have been acceptable in the Zurich Premiership. If one of my referees had done that, I would have had my backside kicked for making the appointment. If any English referee refereed like that in a European match, there would be an inquest. No question about that. If someone had performed like that, he would have been pulled from the next game. Colin High, ex international (England) referee
I understand it, Andy is a reasonable coach and it is out of character for him to do something like this. I wish him well for the rest of his Six Nations campaign. Jonathan Kaplan
I have watched the footage, and I would have been the first to put my hand up if it was clear that I had made a mistake. Jonathan Kaplan
Robinson is living up to England's reputation as whingeing Poms. Stop going on about it as who really cares? They're acting like they're the first team to be cheated of a win. David Campese
Desmond Tutu's comment in Week 3 of your column is spot on. Unfortunately this comment will not sit well with the ruling party as tokenism is totally acceptable to them as long as there is transformation. No consideration is given to the eventual harm it causes to the individual or team.
Sal 'n mens hierdie storie aan die nageslagte kan oorvertel?
Ek bedoel nou, die afgelope week se nuus dat ons, (nee, die land se) regering, sulke dwase voorwaardes aan SA-Rugby kan stel! Hoe op aarde moet mens dit verstaan? Ek het altyd gedink die streek wat die beste oor 'n aantal jare gevaar het, moet daardie eer toekom. Maar nou word SA-Rugby gedreig om die Oos-Kaap aan te wys, anders sal die regering sy steun vir die 2011 bod om die wêreldbeker te huisves, onttrek! Kan mens jouself só in die voet skiet en maak of dit nie seer is nie?
Vir hoe lank is dit nou al dat die Vrystaat een van die beter spanne in die Curiebeker kompetisie is? Vir hoe lank voed die Vrystaat nou al die ander Curriebeker- en Super 12 spanne met uitstekende spelers? Wanneer laas het die OP, óf Grens, óf SWD, íewers in die grootste rugby kompetisie in die RSA gekom? Wanneer laas het enige van die Kaapse spanne in die Curriebeker kompetisie gespeel? Krag teen krag? Toegegee, daar het briljante spelers uit die streek van die Oos- en Suid-Kaap gekom, maar wanneer laas? Hoeveel van die spelers het verlede jaar iewers in die Super 12 spanne gespeel? Waar het enige van die genoemde spanne verlede jaar, selfs in die Vodacombeker kompetisie, ge-eindig? Het die bestuur van SA-Rugby nie nou die dag besoek aan die OP gaan aflê om 'n plan te bedink om hul geldsake te beredder nie? Het die Blou Bulle nie 'n aanbod gemaak om die OP te help om weer op die been te kom nie? Ek aanvaar dat daar talle klubs in die OP-, Grens- en SWD-gebied is wat besig is met transformasie, maar dit geskied ook in die Sentrale streek. Van die ontwikkeling-spelers van die Vrystaat speel selfs Super 12 vir ander streke! Dit beteken tog dat die spelers so ontwikkel het, dat ander streke bereid is om geld in hulle te belê! Verlede jaar nog het die Vrystaat in die finaal van die Curriebeker gespeel. Wat kan enige van die Kaapse unies wys wat hulle verlede jaar bereik het? Niks.
As SA-Rugby nou die dag nog die OP moes besoek om sukkelende geldsake op te los, waarmee gaan die spelers betaal word? (Ek wil nie eens aan al die beamptes dink nie! Hulle sal natuurlik eerste, en die grootste sny van die koek kry.) Sal SA-Rugby die geld moet voorskiet? Dan is dit net demokraties korrek dat elke ander streek presies dieselfde bedrag kry wat aan die Kaapse streek voorsien sal word. Sal die regering of SA-Sportkomitee die geld voorsien? Dan moet die ander streke dit ook kry.
Om politieke besluite te neem in enige sport- (en onderwysaangeleenthede), is die domste ding wat mens kan doen. Politici se besluite is gewoonlik net om eie gewin, maak nie saak of hulle in die regering of deel van die opposisie sit nie. Iets sal die Stofile's en andere daaruit kry. As dit dan nie aansien is nie, beslis geld, en in hierdie geval kan ek nie sien dat dit aansien gaan wees nie.
Doodgewone logika en "komminsêns" sê vir my drie dinge:
1) Dit kán nie die Kaapse streke wees nie, redes:
* Die gebied is te uitgestrek en groot, van Oos-Londen tot Oudshoorn/George;
* Daar is nie geld in die unies nie;
* Die infrastruktuur waarmee gespog word, bestaan nie - Telkom Park (of wat dit ookal deesdae genoem word) is veel kleiner as die Vrystaat Stadion (of wat dít ookal deesdae genoem word) en lyk dus voller, al is daar minder toeskouers in;
* Die ondersteuningsbasis bestaan nie bloot omdat die spanne nie presteer nie;
* Daar is nie spelers wat die verwagte standaard van spel kan lewer nie;
* Die geskiedenis van rugbyprestasies van die streek, in die laaste dekade, is alles behalwe indrukwekkend.
2) Die streke, Kaap en Vrystaat kán nie saamsmelt nie, redes:
* Dit sal die mees verspotte streek wees wat mens aan kan dink, want dit nòg groter en uitgestrek;
* Al die spelers sal dan in elk geval van die Sentrale streek kom.
3) Dit móét die Sentrale streek (Vrystaat, Griekwas en N-Vrystaat) wees, redes:
* Om presies die teenoorgestelde redenasies wat teen die Kaapse streke gebruik is.
Ek weet ek raas teen 'n orkaan, maar ek het ten minste my sê gesê.
Kys de Wet
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