|Volume 5, Week 8|
Brilliant! “What the hell happened
there!?” Probably one of the most uttered questions this week (in
Canberra as well…) as SA rugby managed to confound yet again. Sacked
coaches, more defeats and an improbable victory – all in one week! Who
needs the Jerry Springer show?
Big news of the week was the sacking of Kevin Putt as the Sharks coach and the fairy tale beginning of Dick Muir with trusty ‘old’ assistant Ian Mac. This armchair critic will not BS anybody by expressing sympathy for Kevin Putt. The former scrumhalf did very little to endear himself when he took over the hot seat and it was only in his final appearance at Newlands that he displayed the humility and lack of condescension one would expect from his dismal track record. But, as better writers have argued, let us not kick a man when he is down. So Kevin, bygones and good luck.
Now to the new man, Dick Muir made an instant impression on the hearts and minds of the Sharks squad – they played with vigour, purpose and a resemblance of a game plan. These are not things one can coach in a day but then, coaching is sometimes far more than just your technical knowledge - it encompasses man-management, psychology, motivational skills, preparation and selection. The wily Ian Macintosh will be of incalculable value with his experience to Dick Muir and the Sharks squad.
So, what did happen? Well, for one there was a determination to hold on to the ball at all costs with multi phase recycling by playing it wide then short, probing for the weakness in defence. Mac coined the phrase concertina rugby and that is what most of the Australian teams and the very good Kiwi teams do. They maintain possession and work towards a situation where a Brent Russell (insert any fleet footed back’s name here) are in a one on one situation with a prop or a lock. Of course it is not that simple, variation is required and to accomplish it you need decision makers… that is the 9/10/12 axis. Look at the most successful teams in the competition over the years, Brumbies/Crusaders then go and analyse who their decision makers were/are. Then look at the SA teams. Go figure.
Before it slips the mind, well done Sharks! As a stern critique over the last few seasons, it was a very satisfying performance to witness and the victory was very well deserved.
One of this part-time writer’s favourite analysts of the game and indeed favourite players is Garth Wright. The former Springbok scrumhalf, known for his technically correct play made the astute observation that SA teams tend to rely on mostly passion to win rugby matches. They are technically ill equipped to break down defences but when they are fired up, they will manage a win over any side. Very true.
We all know it is incredibly difficult to get fired up week after week; season after season… the so-called fatigue factor etc. and this is where coaching definitely makes a difference. What is required is a clinical, professional approach to the problem and buy in from the players. Then it is the funnelling or channelling of emotion and aggression on any given Saturday to produce results. What helps of course is raw talent.
This is where Ruan Pienaar gets the nod. He played a remarkable game and as Garth Wright, rightly stated, he has a lot more to learn but it was a tremendous start. What he does have is confidence in his own ability, one only need to look at that body swerve that created a great individual try. He is a good kicker of the ball but he will learn very quickly that at that level one cannot afford loose kicks and accord space to the likes of Rockoko, Muliaina, Howlett, Gear, Rogers et al. The Brumbies were hassled into playing poorly and it will not always be his day but it is great to see young talent blossoming.
Million dollar question, will the Sharks season be turned around? Do not expect miracle victories in every match but expect better execution and steady improvement. Their competition and challenge now is one of rebuilding a brand and a team revered all over the world.
With a break in play this weekend for the SA teams, RF will take a welcome break next week to recoup, re-gas and hopefully come back stronger, faster and more entertaining.
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|Nightmare on Springbok Street by Desmond Organ|
Anybody with a knowledge of the game of rugby knows that form in a
regional competition is not the only determining factor for success at a
National level, well that is what the majority of Springbok fans will be
trying to believe after what can only be called another disastrous
weekend. Put simply the team that should not have won did; history being
the only determinant of the most unlikely of outcomes. The teams that
are supposed to represent the form in South Africa failed again and it
is not the first time this year or in years past that this has happened.
The most appalling thing about the results of the past weekend is that it exposed South African rugby on three major fronts. We have no structured development programme for coaches or players that rises up from school boy level to the National team, we have not developed the basic skills required for a professional rugby team; relying heavily on the individual brilliance of players, and finally we are inept at providing any form of consistency in performances overseas.
The fact that Dick Muir has been elevated to the position of caretaker Sharks coach in much the same way that Rudolf Streauli is more than a cause for concern. There is a resemblance to the course of events that saw Hugh Reece Edwards appointed and deposed only a season later. Kevin Putt has followed pretty much the same course of action and the only difference is that this time there is a group of new players who are not that familiar with Dick Muir. It is also true to say that the same administrators, excluding Mr. Hoskins have also been in control of the Sharks as an organisation over periods of crisis with the same outcome in both instances.
The lack of a structured approach to the development of coaches in a country that claims to be the breadbasket of talent as far as rugby is concerned is another wake up and smell the smoke alarm. We see coach after coach at the National and Provincial level being given golden handshakes as soon as a crisis that is the result of maladministration is incurred. Keep it simple is what the administrators are saying to each other as they collectively send the future of the game into an unpredictable future. The fans lap it all up, assuming that the coach is always the one at fault as opposed to identifying the real problem, a lack of professionally qualified administrators to manage the future of the game.
Rudolf Straeuli, Kevin Putt, Laurie Mains, Rudi Joubert, Andre Markgraaf, Hugh Reece Edwards and so on and so on, we need to accept that a national structure aimed at ensuring the future of the game is non-existent unless it refers to the free hand outs and wonderfully expensive World Cup trips for the back slapping cronies that make up the majority of the people involved in running the game.
Watching the Bulls play on Saturday was a painful experience, Matfield was in the backline and Habana was non-existent. For the second time in several weeks a South African team was destroyed the Vickerman in the lineouts and the incumbent Waratahs fullback is having a field day avoiding hapless South African tackling. Matt Rogers has his work cut out for him in the midst o such talent, Eddie Jones must be revelling in planning the three quarter line up for the upcoming Tri- Nations.
If the Bulls were bad the Cats were far worse; devoid of constructive lines of attack they dominated the opposition only to succumb to the outstanding defence of the Highlanders.
If the South African rugby administrators are serious about success on the field then they should stop scheduling payouts and attendance at glamorous events and appoint a Director of rugby with a 10 year plan for the transformation of the game from grass roots to the national team and include the fourth Super 12 team as a basis to build towards the 2007 World Cup.
|Round 5 by Dingo Marshall|
South African Super 12 sides put up another poor display over the Easter
weekend with 3 losses out of 4. Without the Sharks amazing and totally
unexpected victory against the Brumbies, it would have been 4 out of 4
defeats. Thankfully South African supporters are saved more potential
disappointments this weekend with all 4 sides receiving a bye. They will
gladly take this opportunity to take stock, reassess game plans and look
to vastly improve their fortunes in the weeks to come.
The Easter bunny didn’t bring any magic to the Stormers team on Good Friday, as they put in another sub standard performance in losing to the Hurricanes 12 –9, in very wet conditions in Palmerston North. They once again kicked away possession too easily and let themselves down when it came to maintaining strict discipline around the fringes of the rucks and mauls. In a game that produced no tries, penalties conceded were always going to be critical and this proved to be the case for the Stormers.
The Cats put in a spirited performance against the Highlanders at Ellis Park but lacked the ability to convert opportunities into tries and made too many mistakes when they seemed to have the Highlanders at their mercy. They are playing with passion and intensity but seem to have lost the ability to put sides away when they have the upper hand. Chester Williams and his management team must be very unhappy with their form to date after such a promising start in the season opener against the Bulls.
Peter Hewat demolished the Bulls single handedly with a personal points haul of 34 points made up of 3 tries, 5 penalty goals and 2 conversions, in helping the Waratahs achieve a 42 –12 score line. He broke Matt Burke’s long-standing Super 12 record of 33 points also scored against the hapless Bulls in 1997 (then known as Northern Transvaal). Mat Rogers has been ruled out of this week’s massive clash against the Crusaders in Sydney, as he hasn’t sufficiently recovered from his groin strain.
In the surprise of the Super 12 to date, a highly motivated and determined Sharks outfit defeated the reigning champions, the Brumbies, 36 – 24. Ruan Pienaar dominated proceedings with 2 tries, 3 penalty kicks and 2 conversions for a personal haul of 21 points. He outshone George Gregan and that is no easy feat especially for a young man still eligible to play for the Springbok U/21 side. Dick Muir and his assistant, Ian Macintosh, must have been so proud of the boys after coming in at the last minute to replace Kevin Putt as coach. The Sharks have a well-earned bye this week while the Brumbies have recalled captain Stirling Mortlock and creative playmaker ‘Bernie’ Larkham for their 2-week tour of NZ to take on the Blues and Highlanders respectively. Larkham looks like he will miss the game against the Blues and front up for the Highlanders clash.
News from the Reds camp is that Ben Tune looks as if he will be signing for the new Perth franchise by the end of the week. Nathan Sharpe is also a prime target for John Mitchell’s outfit. Rodney Blake, a 129kg prop, has been drafted into the Reds squad for this week’s clash against the Highlanders and he goes by the name of ‘Rodzilla’. When he first joined the Reds he weighed in at more than 145kgs! William ‘the refrigerator’ Perry, eat your heart out!
Until next week, enjoy yourselves and get passionate!
It's going to make all the loosies around the world, and McCaw is probably
the best, think `well I'm going to get away with this.
Former All Blacks captain Gary Whetton on the six-week
suspension of Blues lock Ali Williams for stomping/rucking
I thought Ali Williams was fortunate to only get six weeks. It was blatant stomping. He was frustrated and he took it out on McCaw. The other two Blues players were also guilty of stomping. Go and look at the motion. It wasn't one of a ruck. Nick Mallett
I spoke to him (Kevin Putt) and he had just been informed that the board had met and his contract had been terminated. Dick Muir will step into the role as of Wednesday night. Mike Greenaway on Kevin Putts' firing.
As a coach, one is always aware that the time to move on will arrive, but my heart and soul has, and always will be with the Sharks and if the board believe that this move is in the best interests of the team and our supporters, then I will gracefully make way for someone else to take over. I wish the new coach and players all the very best and offer my full support. Kevin Putt
'I have never had that feeling on the pitch of "oh my gosh, these guys are enormous". I see them as obstacles to get around. Brent Russell
I played under the Sharks and they were the best brand in the world. It is sad that a brand that is so powerful and so strong could have been damaged by one individual. What is even more disturbing is that there is no accountability. Ollie Le Roux
It was tough. The Sharks had plenty to play for, they had a disturbing week, and they played pretty well. They pretty much outplayed us today, but we love South Africa. Owen Finnegan in his post match comment on the Sharks defeat.
It was a total team effort and I think we can build from this win. It is going to be tough overseas, and thanks to the fans for their support. At half-time we realised the Brumbies would come back at us. But all the guys pulled together, the foundation has been laid by those people not here coaching, and we thank them for that. The main thing is attitude, defense is about attitude and it's fantastic to have a want to win like we have in this team. New coach, Dick Muir
If South African players tackled all their opponents the way they tackle Clyde Rathbone they'd never lose a game. Andy Capostagno
On sick leave
I’ve watched all in all some 30 minutes in total of play from all four our super 12 teams in last weekends encounters. 30 minutes of disaster and embarrassment and shame and pity and rubbish. Luckily I was mostly outside tending to long overdue and unfinished tasks which gave me much more pleasure and worthiness. I felt strangely reluctant to pay these 2 minute visits to the TV, moments in which I witnessed silly, stupid, crazy, inapt, undisciplined, acts of crime that our foolish players (sic!) and trainers (definitely not coaches) were displaying and which they may classify as rugby moves, techniques, abilities etc. repeating it time and time and again. I’m not amazed anymore, I’m neither unhappy, nor angry, disillusioned or disgruntled, no, I am ashamed and sick of what we have to put up with, of what it has all come to, a disgraceful definition of S.A. S12 rugby. A succession of pathetic, thoughtless moves, kicks, tackles and passes. No thanks, no more please. Therefore it’s time-out for me, I am taking sick leave from South African sport as a whole but for Ernie and the Goose. For the time being, and it may be a long, long time, before I will feel fully recuperated and have faith and be strong enough to support again.
Crimes and traits of South African rugby players:
1. Can’t think
2. Can’t tackle
3. Can’t pass
4. Can’t catch, especially a Gary Owen
5. Don’t know the rules
6. Can neither jump or support in the line-outs
7. Poor or no communication at line-out time on their own ball
8. Definitely can’t scrum anymore
9. Always seems to find the heavy traffic, in other words, midfield happy
10. Experts with regard to high tackles (De Wet Barry is a good example)
11. Seldom if ever plays the situation (Russell the only exception)
12. No guts or determination or consistency (result: no glory)
13. No discipline, no pride
14. Can’t find or see a gap or create space and opportunities
15. Last but not least, they are trained by trainers instead of being coached by good old fashioned coaches.
Brainless or Plain Stupid
Forcing myself to watch the Stormers against the Hurricanes and the Cats against the Highlanders, I am convinced that the majority of South African Super 12 rugby players have no brain or they are just plain stupid.
Two incidents of particular note that quantify my statement is Quinton Davids, laying on the ground and so obviously scooping the ball out from the ruck and Conrad Jantjies, laying on the ground and sticking his leg out, tripping a Highlander player. I can only agree with Phil Kearns that the latter act was totally laughable and how did he ever imagine that he would get away with it. The penalty count against SA sides can only be described as despicable and once again illustrates the lack of use of grey matter or that they are just plain stupid.
On Super Saturday, Dan Retief conveyed certain observations made by Tim Noakes on the reasoning for SA's poor performance in the Super 12. Once again one of the reasons given was the travelling issue where the SA sides had to play 4 games on the trot downunder. I for one do not buy this and if anything the two SA touring sides had accumulated more points on tour than the two sides playing at home against visiting teams up until week 7. The reasoning that SA players are bad travellers and miss home is a pathetic excuse. This reasoning goes totally against the fact that the SA sides will be travelling far more next year with the Super 14 and the increased number of Tri-Nation games. One of the other reasons given is that SA players play too much rugby. Well if this is the case I hate to think what SA rugby is going to be like from 2006 when the standard is already pretty poor.
But then again as our newly appointed sports minister has stated that winning is not everything, transformation is everything and boy is the SA sports supporter paying the price. Unfortunately every SA team sport including "soccer" is below world standard and it is only a handful of individual sportsmen that are keeping the flag flying at half mast. We can be lucky that Bafana Bafana automatically qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Can you imagine if they do not get beyond the first round?
Dankie tog vir die Sharks
Dankie tog vir die Sharks. Die Sharks het vir die eerste keer met passie gespeel en alles ingesit. Daarinteen het veral die Bulls en Stormers dinge teen half-pas gedoen. Wanneer hulle gedryf het was daar geen deurdring vermoe. Ek betwyfel die oordeelsvermoe van Gert Smal as ‘n afrigter want die Stormers het gesukkel met die lynstane en hy laat hul beste slot Rob Linde op die bank sit. Die Stormers het nie losskakels en hakers nie. Die feit dat hulle ‘n spelers soos Willem de Waal en Skalk Brits nie behou het nie se nie baie vir hul oordeels vermoe nie. Hulle beste opsie nou is om vir Jean de Villiers op losskakel te probeer met Gaffie op heelagter. As dit nie werk nie kan hulle altyd vir Gaffie losskakel toe skuif. Vir Quintin Davids kan hulle Vodacom laat speel waar hy kan leer om geen strafskoppe af te staan nie.
Die Waratahs is ‘n fantastiese span, hulle kyk wat ‘n span se sterk punte is en vat hulle dan aan op dit. Die Bulls se lynstaan werk was een van hul sterk punte. Hulle vat die Bulls aan op hul lynstane, vat die meeste van die lynstaanbal af en vernietig sodoende die Bulls se selfvertroue.
Butch James is op verlede Saterdag se spel die beste losskakel in SA. Sy taktiese skoppe was baie goed.
Voorspoed vir al die SA spanne.
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