Editors Note


Volume 6, Week 10

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Many of you may have noticed that RF has not been hitting your inbox as regularly as a Dan Carter penalty (maybe not…) and my apologies for that but at least we are maintaining a similar consistency of performance than our (SA) Super 14 players. In other words, only present every other week!

For once, this 2006-bored-to-death supporter actually enjoyed a weekend of rugby. Not just because South African teams finally produced the type of performances we expect on a weekly basis from professionals but maybe because a short sabbatical from the game renewed a feigning vigour (especially when it included a round of golf at Leopard Creek...). They say that too much of a good thing is not good for you and maybe it is true although it would be one helluva job to try and convince Charlize Theron’s boyfriend of that or playing at the no 1 golf course in the country every weekend! Anyway, back to our (other) beloved game.

The performances of the Cheetahs, Sharks, Bulls and Stormers reminded doubting Thomas’s like yours truly, that there are players in South Africa who can do the basics of catching, passing and playing with 100% commitment for 80 minutes. The Cheetahs may have come agonizingly close for the umpteenth time this season but these guys really impressed with their guts and determination. As individuals, there are hardly any stars, in fact no superstars whatsoever with the absence of Juan Smith and with all respect to Os, he doesn’t play long enough to leave the kind of impression only the big man can on a game. It is clearly a ‘retention’ strategy to keep him fresh for the national cause at the same time grooming some fine front row forwards for the future.

Coach Rassie Erasmus’ exploits on the field were legendary and by own admission this season was mediocre but looking across the Indian Ocean at the new Perth franchise, then his results are nothing short of sensational. It is with optimism and great interest that one can look forward to a coaching staff who now boasts experience, a Currie Cup in your first season is somewhat lucky, and who have as fine a nursery of young talent than anywhere in the world. As is shown with the mix of Lowen, Os and Ollie, the experienced campaigners combined with the youthful exuberance of a Fortuin and Bosman can be transformed into a very very good team in the next few years. Watch them in 2008.

A team, who is thoroughly guilty of underperforming this season after a superb performance on Saturday, are the Bulls. In front of a full crowd at Loftus they came out snorting, kicking and storming in the first 20 minutes in a fierce display of 15 man rugby unbeknownst and surprising to even their most loyal supporters and detractors. It was beautiful to watch and not often will that adjective be used in conjunction with the men from Pretoria. Effective, brutal, one-dimensional and boring even are more apt a description but it goes to show, there is hope for everyone! So keep it up Heyneke. And that man Bakkies Botha… beautiful. OK, THAT is enough!

The Sharks played their part in a most entertaining match and if these players are only hitting form now it might bode well for the international season. There is a lot to be said about performing at your peak for months on end i.e. it is impossible. Decisions need to be made when and what to peak for and maybe Jake has a bigger plan secretly implemented without Keo's knowledge but even that will not excuse the Cats although it was a much better effort from them.

Finally, the Stormers… it was a brilliant victory over the best team on the planet. But looking at the Crusaders’ last two performances, their form is a bit worrying for this closet supporter. They are well off their usual high standards and maybe the foot has come off the gas pedal just a little bit with a virtually secured home semi-final. Big mistake, in my honest and humble opinion. They are a side who with their impressive depth and solid structure should wipe most of the bottom 8 in the competition. No statement of bravura here, they have proven so over many years. Are we witnessing the change of the guard and is it possible that some of the players have been there too long? Caleb Ralph played in 100 consecutive matches – unbelievable and no let’s not drop him now for this remarkable feat but Deans must surely be a bit worried? All will change if they beat the Bulls on the weekend.

As for the Stormers, welcome back! It was a sight to behold for this old Newlands regular, who spent many years attending matches there. It is probably the best stadium when watching a winning team although looking at Loftus and those flags, who wasn’t moved? Anyway, Newlands has a special aura amplified tenfold if the ‘men in black’ win. Witness the difference in two weeks time when they take on the Bulls. The place will be a sell out.

Going into the weekend, there are a few vital matches for the log, the Bulls must simply beat the Crusaders to make any impression and along the way hope that the Reds surprise the very good Hurricanes team and the Highlanders do something this year and beat the Brumbies. At the end of the day, is it better for Springbok rugby to have a semi-finalist or to have an extra week or so rest and preparation for the international season? It’s a tricky one, a semi-finalist boosts confidence but then, Jake White’s magic can be applied for two weeks longer. Tough choice.

Enjoy the weekend’s rugby – this supporter is looking forward to the Chiefs / Waratahs match, the Cheetahs / Force and the big one in Durban between the Sharks and the Stormers.



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Dear Lucas,

I have some observations that I just have to put on paper.

Jean De Villiers is not the solution for the Springbok inside centre berth. He had a golden opportunity during last year’s UK/France tour when fourth/fifth choice Marius Bosman had to debut as flyhalf. He should have nurtured the young man and helped in the decision making just like Dick Muir did with Henry Honiball for Natal and Mallet’s Boks. He has had even more opportunities in the Super 14 with the Stormers but he’s less effective in the position than De Wet Barry who is essentially a defensive centre not a creator. Sorry but Jean has disappointed when away from the wing!

Ruan Pienaar may be the current Shark and media flavour but he is not a substitute for Fourie or Januarie, as he backs off every support situation he finds himself in and tends to give 80/20 failure passes when breaking and held. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t relish the idea of being in a ruck? Time will tell, he has undoubted flair but the heart should be showing now for him to be regarded as having the all around requirements of a top scrumhalf.

Next season the Cheetahs will become more than potential semi-finalists. For now it’s been a nice try with Ollie but I think he’s one hamburger past his sell by date.

The Sharks whinged like Poms over Jake White assisting the Cats. Shoot, Jake should be available to all the franchises. It was embarrassing! But then the Natal supporters were the very first to boo a kicker as well. If you could ask him Don Clarke would agree.

Unless the Cats coaching staff are dumped and a number of the players have drastic revisions to their contracts, they won’t even be able to beat the Southern Spears in a relegation game. Unless they substitute the Lions in their place and that would also be a close run result!

Please, please could the Springbok management and coaching staff and all the Super 14 team managements and staff stop being so negative about touring? If the players are tired drop them for those who are fit and ready like the All Blacks do and get a psychologist and tour planner in to make them all look forward to the tour. Fanie De Villiers was a great touring player because he made the effort to get out and meet the people of the country he was playing in and visit the interesting sites around the match venues. It seems all our teams try desperately to seclude themselves in private resorts where they can huddle indoors or play golf so it’s no wonder they get homesick – shame!


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