Editors Note


Volume 6, Week 15

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Not at all!      This column can degenerate into a really big whinge about the Springboks performance on Saturday against the Wallabies. As a veteran first hand observer of the biggest ever defeat in history at Twickenham (see www.rugbyforum.co.za/Vol2Week42.html) there are at least a few things to be thankful for and not to whinge.

Like; lying on my couch, in my own home, dry and tucked up with the world of channel TV where the mating habits of the South Sea seal on Animal Planet made for far more spectacular viewing than the slop dished up by the national team. But this column will not whinge.

The mere fact that there was no attempt at points and not even enough spirit in the side to give a few of the Aussies a good ‘klap’ or two is of serious concern. At least, at the Twickenham massacre, the Springboks won the fight with Corne Krige meting out punishment in equal measure to friend and foe. And big Rudi in his gruff voice telling/asking the collected cut throat fifth estate of the British Isles after they questioned the dirty play of the Springboks, ‘Andre (Pretorius) broke his jaw, do you think we injure our own players?’ At this point Corne Krige’s eyes casted down very quickly and remained there. But no whinging.

Then there is the poor sportsmanship to criticize the official after the match as if Honiss himself had drop the ball on his 10 yard line and claimed a drop kick attempt? Or as if Honiss looked up 5 yards from his tryline to drop an up-and-under in his 77th test. What about Honiss’ cynical slap down of the ball down to ‘save’ a 5-pointer. Oh yes and the few occasions where Honiss decided that the infant game of ‘open games’ be resurrected while Giteau acted the play ground bully and jogged through the serrated ‘rush’ defence. And lastly Honiss’ scrumming, as the big focal point before the game it was nothing near dominating. But it will be really bad to whinge.

In all seriousness, for a team that boasted more than enough experience; a flyhalf who has won a Tri Nations medal, a national record holding point scorer, the second most capped captain in Springbok history and a Tri Nations and World Cup winner in its midst, this was a p*ss poor effort. One guessthat whinging will do no good, the positives require analysis and this column does not whinge.

What positives? Well Ondungane was not bad. Du Preez saved even worse blushes with excellent commitment and defence – it was his best performance in the green-and-gold this year. There was some excellent work by the medical staff to patch up Smith. The water carriers ran up with gusto and the mascot sat up quite neatly. Obviously plenty to be positive about for this week’s clash against the All Blacks, who fields another changed team.

Ok, so what is the fallout from this match? Jaco van der Westhuizen should not be selected again in a Springbok no 10 jersey – ever! He can be played as backup to poor Percy although the grand old man also had a shocker and once there is no points opportunities, what value does he add? The rumour of Springbok forward dominance is exactly that – a rumour but then that is not even a debated point in this column anymore, it is a given that the Springboks and anybody else for that matter live under a huge illusion that the green-and-gold is a dominant forward powerhouse.

The one thing that should remain, funny enough is Jake White – but if this was not an attitude-adjustment-kick-up-the-behind then we will never know what is. Mistakes have been made, and he is not suddenly a bad coach in fact he is a very good coach. What is required is a re-think of his personnel, playing tactics and more importantly the opposition. International rugby will never be stagnant and 2 years is an incredibly long time with scores of assistants and analysts etc. available to decipher plans and provide antidotes and solutions. The Springboks have stagnated and with the loss of key personnel, the talent level is down and the commitment suspect.

Will it come right? It has to! There is way too much at stake here and yes, it is difficult to win away and yes, England suffered a worse defeat and won the World Cup BUT it was with their B team and not the so-called best available and 'fastest' team White has ever coached. In following the Springboks in 2004, this writer listened to Jake White on numerous occasions and found him to be insightful, humble and well spoken with a refreshing honesty that put him in some trouble. This writer wants that Jake back and then we will hopefully see the results.

Good luck to the Springboks this weekend, hell knows they need it because a second defeat of that proportion will break this team, the pressure will be unbearable and the 3rd year Springbok coach curse will intensify. Try and enjoy the game this writer will be on the golf course.



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 Falling Through the Ice by Desmond Organ

A month ago I wrote a piece claiming that Jake White was walking on thin ice, well the ice has cracked and he and his band of merry men are swimming in sub zero temperatures. Last week’s debacle was not witnessed in person; a leisurely stroll along Sumkhavit Road in Bangkok was preferred. I started watching the game knowing in the back of my mind that we were on a hiding to nothing; the rush defence is old news, the lack of imagination clear for all to see and quite frankly a more dismal commitment than the hammering at Twickenham.

I remember the anguish of Twickenham and the feeling that players had given up and yet I still feel that 14 men at Twickenham showed more character than the fifteen that showed up in Brisbane. How much has really changed, has the last two years been a flirtation or are we really destined to be fifth or sixth best in the world. My humble opinion is that we are second world when it comes to rugby and third world when it comes to dealing with the reality of being second world. Jake White has finally tripped over his own tongue and the politicians are waiting in the wings to transform the game to a new level of mediocrity.

The unrealistic and robust patriotism that surrounds Springbok rugby is really all that most of us have to hold on to. I do remember feeling absolutely gutted that we had suffered our biggest humiliation in the history of Springbok rugby. Great deals of sympathy has been expressed by the media as a whole, but let’s face reality, this is the worst beating that we have ever had. No Springbok team has suffered such a humiliation. Jake White has taken a gamble by playing the media and now it has backfired, dreadlocks, transformation, Cheeky Watson and all the rest.

Reality tells us that the game plan has not changed in two years and the rest of the rugby playing nations have caught up with it. Naas Botha said on Boots and All that the playing pattern was too predictable and the players had become preoccupied with a particular playing pattern, the lack of players able to think on their feet and change a game is evident, where are the like of Ruan Pienaar, Brent Russell, Schalk Brtiz and Luke Watson. Jake has become as stereotypical as those that came before him. He talks about the absence of certain players and yet he has done very little to invest in players outside of his chosen community.

Casting the net far and wide with a commitment to excellence, transformation and results is the way forward. Jake has a point when he says that the Super 14 teams are not playing in the interests of Springbok rugby. He has a point but so do the fans and the coaches when they produce quality players who are simply ignored on the basis that they are not part of the group that has been defined as essential to winning the World Cup. Jake White took control just over two years ago and in that time he has as much culpability for playing the same players again and again. Dick Muir and Rassie Erasmus have gone for a two tier approach and it seems to be paying dividends.

The media fracas around Solly Tybilika is a case in point, he is unfairly undermined by the national coach and he has every right to complain about it, he does however also have a responsibility to go out there and deliver. It is all too easy for the media to berate Dick Muir for not playing him in the Super 14 and then to turn around and say that he is not Springbok material because he could not make the Wildebeeste starting 15. The reality is that Solly Tybilika is not in the top 5 in his position in the country and playing him in the national squad has a lot to do with affirmative action or transformation as we like to call it.

Parliament have now got an issue to rant and rave about, it would have been far better if we had left them in their slumber in the Houses of Parliament, now we have woken up the dinosaurs that run the country and given them another reason to bury the tradition of what was Springbok rugby.

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