Editors Note


Volume 6, Week 23

Editors Note

Brilliant!    Yet another rugby season has flown past quicker than an ANC heavy’s prison sentence. The year 2006 did not produce much to celebrate about for Springbok rugby especially when the dreaded 3rd year ‘act-like-an-idiot’ curse on the Springbok coach raised its ugly head again.

The last decade of end-of-year tours has been an intense disappointment for Springbok supporters and players alike. This year was no different except for a victory over England at Twickenham and that is no small feat. Yes, England is truly horrible at the moment but the confidence value of a victory at ‘headquarters’ for players and coaches are immeasurable.

The first test was probably one of the bigger disappointments in years since the Springboks were leading, they were looking good with Butch James dominating and there were even spilt tries but then they snuffed it. England to their disjointed credit never gave up in front of a capacity Twickenham crowd and a fortuitous injury to Hodgson led to a remarkable revival and victory.

There were a few Springbok positives from the match, the performances of young Francois Steyn and Danie Rossouw, BJ Botha in the front row and the knowledge that England could be beaten.

Fast forward a week later and the Springboks did just that, they played some smart rugby to clinch their first victory on English soil for 10 years. Andre Pretorius played a big role and again the forwards held their own with Danie Rossouw rampant at no 8. Kabamba Floors did his bit but was not outstanding, something that is very difficult to achieve in your first test. It was a very good performance against a dour effort from England. Since then, their coach, Andy Robinson has paid the price and he resigned, with the help of a few million little pushes.

The Springboks and supporters were understandably elated although the victory must be put into perspective. The lack of try crafting is alarming however; this old scrumhalf puts the blame firmly in front of Enrico Januarie. There is no other scrumhalf in world rugby who is as poor as he is in the scrumhalf basics. He cannot kick from the base of the scrum and he cannot pass to the right hand side, he shuffles a few steps and his long pass is inaccurate. It robs the playmakers of valuable decision making time.

The little man actually had a good second test against England and his nuggety defence and terrier like attitude counts for a lot BUT Jake White will have to seriously consider the bigger picture and this player’s limited contribution. His inclusion above Ruan Pienaar is a disgrace and smacks of tokenism. Pienaar displayed in a very short time against the World XV what a classy scrumhalf and all round player he is. He can effectively slot in at any position in the backline and if Fourie du Preez remains number 1, who makes more sense to have as number 2 sitting on the bench, someone who can cover all backline positions, or a specialist (half a) scrumhalf?

In the modern game, the bench is vital and having two players to cover all backline positions instead of 1 scrumhalf and 2 utilities will mean extra forward cover. You do the math's…

A quick word on the new sensation - Francois Steyn. He is immensely talented and this reader remembered a fiery Sharks supporter punting this ‘phenomenal raw’ talent on a site before the Currie Cup semi-final and predicting he will be a Springbok soon. It happened barely a few months after the prophetic words and he has shown that all is required is a coach with some vision and an opportunity.

Jake White, has been retained as coach to the World Cup however he seriously needs to consider his options and selections. There is a dire need for position specific coaching (since they will pursue with Januarie) and the like of Steyn will profit handsomely should the great Andre Joubert be included as a mentor/coach. Who cares if the coaching team exceeds the size of a rapper’s entourage, as long as there is progress and victories. Oh yes and this writer's biggest Xmas wish is for a decent backline coach. Can we swap Sheryl for say Carl du Plessis?

This is the final edition of RF for the year. It has been a bit of a nightmare year for writing and reporting. In this case it’s not just the Springboks fault but this writer’s move to Johannesburg created a different burden on time behind the keyboard. Hopefully next year, things will improve and over the festive season, a big decision must be made to continue with RF in its current e-mail form or to move to a ‘blog’ format. You the reader, has an important say in the matter and your views will be appreciated, please mail to the usual address.

Enjoy the festive season and be safe!



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Season Ending by Vinesh Naicker

Well at last the rugby is season is over. It’s been a long season and a good one for the All Blacks and their supporters.

The season started off with the Super 14, I was skeptical about whether the expanded competition would be better than the old Super 12 and I was right. Although having an extra team each is undoubtedly better for both Australia and South Africa they are not good for the competition. The two new teams were rubbish and now it just means that South Africa and Australia both have two teams each to prop up the bottom of the table. I watched less Super rugby this season than I ever have before, despite having season tickets. I didn’t watch more than two games a weekend as the quality wasn’t there and I had better things to do.

I’m pretty sure that the Crusaders won again but I couldn’t tell you without looking it up who came second third or fourth. Super rugby has become fast food rugby, you might watch the game in the weekend to get a quick rugby fix but you will have forgotten about it come Monday. It will neither engender any lasting emotions or enduring memories.

There has been some complaints about NZ resting players for the first seven rounds of the competition next year and that it will reduce the spectacle of the rugby. Although the complaints have some merit if we are all honest about it the quality of Super 14 rugby is low anyway and the first few rounds are usually rubbish too. I’m also willing to bet that a NZ team will win the competition again anyway so it’s not as if the lack of All Blacks will take the shine of an inaugural win by the Waratahs or Bulls.

The Super 14 was followed by the Tri Nations and if you thought the Super 12 had been diluted then the Tri Nations was 20 times worse. The greed of the NZ rugby union, the churlishness of the Australian rugby union and the stupidity of the South African rugby union meant that Argentina and the Pacific Islands were denied entry into the competition. So instead of seeing some variety in the competition and giving these deserving countries a helping hand we are going to be subjected to rugby re-runs.

This year I didn’t bother watching the three Boks versus Wallabies games or the third AB’s versus Boks games and I’m sure most South Africans wouldn’t have bothered watching the Bledisloe games. I’m pretty sure it will be the same again next year.

The Springboks versus the All Blacks has lost its mystique since they play so often. This isn’t helped by the documented fact that the Boks are woeful away from home, seemingly ready to burst into tears and fall apart every time they climb on a plane. Until this changes the only way the Boks are ever going to win the Tri Nations again is if they play NZ twice in Africa beat Australia once away and win all their home games. I can’t realistically see them ever winning two games in NZ so you can write them off as winning next years Tri Nations.

I’m not sure why anybody thought that we would want to see the Bledisloe Cup contested over three games. The only reason the Bledisloe Cup has gained some notoriety is that in 1998 Australia won it in a three test series. The All Black team they were playing against was “Hart’s halfwits”, who were indisputably the worst All Black team in history, losing a record number of test matches in a row and notching up the worst points loss ever before plummeting to a lowly fourth at the World Cup. After that, all Bledisloe Cup series were only two games and if NZ lost either game then they couldn’t regain the Cup. THIS is where the challenge was because for so many years NZ kept falling over at the final hurdle, enhancing their new reputation as chokers. Once NZ won actually won the Cup back, it was obvious to everyone that Australia were highly unlikely to ever win two test matches back to back (unless they had a great team and were once again playing a team of the ilk of Hart’s halfwits). Even in a three match series the Cup is likely to stay with NZ 9 times out of 10 so the contest is going to quickly lose its notoriety.

The All Blacks have been in superlative form this year only going down once to the Boks and sweeping all others before them. They have been a joy to watch for every supporter and Henry’s squad system has obviously been a success. There have been snide comments about them peaking early as they always seem to do and there will be quite a few upset people if they don’t win next years World Cup. BUT for the first time ever I can say that I won’t be one of them. Why?

Well I read something a few weeks ago which made me think. If I had a choice between my team getting up for one tournament and then being shite for the next three years (ala England) or having my team consistently win 9 out of 10 test matches against top calibre nations then I’m going to choose the latter. I’m not a football fan, I don’t want to watch my team play friendly’s while they wait for the World Cup to come around every four years. I want to watch them kick arse 9 out of 10 times, thank you very much. Call them chokers all you want but a win at next years World Cup would just be icing on the cake for me.

My final comments are reserved for the Welsh debacle and the place of the haka. Nobody in living memory has seen a great Welsh rugby team or even seen them beat an All Black team even the supposedly great team of the 70’s couldn’t beat an average All Black team. The Welsh are always talking the talk but never walking the walk. Wales were never going to beat the All Blacks last week and to upset them by trying to mess with the haka was plain stupid. The Welsh were just lucky the AB’s got over it at half time and didn’t bother showing up for the second half or they could have seen a 60-3 scoreline.

Having said that, I think the haka is done too often now. It has evolved from a bunch of white boys doing it as a bit of a lark to actually meaning something to both the players and the NZ fans. Some opponents are getting all bent out of shape over it, especially as the All Blacks are winning so often. They seem to think that facing the haka is unfair and possibly it does, although if that is their justification for losing then I don’t know why they bother showing up in the first place. I think that The All Blacks need to have a rethink about the place of the haka. It should still be done just before the match starts but they should only do the haka for worthy opponents. That way teams which face the haka will feel honoured to face it as they know the All Blacks respect them and hence would be just as amped up as the All Blacks. So no perceived psychological advantage would accrue to the All Blacks. Based on this philosophy only the Boks for their first home game, the Wallabies for their home game, the English and the French for their first test match would have faced the haka this year. Rugby minnows such as the Welsh would not have needed to concern themselves with countering it. Problem solved.

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