Editors Note


Volume 6, Week 5

Editors Note

Brilliant!      The rugby season is in full swing and after four rounds of Super 14 action there is very little to suggest that bigger is better. For the South African sides that is. The familiar feeling of being outthought, outmaneuvered and outplayed is as prevalent now as in the past decade, in other words, nothing has changed.

Victories are but a figment and the chances are much better that yet another Academy Award will find its way home than one of the current franchises triumphing in our national sport. Maybe we should turn our money and enthusiasm over to the dramatic arts. Heck, the actors are far better looking… who will not fancy a scrum down with Charlize Theron?!

The pacesetters as usual are the Kiwis and in the Crusaders, they possess probably the best all-round rugby team ever to grace the playing fields. Hardly ever has there been such consistency in quality performance where the team and their superstars combine effortlessly. Never is the individual greater as the team yet, the team allow and perpetuate individual greatness.

Of the other contenders, the Hurricanes ran into an unexpected glitch in Bloemfontein, that most unforgiving of host cities, after making their title aspirations clear in the first few weeks. Rassie Erasmus’ men and the name of Juan Smith ranks high on the list of hero’s produced the type of upset that will make this competition worth supporting. In a similar way to Scotland’s magnificent victories over France and England, the unfancied lot managed to do the unthinkable and upset the applecart. A lot of credit to the Cheetahs, the victory was an extraordinary one and it will hopefully be the catalyst that will boast their confidence and make them strive for more. The Hurricanes though are a very good side this year and they will definitely contend come play offs.

The Waratahs, again displayed their attacking nous coupled with good forward power, when watching this team it is difficult to understand the Australian international woes in this department. Last year, they were one of the stronger forward dominating teams in the Super 12 and with Rogers, Tuqiri et al there are quality backs to finish off. The Brumbies have their kingpin and probably most valuable player in Australia, back and firing – Stephen Larkham. The genius of Larkham and Smith is undeniably the reason for the success of this franchise over the years and at this stage of the comp, they look very dangerous indeed.

The South African sides are a bit of an embarrassment, the Stormers were absolutely pathetic and one can only wonder about a young coaching staff with little or no experience of rugby at this level. The players though must take responsibility for their actions, there are too many free rides in this team and superstar Schalk Burger must carefully evaluate his game and the intelligence with what he plays it. It is no longer good enough to have a phenomenal work rate but being outthought by the opposition. He needs to become smarter in his application. Greeff and Theron, how many opportunities are players afforded? Everybody in the Western Cape is aware of Theron’s handling deficiencies yet he still makes them on a weekly basis or rather he is allowed to make them on a weekly basis at this level. He should not be discarded lightly, he should be violently dismissed!

The Cats were just as poor in their game and the coach is definitely out of his depth despite having a long injury list to key personnel. There is no chutzpah to make changes and dare to win, despite the heroics of Wikus van Heerden who tirelessly fights for the cause every week and hopefully he gets to the massage/physio table first for his troubles. The Cats seem to have no ambition and zero interest.

This coming weekend, will be yet another bumper edition for rugby followers, Six Nation deciders and Super 14. Enjoy watching the great teams out there.



Visit www.rugbyforum.co.za

  No Surprise? by Desmond Organ
If the last two weeks of rugby are anything to go by then the various pundits that comment on the game have made a few mistakes in their predictions. Hindsight is always advantageous when writing a column and the freelancer or hack as some refer to those of us that are not rewarded with a salary it is indeed pleasing to look back and say, so you got a few things wrong then.

Scotland and France have been the real surprises in the Six Nations and for completely different reasons, Scotland for taking out France and England and France for being able to demonstrate Kiwi dominance only to fall apart at the seams on several occasions. Scotland has really been the surprise package and for the simple reason that they are an unknown commodity. Much like Jake White and his rush defence was held in awe for a period of time, so to has the do or die attitude of the Scots. England turned up and failed and that is not a statement of disrespect for the Scottish or the Italians.

There have been signs for a number of weeks that the sluggish and predictable nature of the England backs would be their nemesis. Mark Keohane called it right at the beginning of the season when hr said that Noon and Tindall do not offer the kind of variety that is required to dominate and he has been spot on. Injuries to Stuart Abbott and the continued absence of Wilkinson have not helped their cause at all. England are dominating, or supposedly so in the forwards and their backs are not running riot. No surprises there and I would also question the timing of the reference to the English forwards. Their so-called re-emergence may be more appropriate as they achieved it against the All Blacks and Australians who are not exactly benchmarks.

Wales, well the less said the better, victorious a year ago and now it all looks like they are falling apart at the seams. Injuries have not helped their cause but this is no excuse for a team that had aspirations to be one of the contenders at the World Cup. Throw in the coaching turmoil and the previous comments of Gavin Henson and it is not that surprising at all. Ruddock was the discipline and his successor is probably more suited to Bondi Beach than taking the Welsh team to the World Cup. How convenient is it that he will probably return to Australia to assist the new national coach there. South Africa and New Zealand may well be hoping for such an outcome.

Back in the Southern Hemisphere there has been plenty to talk about; New Zealand teams are stuttering in the Super 14 and still winning over 80% of the games that they contest. South African teams are losing at home and abroad and grabbing a few bonus points here and there. So far so good for the Bulls despite the predictions at the beginning of the season, this time a well done for Lucas our editor who predicted that they were the only team with the depth to hold their own. I hope this continues for the sake of the national team. The Sharks are demonstrating that they have the youth structures in place and the Cats could very well be the team that languishes at the bottom as far as the South African teams are concerned. The Cheetahs still have to tour and they could well find themselves close to the Stormers as never rams.

Dick Muir has unveiled some bright new talent and despite the negativity around the Sharks as a result of the return of Kamp Staalgraad there is reason for their fans to be upbeat. Firstly they look to have a better future than the Stormers and Mr Hoskins is in “charge” of South African rugby. It was a real pleasure to watch the Wildebeeste hand a big hiding to the so-called second stringers from Cape Town. It must be really depressing to go to Newlands these days as a supporter, you either witness the Bulls stampeding over the Super 14 side or the Wildebeeste stomping all over the Vodacom Cup side.

Subscribe to Sharkmail, weekly E-Zine sent to you from the heart of Natal Sharks Rugby. Get the latest news and competitions. Subscribe at sharksrugby@mweb.co.za

Copyright 2006 Rugby Forum. All rights reserved. This e-mail may be freely distributed, provided that the document is left in its original form. Submissions are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the editor or owner.