Editors Note


Volume 6, Week 8

Editors Note

Brilliant!      If you are a keen South African sports enthusiast you are probably close to being committed to the local looney bin. The mere mention of words like, Super 14, Southern Spears, Australia, Ponting, Warne, Lee and Woods will send a subliminal message to your already over sensitive brain and cascade you over the edge. Well, don’t read any further as they will definitely not allow Internet access or DSTV in a sanatorium.

The biggest political toffee in South African rugby at the moment is the million dollar question of what to do with the Spears? Their CEO is convinced they will do better than any of the current franchises and after watching 80 minutes of sheer frustration while the Cats did their utmost best to be completely incompetent who can blame him? But somehow like our cricket it is easy to identify the shortcomings in players and the team but a different story to provide a solution.

Logic and pre-season results dictate that the Spears will struggle to play in a competition where a slightly off par performances result in a hammering. Ernie Els is struggling with exactly that at the moment and he is one of the best ever players, with temperament, experience and a proven track record. Look at the Sharks, with 3 experienced players back in the fold (Venter, Smit and Brown) it is a different team compared to last years strugglers. Their coach (Muir) is a good one who has worked his way up through the ranks and in his first season found the going very tough, now it is a different story.

So, the Spears will have no Super 14 experience in the team unless they poach existing franchise’s players, who happen to be tied up in 3-year type contracts and a coach who doesn’t even have experience in the upper echelon of provincial rugby. Being thrown to the wolves? Is SARU for once actually NOT playing a political game but truly have a concern for the region, coach and players' welfare? This commentator would certainly like to think so.

Back to the Super rugby or in most cases, not so Super – the Sharks were unlucky to lose against the Hurricanes in shocking conditions and they will have nightmares of schoolboy type errors. Again, experience after a few seasons will assist in those situations and players learn a heck of a lot in this competition. The question posed, more often than not is do they learn and apply those hard earned lessons?

What is it with the Reds and their matches against South African sides? They contrive to play the most boring spoiling rugby imaginable. The Cheetahs did exceptionally well to hold off their determined attempt at beating the Sharks / Reds effort of a few seasons ago. It was almost more entertaining, watching some American dressed in a ridiculous outfit trying to hushfully imitate the mating sounds of deer so he can rid them of life on ESPN… maybe we should send the Reds to the Midwest.

This coming weekend, the Cats finally take a rest amid threats from their franchise chairman that players and coach are on some kind of probation and they will have inquiries blah blah blah. So what will they do? Sack them all? Apologies readers, but this is a yearly occurrence and every year supporters hear the same sh*t from administrators only to see exactly the same referees and players stuff up gloriously all over again. Now coaches, they need to worry… coaches get sacked and very quickly to. Administrators, well they only change roles over time.

Enjoy the weekend, the Sharks at home and the rest are away. The Bulls can rub it in at Auckland but somehow with the changes made by Meyer, it will be unlikely. The Stormers and Force could be a humdinger of the bottom kind, that is bottom of the log and not the kind in the riposte once made by Nick Faldo, ‘I would like to thank the press from the heart of my bottom!’ A difficult one awaits the Cheetahs and they will do well to keep within a bonus point. This writer will be at the Wanderers, hopefully watching some of the world’s best in action, like Lee, Warne and Ponting…



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 Back to Super 14 Rugby Desmond Organ
The Six Nations have come and gone and this armchair critic will be joining his peers in the Southern Hemisphere for the foreseeable future when it comes to providing weekly banter. The Heineken Cup etc just do not have the same level of appeal as the goings on in the Super 14. Perhaps another year or two in the midst of foul weather will change my mind, for the time being my focus will shift southwards.

Having not had the opportunity to watch the majority of the games it has been necessary to draw on the wisdom of those professionally occupied scribes who provide daily insights into the goings on in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. What a pleasure if there was the equivalent level of detail coming from outside South Africa. We really are an obsessive community when it comes to rugby, however we do tend to focus a lot more on what happens beyond our borders. There are no apologies then for the slight bias that might glow through in my weekly reports, simply put there is not enough information out there.

The most intriguing fixtures of the week from a South African perspective will undoubtedly be those between the Sharks and the Reds and the Cheetahs and the Waratahs. So much has been said about the revival in the Shark Tank, a number of narrow losses to teams abroad have raised the hopes of the local fans that a revival is on the cards. Although a run of home wins will not lead to a semi-final birth, it may well be an indicator of what is to come in the next year or so. The blend of youth and experience appears to be working and the praise heaped on Dick Muir by the likes of AJ Venter indicate that he is one of the few coaching gems in the Republic. The Cheetahs despite their limited resources are proving just why the Cats continue to be a shambles, they have won at home and away and a victory or two on the overseas tour will demonstrate just how bright a future Rassie Erasmus has.

My colleague on Rugby Forum predicted quite correctly that the Bulls were the only real South African hope for a semi-final birth. A stop start victory against the Farce and the narrow losses at home have made their overseas tour critical and there is no record to speak of when it comes to away wins and a victory against the Farce is also of trivial value. The Bulls have to win this weekend to have a realistic chance of progressing to the final four; it will establish them as contenders who have the ability to win against quality opposition. The Blues may have had a stop start season as well, but the Bulls need to win this one to build confidence for some of the more difficult fixtures that will follow.

We really do not know what to make of the Stormers, if the Sharks were the Guppies of the last few years then the Stormers are the drizzle of this year, despite all the talent at their disposal, they have not won their home matches and the difference between this team and the Cheetahs and Sharks is the quality of the coaching staff. Fortunately for the Stormers, they are not alone in the race for worst coaching staff of the Super 14. The Cats have an organisation that makes even the Stormers look semi-professional. Jake White must be extremely happy that he has a track record with his co coaches, the success rate of his peers in the Super 12 and 14 are not much to speak about. If Jake had the desire to change the group he works with, then Meyer, Muir and co would be high on his shopping list.

Of greater concern though is the lack of focus from Springbok players that find themselves languishing in the midst of the coaching chaos, losing repeatedly has negative impacts and no matter how professional the set up with Jake and co, there will be an impact on the players that have been with the coaches of the Cats and Stormers circus.

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