Editors Note


Volume 3, Week 19

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Roy Williamson wrote unbeknownst to him one of the world’s most beautiful rugby anthems in the 1960’s, which became the de facto national anthem of the Scots played at all major sport events. I’m referring, of course to the “Flower of Scotland” and even though a myriad of Springbok supporters thought that after a cold day at Murrayfield they would not like to “see your like again” the kilted warriors are at our doorstep.

Personally, being at the Murrayfield slaughter last year where some might say the Springboks were “lucky” to get their 6 points on the day it is a song of stirring truths and inspiration. Some of the words are worth repeating for; the benefit of the 22 players pulling the green-and-gold jerseys over their heads as none of them were there that day in the starting line-up, “Those days are past now, And in the past they must remain”. The loyal Springbok supporters and this include the 5,000 or more that made the trip to Edinburgh, “But we can still rise now, And be the nation again”. And for this particular Springbok supporter the following will do “And sent him homeward, Tae think again”! It may be battle talk, however many a Springbok oldie will remind their younger brethren that to play a test match, is like going to war!

Enough thunder and lightning, Connor MacLeod the original Highlander and immortal might just be a rugby fanatic… Poor Percy Montgomery, the man shoves a touch judge for allegedly swearing at a teammate and he is docked a substantial amount of rands, six-month holiday and a two year suspended sentence. Now obviously, any physical action against an official cannot and should not be condoned and it is to the credit of the flaxen fullback that he took his sentence like a man. One small thought though a nd this is something that worries me, why did he shove the guy? The touch judge, it seems will be walking away from this having accomplished the previous impossible mission of upsetting a man who has stayed calm under intense pressure like being booed in his own country whilst playing for the Springboks in a test (he played 50 remember!?). Whatever you may think of Percy, this story stinks, there must have been some kind of provocation that made him lose his cool.

One of the most bizarre “stories” making headlines this week was that the Springboks were basically reduced to “imprudent children”; they are not allowed to drink alcohol, their wives and girlfriends are not allowed at the training camp (so no nooky), their cell phones were banished from all team activities and no pool or ping pong in the team room only workstations for research on the opponents etc. Ag shame… and the absolute pits is that Skinstad, Smit, Joost and Krige made these decisions in con junction with the management on a “Bosberaad”. One wonders what these guys were doing previously that such “harsh treatment” was mete out? Does the old maxim, “if you behave like a child you will be treated like a child” apply here? One wonders what James Small would have said about this… yet nobody could ever doubt his passion, commitment and importantly results on the pitch. 

This kind of experiment (for that is what it is), is in complete contrast to the Harry Viljoen regime who treated players like grown ups and professionals as he would businessmen in the boardroom and that, we all know backfired horribly. For this to work successfully in the opinion of this humble observer is for the other players to see the most capped and probably respected player to buy in to the concept. Joost. Since he is the captain and one of the instigators, this experiment might just lead to a solution rather than a Frankenstein.

The Australians are also facing one of their conquerors on their last European trip, Ireland on Saturday and this should be a fascinating match with the Ausies favourites to win at home against an Irish team devoid of their superstars. Another match worth mentioning is the French club championship final between Toulouse and Nick Mallett’s Stade Français on Saturday, it is his first year in charge of the Parisian club.

I will be making the trek to Durban on Saturday and next week readers can expect a first hand account of the happenings at the ABSA Stadium, hopefully there are no unsavoury incidents however Mr Joël Jutge of France might be forgiven for a nervous glance or two over his shoulder…



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Brave Heart by Desmond Organ
It has indeed been many years since the men from the North came to our shores and we are preparing as if they intend to do as much damage to our pride as they did several months ago. For decades we have felt comfortable against any Celtic challenge and now we find ourselves enacting all manner of psychological tactics to confront the opposition. Perhaps we can at last find something that stirs the hearts of those that don the Springbok jumper. 

Cell phones, wives, luxurious entertainment and a wagonload of support staff have been the order of the day for most of the post 1995 heroes. The Internet itself gave us relatively easy access to our heroes and did we thrive on it. In the last several months there have indeed been a number of subtle changes to the way in which we prepare for the seasons test matches. We have borrowed from the Aussies, attempted to imitate the English and in many ways lost touch with what it means to play for South Africa. 

Perhaps at last we have evolved from the flirtatious behaviour of the late 1990’s and come to terms with the fact that we can no longer simply rely on the glory of past seasons reputations. It is indeed with a great deal of anticipation that I await the outcomes of the next two weeks, simply because it is a brave man who would enter into the art of predictions. What stirs some anxiety is the potential make up of several combinations for Saturdays test. It is not that long ago that the combinations that start the match at stand off and first and second five eighths produced a somewhat pedestrian performance against the English.

What if anything has changed since then, the musical chairs that haunt the make up of the coaching and support staff is as present as ever and perhaps the most ironic is the fact that the Communications Manager is one of the few survivors from the last several years. Forget about the book that is potentially to be written by Tim Lane and wait with baited breaths for the one that surely must be forthcoming in the not too distant future. As many books as have been written there still seems to be a my stery to the successes of the team under Gary Teichmann and Nick Mallett's leadership and perhaps it is our inability to perpetuate success on a continuous basis that is so concerning.

The talk about the record of the Springboks at the World Cup is sobering only in as much as it allows one to ignore the realities of what has been going on. At least this year there has been a reward for form, however trivial that may seem in the light of the performances of our Super 12 teams. One thing is certain though, Straeuli will be judged on the basis of the results against Scotland. As was the case with Harry Viljoen and those before him, several rounds of limited success are not that appetizing to the pallet of the Springbok supporter.

The supporters at the end of the day however cynical are a product of the team that they support; predictable teams tend to have less cynical support. The case with the South Africans and New Zealanders is somewhat different as they expect the world from their players. The unfortunate reality is that it is the New Zealanders that can afford cynicism, for the South Africans the reality is that they should not expect the world from the players because under the current circumstances they just do not possess the necessary ability. Perhaps a successful start to the season will be tempered by the reality of the last few seasons, but then again it is a brave man indeed that would stand up and say that South Africa should not expect their team to beat the best.

As stated on so many occasions I will be looking for consistency and effective execution rather than a rampant Springbok team; at least I then get the opportunity to focus on the positive and fight off the negative. Saturday is an important game for South Africa, as it will set the scene for what is to come in the next several months.

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No good news for NZ this weekend by Vinesh Naicker
There were two games of interest on over the last weekend. The first was between the NZ Divisional 15 and Samoa. The second between the NZ Maori and Tonga.

The Divisional 15 is a great concept. The team is made up of players who played for NZ NPC sides in the second and third divisions last year. It acknowledges their contribution to NZ rugby and allows these players the opportunity to test themselves against international opposition. In some ways it is tacit recognition that the days when players could make the All Black team from the second or third division are gone. This year only one player got a contract to play Super 12 from a second division team. Next year it is unlikely that any will make it.

Samoa is starting their build up to the World Cup but face the problem that all the island nations do. The majority of their players play their rugby overseas and so their availability is subject to the whims of the teams that they are contracted to. Samoa had at least four or five first choice players missing from their team this weekend. They were, however, expected to beat the Divisional 15.

The game started off with a quick try to Samoa, but the Divisional 15 answered with good structured driving play. This enable them to score two good tries in the first half and go into the break up 18-5. In that half, the players, although all amateur, played like professionals. I don’t know what happened during the break, but when they came out in the second half, they forgot the structured game plan that had served them so well, and started to toss the ball around. Players like fullback Tim Manawatu, who on his first half play wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Super 12 team, would have struggled to make an under 12 age grade team on his second half performance. This sort of loose play suited the Samoans who took full advantage. In the end Samoa won 40-37, but neither team would have been pleased with their 80 minute form.

In the second game, NZ Maori took on Tonga as a prelude to their “test match” against England next week. Although winning the game 47-12 the Maori will have to improve vastly to trouble England. The Maori backline looked very good but the forward effort was disjointed and the Tongans, not renowned for their forward play, were much more successful than the Maori in their driving mauls. The Maori forwards will require a 400% improvement to compete against England and none of the forwards really advanced their claims for All Black honours.

We’ve probably all heard the news this week about Jonah Lomu, and the fact that his condition has taken a turn for the worse. The big guy has suffered kidney failure and is currently on dialysis awaiting a kidney transplant. Although he still harbours ambitions of playing in the World Cup, it is highly unlikely we will se him in a black jersey again. I, along with many people around the world, admire him for the pride, effort and passion that he has displayed for both NZ and the All Black jersey.

Although offered vast sums of money to play overseas, or to switch codes, Jonah has stuck with NZ through out his career. Over the years there have been so many things said about his work rate and his inability to turn and chase the ball. Despite this he has never lost his temper or had a harsh word to say to anyone in the media, he’s just taken it on the chin and got on with his job. When so many players are appearing in the media for their off the field antics, Jonah, probably the most famous of the lot, has been a shining example over the years.

As Kiwis we have always expected high standards from our All Blacks. In recent times though all we have asked for is our players to perform at the World Cup. We haven’t worried too much about the humiliations they suffered in between (1998 and 1999 being prime examples) as long as they fronted up at the World Cup. In my view, Jonah has been the only one who did so, both in 1995 and 1999. The All Blacks didn’t lose due to any lack of effort on his part at either tournament. My most enduring memories of him will be of three things.

Firstly, his almost single handed destruction of English dreams in the 1995 World Cup.

Secondly, at the 1999 World Cup, the way that he remained on the field and congratulated the French players on their victory, when all his team mates had immediately scuttled off. 

Thirdly, the way that he would invariably remain behind long after a game and sign autographs for all the adoring children.

Somehow, the rugby won’t be as good, now that Jonah will no longer be lurking out there on the wing.

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I'll keep a spare pair of boots for a Golden Oldies game in Bermuda.    Tim Horan on his retirement from rugby

If you are going for international status, there is a lot more to making it here than back home.    Stuart Abbott on being selected for England rather than the Springboks

A new coach doesn't charge in with his machine gun and panga and start chopping off everyone; you've got to respect people in positions while you learn about the environment.    Rudolf Straeuli

The fearsome Lurch-like Martin Johnson was chosen by Fran Cotton as captain of the successful 1997 Lions in South Africa for one reason only - he would terrify the opposition when he went in for the coin toss. On those grounds Geo Cronje is clearly the man for the Springbok job.    Mike Wills on the "criteria" for Springbok captaincy

What's going on? We have more sporting talent than Australia, but nowadays we hardly win anything.    Banele Sindani, chief executive of Athletics South Africa on the "sporting circus in the country"

Rugby is my life. I've never even received a yellow card, and I can't recall ever having punched someone on the field.    Percy Montgomery 

In the past there has been no process in place and it's just been a shambles.     Welsh Coach, Steve Hansen on recurring pay disputes.

How draconian is that? Everything in life is about balance. You have to understand that these guys are not just rugby players, and they have to have a life outside rugby.     John Eales on the restrictions in the Springbok camp

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

Re: Springbok squad...

There is no doubt that Rudolf Straeuli has chosen the best players for the Springbok squad, but does not place much emphasis on playing conditions to be encountered in Australia, i.e. sea level. 

There are twelve players from the High Veld: Gcobani Bobo (Lions), Louis Koen (Lions), Richard Bands (Blue Bulls), Danie Coetzee (Blue Bulls), Victor Matfield (Blue Bulls), Lawrence Sephaka (Lions), Hanyani Shimange (FS Cheetahs), Juan Smith (FS Cheetahs), Wikus van Heerden (Lions), Pedrie Wannenburg (Blue Bulls), Joost van der Westhuizen (Blue Bulls, Captain), Jaco van der Westhuyzen (Blue Bulls). 

Now there is too much *statistical evidence to suggest teams from the HV are handicapped at sea level, especially overseas. 

*The Sharks have the best record of all SA teams in OZ, winning 30% of their games - this weight of evidence can not be overlooked. 

This is a worrying factor...

Peter Waa,
Nairobi, Kenya

Hi Lucas

I really enjoy reading up all about the past super 12 rugby matches , and about the performances of various teams.....south african teams as well as over seas teams.

Although i'm staying now for the last 18 years in Kwazulu Natal , and support the Sharks as my second best team...lol...I will always be a Cheetah supporter , as I was born and raised in the Free-State......saw since I can remembered the rise and fall of the Free-State Rugby players....players like Edrich Krantz.....Wouter Hugo...Martiens le Roux....Rampie Stander...De Wet Ras....Barry Wolmarans..ect......brilliant players produced by the Free State Rugby Bond.

Through out the years....and its traceable through out in all the other provinces , Free State Rugby have and will always produce brilliant players...like exsiting players like Anton Pitout...Juan Smith.....Daan Human( WP)...ect.....but what really bothers me is the fact that although Free State Rugby have produced and still produced tallented players ...they , the Free State Rugby Bond is still recogniced..and treated like "underdogs"..or the black sheep in South African Rugby. Lets go to the Super 12 teams.....What is the Blue Bulls actually....its the "Northern Transvaal" or the Blou- Bulle Currie Cup players......the same with the Stormers.......who are the Stormers.........its the old WP rugby players or Currie Cup players.....the same with the Sharks.....its basically the Currie Cup players with here and there a player or two "borrowed" to form the Super 12 Shark....Blue-Bulls or Stormers teams. The same can be said about the Cats......they are basically the Golden Lions Currie Cup players with a couple of players from the Cheetahs to form the Cats team.......

My question and concern is that why cant they let the Cheetahs....North Free-State and Griquas form one Super 12 team.....like it was suggested by Free-State...Northen Free-State and Griquas Rugby boards.....I;m sure they as a Super 12 team will be able to produce and form one hell of a strong team which could and can give most of the existing Super 12 teams carrots....it will also enable players like Kennedy Tsimba to get use to tuff games like Super 12 series.....and all the other players.But they are thrown into the deep end like it happened to Kennedy Tsimba , and then al of a sudden he looks like a amature player.....and all of us know off hand what Kennedy's abillities are.....he is a footboller....good kicker.......try scorer....can feed his back line ect......To me ..for some unknown reason ...the South African Rugby Administrators or Board are to damn afraid to let the Cheetahs and their neighbours form one Super 12 team...cause they know for most of the years....and its traceable back for ma ny years....Free-State Rugby is the bond who are the feeder of brilliant players and springbok players.....back-line as well as forwards.....and its ashame to see that Free-State Ruby are treated....and will most probably still be treated as the "black sheep" in South African Rugby....as well as with the South African Selectors.

Thank you and keep up with the good work

George Havenga

Hi Lucas,

Me again from a rainy and wet Auckland, "hier in die land waar die eenoog koning is en mag ek by se wat RUGBY kan speel?" I wonder if you can put some light on the subject of;

When ever did a Springbok or even Springbok coach EVER think of something like a grubber kick through the defending opposition backline after running ourselves to smitterings against a "not able to penetrate" opposition backline?

When ever did a Springbok or even Springbok coach EVER think of something like that so-called "banana kick" Carlos Spencer did in the S12 final?

When ever did a Springbok or even Springbok coach EVER think of something like that high kick top the opposite side of the area of play coming down in the goal area for that fast winger or centers to pick up?

When ever did a Springbok or even Springbok coach EVER think of something like that High kick Spencer did that was such a close encounter giving them a try? 

When ever did a Springbok or even Springbok coach EVER think of something like that lineout move the Crusaders pulled that resulted in a try?

When ever did a Springbok or even Springbok coach EVER think of the type of support the Blue players gave each other during that Final? When one got nailed a mate or three was there in support?

You see, rugby is such a simple game and for the life of me I cannot understand what SA players and coaches find so difficult to understand? Its like playing CHESS, exactly the same! You must out think the opposition a couple of moves ahead, then draw them into the trap and so on. 

I'm a passionate and proud Springbok supporter in the heart of Auckland City and to prove that I started wearing my Bok beenie to the shops these days in Auckland as I feel we CAN win the RWC again and there is ONLY ONE way we will do this? to wear a Bok beenie in Auckland is like sitting with the lions! they will tear you apart soon! 

To play the way we played against the AB's in the Tri Nations game in Durban last year during that Van Zyl incident, remember that game? It was with GUTS, PASSION, PRIDE and pressure, pressure and pressure all along as well as support, support, support untill the ref blew us out of it! Look what support did for the Blues in the S12 Final? 

I remember Justin Marshall could not move his @rse then a flanker nailed him. In that game I for once saw some good rugby from the Boks, like a running backline, some good moves in the backline! If you forget everything else, just remember 2 very important things; PRESSURE and SUPPORT! thats all.

As for the team selected to play Scotland and the first couple of mid year Internationals, not to bad and may I add, its a blessing in disguise that "certain" players which I labeled the "YELLOW CARD AND HIGH TACKLE KINGS" are on the injury list. That is a good start if you ask me because they cause us Boks huge problems to play with 14 men for long periods and not to mention the penalties they give away? So, with all due respect I hope they STAY on the list, otherwise if they come off and get selected for the RWC, needless to say anything more?

"Ek weet nie so mooi nie Lucas. Ek probeer so hard om positief te bly maar magtag dis moeilik, want met die Bokke weet jy nooit nie. Met hulle voel ek altyd ek het verloor! Se my, hoekom word daar gese ons sukkel met senters terwyl Andre snyman en Trevor Halstead daar is? Sover dit my betref is hulle eenvoudig die beste
wat ons het! Tenminste is hulle nie "YELLOW CArD AND HIGH TACKLE KINGS" nie?"

Nag ou Grote. tot later dan.

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