Editors Note


Volume 3, Week 27

Editors Note

Brilliant!     As the Springboks flunk yet another test and my use of “brilliant” is under more pressure than the record keeper of Wisden my thoughts strangely wonders to those affable Kalahari fellows in the Castrol GTX “can of the best” ads on television. What does this have to do with rugby, I hear some of you ask?

Well, for the sake of those who have not seen the ads; it is about two middle-aged guys sitting on a stoep, they own a dusty garage in between a little dorpie called Hotazel and some other Godforsaken town in the Kalahari dessert. Their laconic conversation, of course match up to their wretched existence in the middle of nowhere and all they have to say to one another are, “Ja boet…” and the unvarying reply of, “Ja swaer…” Still no idea what this has to do with rugby? Springbok rugby? Go figure.

The Wallabies overcame a spirited first half display by the Springboks to not only beat them convincingly on the field but also to deliver Oscar winning performances at press conferences afterwards. Russel Crowe look-alike, Brendan Cannon was paraded in front of world media like POW’s in Baghdad to display all his nasty wounds inflicted by the “disgrace to world rugby” Springboks.

Now, it may be true that Australia need to bolster support and viewership in the light of their two main oval ball rivals, “footy” and “league” but to resort to Jerry-Springer-trailer trash-melodramatic antics is a bit much for this rugby traditionalist. Yes, everybody likes charismatic interviewees who are never shy of a good quote or a joke but this was far removed and quite frankly, brought the game in disrepute just like the players who transgressed. They made their beds and were punished, what about Eddie Jones and George Gregan? 

The matter we hear, will be resolved at CEO level and once again, the Australians not only beat the Springboks up in the game but also win the boardroom battle and like Neville Chamberlain of old, Rian Oberholzer believes he achieved peace. It is time the “invisible” man of SA rugby shows some rugby leadership and not continue like Captain Smith who refused to believe a little iceberg could sink a (once) mighty ship or ship out.

What to make of the thuggery? The conflicting opinions obviously stem from each individual’s involvement with the great game of rugby. Mother’s will stare in ghastly silence and become even more determined to turn little Johnny into a cricketer, golfer or tennis player. Some, who played the game at club/provincial level before professionalism might chuckle surreptitiously and reminisce about the time they swatted some opposition player that was either too cheeky, too dirty or too darn good for thei r liking. 

Violence on the rugby pitch was, is and will always be part of the game. It is a hard, tough environment where inevitably physical contact is required to excel. Violence however should not equate to dirty play and this cannot be condoned and should be rooted out with determination. That said, there will be acts of thuggery and there is NO team in world rugby who can claim a lily white disciplinary record, least of all Australia, England, the All Blacks or the Springboks. The point is though, there is sanction and this is where the line should be drawn – the recommended sentences by the judiciaries must be enforced regardless and the quicker the same justice applies for all the better to rid the evil. Step in the IRB, whose mandate is to govern the game of rugby.

Saturday, the Springboks will take on the All Blacks, and this is one of the most important matches in recent history. The name of the Springbok has been dragged through the mud in public opinion and the rugby world will be as attentive as a first year student at his opening lecture. They have to produce a squeaky clean game while knowing that they do not possess the savvy or game plan to beat the All Blacks at an impregnable Dunedin stronghold. Between a rock and hard place…

The Springboks will not win this match, it is how they lose it that will be the focal point in re-addressing world opinion if possible. The all Blacks will not bleat in Australian fashion after the game but the signs will be there, on the field, for all to see. The current Springboks need to stand up and be counted, as the poorest national team in history they have a low base to work from so it should be relatively easy.



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Pious bleatings by Tom Marcellus
One of the benefits of being a sentimental old cove is that, at times of despair such as these, I am able to bury my snout in my collection of dusty rugby books that all shamelessly celebrate the exploits of the Boks when the little leaping antelope bestrode the rugby world like a veritable colossus.

Forced now to put up with one drubbing after another at the hands of those wild men from the South Pacific, and lately even from those pasty-faced pie-eaters who have to call Brighton a resort town, it does bring some consolation to be able to hark back to the good ol' days, when oom Boy, Danie, die Windhond & Co issued a few klaps far away from the prying eyes of the tele-reff, won the match in fine style, and probably scored a few local lasses down at the boozer afterwards too. Hmmmm. Actually I'm not so sure about that last part, and anyone who's seen a photo of Hennie Muller in all his gnarled glory will know what I'm talking about.

But let's get back to this week's hullabaloo about the shenanigans of those 2 cherub-faced choristers, Bobby Kempson and Bakkies Botha. As we meat-eating Japies have to continually remind our cousins from across the seas – city dwellers who ain't used to doin' a man's labour – rugger has and always will be a rough, physical occasionally brutal game in which, at test level at least, little or no quarter is ever given. 

This is not the "Beautiful Game" of Pele, Georgie Best and the other soccerite armpit-shavers, and although numerous other sports celebrate strength, grit, grace or speed, none are team sports that can even remotely compare to our oval game. These are what make rugby glorious.

I will never approve of eye-gougers, ball-bag biters and their ilk, and I do not agree with the fiendish deeds (if they are that) committed by the burly piano-player from Queenstown and his beanpole partner-in-crime. But does that mean I must put up with the incessant pious bleatings of those 2 pig-tailed pre-pubescents, Messrs Gregan and Jones? No, I say.

One must surely always maintain an element of objectivity, sympathy even, when assessing the goings-on down in the murky depths of the rucks and mauls of 16 overly-excited, sweaty, grubby, grizzled men, who happen to be playing for the pride and glory of their countries. Malicious intention must always be severely penalised – but do we have to be subjected to an outbreak of self-righteous spluttering after each and every on-field tiff? C'mon ladies: put down the hand-bags, let the judicial proces s takes its course, and let's get on with the next game. Res judicata, as my legal mates would mumble sombrely over their caffè lates.

But then maybe it's not for me to try and offer sage words on this issue. After all, it has backfired on me once before. Not being a pervert or a Norman No-Mates, I have never had much reason to frequent Internet chat-rooms, but I did happen upon one, shortly after the u21 World Cup last year, when that gang of nice Kiwi boys ran into a few grizzled "heavies" at a Joburg night-club, and forthwith ran squealing back to Mama. The gist of my well-intended advice was that "Afrika is nie vir sissies nie". 

The stream of abuse that poured in from across the Big Pond had me scurrying desperately for cover!

Perhaps the truth of the matter is simply too much for us to bear. Maybe those 2 hop-scotch playing nymphets in their gymslips are right and we are a nation of frustrated playground bullies, with little skill, panache or grace, let alone sense of sportsmanship? Maybe the unique history that forged present-day SA and that still affects us all – with all our fears and frailties – is now merely manifesting itself on the world stage in the form of our over-wrought sportsmen?

I have a headache – I must be thinking too hard.

All I know is that I had better run along home and double check the preparations for the weekend. Doors suitably barricaded, trenches dug, ammo pouches bulging.

Carisbrook, and the eternal foe…..

Much Ado About Nothing by Desmond Organ
If Saturday’s game against the Wallabies was the benchmark against which foul play should be judged then I guess the game of Rugby Union is quite comfortably a physical sport marred by a few occasional incidents of overzealous activity. Any people that have bothered to play the game at whatever level will have some story to tell of the physical battering that they received from the opposition. I am not for a minute condoning any acts of thuggery and am personally ashamed that the name of Springbok rugby has had to traverse another quagmire.

The fact that the events of the weekend happened relatively shortly after the Twickenham debacle should have people in the shadow of Table Mountain preparing a massive propaganda campaign to offset the whining of the games biggest showmen. That it was Eddie Jones and Clive Woodward that have called the shots is hardly surprising, the only difference is that Woodward has a winning record to bolster his actions; something that Jones would dearly love to have in his possession. It might just be a good idea to arrange a media conference solely for the two of them to practice their charade to perfection before the World Cup begins, that way the media will have the benefit of preparing in earnest at their side.

The Springboks have a dodgy record of late and the accusations that have come flooding in are not that different from what we have heard about the Argentineans and the French and the English and so on and so on. The most concerning aspect of the whole charade is the fact that it took SA Rugby almost four days to respond to the allegations, a poor effort if you consider the supposed mental pressure that the current team finds themselves in. However frustrating this may seem it is hardly surprising f or an organization that battles to communicate the national status of several players who are relying on the media to learn of the status of their employability.

The outbursts from the Australian media and the so-called leadership team is hardly surprising and one might just find a whole bunch of incidents that involve the men from down under that are not that dissimilar. This column is hardly the place to defend acts of thuggery and if the accusations can in any way be proved then the highest form of censure has got to be administered. Failure to do so will just result in another round of South African bashing from hordes of people who have yet to discover that South Africa is at the Southern tip of Africa and that Nelson Mandela has not only been released from prison but is a past President of a country that has largely come to terms with it’s past.

The pressure that the current team find themselves in is hardly surprising if the quality of their play is the benchmark against which they wish to be judged. The skill that is prevalent in the team is hardly being exploited and one gets the distinct impression that the changes that are needed in the leadership psyche are unlikely to be achieved before the World Cup. Perhaps what is needed is another calamitous defeat at the hands of the All Blacks to set the alarm bells in perpetual motion, it seems as i f that is the only recourse that the Springbok supporters can hope for. The endless mind boggling babble that emanates from the management has probably unearthed several more uninformed vehement anti South African pundits from beneath several undisturbed landmarks in various parts of the World.

Disappointing, as Saturdays performance was one can always turn ones thoughts to the achievements of the Proteas in their quest to banish the nightmare of the World Cup and the tarnished reputation of South African sportsmen following the match fixing allegations. It might just be a good idea to look for another leader as potentially gifted as the one that cricket has unearthed. Despite thoughts to the contrary and despite the need for several additional improvements one can only begin to believe t hat if the administrators of cricket can begin to get their act together then why not the administrators of the game of rugby.

Currie Cup Team of the Week: 





Casper Steyn



Breyton Paulse



Robbie Fleck



Jean De Villiers



Eddie Fredricks



Derick Hougaard

Blue Bulls


Bolla Conradie



Pietie Ferreira



Solly Tyibilika



Schalk Burger



Gerrie Britz



Boela Du Plooy



Eddie Andrews



John Smit 



Christo Bezuidenhout

Blue Bulls

Join the OFFICIAL SPRINGBOK SUPPORTERS CLUB by contacting 021-438-8185 during office hours or mail info@springboksupporters.co.za and take advantage of special offers, members discounts and great competitions and prizes!!

No improvements visible by Vinesh Naicker
The comments about the game in the weekend being a great game are a bit over the top. There was a level of excitement to the game because of how close it was for the first 55 minutes or so but it lost most of its appeal after Koen's second miss.

Mat Rogers has been quoted as saying that he now feels like that the Wallabies are playing somewhere near their potential. If that’s the case then they are in serious trouble for the Bledisloe Cup game and the World Cup. After the thrashings that both teams got from NZ in their last Tri-Nations games, the general feeling last week would have been that both teams had nowhere to go except up. Instead both chose the option of remaining exactly where they were.

The Springboks had a good game against the Wallabies first up, although they didn’t go down much in standard for the next game, they were totally outclassed by the All Blacks. That game highlighted the defensive frailties of the team, mostly in the backline. This aspect had not been readily apparent in the first game as Barry's spectacular first half tackling display had almost completely negated the need for his backline team-mates to tackle. On Saturday there was no visible improvement in the backline defence for the Boks.

I went in to the game supporting the Boks, because it’s nice to see anybody beat the Aussies these days. However, every time the Bok back line got the ball I was fearful that they would turn it over. I never once thought they looked dangerous in attack. My fears were realised when Koen's wayward pass allowed the Wallabies to score their first try. Juan Smith and Joe van Niekerk looked like they should be wearing the centres' jerseys instead of their flankers jerseys. They spent so much time taking the ball up outside the flyhalf channel that as a result there was a distinct lack of support play for the ball carrier. On numerous occasions momentum was lost because of the lateness in support arriving at the breakdown.

Koen had a bad game and I think it is time that Straeuli tried someone else at flyhalf. I’m not advocating that Koen not go to the World Cup but it is now obvious what he can and cannot do. With the Tri-Nations lost Straeuli has to see what variation another flyhalf can offer. As I noted last week it has now become apparent that this is what Mitchell has been striving to do, put together a team that can change tactics as required. Not based on having a player change his playing style, but by ha ving key players who can be interchanged, and who due to their own individual style of play change the game plan. Mitchell does this by having Thorn, Marshall and Mauger for a no-nonsense game, with Williams, Devine and Spencer for an open running game. Bearing in mind South Africa's limited resources Straeuli can emulate this to some degree by using vd Westhuizen and Koen versus De Kock and Pretorious. There don’t seem to be many options at mid-field better than Barry and Joubert who can play both a tight or loose game. The overall effectiveness of the backline will continue to be limited though until Paulse and Greeff are available.

The inclusion of Skinstad and AJ Venter on the bench to interchange with Wannenburg and Botha would probably be all the variation the forward pack would require. Until these players are available, and can be used to modify the Springbok game plan, the Springboks cannot be considered serious contenders for the World Cup

The Wallabies also seem to be coming to the end of the road. Despite Mat Rogers belief that they are now approaching their potential, I wasn’t able to see any improvements from the previous week. In the cold light of day they only scored two tries against a woeful Springbok backline. One of those was a gift intercept as well. Last week they scored three tries against the All Blacks. There was no improvement visible and if they had been playing NZ again instead of the Boks they would probably h ave shipped 50 points again.

It’s nice to see the Wallabies deluding themselves that they are improving and hopefully it will continue for another 3 months. The only player they have waiting to come back from injury is Mortlock and he alone is not going to fix their problems for them. 

Let’s see if the All Blacks and Springboks can step up a gear this weekend. The All Blacks need to maintain momentum because France and England won’t be as easy as the last two games. The Springboks have to improve to retain any hopes of being competitive against England.

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It wasn't so long ago when they (Wallabies) were the most sparkling combination in international rugby. Today, the opposition reads George like a book. Make that a short story. Make that a Fantales wrapper.    Mike Gibson

And if their players are going to get stuck into ours, then we are obviously going to get stuck into theirs. It will be a very fiery Test, because Australia are down, and we're down. Wounded animals are dangerous when they're down. You can expect a lot of niggle.    Joe van Niekerk

The Afrikaner wants to bully you so you have to get into them first before they get into you.    Taine Randell

They don't kick or eye-gouge but they are pretty borderline. Mind you, you have to be at that level.    Taine Randell

We're going into a country that understands tough rugby and that's what we talk about, we play tough rugby. We're never going to play like a bunch of sissies.      Gideon Sam, Springbok Manager

Ideally, though, critics should heed the instruction of St Augustine: love the sinner, hate the sin.     Spiro Zavos

The great Colin Meads, "Pinetree", would probably have spent half his career suspended with today's cameras. Name me a rugby player fan who doesn't admire the man.     Kiwi Phil, New Zealand

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

They don't come dumber than Van Niekerk 31/7/2003

I saw this in the SA press:

“Three players were sin-binned in 2002's bitter encounter and Van Niekerk said the South African players were expecting another fierce confrontation.

"If one of their players is going to get stuck into ours, then we're going to get stuck into theirs," he said.”

They don’t come dumber than this! Sure, get stuck in and pick up a yellow card. Why play with 15 men when you can lose a few players along the way by breaking the rules? 

The last game I bothered to go and watch (I have to find a pub here in Dallas or impose on a friend), was where Paulse punched his opponent after the tackle. Fortunately, no one but the cameras saw. I’m not interested in undisciplined players (Fleck take note!). Conceding penalties are unprofessional and an insult to supporters. I’ll become a Bok supporter again when I hear that they’re playing the ball and not the man. 

I was going to watch on Saturday, but after van Niekerk’s comment, I’ll rather listen to the cricket on BBC. At the least Smith is a real leader that disciplines his team and play for the honor of SA. I’ll check the BBC website afterwards to read about the SA players being yellow-carded and the many tries the Aussies scored while we were playing with 14 men. There is a total lack of brainpower among the rugby players, just huge egos. 

Feel better now!


Albert Meyer
Dallas, TX

Hi Lucas,

Boks v Aus 31/7/2003

Here we go again. 7 Changes to the team including Selborne Who. If this lightweight is tougher more aggressive and a better player than Bakkies Botha I will be absolutely amazed.

How come is it that Clive Woodward can stick with almost the same guys and build up a great team but our coach wants 15 new players each match.

Good luck to the guys on Saturday but this hotch potch is not a team which has drilled together and can possibly combine to deliver a convincing victory.

Drop Kick

Hi Lucas.

Hear those drumbeats? 5/8/2003

The Australian Wallabies proved over the last weekend that they are still the World Champs --- World Champion Whingers, that is.

I actually predicted in December last year that the Springboks' "dirty play" drum would get beaten from around August 2003, but I expected it to be coming from the England camp. Eddie Jones and George Gregan beat them to the intro of this percussion tune. But watch England jump onto the bandwagon before the start of the World Cup.

Saddest of all, their twisted psychology will actually have the desired effect on certain gullible referees and all-too-willing scribes.

Ja, Swaer. I see some hardships ahead for our poor downtrodden Boks, not to mention us long-suffering supporters. <Sigh>


Hi Lucas

Verskoning et al 6/8/2003

Eerstens, ja skuldig is ek, en ekskuus aan die menigte vroue en kindertjies hier ter plaatse en der plaatse (wêredwyd), vir kru en kragwoorde, waarvan sommige in die HAT voorkom en sommige nie. Vir Lucas en al die ander manne ook, sorry. Dis in oomblikkies van menslike swakheid skandelik "misbruik" om my misnoeë uit te druk met "Het Sprinbokken" se onbeskryflike, waansinnige vrot pogings op die rugbyveld. Sal nie weer nie, belowe.

Kys ou vriend, raadpleeg asseblief tog jou HAT en ruil gerus die ou "kompeuter" in vir 'n vinniger rekenaar. Benut liewer hierdie forum as 'n platform om rugby te gesels in plaas van karakterontleding en veroordeling. Ek is seker 'n oopkop man van oënskynlik suiwere en onbesproke inbors en karakter, sal gelyk gee en dit verstaan. Eintlik gaan dit hier uitsluitlik oor waarnemings en menings. Wat ons hier kwytraak is nie die alfa en omega nie, en mense, hou tog die kinders weg van die HAT, lelike woord jies daarin hoor, baie lelik.

George ou maat Zonder Van, dankie tog dat jy ons nie van insigloosheid ook beskuldig nie, hêng dankie man. Verbeel ek my of het ek iemand hoor sê die Blikore het die verbeelding, visie en oplossing vir ons rugby-probleme? Rêrig? George Z. V. jy het 'n punt beet, hou vas, wondere gebeur.

Genade tog! Foei, ek moet 'n smartvraat, 'n masochis wees om vernedering op vernedeing te sluk en terug te kom vir meer. Deur en deur 'n karaktertoets, glo my. Ek moet myself gedurig herinner aan Geloof, Hoop en Liefde, hierdie drie ja, vir ons rugby ook. Die liefde vir die spel sal bly en ons moet bly glo dat alles moontlik is maar die hoop beskaam en grens aan wanhoop. Een geluk is, die wiel sal draai, draai sal hy draai, maar ek dink iemand trap die dêm briek te hard, die ding staan stil. Dolfie, ou maat, die wa is dalk te swaar gelaai met te veel van alles en almal wat nie werk nie en die berg is steil. Sê tog net, erken dat hierdie gekheid net tydelik is en 'n bedrogspulletjie om die teenstand om die bos te lei, asseblief Dolfie, sê so! Kan ons nie dalk vir Graeme Smith oorhaal om rugby te speel nie? Vra maar net.

Op 'n meer ernstige noot dink ek ons moet erken dat daar waarneembare tekens van verbetering was teen die Oz. Wat onverblydend en kommerwekkend was, is die toenemende bevooroordeelde en stywe houding van die "blasé" blasers soos ou Paddy en kie teenoor die Bokke. Kyk, engeltjies is ons nie, maar hoekom gaan feitlik elke 50-50 situasie ten gunste van die teenstand. Ek wil vir Colin v. Rensburg tien uit tien gee vir sy waarneming van blatante skeids- en lynregter-foute in die stryd op Loftus. Die ho ogheilige houding van die onaantasbare arrogante skeidsregterspesie hou nou darem al te lank aan. Nou voel ek nie meer alleen nie, dankie Colin.

Laastens net dit, ek dink ons kan die All Blacks klop, ek voel dit in my ...my lyf en George Gregan kort minstens 'n geelkaart vir sy gesanik op die veld, en Paddy, Dickenson, Mchugh en die White Ingelsman elk 'n rooikaart vir hulle aandeel in al ons ellende en wroeging. Vir Eddie 'Moans" lees Jones, los ons uit, hy sal sy eie ondergang bewerkstellig.

Aan almal wat Saterdagoggend gaan kyk, sterkte en hou maar die hond buite, die vensters en deure toe, stuur die vrou vir inkopies, die kinders om te gaan speel en kry 'n voorrraad vlugsout of ander versterkings. Nogmaals sterkte.

Koos Carelse, sjoe, amper vergeet ek van my van.

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