Editors Note


Volume 3, Week 28

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Have you ever had that feeling of being in between a rock and a hard place, knowing that whatever you say, it is not going to sound right? Well dear readers, this week is one of those times and like old Hugh Grant after the whole Devine story it is probably best to keep your mouth shut, or the pen dry but then we would not have a forum would we?

The much-maligned Springboks produced an improved performance from the previous two outings to lose at Carisbrook deep in the South of New Zealand. There is very little disgrace in losing at this ground as statistics, history the whole toot points against visiting international teams winning a test match at the aptly named “House of Pain”. There was one problem though for this armchair critic; a game plan that produced very little chance of ever winning the match and rather looked focused on keeping the score down.

It is probably difficult to blame Rudolf Straeuli with his history as coach of the 4 worst defeats in Springbok history; the only record missing in his unenviable CV is against Australia. The Springboks played the most boring, unimaginative, stereotyped, ineffectual rugby seen in a long time. The plan was clear, make it “physical” around the fringes, maybe the All Blacks will crack and let them through after being hammered for 80 minutes. In selecting Brad Thorne, Mark Hammett and Justin Marshall, Mitchell was well equipped to deal with the onslaughts. Never did the Springboks look like they were going to breach one of the best defences in world rugby and if that is how they plan to beat England, the best defensive side of them all. Ha ha ha! 

The Richard Bands try might be pointed out as a breach and justification of the tactics, rubbish… look at what happened before the try, Ashwin Willemse ran at full speed after gathering a “tactical” kick and the forwards, for once as a unit rucked over the All Blacks and Joost managed both a quick and accurate pass (probably his only of the game) to the marauding Bulls prop. How many pick and runs were there in the move? Zilch. The try was also a unique occurrence, a one in a thousand opportunity that will not present itself again in this decade, although any replay of a prop running in this fashion is food for a rugby soul! No offence Richard, it was an absolute brilliant effort but totally out of the blue.

As for the rest of the match, excellent ball carrying players like Joe van Niekerk and Juan Smith was forced back into the highly congested area to make a few “hard yards”, whoop di do, unless you get over the tryline, possession or number of phases counts for naught in the final analysis or “looks at the scoreboard” part of the game. There were ample opportunities screaming at the Springboks to spread it wide but alas a game plan took precedence over plain common sense. 

There were positives to take from this match; the defence of the Springboks was brilliant and the way every player stuck to the game plan regardless of how against the grain was a lot more disciplined than the previous few weeks. 

This weekend will see the celebration of a 100 years of Trans Tasman rivalry and the All Blacks are firm favourites to win the Bledisloe Cup for the first time since 1997. It is almost unbelievable that a team as good as the All Blacks have been without their premier trophy, once regarded as sole New Zealand property, for so long. The two test format and the odds on international results between two of the best three teams in the world going one way being the main reason. New Zealand may have the better all round team of the two but this match will prove if they have the better all round BMT, as this is where better teams than the class of 2003 have failed in the past.

Enjoy the weekend.



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Currie Cup Hopefuls by Desmond Organ
From a South African perspective the Currie Cup has in the past always been a barometer of the state of the game; these days however it is becoming more of an indication of how the game is being mismanaged. Bold words indeed but not so bold if placed in the context of the performances of our teams in the Super 12 and Tri Nations in the last several years and perhaps even revolutionary if one looks at the Northern Hemisphere tour of 2002.

What then is all the excitement in the local press regarding the return of the die-hard fans and the quality of the games that were played over the last two weekends? The drivel that was dished up at Newlands a fortnight ago, followed by the aimless kicking expo at Ellis Park have shown that in reality the administrators are not leveraging the talent that exists at U 21 level. Perhaps the time has indeed come for a more revolutionary idealist to be employed as the national coach.

The raw talent that has been put on display at two of the lesser World Cups in the last two years cannot be denied, despite the apparent growing gap between the top schoolboy side in the country and other pretenders to this unofficial national championship title. The problems that befall the players from an administrative and a skills perspective are not being remedied, indeed many of the problems that are prevalent in schoolboys are finding their way into the clubs and Provincial teams. I scoffed at the so-called suggestion made by Jake White that the Springbok team should be playing virtual reality games to improve their decision-making and technical skills.

Perhaps the point was not so much that this was the solution to the failure of skilled schoolboys to be molded into future Springboks, it is the reality that there are not enough forward thinking administrators and coaches in the country. The apologists will provide a list of reasons from insularism to bad coaching at youth level. The reality is that any person who has had the opportunity to follow the game at youth level in South Africa cannot deny the fact that we are probably unsurpassed at this level. The New Zealanders would argue differently but I would find it hard to believe that there are many schools that could keep pace with the top 20 South African schools outside of New Zealand and possibly Australia. 

That is not to say that all top 20 schools in South Africa would beat any opposition in the rest of the world, the point is that the level of competitiveness in this group in South Africa is quite remarkable. You simply have to look at several Internet sports publications to realise the importance of the schoolboy game in South Africa. The Craven week is a national treasure that has helped market the game for decades and should hopefully be used as a model to get the transition to more senior level s out of the gutter and back where it belongs.

The sad reality is that if you look at the skills deficiency in the Springbok team you cannot help but admit that it does not look like the players have been coached since they left High School. It almost looks like they have been detrimentally affected by the coaching at senior level. Several of the stars in the team are players that were quite brilliant at High School level. The statisticians would beg to differ with random samples of the number of players that have progressed from Craven week to the national side. Moot point because it means that the really skilled players are more often than not always going to make a mark at more senior levels.

What then is one to make of the Currie Cup Evangelists that prowl cyber space and the more traditional forms of media propaganda? Quite simply put they are marketing a product that ensures that they have weekly soap opera titles at their disposal, nothing better than a scandal or two to divert the attention of the die-hard fans. So perhaps the time has indeed come for the less traditional thinkers to lead the game out of the abyss that it currently finds itself in, and if that includes the acquisit ion of several multimedia devices so be it.

Currie Cup Team of the Week





Johan Roets

Blue Bulls


Breyton Paulse



Deon Kayser



Ettienne Botha

Blue Bulls


Henno Mentz



Butch James



Neil Powell



Pietie Ferreira



Nico Breedt 



Luke Watson



Gerrie Britz



AJ Venter



CJ van der Linde



John Smit 



Os Du Randt


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It seems strange to think that there is a generation of Kiwi youngsters out there who have grown up with no real fear of South African rugby.      Dave Campbell, editor of the New Zealand weekly, Rugby News

The mongrel comes out when you're on the back foot, and it makes for an ugly sight to anyone who still regards rugby as a beautiful game.      Dave Campbell again...

It is always nice to hand off a flyhalf and bump off a centre and it was sweet revenge because they always beat you with their feet.     Richard Bands on THAT try

Heard during the game on Saturday, Murray Mexted - "Naas Botha would turn in his grave if he saw a kick like that!" Grant Nisbett, questioningly, "Is he dead?" Mexted, "Uhhh... sorry Naas!"

Yesterday I said that there were just far too many Afrikaners in the rugby squad. I did a count. Of the 15 players taking to the park tomorrow at Carisbrook, 10 out of the 15 players are Afrikaans. What we need to do is we need to get rid of these thick Dutchmen within the squad. Seriously.     Nigel Pearce, DJ on Cape Talk

We should never be satisfied with defeat (11-19), but at least a foundation has been laid upon which we can build for the World Cup.      Gert Smal

They restored honour and pride to Bok rugby. I've got the greatest respect for them.    John Mitchell

I might make myself unpopular for saying this, but it has to be said: It appears that players have lost passion for the game. I cannot generalise, as the players did put their bodies on the line in Cape Town (against Australia), but the question over why there is no passion in the game anymore comes back to money.     Wynand Claassen

I would also like to think another reason they will stamp out illegal play is out of respect for the game, their teammates, their sponsors and the fans. They have an image to portray.     John Connelly on the Springboks' misdemeanors

If he really sold his soul commercially, the rugby might suffer. That's why we manage his time very closely.   Tim Buttimore, Jonny Wilkinson's agent

Joost van der Westhuizen has rendered sterling service to South African rugby over a number of years, but it's become clear during the past few months that his basic skills are no longer good enough at international level. Alan Zondagh

Join the SARUGBY news and discussion group for the fastest sarugby news and the most intense debates around the South African game. Send a blank email to sarugby-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

As a All Black supporter, I must say what a gutsy and spirited performance by the Boks against the All Blacks and this has to be their best performance of the season. Had Corne Krige said that the scoreline was a true reflection of the game, I would have whole-heartedly agreed with him for once.

Although the All Blacks threatened to score each time when on attack, the Bok defence stood firm. However despite this positive play, the backline was non-existent for most of the game. This is going to be detrimental to the Boks aspirations in the upcoming World Cup, as to be on the back foot and have to defend for most of the game and in particular against the "big guns", is an impossibility. If you are an attacking side like the All Blacks with a most impressive backline, all you have to ensure is to score more tries than the opposition. An attacking strategy is far better than one of a defensive strategy, however the Boks have no choice but to adopt the latter. 

Also apparent last Saturday was the amount of ball that the Boks gave away through needless and pointless kicking of which Louis Koen was the main culprit. 

I felt that the All Blacks could have stepped up a gear or two at anytime and where just passing themselves for most of the game and where most capable in defence, in stopping the Boks infrequent rolling maul attacks.

I think the time has come that all Australian referees should be sidelined until they get their act together. Peter Marshall had a shocker, however was consistent in the number of poor calls he made for both teams. 

I cannot wait to get down under for the World Cup.


Hi Lucas,

Dirty Play

Like it or not the Springboks generally are dirty players and "Captain Courageous" is one of the worst. Everyone says he plays with a lot of heart and plays hard. Well as I review the play match after match I see our captain arriving later to the break down and then slowing down the ball. kicking or punching someone in the kidneys and now spitting on Phil Waugh's chest. Deliberately!!!. Our loose forwards and especially our captain are too slow. Thuggery is no substitute for ability. 

As for Robbie Kempson we let him go some time ago because he has a great and persistent record as a dirty player. There is probably not a match he has played in that he has not given away at lest one penalty. One will probably need a calculator to add up the times he has been penalised and given yellow cards.

Say what you will about how it was done the mark on Brendon Cannons shoulder was not Bakkies Botha's lipstick and it was no love bite. Bite it was. Who in our team could show a similar bite given to him.

It is not surprising at all that the refs and others are more strict on SA than on other teams. We still seem to have the old Boer complex that the whole world is against us and the whole world is wrong. Wake up guys. If we cleaned up our act we would be able to get on with playing the game. 

I can recall many shouts from the stands years ago against our rivals to play the ball and not the man. Pity we don't use that against our players now.

As for taking on the Aussie management and press do not rely on rugby's top dog to help our position. He will use all his political tricks to smooth things over to try to help him onto the IRB. I sincerely hope he is successful with his bid at the earliest opportunity. When he is in his new lofty post perhaps we will then have an administration that will concentrate on fixing SA rugby.

It seems to me that our rugby has not moved on from the nepotistic state that it got itself into years ago where jobs for pals and believers is what counts most.

At the end of the day as a well known rugby writer pointed out to me last evening there is probably not one of the current 90 odd Springboks who would make a world side. Face up to it we just have not got the talent. That does not mean we should not try to stick to a core of the best of our also rans and get a consistent squad that will perform better than the hotch potch of what we have now. 

Good luck and keep on watching. Miracles do happen. We just need to find the magician.

Drop Kick

Hi Lucas.

The daily gathering of the near aged at the local gym that previously was infused with passion and enthusiasm for our game, now has dissipated to smart quips and ridicule of the Bok team, its seemingly over challenged coach and the pathetic, self-aggrandisers of SARFU. How sad, and the effect of the ridicule is definitely going to be felt when next year's season tickets go on sale.

Where massed audiences gathered to watch all out of town Bok, Super 12 or provincial games in the past, it seems the steady erosion since 1999 has now become a rapidly flowing river. Too many supporters who once wouldn't have missed a second of any game, now happily partake in other activities and only watch TV highlight packages or via the fast forward button on their VCR remotes. This will impact disastrously on our game, as the TV money will find better avenues for it's spend. Its time for something to be done about Silent Silas, Retiring Riaan and their co-horts. Their mandate is the welfare and development of our game. They've failed, its time for the Unions to get rid of them or for the Clubs to change the Union administrators if they won't effect the changes needed. Serving self-interests cannot be countenanced; the game here is in too much trouble!

Additionally, reading the letters published, particularly in regard to Aussie 'whingeing' and in defence of 'tough' rugby, it seems that the alarming support for the action of Piet Van Zyl in 2002 remains constant. Similarly the belief that there's nothing really wrong with our rugby is also a concern. Does anyone really believe that the current Boks are able to play better than they did against the Aussies on the 2nd? Has Straueli done anything, other than to continually and ludicrously 'Draw Positives,' that will engender hope and passion, rather than embarrassment and despair?

Rightly or wrongly the Springboks have been labelled dirty players, we can pee on a million trees in denial but the rugby world's opinion is intransigent. SARFU and the coach had the opportunity after last year's Twickenham game, when an embarrassingly long video clip was shown on SkySports of our captain, Corne's, nefarious adventures against England plus those of Janus Labuschagne, Robbie Fleck and others, to take a stand against dirty play that the rugby world would have had to respect. They didn't and preferred to slink back into their respective Christmas corners to do a fairly typical ostrich duck into the sand. The hoped for serendipity of a dirty play storm blow past didn't occur and the Super 12 opened to some real beauts. i.e. AJ Venter's attempted head-butting flight across a ruck at Robbie Fleck in the very first game, with a resulting suspension that didn't really do justice to the crime's potential for harm, neither did it elicit a severe admonishment from our coach or a harsh warning to other Bok hopefuls.

The new Test season returned with our reputation for less than legal play still adhering to our team, a reputation that has now been endorsed with the current suspensions. Sure the Aussies whinge, as do the Poms because it gives them a mental edge against us and, because we give them grounds for it! We're now stuck with having to play better than any Ref or opposing team, and purer than the driven snow for at least two years, before the Boks can run onto a level playing field again. The question is however, when? This year, next year, in ten years time after all has failed? When?

Joh! Did you watch Wayne Ferreira win, and wasn't the cricket a pleasure?

Storm Ferguson

Hi Lucas

The fact that our Springbok team are not setting world rugby alight has not gone unnoticed by all and sundry. The Wallabies "bleating" about a physical game is not suprising considering that they are such poor losers, and it is even worse that they are poorer winners!

But they won the match and that is what the record books will say. Ever since SA Rugby tried to copy the All Blacks' Haka by sending on a Zulu warrior to intimidate the opposition in the pre-match rituals, the Springboks have played rather poor rugby. It seems like Riaan and the 57 old f/t/arts felt that Impi would fight our battles for us. Unfortunately, it appears the players felt that as well.

In the final instance, we have to ask if the South African team are a "disgrace to World Rugby" as claimed by Eddie Jones. I would love to know what ex-Springboks feel about the current side.

Finally, my dig - if I recall, it was an Australian rugby player who stuck his finger up other players bums (opposition AND team-mates).

Cheers and keep up the good work. At least my side (The Sharks) are winning!

Mike from sunny Durbs

Hi Lucas

AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW. (Probably looking for trouble).

It is just as well that Barry, Fleck, Skinstad, Pretorious, Russell, Paulse and a few others do not play regularly. Last named cannot give their best when there is almost no support, ie someone to take the ball, or close support when there is always someone within 2m to take the ball if necessary. Watch the "All Blacks" and /or "Blue Bulls" if good examples are required. They all hunt in trips or pairs. The fact that our players (the best in the world) are so slow to follow up and to fall back results in penalties against us. Scoring Tries under these circumstances is purely accidental. Wake up R.S. and rectify. By the way, always play Skinstad on the flank, NEVER at no. 8. The last match was pretty good otherwise, our forwards were far superior.

All the best,

Hi Lucas

When I read these reports I find relief in the humour but I can by reading between the lines recognise that we all have one thing in common , namely our rugby is worse then we thought last year and our return to glory is much further down the road then we had hoped.!!! The next decent (not world beaters) rugby team is still to be discovered and 2 or 3 (max) are playing Currie cup at the moment one of which plays for WP. Lets hope they will be ready to restore pride in the world Cup (2007).

If one takes an honest look at the first two rounds of the Currie Cup there is not much to get excited about in fact poor defence seems to be common , very little excitement in the back lines in fact it looks a lot like springbok rugby. Are there simply no stars on the horizon , to quote one Bob Dylan " ....the answer my friend is blowin in the wind..." or as one of those philosophical bumper stickers once said " Since I gave up hope I feel much better"

Now lets bow our heads in prayer

Hi Lucas

Nogmaals dankie vir die kommentaar weekliks, en ook die feit dat ons deur hierdie medium kan insette lewer en ook kennis neem van hoe ander rugbyliefhebbers voel ook sake so na aan die hart. Laat my toe om vir Koos Carelse te ondersteun. Koos ou maat, moenie jou aan kleinlikheid steur nie. Feit van die saak is, sê 'n ding soos dit is, en klaar.

Oor die Wallaby wedstryd kan daar seker weer boekdele geskryf word, maar wat gaan ons daardeur bereik ? Ek glo nog steeds dat ons probleme by die agterlyn begin en eindig, en kan nie glo dat Dolfie en sy kollegas dit nie kan raaksien nie. Ons het die talent en vaardighede om die res van die wêreld aan te pak, maar ek dink ons spankeuses is nie na wense nie. Kry 'n senter wat 'n binnegaping kan slaan, en wat minstens twee of drie opponente kan besig hou, en skep geleenthede vir die vinnige manne om deel van die spel te word. 

Saterdag was weereens 'n voorbeeld van stereotipe rugby. Elke aangee is lank, en daardie sekonde of twee wat die bal deur die lug moet trek, skep geleentheid vir verdediging. Besit by die doodvat / losskrum is te stadig. Hoe vinniger die bal beskikbaar is, hoe groter is die geleentheid om gate te maak, want dan is die verdedigingslyne nog nie opgestel.

Ag ons kan seker hordes kommentaar lewer, maar as ons splers nie geestelik voorberei en vir 80 minute fiks is nie, kan ons alles probeer en dit sal nie werk nie. Ek is self 'n skeidsregter hier in die Verre Noord, en is ook bekommerd oor die vertolking van sekere reëls van die internasionale kollegas, maar weens etiese redes sal ek my kommentaar vir myself hou. Tappe is by die span, en met sy teenwoordigheid sal dit begin beter gaan, verwysend na die hoeveelheid strafskoppe wat ons afstaan. 

Ons kan die manne afkraak, beledig en wil wegjaag, maar tog hier diep binne in ons is 'n stemmetjie wat skreeu dat hulle net moet kliek, negatief na positief oorskakel en die wêreld wys hier is rugby koning !!!!!!

Sterkte, Bokke !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Das Villoen

Hi Lucas

Ek het die afgelope weke se kommentare en briewe van die ondersteuners nogal geniet. Dit is insiggewend dat daar sondebokke gesoek word. Die hele span speel nie goed nie. Ek wil nie Roelfie se werk teen R1miljoen per jaar he nie. Niemand weet wat in die binnekringe van die Springbok kamp aan die gang is nie. Wat my egter verbaas is dat die spelers daar is en tog word die "regte" span nie gekies nie. Ek persoonlik dink dat daar manne gedurende die Currie Beker seisoen na vore gaan tree as Springbok aa nspraakmakers. Almal sal my wil kruisig oor die spelers wat ek sal oorweeg en tog gaan ek dit waag. Van die spelers is op die krukkelys maar kan moontlik nog na vore tree.

15. Tinus Delport/ Jaco vd Westhuizen/Jaques Fourie
14. A Willemse/Frederich Lombard
13. De Wet Barry/Frikkie Welch/Marius Joubert
12.Dries Scholtz/Grant Esterhuizen/Trevor Halstead
11. Brent Russel/Breyten Paulse/Stefan Terblanche
10.Butch James/Derick Hougaardt/Andre Pretorius
9. Graig Davidson/J v d Westhuizen/Niel de Kock/D van Hoesselin
8. Joe van Niekerk/S Sowerby
7. P Wannenburg/ J Erasmus/L Watson
6.AJ Venter/R Winter/Charl van Rensburg
5. V Matfield/Geo Cronje/ Bakkies Botha
4. M Andrews/Jannes Labushagne/Kleinjan Tromp
3. R Bands/ R Kempson
2. J Smit/L van Biljon/Shimange
1. L Siphaka/ Ollie le Roux/Os du Randt

Baie sal kommentaar oor Mark Andrews lewer maar in groot geselskap lewer hy goeie spel. Genugtig, kry tog net iemand wat wil speel en nie hoop om te speel nie. Soos Joost se teenwoordigheid geld laat Andrews syne ook geld. Dit lyk ook vir my dat van die manne het net nie daardie lus nie. Gelukkig speel die Bokke in die buiteland anders moes ons weer die vreemde verskynsel van voorvader geeste aanhangery gade slaan. Wat se klug en wie se idee was dit?

Chrisjan X

Hi Lucas

Verseker moet ons nie op loop gaan oor die Bokke se vertoning teen die All Blacks verlede Saterdag nie. Tog moet ek, en ek dink die meeste van ons sal toegee, dit was by vêrre nie ons beste span nie, en in daardie lig gesien het ons goeie rede om nie in sak en as te gaan sit nie. Gegewe die geploeter met hier en daar 'n beter vertoning, raak ek by die dag meer positief. Ons moet onthou, om die Wêreldbeker te verower moet 'n span net drie uiterste pogings insit en siedaar. Baie mag moontlik daavoor la g maar ek kan nie anders as om te dink dit is moontlik nie. Die toernooi gaan baie interessanter verloop as wat baie verwag. Ten laaste het ek 'n spesmaas ou Dolfie het nog nie sy finale kaart gespeel nie, as ek dit durf sê, troefkaart.

Koos Carelse

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