Editors Note


Volume 3, Week 33

Editors Note

Brilliant!          The rugby season is in full swing with the Currie Cup, NPC and the various domestics in Europe speeding along at full tilt however similar to a Beckham autobiography it fails to excite especially in the wake of the coming month of rugby nirvana. 

The lull before the storm is excruciating and reading the daily drivel coming out of the various World Cup camps like, “we are on track”, “it will be a different team”, “we respect Japan/Uruguay (insert every team but the top 5)” and the old favorite, “it will be a huge game” is like a gramophone record - scratched, garbled and old. But wait; there is a not so new act in town, former rugby journalist and ex Springbok communications manager, Mark Keohane has returned to his roots and is writing for the Independent Newspapers. His articles promise to be devoid of the usual wishy-washy clichés prevalent in the South African rugby fourth estate and with his intimate knowledge of the inner-workings of SA rugby (SARFU and Pty) will cut straight to the bone. It may upset a vast amount of rugby traditionalists but maybe, just maybe he could prove to be the catalyst to significant change in a rugby hierarchy rotten to the core. For one it will make for some entertaining and original reading.

Last week RF sang the praises of young Jean De Villiers and low and behold he gets selected barely a day later to replace the unfortunate Gcobani Bobo who was ruled out of the RWC due to a knee injury. Last night De Villiers, a late replacement in the final warm-up match against the Falcons injured himself and look for all money to be out of the tournament as well. Since RF recommendations seem to have an air of clairvoyance (remember the eulogy to Schalk Burger a week before his selection?) the of fer is out to all provincial players to contact this number for an inside track to the green-and-gold, 555… 

Unfortunately, this armchair selector is quite clueless as to the identity of the replacement for the luckless De Villiers (if required) but nothing ventured nothing gained – a few players can do the job; there is Robbie Fleck, Rudi Keil also Butchie James can fulfill an Aaron Mauger type role but one young man caught the eye over the last few weeks, Doppies Le Grange. He has a bright feature ahead of him although definitely too early for the RWC. Brent Russell will be a popular choice and will substitute De Villiers’ flair and pace in equal measure.

Chad Alcoc.k, the Eeatern Province stalwart and captain is apparently setting the New Zealand NPC alight with some excellent performances. The scrumhalf, not even a first choice selection for any Super 12 franchise in a country short of decent halfbacks, has received some rare praise from some of the toughest New Zealand critiques. The SA selectors, and this backseat chirper have never rated the little sniper’s play – he is by choice an individualist, admitted a good one, but once opposition forwar ds realize what his tricks are he becomes a bit predictable and in some way a liability. Good luck to North Harbour – use/abuse him while you can!

There are two big games this coming weekend in the Currie Cup, Lion vs. Blue Bulls and the Cheetahs travel to Newlands against the second placed WP team. The latter game pit two running rugby specialists against each other and the crowd can expect a fest of tries in keeping with their respective traditions.

Support your team, live at the park.



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No Surprises Here by Desmond Organ
The latest round of injuries to haunt the Springbok team has left me thinking that there is precious little left for the management to get wrong before they head off to the World Cup. Cynical or not there is absolutely no way that a match against unfancied opposition this close to the World Cup could have added any value to the preparation. The fact that both De Villiers and Koen have been injured is a case of bad luck accentuated by bad management.

There is absolutely no doubt as to the ability of De Villiers as a play maker and finisher in the Springbok team. That begs the question as to why he was not there in the first place. Injuries are an integral part of the game, but I do not see Clive Woodward exposing players like Wilkinson and co to the forays of provincial teams that have a habit of going after big guns. This may seem like a bunch of nonsense; but anybody old enough to remember the tours of the 70’s will remember the amount of dam age that was done to teams that had to play mid week games against teams from some far flung corner of the Highveld.

How ironic then that it is the match against the Falcons that has potentially claimed two of the better Springbok backline players. The Red Devils of Eastern Transvaal were more often than not extremely competent opponents for international touring teams trying to nurse players in the midst of gaining valuable game time. Perhaps our coach has gone so far in his attempts to rekindle the atmosphere of old that he chose the Falcons as the team against which to unnecessarily expose some of his better p layers. The issue becomes even more untenable when you consider the fact that we are starved of continuous centre partnerships and do not have a bottomless pit of talent at our disposal.

Reading today that there is a possibility that Deon Kayser could be a possible candidate for the World Cup squad had me thinking that there really is no brains trust in the Bok team. If Kayser is a possibility then why was he not considered in the first place? Surely his inclusion would have helped in the mathematical exercise of meeting quota requirements. If this is not the case then why was De Villiers excluded from the World Cup group in the first place only to be included at the last minute. C onsistency is hardly the name of the game for the current coach and one can only imagine the level of creativity that is being contemplated for the games at the World Cup if a player like De Villiers is called up and hailed as such a brilliant talent when a couple of weeks ago he was not fit enough, experienced enough or ready enough. 

The same argument could be used for the incident that led to Louis Koen leaving the field with a suspected ankle injury. It has been documented time and time again that he is not the man for the running game and there are several major deficiencies in his overall tactical ability. The only possible relief is the fact that a return to the team of either Brent Russell or Jaco van der Westhuizen is now a distinct possibility. At least both of them have been involved extensively with the national team this year and so they will at least have a good idea as to the various moves and tactical calls. Added to that is the ability of both players to play a far more expansive game at flyhalf than either Koen or Hougaard. 

I can just see the headlines in the future if players like Russell and co are indeed called up and are successful at the World Cup; or heavens above instrumental in a win against the likes of England. If this does happen it will once again be a case of a coach way out of his depth stumbling across a solution. This may well happen but for the sake of the future of the game in South Africa and for Springbok rugby we need people at the helm that can strategise, plan and implement. We have had enough b ack to basics this year to consider it an exercise in futility.

Currie Cup Team of the Week





Tsepo Kokoali



Egon Seconds



Frikkie Welsh

Blue Bulls


Jean De Villiers



John Mametsa

Blue Bulls


Nel Fourie



Noel Oelschig



Anton Leonard

Blue Bulls


Johan Wasserman

Blue Bulls


Pedrie Wannenberg

Blue Bulls


Willem Stoltz



Kleinjan Tromp



Brendan Botha



Gary Botha

Blue Bulls


Os Du Randt


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Our preparation is chaotic to be blunt.      Dave Waterston, coach of Namibia

Jean is a special talent, a league above the other players. I really reckon he could do just about anything, and that includes play outside centre.      Robbie Fleck

I treat life as a journey, and this is just part of the journey. I will
deal with it and come back.      Gcobani Bobo 

the pressure is nothing compared with the pressure within the team room none of us want to let down anyone else in that room. What other people think of us doesn't really bother us.       Clive Woodward

We are holding back a number of things. We need the element of surprise at the World Cup.     Rudolf Straeuli

Whatever has happened, they will still be fired up - Perth will be a massive game.     Dan Luger

He's the only "fair dinkum" captain in world rugby and makes a huge difference whenever he plays.      David Campese on Martin Johnson

I happen to think that in certain positions - not many, just one or two - the All Black selectors have gone light. And the consequences of that could be huge.     Taine Randell

Springbok coach Rudolf Straeuli has escaped absolute condemnation with a "judge us at the World Cup" clause. Mark Keohane

England will have to beat themselves.      Nick Mallett

At this stage I see myself as a New Zealander.      Balie Swart after being warned away from NZ practices

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 someone who grew to love the oval ball game feasting on the WP side of the mid eighties, the Bulls clash certainly evoked some great memories from the recesses of my mind. Michael, Niel, Theuns, Gert, Faffa, Calla... what a side - thrilling to watch as well as successful. And for my money the best of the lot was the Prince of Wings, Carel du Plessis. Never was the old adage 'I would buy the ticket just to watch him' more appropriate.

So it really warms the heart to see what Mr Du Plessis is doing with the Province side. The backline in particular is playing with the kind of unadulterated flair, passion, and pace last seen, well, in the mid eighties ! You want to know what va va voom is Thierry ? That is va va voom !!

Carel was of course thrown to the wolves via the Springbok coaching job some years back (talk about a hospital pass). It must have been a deeply traumatic experience, yet he stuck with his principles and approach, and began the long road to rebuilding his credibility and reputation as a coach. After last week's WP performance he is well on his way to doing just that.

El Giornalista

Hi Lucas


History is a wonderful tool, which helps us to learn from our mistakes ... or is it?

1994, Ian Mac starts to build a Bok team (under immense pressure from his superiors, of all people!). Mac is publically reprimanded and fired. Kitch takes over and wins the RWC '95 (under little or no pressure from his superiors!) Mac is the villain, Kitch the hero. Would Mac have been able to win the RWC '95 had he been given the chance? We will never know ... 

1997, Carel du Plessis starts to build a Bok team (exciting vision, but a series loss to the Lions seals his fate ... but hang on, 60 points against the Wallabies? This team is starting to click! Too Late!) Carel publically humiliated and fired. Nick takes over and wins a further 16 consecutive tests, including the Tri-Nations. Carel is the villain, Nick the hero. Would Carel have been able to equal Nick's efforts? We will never know ...

2001, Harry takes over with a "vision": no kicking, you guys! But, Harry spots the young talent. Too late! Goodbye. Rudolf takes over and the team looks marvelous! Sure, the defence is not great yet, but man the guys are scoring tries! End-of-year tour nightmare begins: injury-plagued Boks meet up with best England side in ages and people start asking questions ... tight-lipped & cabbage-eared, Rudolf remains adamant that the Boks are on course for the RWC ... forget everything else ... it's the RWC that really counts.

I've completely lost my train of thought, but the fact remains: the common thread through the demise of the above-mentioned Bok teams & coaches remains the SARFU management.

Oh, well, I hope the ballerina's in the green-&-gold leotards do okay ...

Philip, PE.

Hi Lucas

Congratulations! Your 'paper' is great, more factual matter than any where else...Enjoy the World Cup, your presence there will definitely have a positive effect. 

Kind regards, Enid Pennel

Hi Lucas


Rudolf Straeuli would have left Bloemfontein on Tuesday evening with tears in his eyes after watching a very worrying Springbok display. Although there were a few things the coach could have a grin or two about the larger part of the match was something that would give him a few sleepless nights. The match was a mixture of big positives and even bigger negatives. 

The Boks where expected to step out on the field on Tuesday evening and give the Cheetahs a thumping they would not soon forget. That was at least the general idea. Instead the Boks found an inspired Cheetah side being bulldozed forward in the form of Os du Randt. The veteran prop of two World Cups send a clear messages to the National selectors informing them that he was back and meant business. He left the field at half time but had enough time to leave the Springbok scrum whishing they had stayed at home. Richard Bands the new blue-eyed boy in the Green and Gold was left looking very amateur with Os pushing him of his own ball time and time again. May our faithful Os still make the RWC, only time shall tell. 

The evening also saw another veteran showing some new life. Joost van der Westhuizen seems to be in extraordinary form, scoring two brilliant tries and delivering some excellent ball distribution. This will leave our coach with at least one less headache. Another find of the night was Juan Smith the Free State loose forward who gave the Boks the long needed spark, speed and strength missing since André Vos left a very hollow no.8 spot in the team. Ashwin Willemse performed as expected showing the fla re that our back line is so desperately in search of. Victor Matfield also had a great time in the lineouts and got around the field easier than most of the loose forwards. 

What would leave the coach with sleepless nights though was the overall below par performance of the tight five, who was one of the only glimmers of light in the Tri-Nations. The fact that they struggled in the tight made the loose play as hard as possible. This meant that ball retention was at an all time low even with the best loose trio in the country trying to win back the illusive ball. Little or no quick or clean ball meant a very long evening for the Springbok back line. 

This evening got even longer with Gcobani Bobo having to leave the field after injury. The Boks had to wait until the second half though before they where properly embarrassed by the Cheetahs. After a horde of changes on either side the game got even harder for the Boks. Breyton Paulse, Stefan Terblanche and Ricardo Loubscher formed the back trio for the Cheetahs. Paulse scored a try after some great work from Darren Nel and Dawie Britz but seeing as Paulse only had to catch the ball and run ten yard s without anybody near him this would not have given Straeuli any less worries. 

The Boks did score six brilliant tries bringing there point tally to 45 for the evening but they also conceded four which where definitely four to many. At least there was some new and exciting talent playing on the Free State side spicing up the game a bit.

Thank you
Nardus Oelofse

Hi Desmond,

Glad to hear that you'll be reporting to us from Australia. You asked for suggestions. My suggestions is a "hall of shame" Keep track of all the penalties we concede and who are the main culprits. Maybe we could shame the culprits into more professional behavior on the field. It is my contention that our track record would have been much better had it not been for the never-ending stream of penalties we concede in each game. It has been a little bit better lately, but check the record of past games. 


Albert Meyer
Dallas TX

Hi Lucas

As a passion All Black supporter I still have not got use to their black slimline jumpers (oops jerseys) and after watching England and the Springboks playing in these new jerseys for the first time, all I can say is "what a sight for sore eyes". The lighter colour jerseys appear to give the impression that there are a bunch of "fairies" on the park and I would hate to wonder what goes on in the steam bath and showers after a training session or match - much soap dropping I suppose. I would rather ha ve the pomp-pomp girls on the side of the park wearing the jerseys as the view would be a lot more pleasing to the eye. I wonder whether the likes of Paddy O' Brian, Andre Watson, the dreaded Stuart Dickenson and the "dogs got me by the balls" Peter Marshall will be seen in these jerseys at the world cup. 


Hi Lucas

I would like to congratulate you, all the contributors to Rugby Forum and especially Desmond Organ for having a real live hack at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Well done!

Like yourselves, I publish an electronic newsletter. However, the topic of my newsletter is nowhere close to as serious as rugby, but merely about investing, particularly in shares on the JSE. It is called "The Cape Investor", which is a bit ambivalent as it refers to where this particular investor resides and not where he invests! It has been running for almost a decade now.

As an avid reader of your newsletter - and regular contributor to your letters column (for better or for worse!) - I should like to extend an invitation to all subscribers of Rugby Forum who are interested in investing on the JSE Securities Exchange to obtain a FREE copy of my latest issue.

Anyone that's interested can drop me a line at belegger@mweb.co.za with the subject line "Free TCI".

Thanks and kind regards...

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