Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 10

Editors Note

Brilliant!     It’s back. The mojo is back! Cryogenically frozen as it was, it fortunately did not require a trip back to the swinging sixties to recover. Instead fate and timing conspired at Newlands on Saturday to produce one of the most sublime displays of rugby seen this season. Just a pity Felicity Shagwell could not make it…

In a week where a world champion was crowned and a new pope ordained the abiding memory of a horde of red and black jerseys creating oodles of space with enormous pace did the game of rugby a huge service. The Stormers were thoroughly thrashed after a very even and exciting first half when the crowd was teased and enthralled into a brief sensation of expectation – thanks to the first true 40 minutes of substance this season from their heroes. It was however the visiting champion side, Crusaders who displayed some text book, thinking rugby to scatter not only the hapless Stormers’ players but also a vast amount of their spectators who left the stadium embittered and enraged at their ‘heroes’ performance.

The ‘spectators’ one cannot call them supporters were totally ignorant of the magnitude of the performance they were missing, instead choosing a line out of the stadium than to watch a quality side in total command of the basics of the game of rugby. This was running, Super 12 rugby at its brilliant best and the reason this writer took up the cudgels in the first place. Thank you Crusaders, for bringing back the reason why we watch this great game.

In some welcome, positive news the SA U/19 team or more endearingly termed, the Baby Boks clinched the U/19 World Championships in Durban on Sunday. Their gutsy display was reminiscent of the 1995 triumph when tigerish defence also kept a NZ side from capturing the crown. The win is remarkable as they had to beat all of the top age group sides bar Australia on their way to the final. The young Aussies beat England to secure third place after a gut wrenching defeat in the semis where they could not convert two of the penalty kicks from in front of goal during the penalty kick out with NZ. Well done to SA’s young guns – ably led by Alisdair Hargreaves the stars of the future displayed passion and commitment to win SA’s second World Championship in this age group.

The Super 12 is in its final stretch where semi-finalists are beginning to take shape. The Waratahs after a few seasons of promise finally managed to keep their winning momentum through the middle stages by beating the Brumbies in one of the dullest ever encounters. The big test for their psyche and title chances will be the Reds derby which remains one of modern rugby’s true enigmas – the Waratahs have never managed to beat them. The other Aussie team in with a shout, sort of, is the title holding Brumbies but their injury woes got even worse with Australian captain, George Gregan sidelined with a broken leg. It goes to show that even a superbly organised team with a lot of pedigree cannot last the pace with that many injuries to key players.

The Kiwi teams are all sitting pretty on the log and will definitely occupy at least 50% of the semi-finalists. The Lions may be the bigger fish to fry this season but a Super 12 title will certainly boost a momentous year in their rugby history. The players are clearly gearing themselves for selection with some magnificent performances – the biggest concern being yet another Richie McCaw’s head injury and the dearth of international standard locks. Somehow this admirer have no doubt that come the hour will cometh the man – that is the Kiwi way and little has changed over the last century.

SARU announced the 5 teams for the Super 14 and inexplicably returned to a regional system which proved to be a disaster in the early years. Heck, the whole blo0dy Super 12 has proved to be an unmitigated disaster over the 10 years of competition. The government insisted on the Eastern Cape and for all their insistence the region was paired with the Blue Bulls… maybe the reasoning was that with government sitting in Pretoria, they can keep a closer eye on the so called ‘43% of registered rugby players’ in the country. They can put all the franchises in the Eastern Cape for that matter and no amount of money, pressure or government interference will produce a SA Super 14 champion. Wake up and smell the socks…

More Super 12 this weekend and the local teams have another big ask with possibly only the Bulls capable of victory. The Cats and Sharks even though the latter played well for 70 minutes are staring up the barrel and the Stormers will be hosting a Blues side they put 50 points past at Eden Park last year – think they (Blues) will be p*ssed off? You betya! The same should be for the Stormers, 50 point past them should hopefully p*ss them off. Enjoy the rugby.



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 Danger Zone by Desmond Organ
A disastrous weekend from a South African perspective albeit for the efforts of the Bulls in restoring a level of South African pride, thanks must go to the efforts of the U19 team in ensuring that we South Africans do not spend another week with our faces hidden form public view. In the context of the evolution of the capabilities of coaching it has become clear that Mr Smal has played his best cards and now needs to look for something else to do.

Having spent the last couple of weekends in Asia it has been quite refreshing to escape the daily bashing of South African rugby, it was however no surprise to have an American colleague referring to the Cats efforts against the Chiefs as beyond comprehension in terms of the basic skills required for the game of rugby. It is embarrassing when a person makes the following statement.

“I am not an expert as far as the game of rugby is concerned, but what I have just watched from the Cats looks like it is not far beyond a battling High School Team”. Thank goodness for the fact that I was able to claim that I did not really support the Cats and that the person did not ask where they came from. The message in itself was damning enough. There were also several references made regarding the ability of several of the players on the filed and it was quite sad from a South African perspective to listen to foreigners without a vested interest in the development of the game singling out players of colour for their limited ability.

The Sharks do not seem to be able to do much better and perhaps this is a good thing because it highlights that a new coach cannot turn a team overnight and it also highlights the fact that the basic coaching skills of the former incumbent were as bad as has been claimed by former players from the region. What it does highlight though is that the coach alone is not responsible for the evolution of the team, the management is. Dick Muir can only work with what he has been given and it is becoming quite clear that there is not very much there to work with at the moment. The Bulls ground out another victory on home soil and that is something to be cheerful about, so much for the pre-season hype about the ability of the Stormers and the fact that they would be the leading South African team, it looks like the Bulls from my end of the world.

The call from Jake White to rest players might have come just in time, Tim Noakes is saying I told you so to all his friends and South African rugby supporters are caught up in the hype of a U19 success that has very little to do with consummate planning and more to do with sheer guts, Mr Mbeki’s claim that this proves that transformation is working is opportunism from a politician and I would not be surprised to see him saying something completely contrary as the scandal over the fifth region enters another week. The rugby administrators in the Eastern Cape have started to jump on the political bandwagon and I am convinced that the racist accusations that flow so freely from the mouths of those who do not get what they want will continue. How embarrassing it must be to use the race card again and again when the only people that are listening are limited to the Southern most part of the continent.

Jake White might as well get all his players together early and hope that he has enough time to embed a few skills and develop some continuity before the Tri-Nations arrive. This Super 12 has been a complete disaster from a South African perspective and I am looking forward to it ending as soon as possible, sadly it is a case of yet another year gone by and yet another humiliating experience from a South African rugby supporters point of view. We need a Director of rugby who has the ability to see beyond the cocktail parties and the frequent flyer miles and develop some level of continuity in the South African game. This Director should never be Markgraaf and should never be hired by anybody that has ever had or will have anything to do with Brian van Rooyen.

The tour is not about winning the provincial games, important though they are, but the Test series and that will be our total focus.       Lion's captain Brian O'Driscoll

You feel when you at the ground (Canberra Stadium) that you are destined to play well.      ACT coach Laurie Fisher

Too many teams treat Canberra like Johannesburg. They fly in and fly out as quick as they can. But we're certainly not frightened about going down there.        NSW coach Ewen McKenzie

A panel that knows nothing about rugby cannot take a decision regarding development. It should have been a rugby decision and not a panel decision.       SA Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile

Saru has given the growth of soccer in the eastern Cape a major push. They should wake up. A major opportunity has now gone to waste.      Garth Wright after the Eastern regions' failed Super 14 bid

Talent is not enough to be an elite rugby player, it hasn't been for some time. The other essential elements are conditioning, the nutrition to support that conditioning, hydration, rest and recovery techniques and a bit of luck. And, apart from luck, all are measurable.      Neil Back

I cried when I heard the news, I don't mind admitting it. It was a very emotional moment. The Lions are a big thing. A huge thing.         Neil Back

It's sad the way we target schoolkids and that they go straight into academies. In doing so, we run the risk of developing a generation of players who have no outside interests, no career and who can't solve their own problems, and we didn't want that to happen.           Wayne Smith, All Blacks assistant coach.

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Hi Lucas

This must be the Super 12 season that will be remembered by South African rugby fans as the season of hopeless handling, useless tackling and imbecile kicking. It will be the most difficult to rectify the last one as it requires imaginative rugby thinking..... an ingredient totally lacking in the SA teams. The other two problem areas can be rectified by getting rid of great quantities of sweat by spending time running with ball in hand on practice grounds. No rugby skill has ever been honed on a golf course or a fancy beach.

SA representative players, by en-large, need to go on learn-the-basics sabbaticals. Start with John Smit.... the current Bok captain. His poor display of basic rugby skills during the Sharks vs Blues fiasco, makes him the wrong candidate to be considered to lead any rugby team. His poor performance is indicative of the lack of skills of the majority of SA players. The amount of knock-on's, dropped and wayward passes and lost turn-overs on SA side is sickening, to put it mildly.

Regarding tackling, forget about employing has-been ex-league players. It's a different game. If you have to, ask former Springboks for advice (pre-1995 exponents like Danie Gerber, Willie du Plessis, Ray Mordt etc). Actually it's quite simple.... stay on the attacker's inside and go for the man with the ball... with resolve to get him ! It's not rocket science. Super 12 coaches need to recognise that poor defence has reached epidemic levels in SA rugby and do something about it.

When the Cats recently played the Blues, the latter team contained two of the best wings in world rugby... Doug Howlett and Joe Rokococo. Yet, the Cats backline continuously thought it a brilliant tactic to kick the hard-earned ball onto Doug and Joe. It's as clever as holding your open hand against your nose and challenging someone to try and punch your hand. It ain't clever !

Something else... SA rugby bosses need to call the likes of Paddy O'Brien, Paul Honiss and Stuart Dickenson (yes.... include the latter two) to come and explain the rugby rules to Jake White and all the SA Super 12 coaches and players. Get these guys, because they are the ones blowing you off the park. I've heard that Tappe Henning has been explaining the rules to SA players from time to time. Maybe he is not giving the right advice.

Finally, transformation or quota's (call it what you like) is an albatross around SA rugby's neck, but it does not explain the gutless performances and lack of basic skills. SA rugby players need to realise it's a privilege to represent a franchise in the Super 12 or get to pull on the coveted Springbok jersey. Forget about all the side shows, other manure issues and get on with the job. Millions of fans would give the proverbial to run onto a rugby field wearing the green and gold.... even for just a few minutes. It would appear that you, the chosen few, have forgotten that.

Jakes Jacobson
Auckland, NZ

Hi Lucas

What I want to know, is what was the main reason the Bok players played well last year, and especially in the S12 ?.
Were there Bok contracts in place at that time or not ?.
The Bok coach tells the current Bok players that his dream team is in place, and that other players have to play 3 times harder to make the Bok team...... What message does that give to the current bok squad, AND to the prospects out on the rugby field ?

Look at this year's disaster in the S12 - how long will it take for SARU to wake up in this regard ?

Players, Coaches, Administrators, medical teams, etc., ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO be paid on performance.
The players alone cannot be paid on performance, that's not on.

There must be some KPI's set, whereby a rugby union, which is ULTIMATELY paid by the spectators and public is driven on performance based packages.
The public DEMANDS this or else this game will slowly die, as is the case at present.
This is heard at almost every braai, around the country.
SMS's is sent out by the public NOT to watch the game anymore.....boycott the gravy train, etc.

Be Warned...Brian, be warned....


Hi Lucas

Yes, I agree to a very large extent to the comments of some of our "older" and "more experienced players" under the old regime, dating back to the days. I am not referring to political issues but to the days when you could see players stopping their opponents in their tracks by brute force and deadly tackles. Lets just leave it there for now. I will, as a ex league player come back later. I am stunned and shocked by our so called professionals. They need to go back to the black boards of rugby - the days of pride and glory - even if the present game is much faster!

Jan Prinsloo.

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