Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 12

Editors Note

Brilliant!     For those confused readers out there, rugby is actually a game where the object is, that two teams of fifteen players each, observing fair play according to the Laws and a sporting spirit, should by carrying, passing, kicking and grounding the ball to score as many points as possible. So it is decreed in the preamble to the Laws of the game. Rugby is not, to paraphrase DI Grim, a hoity toity, goody goody, lardy dardy, namby pamby, wishy washy, fannying about for power and a Super bloody 14 franchise.

The current power struggle in the SA game makes the Middle Eastern question appear like a simple playground marbles spat and true rugby supporters can be forgiven for relinquishing all interest and passion in the game. We as supporters are GATVOL or for our international readers, the euphemism would read ‘fed up’ with the continuing shenanigans in a game pockmarked by internal boardroom battles and government intervention.

The government and the so called leaders of SARA are so intent on creating their ‘ownpires’ that the good of the game and the people who are most important i.e. the players and supporters are totally ignored. And it’s been going on for as long as this writer can remember. The difference being good results and a history second to none or the All Blacks provided the breathing space for the fiefdoms to prosper. No more. Crap results, intensive publicity and good old sh*tting in their own backyards have exposed these incestuously selected leaders for what they really are: power hungry moguls with very little, if any interest or passion for the game of rugby.

The Super 14 is tearing SA rugby apart and to a certain extent, the Australian game as well. The Australians are faced with a superbly organised campaign to rival that of an American presidential election where by a big chequebook, and promises by a very good coach is causing every player to think about his future, and his wallet. The departure of big names from current franchises to the newly named ’Western force’ (What a dodgy name?? remember the Western Stormers? That name lasted one season…) has created the biggest whoha in a country where sport management is practiced as a fine art. The Aussies will get over it, quickly and the franchise will be competitive, that will be for sure and this amateur Nostradamus predict they will top the Reds in next year’s comp. So, for the Aussies, there is the moral question of loyalty versus the capitalist notion of a big payday. Gordon Geko would sure know what to do, that is business nowadays. What awaits the SA Super 14?

Knowing the beast that is South African rugby, this article and views expressed within will be well outdated by the time of print… however let’s try anyway. The SA government has spoken and the Super 14 decisions were declared null and void or so we think. The Central Union might have a go in the courts of law and once again, rugby will be in front of the judiciary. Needless to remind anyone that the previous time this happened, a highly respected statesman and president of the country was dragged into proceedings. Funny that but Brian van Rooyen was also involved in that debacle and this time one feels he is again being manipulated and played like a puppet.

The setup in SA rugby has never conduced itself to regional cooperation, that much is clear when looking at the current structures. The 4 Super 12 teams are in fact regions and after a year or two of silly away games in Wellington, Port Elizabeth and the PAM Brink Stadion, the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls bought their own destiny. The Cats tried with a marriage between two complete different cultures and playing in two capitals but we all know what a fiasco they are and always have been. (With respect to Laurie Mains and his tenure) So what bunch of brain surgeons think that this will work AGAIN? Trying to split the country like the Versailles Treaty did so ‘successfully’ to Europe in 1919 – by far greater men than what this lot would ever be. It is not going to work and any student of history would rub his hands in glee to answer why in an examination.

As one loyal reader asked the other day, what is the answer? The answers have been there all along, look at what was successful and build on that. Nick Mallett, the outspoken, brilliant ex-Springbok coach unveiled his ‘master plan’ for SA rugby and with all respect to Nick, it is the only answer available and one that is glaringly obvious to most. Mallett has however the clout and rugby respect to command a listenership for his views. For those who do not know, he is advocating a strength versus strength Currie Cup, the top 5 teams to play in the Super 14, removal of the Vodacom Cup and replace it with a super clubs competition. He also has transformation views and very much a system where the feeder teams are inclusive of black players i.e. to create opportunities for them to play and therefore strengthen the national cause.

The thinking is progressive and probably on the button to resolve the country’s problems but the big step is for a lot of gravy trainers to relinquish power. As so many African ‘democracies’ have shown, relinquishing power is neigh impossible. The country requires (and supporters should demand) a revolution, a Robespierre and a guillotine. Then and only then will SA rugby be the great force again, built on solid foundations and administered by rugby people there to serve the game foremost, the players and the supporters. Enough said.

Local derbies this weekend, and the burning question, as in every year James, is will the Waratahs, break their famous duck against the Reds? In the past, neither log position, form nor has beens comments in the press dictated the outcome – the Reds have always smashed the Waratahs. Back here in SA, its just great watching two Aussie sides beat the living daylights out of each other!

The Cats and Stormers and Bulls versus Sharks is the traditional ‘Springbok trials’ and even though Jake White’s squad will be fairly settled, there is plenty to play for. Enjoy the local rugby, at least two SA victories assured this weekend!



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 Selection Time by Desmond Organ
A Springbok squad will be selected ahead of the Bulls planned march to the semi-finals and this could have interesting repercussions in the land north of the Jukskei. The decision to announce the team on May 14 tells me as an onlooker that there are unlikely to be many changes to the squad that represented South Africa so well during the Tri-Nations last year. Work commitments have prevented me from compiling week by week statistics but the inconsistency that those would reveal would be of little value.

In many ways the inconsistent performances of the Super 12 teams have played into the selector’s hands, many of the players that have performed admirably are already in the Springbok set-up and a few minor additions will be made and will include people that were already part of Jake White’s plans. The loss of form of a number of players will probably result in a re-shuffle in the starting line up, but this will be made up by players who were already there last year. This means that the likes of Richard Bands and Conrad Jantjes will be celebrating in a few weeks time; Schalk Brits too will probably come in as third choice hooker if there is any commitment to form.

The players that have battled this year will not merely drop out of contention, the exception being Gaffie Du Toit, I just cannot see the national coach continuing with him when the likes of Jaques Fourie and Conrad Jantjes have been performing so well in a losing team. Alongside Du Toit many people will be calling for the axing of Marius Joubert, but that is simply not going to happen, none of the other centres in the country have done enough for him to be removed and his slump is not permanent. Fans of Ettienne Botha and Halstead are wasting their time, they are just not good enough and Habana has more chance of making it into the midfield. Bolla Conradie, Fourie Du Preez and probably Enrico Januarie or Claasens will be the Scrumhalf choices.

In the forwards there will also not be to many surprises, as well as he has played Cobus Grobelaar will only make the team at the expense of one of the other loose forwards. Joe van Niekerk will not be dropped but he may well find himself playing second fiddle to the likes of Jacques Cronje. Richard Bands deserves a recall and I would not be surprised if White opts for Du Randt and Sephaka at loosehead and CJ van der Linde, Guthro Steenkamp and Richard Bands at tighthead. The locks will stay pretty much the same and I feel that Danie Rossouw might just be in the starting mix if White persists with van Niekerk. Schalk Brits deserves a place as one of the three hookers and Gary Botha has not done enough to deserve a call up.

There will be those of you who claim that there are players who are there based on transformation and this is a reality of the game in South Africa, so let’s get on with it. We will not weaken the team by including players like Sephaka, Tybilika and Shimange in the squad. The players being named as alternatives are simply not playing that well to deserve a potential fall out with the politicians. One can also add that the players that have done duty in the past can only benefit from further exposure at the highest level and on the face of it we can only expect to banish the transformation issue once enough players are given the opportunity to compete in the Super 14 going forward.

For what it is worth here are the names that will be read out on May 14 2005.

15. Montgomery, Du Toit
14. Paulse, Jantjes
13. Joubert, Habana
12. Barry, Julies
11. Fourie,
10. van der Westhuizen, Russell
09. Du Preez, Conradie
08. Cronje, van Niekerk
07. Rossouw, Venter, Britz
06. Burger, Tybilika, Smith
05. Matfield
04. Botha, Davids
03. Bands, van der Linde, Steenkamp
02. Smit, Shimange and Brits
01. Du Randt, Andrews and Sephaka

He asked us to be quiet until the end of the Super 12 tournament. But unfortunately, if you go into the club shop, buy a few Saints shirts and have Carlos and number 10 put on the back, then go down to a bar in town showing your Maori tattoos off, it's obvious what is happening! It's not a done deal yet, but it is 99%.      Northampton chairman Keith Barwell on 'new signing' Carlos Spencer

The way Queensland have played rugby the past two years has given sleep therapists a unique weapon in their fight against insomnia, all they have to do is use a tape of any Queensland game and it provides a quick fix. Simon Poidevin

Our selection policy is based on consistency and continuity. Last year we put a solid selection framework in place and the result of that speaks for itself. I want to reiterate that we will not change our approach.    Peter Jooste, convener of Springbok selection panel.

Of course, each person has his own opinion on what the Springbok team or squad must look like. Rugby evokes powerful emotions in our proud sporting nation. Whilst we appreciate this, I think that it is important for people to understand that we do not base our selection criteria on emotion.      Jooste again.

A merger between the Bulls and Lions can't work. We need a rugby solution. Right now everyone is worried about holding onto his piece of the jigsaw. We need to improve our rugby, uplift our clubs and produce black talent.       Nick Mallett

I've never been a flashy prop. Coaches know that they get the basics from me. I scrum, help in the lineouts and do my support play... as long as you try to do your best.        Marius Hurter

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

Hi Lucas

I understand the question but must say I cant blame Super 14 but every time our " Rugby Leaders " get a chance to make us cringe at there shallowness and lack of integrity as people they come to the fore. Imagine what a minefield some of our rugby players have to go through in the course of the avg work week.

Having said should they not have found a way to bring both F.S & E.C " groups " together surely neither one could make it on there own , even as one unit they will struggle to win a game.

In closing I think it would help if we were rid of some of those careerist at SARFU and brought in people like Hennie Le Roux . Naas , Pienaar, Chester etc if they were even interested !

Long live SA Rugby
George Fanning

Hi Lucas

I am an avid rugby supported who has just relocated to Germany on contract for VW for 1 year.

This is a seriously rugby-starved country where if I produced a size-5 Gilbert, some local is likely to snatch it from me and try to squash it into the perfect sphere he is used to!

Please add me to your mailing list!

Must say that even though I enjoy watching the Stormers do well, there is a certain satisfaction in seeing them continuously get pipped at the post ... bokgat is probably the best term which could be applied to their current setup and a good come-back-down-earth experience is just what the doctor ordered.

Oh, I was thinking of methods to improve the ball-handling skills of the South African players: apart from actual skills-training, what about training with special balls which have had the dimpled surface finish removed/skimmed off? That way, you are effectively forced to concentrate on holding onto the ball a lot more and then during matches (played with normal ball) the ball will stick!

Look forward to hearing from you!

Phil Nurse

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