Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 13

Editors Note

Brilliant!      As luck would have it, just as we are celebrating the end of a truly sub-standard decade of South African involvement in the Super 12, a new ‘better, faster, more exciting’ competition is announced. South Africa is to join the Celtic and Italian ‘powerhouses’ of world rugby for a so-called Rainbow Cup competition. Heck, we sure as hell should be able to dominate that lot… surely!?

The final round of Super 12 is upon us and the Waratahs, Crusaders and Hurricanes have all qualified for the semi-final spots. The last remaining place is a dogfight between the Bulls, Highlanders and Blues. All of them need a win with the other two to loose, for outright qualification. The big matches are between the Waratahs/Blues the Chiefs/Highlanders and the Bulls/Stormers, to make for a fascinating weekend of viewing.

The big clash from an SA perspective will be played on the hallowed turf of Loftus where the Bulls host the Stormers. The game is traditionally billed as a Frazier/Ali bout and certainly during the previous decades it was the one match that divided a nation into a north and south. This year, one gets the feeling it is an ‘everyone for the Bulls’ scenario and only the (last few) die hard Stormers supporters will be against Anton Leonard and his men’s quest for Super 12 semi final participation.

Sure the Bulls can win, they are at Loftus after all and as leading teams like the Crusaders and Blues found to their dismay – it is almost impossible to triumph at altitude in the ‘bullring’. There is however one small statistic worth mentioning, the Stormers has not lost against SA opposition in 4 years… that is home or away. Lies, damned lies and statistics I hear? They do count for something and after watching the lacklustre display against the Sharks, which admittedly the Bulls won in the end; they were not all as convincing. This writer will be bold and predict a Stormers victory on Saturday purely because everyone is expecting too much of the obvious.

The 2005 Springbok squad will be announced after the weekend, and it is interesting to read all the articles and opinions on who are shoo-ins and who are useless %&^$ so-and-so’s. The selection of any Springbok team has elicited strong emotions over many many years and will long continue to do so. As soon as it stops, the doors can be closed officially behind SA rugby and the sport declared dead. Here are the selections, this armchair follower would like and not like to see (fit or unfit):

Percy Montgomery: The flaxen head, new-Natalian has no serious contender for his maturity, calmness under pressure and goal-kicking ability. (In)

Werner Greeff: More erratic than Paris Hilton’s love life and just as prone to scandalous play as the young heiress. (You are the weakest link… goodbye!)

Right Wing:
Breyten Paulse: Loads of experience, eager to prove new French bosses that he is a worthwhile buy and a great backup to Monty. (A last hurrah)

Tonderai Chavanga: Inexperienced on national level, but a great prospect and with another couple of seasons he will be a player to reckon with. (Bide your time)

Outside Centre:
Marius Joubert: There can be only one! Like the Highlander this talented runner will give his all for a Springbok legacy considerably enhanced by great deeds in 2004. More importantly he scores tries. (Class is permanent)

Gcobani Bobo: Too slow, too flashy, too erratic and prone to bad decision making on the field. Needs to re-insert his dreads, that’s when his rugby was far better! (Sorry mon)

Inside Centre:
Jean De Villiers: A brilliant creator and finisher, a player who can do it all and some more. ‘Jouba’ may have been the Rolls, but this one can be the Ferrari of SA rugby. (You are the best man)

Ettienne Botha: Ag pleeeeeeze, every little circle he completes with the ball in his hands before passing is like minutes ticking down to closing the defensive gap. Too individualistic, can't kick and a sorry sight against quality opposition from abroad… remember we play tests against other countries not Currie Cup opposition… (Overrated and probably overpaid)

De Wet Barry: Feel sorry for him, he is a very very good player and has reached the limits of his skill, will never be a flashy centre. What he is is what you get, hard, uncompromising and a great defender. His distribution has grown tremendously but not world class. (Sorry boet, but you need a Bantam!)

Jaco van der Westhuisen: His value is under appreciated and his attributes un-acknowledged, he needs a kick up the backside though but once booted never shy. (The best of a mediocre bunch available)

Gaffie Du Toit: When will we stop seeing the articles, ‘my best is yet to come’? Nuff said. (Another ‘flawed genius’ or rather nowadays, just flawed…)

Left Wing:
Bryan Habana: This man is dynamite, give him the ball and he will score you a try. Better out in the wing than at centre and definitely has so called X factor. (Potential to be a world star)

Henno Mentz: Such a brilliant runner with the ball, if he can gather it… extremely vulnerable under the high ball and one wonders why this cannot be coached? (Need hands-free kit)

Fourie Du Preez: By a long shot. Has the best pass, is the best kicker and best defender in his position in the country. Say no more. (World class)

Enrico Januarie: What has he done to deserve any call up? As Jake |White said, who is Britz, the same for Januarie, who is he? Too individualistic, passing is inaccurate and too small to defend a fringe in a test. (Too many too’s in his game!)

Others in: Jacque Fourie, Brent Russell, Bolla Conradie, Ruan Pienaar, Ashwin Wilemse

That’s it for this week, next week the forwards, although the squad will be known by then. Enjoy the last weekend of round robin, this interested observer will be at Loftus to witness the battle at close quarter.



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Here’s to the Bully Boys by Desmond Organ
It was not three months ago that many of the journalists from the shadow of that flat topped mountain were writing the Bulls off as no hopers for the semi finals, even a week or so ago the loss against the Cats was being hailed as the reason for failure. All that stands between them and success is an improbable victory against the Stormers this weekend.

I say improbable because the record of the Cape based team against South African opposition is far better than any of the other teams in the Super 12. Despite the brutal nature of South African derbies and the closeness of many of the encounters the Stormers have reigned supreme. Gert Smal would love to leave his position with the record intact and I for one will feel a little sorry for him if he does lose the record. I will however be supporting the Bulls because it is in the interests of South African rugby to do so. People that support the Stormers are not serving the best interests of South African rugby.

The Stormers have made a mockery of their loyal supporters, burn out or no burn out they were never going to make the semi finals without a decent no 10 and without a coach being prepared to gamble with a player of the class of Jean De Villiers. A week ago I made the horrible mistake of omitting him from my South African squad; this was simply because he had played so infrequently in comparison to some of the less capable players north of the Jukskei and he had also been moved around like a jack in the box. Yet he never had the opportunity to appear at no 10 even though Du Toit and Roussouw had done the position no justice whatsoever.

The Bulls have flattered to deceive on many occasions and their defeat at the hands of the Waratahs showed the world the limitations of a one dimensional game, fact is that South African teams fail to perform overseas and when they do they often implode back at home. This has led to foreign teams no longer fearing the South African scene when it involves touring. If the Bulls do win this weekend against the Stormers and win overseas in a semi final it will do South African rugby the world of good. Here’s to the Bulls.

 The Super 12 will be down to 4 next weekend! by Dingo Marshall
Teams at the top of the log are starting to sort themselves out. The Waratahs and Crusaders are both guaranteed of finishing in the top two and hosting a home semi-final. The Waratahs need to beat the Blues with a bonus point in tow to secure a home final should they progress that far. The Crusaders have a tough assignment against the Hurricanes and will secure top of the table status should they win with a bonus point and the Waratahs don’t achieve maximum points (assuming that the Waratahs don’t close the gap of points difference where they trail by 15 currently). The Hurricanes are a certainty for a finals berth while the Bulls, Highlanders, Blues and the Brumbies (very outside chance) battle it out for that coveted 4th place on the log.

There is only one game this week that doesn’t have any impact on the semi-final race but this does not mean that it will lack intensity or passion. The Cats and the Sharks are playing for the wooden spoon but you can bet that they will be at each other’s throats for 80 minutes as well as playing for a spot in Jake White’s Bok squad. The Reds and the Brumbies clash in a game that will be equally as intense as Wallaby jerseys are up for grabs and there is no love lost between these two sides.

The Chiefs take on the Highlanders in a game that is always a bruising affair. The Highlanders need to win and hope that the Bulls and Blues slip up. The Bulls take on the Stormers at Loftus and a win for the home team will guarantee a place in the top 4 of the Super 12 for the first time. The Stormers will be up for the challenge and the game will every that a SA derby usually has: passion, commitment, intensity and hopefully loads of skill and not much argy bargy or how’s your father.

Jake White names his Bok squad this Saturday evening and it will be guaranteed to produce the odd surprise or two. It will be very interesting to see if Jake sticks by players from last year’s campaign that have very obviously had a severe loss of form like Marius Joubert or Joe van Niekerk. I await both the announcement of this squad as well as the participants for next week’s semis with baited breath.

Rugby Forum wishes Breyten Paulse a very successful excursion to France to ply his trade in the years to come. You will be missed Breyten. You have been an excellent servant to WP, the Stormers and South African rugby. Bon Voyage!

Enjoy the last round of fixtures this week. Be safe.

It is great for us. Jonny is a world-class player and has been for a number of years. It is a big boost to the side. Lions captain, Brian O'Driscoll

It reflects some of the attitudes which compelled me to step down from the England job in the first place.     Clive Woodward, on the RFU's letter sent to coaches working on the Lions' tour before the set date.

I just think the Lions are bringing far too many players for a few games, to me, this is ridiculous. I heard they wanted to bring 52 (players) at one stage.       Colin Meads

It is not long now before players will be able to walk into a team on merit, regardless of the colour of their skin. Hopefully within the next year or two.       Breyten Paulse

Who is Schalk Brits? He has never even played SA under-21, has played one Super 12 season, his team is second from bottom on the log and, from what I hear, he is one of those players that don't train on Mondays. He can phone Elmaré (in the travel office) and indicate whether he wants to fly BA or SAA. I won't be bullied by players saying that they will go if I don't pick them.          Jake White on Cats hooker Schalk Brits

Honesty is what every rugby player wants from a coach. If a player is going to be third choice in his position then tell him that's the case and what he needs to do. Coaches want to retain the players and consequently aren't always honest with them.       Schalk Brits.....

We may be the current favourites but we're assuming nothing. We want to fire the silver bullet at Twickenham. And the military analogy suits us - well-drilled heavy armour striking at the heart of the Navy's defence with infantry skirmishing on the flanks, surging forward in wave after wave.      Andy Hickling, the British Army coach before the annual match against the Royal Navy.

I believe we use him in the right way. He is never going to be a ball carrier, so we've allowed him to adapt to his more natural skill.        Heyneke Meyer on Victor Matfield

If the best is in this country, then so be it, but I believe we have a problem with coaching and we have to look everywhere to make the right appointment.        Nick Mallett re, a new coach for the Stormers

Off the footie field, Kiwis are notoriously hard to stir up and be motivated to do something en masse. But somebody has to say it, the haka is well past its use-by date.       Frank Haden

It's groping in a sense - it's like a blind man in a brothel.       Murray Mexted during the Hurricanes/Blues clash

The haka has been part and parcel of the All Black team for as long as I can remember. It's not menacing and players who face it either face up to it or just don't look. It would be sad if it went.         Barry John

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Hi Lucas/Desmond

Wile I agree with most of your selections and logic, I have to ask where is Jean De Villiers? I know he is injured but surely by the 14th he will be playing again and will be one of the fist names Jake will put on his list? Injured or not he is possibly the only option Jake has as far as play making backs?


Justin Trollip

Hi Lucas

Yellow Cards

As an avid supporter I am very often frustrated with the yellow card sinbin rule which is destroying the game. This often gives a result against the run of play. A couple of years back you might recall SA vs Eng where SA was reduced to 13 men within 5 min resulting in a no contest. If this policy was used in British Football there would be an huge outcry and its about time the Rugby bosses looked at this unfair policy. A red card is separate and in most cases justified but yellow cards should be dealt with immediately after the game with a trail by TV etc and then penalised. Every effort must be made to present a fair contest and that means fifteen men on the field for eighty minutes. Another gripe is the continued coaching by some referees on the field, if the players don't know the rules penalise them accordingly and let the coach show some accountability. Finally this so called Transformation is nothing more than "Racism", where are the Whites in the football arena !!! Players should be South Africans but under the present policy we discriminate because of the obvious. We have some brilliant non white players who certainly are selected on merit. In addition there are many "puppets" but most would be suited to sevens where tackling is at a minimum.

Regards Bob Brindle

Hi Lucas

In rsponse to George Fanning's letter, just the following: The Free State has consistently provided the bulk of the Cat's players. The financial implications that a Super 14 franchise will bring, will enable the Central Unions to negate the annual plunder of their players. Despite being "raped & pillaged" annually by the "bigger unions" The Free State remain competitive in most South African competitions. Imagine what a force they will be if they have the luxury of retaining their player pool. I fear the traditional "power unions" will quake in their boots. In addition the Free State has been the second most successful Currie Cup side since 1994, consistently win the School, University, and club championships. Only to lose the cream of their players.

On form alone the E.Cape just don't cut the ice. As a rugby lover, I go with Nick Mallett. He offers practical solutions to a unique South african dillemna.The annoyed political animal in me says." Give the E. Cape a franchise, and name them "Stofile's Stompies" The quota will be that at least 2 whitey's get significant game time. Stoffie can then have his political dream team, and the other franchises will be free to play rugby. The real talented "quota" players (read Habana, Undungane, Jantjies etc. will be picked on form alone, as no coach will leave genuine talent out). Stoffie should launch the governments awesomely talented propaganda machine to promote rugby amongst "previously disadvantaged" schoolboys to increase the number of players, if he seriously desires representation. Methinks and I quote a Afrikaans term for bullshit baffles brains " Hy poep vir punte"

Peter Britz
Cheetah Supporter 4 Ever

Hi Lucas

Having watched some good to excellent derby games from downunder this past weekend (notable the Blues and the Hurricanes) and then having to watch the "yawn" from ABSA Stadium and a slightly less of a yawn from Newlands, really illustrates the huge void between the SA teams and those from downunder.

Yes, the Blues and the Hurricanes where still in the running for a semi-final place in their game which added to the excitement, intensity and some needle in the game, but there was none of this in the local derbies. I for one would have thought that the local sides would have produced two good derby games in honour of the suffering and ailing rugby supporters in this country, however this was not the case.

The Bulls have played some good rugby at home (except against the Reds) but then it is expected of them to do, which goes for all SA teams, which unfortunately has not been the case. If the Bulls make the fourth semi-final spot, they do not deserve it in my book. Playing either the Waratahs or Crusaders (which ever finishes on top of the log) in their own backyard will inevitably turn out to be another SA embarrassment, but then that is what SA Rugby has become through its own doing, coupled with continued interference by the government and the ANCYL.

The quote made by Andy Capastagno on the man of the match at Absa Stadium, sums up SA Super 12 Rugby - "Our man of the match is Victor Matfield. He has done a couple of things badly but then his try did ensure that the Bulls where kept in the game". It appears that the man of the match award in SA is no longer based on a particular players stirling performance.

Lionel Schultz

Hi Lucas

I am a huge supporter of SA Rugby and sport in general. I have the following comments about the state we find ourselves in at present:

1. None of our "Super 12" teams are fit enough to play the game for 80 minutes, and are only committed to the size of their pay cheques;

2. The "Super 14" is going to expose the fact that we can not organise rugby in SA and the development of the game;

3. Mr van Rooyen runs a company that is supposed to organise and send out traffic fines in Cape Town, which is in and atrocious mess, makes you think does it not?

4. 95% of our sport administrators in SA are in it for personal gain, and could not care less about the sport they are supposed to administer.

These may be generalisations, but just stop and think a moment.


Dev Craul

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