Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 15

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Another week of rugby and yet another week of high jinks in the ongoing soap opera that is South African Rugby. Yawn! If the useless, overpaid administrators think that we the rugby public care about their scattering and jockeying for power, then well, they’ve got it wrong. About as wrong as most of the Bulls supporters who crowned (prematurely) their entire team as Springboks.

For those ex-pats and fleetingly interested observers, the government called on all the ‘heavies’ at SARU to resign. The obvious reaction was nothing resembling the mayhem caused by Rushdie’s Satanic Verses – in fact the reaction was all too familiar as certain parties resorted to the great SA constitution to protect their fiefdom. Pathetic. But let’s not dwell there.

It was semi-finals weekend in the final year of Super 12 and the all Kiwi affair in Christchurch was as predictable as a Piranha’s behaviour with the Crusaders proving just as dangerous. The 4-time champions advanced to an unprecedented 7th final to finish as the undisputed kings of the competition – win or lose this weekend, it is a phenomenal sporting achievement.

In the other match, the Waratahs proved to be the more resourceful and ‘smarter’ team than the Bulls. The Bulls played an excellent first 30 minutes, they had selected the right type of game plan, the penalties were going their way, young Morne Steyn continued his unblemished kicking record and they were ahead on the scoreboard. Then, a couple of mistakes let the dangerous Waratahs back into the game and suddenly the Bulls self belief evaporated into the Sydney air. They looked indecisive, laborious and devoid of imagination – in other words, the one-dimensional team they were criticised to be the last few seasons.

Pressure is a strange animal that makes its appearance, ghostlike in finals and test matches. The Bulls crumbled under the pressure as they discovered that certain players are just not up to the high demands of the situation. Make no mistake, they played very well and did not disgrace themselves but they lacked individuals who could lift themselves and make the difference. Habana almost did, Roets was threatening, Matfield tried hard, Wannenberg was lost, Leonard asleep, Bands outplayed, Bakkies Botha handless and the Bulls ‘blue eyed boy’ Ettienne Botha again vindicated Jake White’s (non) selection. JP Nel’s defensive prowess was noted and he saved Akona Ndungane’s blushes on many an occasion and he (Ndungane) gets selected for a certain website's shadow Springbok team, based on try scoring statistics... c'mon!

For the Waratahs, David Lyons stood up and played like a lion, gaining meters at will by attacking the advantage line at pace. Nathan Gray rolled back the years with a strong game and the game plan of attacking Botha in midfield paid rich dividends. Loti Tuqiri showed his worth although is still hopelessly underutilised by a team struggling to get their brilliant backs into play. Maybe that was the plan, to take on the Bulls where they felt most secure – their pack and beat them at their own game. Well, it was mission accomplished as the Waratahs totally overshadowed the much vaunted Bulls scrum.

This weekend’s final pit the two best teams of 2005 against each other. It is one of the great features of the Super 12 - there are hardly any upsets about who plays in the final. It requires consistency over 12 weeks and any team in the final, thoroughly deserve their billing. The Crusaders at home are a mighty outfit. The Waratahs are the decided underdogs and this writer cannot see a victory materialising for the men from Sydney. The only way they can win, is if they can choke the Crusaders ball, provide zero turnovers, concede no penalties and maintain their excellent defensive record. If they can do that then they will beat any team, anywhere in the world! It’s down to pressure and who can deal with it the best. The Crusaders have to the man been there and done that – over confidence could be their biggest and probably only danger on the evening. It will be a great final though!

The Lions match against the Pumas was a very interesting first match of a highly publicized tour to NZ. They were poor. The forward were off the pace and the backline lacked cohesion. Sure they have never played together but the same can be said of a very green Puma side. They were given a lesson in humility and the result and performance did them more favours than an easy victory would have. Jonny Wilkinson’s display was remarkable for a player out of top flight rugby for so long. He remains a brilliant rugby player and a threat to any opposition, not only with his faultless goal kicking but defensive ability and attacking play. So he missed touch a few times but it seemed to this observer that they were not interested in kicking the ball out. The Puma fullback was very inexperienced and could have had a mare but to his credit, he played like an international. Can’t wait for the real deal when every provincial team in NZ will want to scalp the red jerseys!

Enjoy the weekend’s final, hopefully by next week the government forced a few of the players to resign as well. Watch out Joe!



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I You can't play just with your forwards. We have to create opportunities for the backline, and the best way to do that is for the pack to get the ascendancy and then create the space and opportunities for our dangerous backs to do their stuff.        Victor Matfield

I can say a lot of things about the ref (Steve Walsh) but it isn't really my style. We weren't good enough on the evening and it wasn't meant to be.        Heyneke Meyer

They were too classy. We had to hang onto the ball and take it to the opposition. We tried to put them under pressure but were never able to do it. They taught us how to look after the ball and how to support the ball-carrier. They lifted to another level. For us it was not through a lack of trying and no-one gave up but we were outclassed.        Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper

I am very, very upset and angry. All I was trying to do was reach my son at the front of the audience to take him on to the pitch with me to see my players being presented with the cup. The security people and the police did not understand and they were quite rough with me. They took me to a small room and kept me there for more than 15 minutes. I calmed down and kept trying to tell them that I was the Toulouse coach and what I had been trying to do. Eventually, they understood. This experience has spoiled what should have been one of the greatest days of my life. I am upset, my family is upset and the Toulouse supporters are upset. This kind of thing would not have happened in France.       Guy Noves, Toulouse coach

We want to see how people handle this one-off pressure because we need players who can step up to the mark on the day.        Clive Woodward

We have to move on and not react either way. It was a difficult game.       Clive Woodward on the Lions first outing against the Pumas

We are not a project, we are a reality.      Marcello Loffreda, Pumas coach

If that's how he plays after only two hours' game-time in almost two years, look out!     Grant Fox on Jonny Wilkinson

I know if we lose one game peole call us chokers so if you lose two finals. I don't know what that equates to. But obviously they are under a fair bit of pressure in that respect.       Ewen McKenzie on the Crusaders' previous two losses in Super 12 finals.

We won't beat them (Crusaders) if we play like we did in the semifinal.       Ewen McKenzie

It's the greatest sporting event New Zealand will have had in the last 20 years. As far as Tests in New Zealand are concerned, the Lions and the Springboks were always the ultimate. We only have the Lions left.    Colin Meads

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Hi Lucas

Springbok Selection

Nobody will ever agree with the selections. Fact is sometimes you must ask questions about players in form
and those chosen who was injured for a season, but elected.

We all hope things work out, because we are tired of losing because of stupidity. That was the problem with
our rugby the last couple of years and I hope it will not hunt us again.

I do believe New Zeeland and Australia are very satisfied with our team. They know Eddie Andrews is a
push over and Joe van Niekerk a run over because he don't like to be physical.

Then they will play against a good player in Jaco van der Westhuizen, but he is not a flyhalf. De Wet Barry
and Marius Joubert are not the players they used to be and don't tackle anymore. Not to talk about some other
backline players like Ndungani who is so afraid, it is a joke to see him on a rugby field.

Yes, somebody are happy with our team, so why do we complain?

Thank you
T. Coetzee

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