Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 16

Editors Note

Brilliant!      So that was the Super 12 for you. The competition which recently elicited about as much feeling from SA supporters as is present in Annabelle Bond’s toes is finally over. Done and dusted. The best team of the decade was crowned champions once more and deservedly so. Well done Crusaders!

The final match of the Super 12 was a strange affair, the Waratahs played like every ruddy Aussie team does nowadays when they are in trouble…. Kick and hope. The recent malaise of one of the sport’s most innovative nations is a bit disconcerting to this writer. As a big fan of the swashbuckling Brumbies type of play we have become accustomed to running rugby at its best from sides downunder.

While watching the Waratahs kick every grain of possession away in the first half, it struck home that the same type of pattern emerged during the derbies between the Brumbies / Waratahs / Reds over the past few seasons. Under serious pressure, they forego the phased approach that is so effective for a kicking game and in this case the Waratahs lost the very advantage of players like Gray, Tuqiri, Waugh and Lyons. They did get it right in the second half and more tries were scored – the only way one can win in the Super 12 competition.

All hats off to the champs. The Crusaders were meaner, stronger and faster while bolstered by a crowd almost as boisterous as at Roland Garros but certainly as one-eyed and proud! They do deserve every accolade and in the history of the competition they will be remembered as Ali-esque, the greatest.

The Super 14 await and with the execrable mess in the administration of the SA game, few local supporters can truly look forward to another lambasting. To those teams who felt it cannot get any worse, like the Sharks, there is some really bad news – 13th and 14th place! There is a lovely true story from one of the famous English football managers whose team was languishing in the First Division. On his appointment he declared they will be out of the First Division by the end of the season. All supporters and management took the promise as obvious that he meant the Premiership… by the end of the season the side was relegated to the second division!

Lucky for some there is no 2nd division in Super 12 or 14 but maybe there should be… it will certainly alleviate the travelling as most teams in the 2nd division will be from SA. So, with more games at home and a short tour in Australasia against the Reds and Chiefs the Sharks, Stormers, Cats and AN Other could win something!

The rugby focus is shifting to test rugby and about time to. The Lions in NZ, are hotting up nicely and they have not even played a game as yet! This will be the series to watch and Graham Henry has hinted that this year’s Tri Nations may not be the All Blacks biggest concern, the Lions and end of year Grand Slam attempt being more of a priority. Good news for Jake White no doubt.

The Springboks are preparing for a quick warmup against the ‘powerhouse’ of South American rugby, Uruguay and they can only be an embarrassment factor, i.e. if they are not drilled by at least 50 points. The real business at hand is the French and they have selected the best players available to tour a country where they have had some unerring results in modern times. The Springboks have been warned by no less an intimidating and knowledgeable figure than monsieur Mallett, recent of Stade Francais. The ex-Springbok coach is of course speaking from first hand experience and hopefully his warnings are taken to heart.

Enjoy a relative quiet rugby weekend; the only action is the Lions and the Jonah Lomu comeback game against a Martin Johnson XV. Hopefully the big man has restored his health it will be great to see him back in action. More on that, next week.



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It is abundantly clear that this is the worst Lions team to arrive in New Zealand that I can remember.     Laurie Mains

The problem was we wanted to be bigger than the game. Egos got involved from all of us.      Mike Stofile

I've resigned unconditionally, if they ask me to come back, I won't.     Theunie Lategan

I have had a long chat to him about the Super 12. I was straight with him. I have expectations of him and he now has to deliver.      Jake White on Joe van Niekerk

It's the closest thing to a test match that you'll encounter without a doubt. The intensity is up a notch from a round-robin fixture - and similar to a Test match as there is no next week.      Robbie Deans on playing a Super 12 final

At the age of 29 it was a difficult decision to retire from rugby, but the opportunity to work with Nick mallett, who has so much experience, was something I could simply not refuse.      Louis Koen, new WP kicking coach

We don't experiment with Test caps but we do understand the importance of developing a strong squad of talented players towards France in 2007.       Eddie Jones

South Africans, generally, don't know too much about the French players. I can assure you this is no understrength or second-string side. This is the best around in France and this is the squad that is being moulded to host the World Cup in 2007.        Nick Mallett

If any stuff happens in the game ... we'll dish it out back to them. I'm expecting them [Lions] to be pretty physical, so there's going to be a big contest up front and you can't afford to take a backward step.       Wayne Ormond, Bay of Plenty captain

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