Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 20

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Don’t you just admire their Machiavellian ways? Who else could be so deviously evil (bar the doctor himself) to send the ‘best’ coach on the planet, with the biggest ever budget and a ‘spindoctor’ who could make Shane Warne’s antics seem respectable, on a rugby tour to New Zealand and purposefully lose just so they can attract the sympathy vote and win the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games? Only the British. How else can one explain the demoralising Lions’ defeats? After all, it is an art they have perfected by virtue of being a world power for more than two centuries.

Unfortunately after the lost series decider against their ex colonial upstarts, any delusions of grandeur and world domination disappeared quicker than Labatts profits. The great Welsh renaissance, England as reigning World Champions and a strong Irish contingent could not collectively beat the might of the All Blacks. This avid supporter of the tour is hugely disappointed with the outcome as probably most of the British and Irish Lions supporters are. One felt the contest should have been closer, the All Blacks were always going to be difficult to beat but heck everyone expected a series decider in Auckland this weekend with more hype generated than a Jerry Springer special. Alas, not.

The second test match was a very, very good one indeed. It had everything expected of a test between these special teams; tremendous pace, unbelievable atmosphere, loads of niggles and an absolute brilliant individual performance from Dan Carter. The young ‘first five’ or flyhalf as we know it produced one of the Lions history’s greatest ever performances. A few records were broken in this match but it did not accurately reflect Carter’s sheer brilliance in attack and match orchestration. Jonny Wilkinson, as the king is dead. Long live the king, Dan.

The series is for all means and purposes over. Will Clive Woodward be spared the ignominy of ‘spill the beans’ articles, books and DVD’s? Only time will tell however history dictates that within a losing side the issues are magnified 10-fold. The coach’s selection policy and certainly his preparation for the tests will be questioned for years to come. Hindsight is a powerful perception and maybe, just maybe Woodward will change his mind in a few months/years time about his declaration that he would have done nothing differently a second time around. Southampton - good luck.

Before the series began, this rugby book collector purchased the autobiography of that greatest of Lions, Willie John McBride. The big man spells out in no uncertain terms what is required for a Lions victory in both South Africa and in New Zealand. As one of the few men who actually accomplished this feat his views and points have merit regardless of the amateur/professional era difference. In fact, the professional era should have taken even more careful note of the legend’s advice. Maybe Clive Woodward chose to read business management manuals rather than research history and what it takes to win a series in New Zealand.

The gallant French lost to the Wallabies but after a gruelling domestic season, a tough tour to South Africa and a travel schedule to rival Phineas Fogg’s they can be relatively happy with their performance. The Aussies were better on the day and even with three key players off the field during the match, they still looked like the more composed, dangerous team on the park. Eddie Jones will be well chuffed with his team’s performance and it served as a great build up to the serious business of the Mandela Cup and the Tri Nations.

This weekend, the Springboks front up to the Aussies and with both teams contesting against the French, a thinnish yardstick will be in place for both team’s performances. The Springboks paralysed the French in Port Elizabeth through their strong tight phases and outstanding defence. The Aussies, ‘out-Frenched’ the French with some unbelievable counter attacking tries from virtually their own tryline. Eddie Jones and his squad is clear that playing South Africa require a different style, a different attitude and a different gameplan – they can adapt, its a traditional Aussie strength. At home after good preparation and with lots of confidence they should feel secure in keeping the Springboks winless in Australia for the 7th year in a row.

The Springboks face one of the most difficult tasks of the modern day Springbok team, an away victory over one of the big four (Oz, NZ, Fra, Eng) and this year will be no different, or will it? Jake White has insisted on squad retention and consistency in selection, a huge positive for all involved except his detractors and the public baying for the inclusion of players who performed well in the Super 12 but never really ‘shot the lights out’. It is a sound policy and faith in your players is an admirable trait until it clouds your obvious judgement a la Clive. Up until now, the coach has done all the right things, and produced the results, he deserves a bit more faith than what the average supporter seem to be willing to part with.

Can the Springboks win? This supporter will always say, hell yes! And with the experience in the squad and last year’s close loss, the chances for an upset are better than even, but not by much! Modern history has shown that the score between these two teams have always been very close, so the prediction is: the Springboks to squeak it with less than 7 points.

As for the All Blacks, it’s a dead rubber but they will be keen to rub the Lions noses in the sand but the game will have as little purpose as Ian Thorpe’s backing of the New York bid. The All Blacks will probably just squeak this one after a lacklustre start and trailing at halftime.

Enjoy the test rugby this weekend, this writer will be watching in the splendid surroundings of Knysna. Oh, and apologies - due to 'technical difficulties' there will be no quotes.



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 Spin Doctors by Desmond Organ
When Jake White ventured into the art of winding up the Irish he was on a hiding to nothing; he left them with nothing to lose and everything to gain if they ended up victors. What he also did was to provide extra motivation absolutely free of charge. The Lions took a man with a reputation for political spin on a rugby tour and ended up handing the All Blacks exactly the same motivation.

It is indeed sad that the brilliance of the coach is somewhat showered in controversy when it comes to the art of managing the media and the thousands of people that live off every bit of information that they can get their hands on. One of the only acceptable things associated with spin is the delivery of results. For years Woodward and to a lesser degree Eddie Jones have been masters at it and have delivered those results with which to be remembered by. Woodward has blown that image out of the water and is likely to be remembered for his failures as a Lions coach rather than for his successes as coach of England.

One of the differences between all these men and a man like Rod Macqueen is simply the fact that he delivered the results, managed the media and retired as one of the greatest rugby coaches ever. Jake White and Eddie Jones have yet to deliver the Web Ellis trophy but have tasted success at various levels. Woodward has delivered the golden trophy and he also reigned over the revival of England rugby. It does appear as of late as if that revival had more to do with the availability of a certain class of players and the skills of his assistant coaches. The Lions tour has earned him the reputation of a wind bag and an average coach. His masterful management structures and planning have now been exposed as expensive and unviable.

Jake White has got to learn that there are times when you wind up the opposition and there are times when you are more humble, a Macqueen approach as opposed to the Eddie Jones way of working. He would also be advised to hire a decent communications management advisor to guide him in the art of spinning; a great pity then that our own Mark Keohane had to waste his talents in the midst of people that were well and truly out of their league. As is typical of South African rugby we never seem to get the recipe right at the appropriate time; Jake has an eye for talent and loves to talk to the media at the same time. He needs to learn to use the media in the appropriate manner and to avoid using them to manage himself into and out of potentially complex situations.

The jokes that are doing the rounds in London about the “Plonkers” as they have been named are quite spectacular and it is providing endless humour for the Welsh and Scottish supporters who have not had anything positive to say about the Woodward way of running one of the wonders of the game of rugby. Let’s hope that Jake White despite the challenges of the job and the political pressures can learn to manage the media in a way that is both beneficial to his image and the reputation of the Springbok team. The Springboks are getting better all the time and there is no reason why the transformation plans that are required will not strengthen the team; it is without doubt a great opportunity to once again look forward to Springbok teams performing at the highest level.

Jake should do his homework and identify those in the media that will respect his position as coach and who focus on the “real” journalists as opposed to those that feed off scandal in the hope of making a quick buck or launching a short lived sensational ride to riches. There are several respected people in South Africa who should provide him with that sort of support; it is up to him to reach out to them.

Hi Lucas

Ek is iemand wat te midde van alles probeer om objektief en gebalanseerd te bly. Ek ken Jake White nie persoonlik nie en is niks aan hom verskuldig nie en hy betaal my ook niks wat ek nou gaan kwyt raak nie. Al wat ek vir hom kan se is dat hy een van die braafste mense is wat ek van weet.

Om te midde van die omstandighede in die land Springbok rugby afrigter te wees neem 'n mens met nie net hare op jou bors nie maar staalwol op jou bors. As julle reg kan onthou ek het net na Van Rooyen se aanstelling as president genoem dat hier kom 'n gemors, en ek glo nie ek was verkeerd nie. Hy hoort nie in daardie posisie nie, hy het nie die statuur of die persoonlikheid nie.

Ek hoop ook dat hy en sy trawante nie meer verder vir ons lieg op TV en in die media nie. Hy noem dat kwotas nie bestaan nie. Wat is die voorse van spankeuses met ander woorde? Oor John Smit wat almal as kaptein wil wegjaag, hou tog nou op daarmee. Hy is die beste kaptein wat daar is. Francois Pienaar was ook nie die beste speler nie maar hy het ander eienskappe gehad wat hom 'n besondere leier gemaak het.

Die persone wat die onsmaaklike e-posse aan White gestuur het behoort hulle te skaam. Dit wys jou net wat se
kaliber ondersteuners daar is. Dit spreek van swak smaak en opvoeding.

Tot volgende keer.
Chris Erasmus

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