Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 24

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Well the Tri Nations’ is out of the blocks and judging from the first instalment - in ruddy good health. In fact compared to the over hyped and over typed Lions’ tour that was real test rugby!

The Wallabies, despite unbelievable off the field distractions produced one of their better performances in South Africa to lose by effectively 3 points in a match they mostly dominated. In fact, they played like they were going to be forced to snack on Drew Mitchell’s… well let’s leave it there and to Stephen Larkham!

The duo of Waugh and Smith created havoc in the loose and the Springboks despite good scrumming and lineouts found themselves 13-3 behind at halftime. To say that Springbok supporters were sulking would be an understatement… Springbok teams of the past few years would have lost that test. Not the class of 2005. They remained composed, scored a fantastic try with Habana’s injection of pace from a first phase and Montgomery kicked like the seasoned professional that he is. Hats off to that performance.

An interesting observation was how edgy Andre Pretorius was in the final minutes… he wanted to drop the ball with all his might. But then this writer remembered that here was a lad whose last test match was the drubbing against England at Twickenham in 2002 – he is not use to winning in the Bok jersey! It also demonstrated that this team has some way to grow. A more matured and confident team would have scored 7 point to seal Australia’s fate and deny them a bonus point. Make no mistake; this is not a criticism of a wonderful victory but the setting of new goals and standards.

This coming Saturday is the culmination of the rugby year for this writer. A test against the All Blacks. They (NZ) may have moved on slightly in the how important are Springbok test stakes but for any 1970’s baby and older – the yardstick for a Springbok team or player is in a test against the All Blacks.

Last year, the All Blacks were sub par and probably the worst All Black team to visit this shore. 12 months later and the picture is considerably different. In the 2004 end of year tour Graham Henry took an underperforming lot overseas and in 80 minutes against France sculpted something special. He had the courage to select Dan Carter as his no 10 and this year against Woodward’s Lions the young man proved his weight in gold. The All Blacks pulverized the Lions and in terms of confidence should be on a high however everyone now acknowledges the poor quality of the combined team.

The AB’s have had a lot of rest and no doubt will be fresh and chomping at the bit to put practice in play. Against them will be battle hardened Springboks who play in their 4 match in about 5 weeks after 3 games against the second ranked team in the world. They have mustered 2 victories and they should be confident in their ability, game plan and players. The scene could not be set any better.

Who will win this encounter? Forward domination blah blah blah… everybody knows that. What could be the difference between these two teams this Saturday is attitude. The Springboks are no longer the whipping boys and should feel confident that they can match the best in the world on any given Saturday, especially at home. That will give them attitude. What nobody wants and everyone fears is too much attitude and Jake White’s team is yet to perform well in successive test matches. They know that. If the confidence is up, the attitude correct then the Springboks will win, oh yes and lineout domination, battle of the loose ball where finally, Schalkie takes on Richie and the best defence. Those things go without saying.

This armchair supporter will swap his couch for the pavilion and be right there at the game to support and observe the best spectacle in world rugby. Whatever the outcome – the match will be brilliant to watch. Enjoy at home and good luck to your team.



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The Gambler by Desmond Organ
The selection choices that Jake White has gone for against the All Blacks indicate that he is a gambler, a risk taker and perhaps a coach that sometimes does not choose the right horses for the right courses. In the coaches defence it is almost impossible to expect the same team to perform three weeks in a row. It does however question his assertion a year ago and more recently of his reluctance to play De Villiers at inside centre and to drop players that were clearly out of form.

South African supporters will be mightily relieved that Matfield is in the mix; van den Bergh may be the best replacement for that type of game that Victor plays but he is not the whole nine yards. Matfield is crucial to the Springboks lineout strategies and just seems to bring the best out of players around him. Even if he does not go the full 80 minutes he needs to play at least 80% of the game to ensure that we have the best chance of winning. White’s selections in a few other areas are somewhat of a cause for concern.

Ricky Januarie ahead of Du Preez at Ellis Park and Loftus would have made perfect sense; Du Preez is a far better option in the type of conditions that are unlikely at Newlands. White has yet to find the balance between defending combinations, rotating players in a rigorous schedule and getting the balance right when it comes to the types of players required for certain conditions. Cronje is more of a heavy surface player and yet he played the majority of the match in Pretoria when Van Niekerk would have been the right option. White also persisted with Dinosaur Danie after several bungling displays in which he clearly lost the ball on contact again and again.

The return of Shimange and the retention of Julies are not that surprising; yet you have to feel for Gary Botha. The man has been judged on an average performance for the Barbarians and a skew throw in the last few minutes of the game last week. Retaining John Smit as the tighthead option when the substituting begins is the WRONG option, he is fine at tighthead but not the answer at loose head. It has become abundantly clear that we do not have enough tightheads. White has played his cards with respect to Sephaka and the player could be moulded as a future tighthead. He is not the answer at the moment and neither is Eddie Andrews. The team has won several matches now without the benefit of a class tighthead and this will count against us sooner or later.

I do however admire the fact that White appears to have defined a first choice and second choice player for nearly 90% of the positions. The only players that he seems to be waiting for are the likes of Ashwin Willemse and perhaps even Gaffie Du Toit. Yes! Gaffie Du Toit, the man may not be the choice of the average armchair critic but he has a similar set of attributes to Percy. He will however never be as good, simply because Percy has played in almost every position in the backline over the years. The persistence with Wayne Julies is a talisman strategy according to Mark Keohane, I have my own theory and since I have committed to silence on such matters it shall remain so.

The All Blacks are probably more at home at Newlands than the Springboks and nobody needs to be reminded of the Stormers rate of success in crucial games in the past. This last point might seem strange but the ground has not been good for us in crunch matches for a long while, perhaps even as far back as the opening game of the 1995 World Cup.

Passion won for us on that occasion and the Aussies rated their players as simply being far better at the time and were found out. We have been on the losing side a few times at this location and how can we expect those that live in the shadow of the mountain to have the same passionate support as Ellis Park. Loftus does not have the Ellis Park aura and neither does Kings Park; I would still go for the both of them before Newlands. I don’t care how many trophies Province has won; it is not the home of rugby in South Africa.

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My wife and I sat down and made some serious decisions, we decided we couldn't stay in South Africa any more. I had a complete lack of faith in the rugby system in South Africa. My wife has been hurt so much by what happened over there that I'm not convinced I want to immediately get back into coaching but we'll see.    Kevin Putt

I don't think we're close to where we can be as a team. I get excited every time we run out.     Jake White

It's going to be absolutely huge. By Kick-off, I am going to be beside myself. Taking on a Springbok team on a roll at a sold-out Newlands is going to be electrifying. We play because of these big occasions.       Byron Kelleher

They just need to keep developing the pride that has always been there, so that players just want to represent the Springboks.      Sean Fitzpatrick

I analysed the Lions' tight phases and I believe the were not well prepared.        Gert Smal

He (John Smit) has my full backing and I think people should get off his back.       Morne Du Plessis

I have managed to fall back on the confidence Jake shows in me as captain and in the team. I do not try too hard to be a captain, but I do rely on the players to back me up and the support I get makes my life easier.    John Smit

The Loftus match was what we expected. It was typical Tri Nations stuff. We thought the Boks might win and they outlasted the Australians with a couple of useful goals at the end. Yes, Australia did have a chance to close out the match, but they didn't, did they? I think the Boks showed good character to get on top in the second half because the Wallabies were playing good rugby in that first half.      Graham Henry

Hello Lucas,

I do enjoy your letters! Thank you. For what it is worth: Stephen R. Covey, author of "The seven Habits of highly effective people" and another "The Eighth Habit". One would like to recommend these writings to every guy who plays, administers, coaches, trains as well as the 'motivators' in SA Rugby! One of his readers commented, and I quote, "This book is filled with pratical wisdom for people who want to take control of their lives, their businesses and their careers. Each time I read a section again, I get new insights, which suggests the messages are fundamental and deep". Let us hope that our 'dry seasons' are seen as more successes in the future!

Enid Pennel

Hi Lucas

I refer to Jake White's comment about the Wallabies of the field antics and discipline and stating that this is as a result of the influence of Rugby League in Aus, which George Gregan replied "What a hilarious comment to make".

Jake White should rather make comments on fact and not what he thinks or hear-say. He is in no position to comment on what happens inside the Wallaby camp. Why does he lower himself by making not hilarious comments but stupid comments and rather savour the moment and gloat by beating the Wallabies twice in a row, which very seldom occurs in Springbok rugby. As the saying goes he who laughs last, laughs the longest.

My prediction for Saturdays game is that the Springbok bubble will burst as the might of the All Blacks will reign supreme. It will be great to pull on my All Black jumper again after the Lions tour of NZ.


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