Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 26

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Rugby’d out yet? No ways! And it’s only going to get better. Round three of the Tri Nations was completed with a result quite similar to a Madonna equestrian outing – there was a fractured limb, lots of bruises and the thoroughbred came out on top… oops!

The no. 1 ranked team in the world, the All Blacks beat a dilapidated Wallabies side in Sydney on Saturday. The home boys started up like a Rolling Stones record with new boy on the block, Drew Mitchell providing some scintillating breaks and an excellent try to race 13-0 ahead. Many of the All Blacks must have sensed a bit of déjà vu as they were in exactly the same position a week ago. Like the week before, they fought back but this time they continued to apply the pressure and score 30 unanswered points – in the process blowing more scoring opportunities than Brad Pitt.

A quick observation about Drew Mitchell, (and nothing to do with ‘chef’ Stephen Larkham’s grisly recipe…) he seemed to break the All Black defensive line almost at will. Yes, he is a wonderfully talented and balanced runner but how often do we see a new face in international rugby perform miracles one week only to be analyzed and contained the next. Not taking anything away from this kid especially after that excellent performance but he will now be ‘marked’ and will find the gaps a lot smaller. His challenge is to do it week in and week out – he is certainly good enough.

The match was a good one, not one of the great vintage tests as we have seen in the past but then, the Wallabies suffered more injuries than extras on a Steven Seagal movie set. At one stage, Chris Whitaker was playing flyhalf and somehow Gregan re-appeared after being subbed – not sure if it is allowed but hey maybe it was a bloodbin. The personnel changes did not curb the rapid recycling pattern employed by the Aussies but merely the effectiveness of it. They were every inch as determined but the Al Blacks coped easily with the pressure and made their first time tackles. Hats off to the Wallabies for never stop trying.

As for Eddie Jones and his position being under threat, the appropriate advice would be to tread carefully Eddie. Usually when management say they are ‘right behind you’ or words to that effect it translates to, ‘we are lining up to stab you in the back’. Rather have them in front of you, where you can see them!

This weekend the Springboks line up in Perth for their fourth shot at the Aussies this season. The notions that they (Aussies) are under strength and in trouble must be dismissed not by a mere shirk but rather violently cast aside. There might be a certain degree of vulnerability but that will make the team all the more determined to perform and right the wrongs. One only needs to cast an eye up north to their cricket team to witness what sportsmen from downunder are made of.

Despite all that, it will be a great opportunity for the Springboks to clinch their first victory in Australasia for years. The All Blacks, ensured with their victory that the Springboks must not only beat the Wallabies but also the big dogs in Dunedin to successfully defend their title. Jake White and his team has certainly learnt a few valuable lessons from last year and the earlier Sydney debacle – never take a Wallaby side or All Black for that matter lightly on home soil. This writer believes they are best prepared now than ever to make that breakthrough; it is all about how well they cope with expectation and pressure.

So, this weekend a phenomenal game awaits and it will certainly meet expectation as we have become accustomed to (how things have changed!). This supporter will be on his couch hoping to have a few quiet beers during the game and a lot of noisy ones after, regardless of the result! Enjoy.



Visit www.rugbyforum.co.za

World Beaters or Pretenders? by Desmond Organ
Saturday 20 August is one of the dates against which Jake White and his band of merry men will be judged by future generations of Springbok supporters. A win will go down as the day we won away from home against a major team for the first time in nearly a decade. A loss will go down as the day the potential world beaters became pretenders for yet another year.

It might be a bit harsh to expect Jake White to deliver the desired result in such a short time since taking up his tenure as national coach; many have commented on his job being the toughest in the world of rugby and nothing much has changed in that regard. We had the proverbial squealing from SARU that the press and media are ill informed and that it is a well run organisation. What an oxymoron that is, crowd attendance has absolutely nothing to do with Van Rooyen and his cronies and everything to do with the team coached by Jake White.

There are also those that will say that Australia have fielded 30 odd players so far this year and that surely means that they are there for the taking in Perth; again not the right statement to make as the Springboks themselves can attest to: It is very difficult to beat them at home and we have the same record when it comes to their visits to South Africa. Saturday is a great opportunity that will not come that often and we absolutely have to make the most of it; even if that means a one point victory through a three pointer in injury time. The Wallabies achieved the same thing in Durban several years ago and with it they won the Tri-Nations and became even bigger World beaters than some of the teams before them.

Should the Springboks fail to come away with a win it will not be a case of change the coach or forget about winning the World Cup; what it will say to all is that they have yet to turn the corner and become real world class performers. England faced the same dilemma under Clive Woodward and he delivered victories against South Africa, Australia and New Zealand on route to putting together the squad that won the World Cup. Jake White has to achieve the same thing before the World Cup in 2007 and this is the time to do it. He has to remove the barriers that exist in the minds of the players and the rugby public and winning away from home against Australia would be the perfect start. A victory will allow him to focus on other areas of the team’s performance as he attempts to take us on the path to a semi-final appearance in 2007.

Teams that win the World Cup are seldom built in a matter of months, there is a need for talent, commitment and continuity; something that South Africa has only flirted with in the last ten years. I remember Kitch Christie and Nick Mallett and I am looking forward to having a reason to remember Jake White. His predecessors excelled in similar circumstances and against incredible odds and now he has the opportunity to continue walking down the same road. All South Africans should manage their expectations and look at the bigger picture and a victory would be the ideal tonic for just that, even if the fellows at SARU take the credit for such an outcome in the process of hiding their greed and incompetence.

Finally it would be absolutely fantastic to be able to tell the World that we can win away from home and that despite quality players leaving our shores in order to play for others we still have the talent and ability to win without them.

Subscribe to Sharkmail, weekly E-Zine sent to you from the heart of Natal Sharks Rugby. Get the latest news and competitions. Subscribe at sharksrugby@mweb.co.za

Yes, we've won one and drawn one in seven years in Perth, but it certainly does not represent a success story. Perth is still home to Australia. It is a part of Australia and they remain the home team in Perth.    Jake White

The experience I've had with the Wallabies, it doesn't matter who's on the field, when you think they're down, they come back and burn you, I guess 2003 [World Cup semi-final] was a classic example.        Richie McCaw.

They'll be hurting after a couple of losses over in South Africa so we're expecting a Wallaby team that's the same as always, bloody tough.      Richie McCaw.

Quite rightly, I am the villain of the piece. I had been on this rugby show in New Zealand to give my opinion on the Springbok victory (at Newlands) last week. When asked about the Kelleher incident, I suggested that the tackle was not late. When pressed, I suggested that if they were to look for any fault, the only question would be about the 'steel plate' in his arm. This was a gaffe by me because I meant to say 'fibreglass', not steel, which he wears as protection for an old injury. The slip obviously has had a huge impact. Thankfully it was immediately
dismissed as laughable by both the Boks and Kiwis and, quite rightly, the only person with egg on his face is me. Apologies again.       Kevin Putt

We look forward to them giving each other a good few 'klaps', while we relax with a quiet beer and watch on the big screen.      Jake White

We've got two matches to go in the Tri Nations tournament and this is the time when our coaching staff needs our full support. And they are getting it.         ARU managing director Gary Flowers

All I'm concerned about is coaching the side as well as I can. When someone makes the decision that I'm not the right person, I'll happily step aside. If someone tells me I'm not in the job, I'm not going to sit in my seat and not move.        Eddie Jones

I wasn't surprised by New Zealand's performance and how they got up tonight, but I think it puts our win last week in perspective because we have seen just how good they are. They beat the Lions 3-0 and now have recorded a convincing away win.        Jake White

Copyright 2005 Rugby Forum. All rights reserved. This e-mail may be freely distributed, provided that the document is left in its original form. Submissions are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the editor or owner.