Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 3

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Looking at this coming weekend’s rugby fixtures it is a bit like Nicole Kidman meets Charlize Theron big screen bonus extravaganza weekend. Whoa! Unfortunately the Kiwi’s have very little to offer this analogy since their talent is where it matters most in this case – on the rugby pitch!

The Super 12 will kick off on Friday morning with the opening match between the Highlanders and the Blues. There will be no less than 8 other live matches to watch in a marathon rugby weekend for the determined viewer! Highlights included, it amounts to almost 24 hours of continuous rugby… so if you have not yet stocked up with biltong, dry wors, cold beer and a few Panados there is only one shopping day left!

Looking back over the 4 years of RF coverage on the Super 12 the change is amazing. Back in 2001 there were match reports on every game… and the team of the tournament read like a legends invitation XV. It is easy to forget that the first match was played in 1996, making this the 10th edition of an exhilarating and pleasurable to watch, exhibition of running rugby. And there is no doubt that this year will continue in similar vein.

Traditionally, the New Zealanders rule the roost and only the sublime Brumbies have been able to wrestle the crown away from the Blues and Crusaders. For SA teams it has been a huge issue to win the crown but precious few teams have come close. Durbanites will be quick to remind all about the Sharks’ two final appearances but on both occasions they were completely overshadowed, confirming SA’s hopeless cause for a win.

Can it be different this year? Will an SA team be there in the final four and shock horror, reach and win a final? Most unlikely given the traditional obstacle of travel although every team by now should understand the logistics (given that it is the 10th tournament) and prepare accordingly. The crux though for the lack of victories is not purely travel related but more in the consistency in performance or rather inconsistency. How often have SA teams played superbly against opponents the one week to record marvellous victories only to throw it away, 7 days later with a lacklustre display? Every year.

The reasons for this phenomena are manifold, some are; the lack of conditioning, the lack of continuity in selection of both coaches and playing personnel, the lack of squad depth, the lack of confidence and the lack of victories on foreign soil. Not to mention internal politics and an unstable infrastructure surrounding the players. Yet, considering all these almost insurmountable obstacles – some of the SA teams attract the most support of all the franchises in the competition and every year there is a perennial hope that ‘this will be the year’. Will it?

Well, this could very well be THE year that a South African team win the Super 12 in 2005. A couple of reasons why maybe:

•    Superstition around the number 10 – here is a lot of synergy. Transvaal won the Super 10, the Springboks won the World Cup 10 years ago in 1995, the Tri Nations was won for a second time 10 years after democracy and finally SA won the bid to host the soccer World Cup in 2010.
•    It is the last Super 12 and the other good folk will feel sorry and basically hand the trophy over – it is the sporting thing to do.

Alas, on a serious note the chances is slim for a SA team to win and the focus should be to provide Jake White with enough players to select a competitive and representative Springbok team for the upcoming Tri Nations.

The third round of the Six Nations complete a rugby weekend nirvana and this very interested observer cannot wait for the Ireland/England clash. The two top sides in the British Isles (with respect to Wales) should provide for an absorbing encounter and Ireland will probably have more world support than ever before! They certainly have the talent to beat a more or less unchanged English team in Dublin in front of fanatical Guinness fuelled supporters.

France take on Wales in the other important clash and this might just be Laporte’s undoing. If Les Bleus does not show a marked improvement, the Welsh have the more attacking flair and hard working forwards to embarrass the French. Hopefully, this time Welsh supporters will not make any foolish bets against their country.

Enjoy a fabulous weekend of rugby, the first of many; this supporter will be at Newlands to watch the keenly awaited clash between the star studded Springb apologies Stormers and the no-name brand Sharks. There are always upsets aplenty in the Super 12, maybe even on the opening day…

Support your team at the park!



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Prediction Time by Desmond Organ
The Super 12 is upon us and the Six Nations reaches its halfway stage this weekend and if early betting reports from Australia are to be taken seriously then the South African teams are f…ed.
Few of the media pundits from South Africa have taken the risk of trying to predict the final table standings in the Super 12, preferring to give it a couple of weeks before finally rising to the challenge.

The task in the Northern Hemisphere might be somewhat simpler, but to assume the obvious is to venture into dangerous territory. Several reporters in the UK have installed the French and Irish as favourites for the weekend’s games. I for one believe that the reports may not be entirely correct; based primarily on the belief that it has been many years since England lost their first three matches in the Six Nations and also because I believe that the Welsh do have the ability to spring a surprise or two. My gut tells me that the English will beat Ireland and bring to an end all the hype about Grand Slams, Triple Crown and Six Nations trophies.

Wales on the other hand, despite their heroics against England and despite their rejuvenated team will lose to France and open up a genuine opportunity for the French to once again go for the Six Nations and Grand Slam. I just cannot see the French continuing to bumble along, but considering the hiding they got from the All Blacks my feelings might come to nought. France is clearly not the same force that they were a year ago and Laporte must be dreading the next few weekends. The game between Scotland and Italy could well determine who picks up the wooden spoon at the end of the tournament. If Scotland ends up propping up the table then Matt Williams is a goner as nobody can tolerate back to back seasons of humiliation.

The Super 12 has all the prospects of being a cracker, the success achieved by the Southern Hemisphere teams at the end of last year might be a good indication of what is to come. South Africans will be hoping for a repeat of the Tri-Nations and relishing the prospect of a South African Super 12 outfit finally going all the way. As mentioned earlier the Aussie bookies do not give us a chance and the Cats make a good bet at around 150 to 1. It might just be worth the while to bet on them because those odds are just too good to be ignored; reality though says that you could be wasting your money.

From a South African perspective it will be interesting to see if the Bulls can play expansive rugby with the recent signings from the Cats and elsewhere, one thing is for certain the forwards pack a mighty punch. The Stormers on the other hand look like a three quarter outfit with a back row that would like to spend a lot of it’s time conceding penalties or playing behind the advantage line. Watson, Burger and Van Niekerk will be powerless if the tight five are going backwards, a trip to Twickenham in November last year bears testimony to the fact that you cannot go forward whilst going backwards. The Sharks are an overhauled team and weeks one through four will be crucial, if they get off to a bad start they are going to be out of it and Kevin Putt will finally get his marching orders.

Down Under it is about the Waratahs and the Brumbies, playing away from home is the Waratahs Achilles heel and they to will be hoping that they can emulate the form of the perennially successful Brumbies who even without Matt Giteau will be a handful for any team either at home or away. The Red’s have failed to impress in the last few years and everybody knows that they are an unknown quantity yet again. I for one am looking forward to watching Rathbone and Tuqiri in full flight.

The land of the long white cloud will be all about the Crusaders and the Blues, these two outfits simply have all the talent at their disposal and a history of success in the competition, the other teams will upset the status quo on an infrequent basis and will not get into the final four in 3 months time.

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With the exception of slipping or the ball being sent off course by a gust of wind, there is no excuse why he cannot be successful.        Visual and skills specialist, Sheryll Calder on Gaffie Du Toit's kicking abilities

If SA Rugby are serious about transforming and growing the game, they must award the franchise to the Southern and Eastern Cape.       MEC for Sport in the Eastern Cape, Ms Nomsa Jajula and MEC for Sport in the Western Cape, Chris Stali

It feels that I don't belong there. It's nothing personal, I have no problems with the coaches or the players, but the whole system and style of play doesn't suit me.       Willem Stoltz on leaving the Cats

I don't know about any KGB-type undercover correspondence or dead-letter drops with the media, but I think a few people might be worried about what websites they've been surfing during office hours.        A 'source' at SA Rugby after a forensic audit to find out who was responsible for leaking information to the press

After 621 Super 12 games, the competition has produced 3793 tries at an average of more than six a match.

It is chiefly because of the line-out throwing that I am keeping Dixie as my first choice hooker at the moment, but I am committed to giving Shimmie as much game time as possible.       Gert Smal on why he selected Peter Dixon ahead of Hanyani Shimange, Springbok reserve hooker.

I don't want tokenism - it's an insult to everybody. And there are so many occasions when it seems that black players are there in order to satisfy the demands for transformation. That is not good for the morale of the individual or the team.        Desmond Tutu

There are 25 matches left before the World Cup so we must see as many players as possible - the competition is very high and open.     Manager, Jo Maso making it clear what the French priority is.

It would be highly unprofessional, and even childish, of me if I was to go out in this game to settle a personal grudge.       Luke Watson before the Stormers/Sharks clash

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