Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 33

Editors Note

Brilliant!     And so we find ourselves, one year later, in exactly the same position in the Currie Cup. In fact, dear Rip van Winkel will feel completely at home had he chosen to fall asleep round about October 2004. Arguably the 4 best teams from this year’s Currie Cup has progressed to the semi-finals but here in lies the issue, it gives credence to the administrators shambolic competition format decision-making.

There are two salivating clashes this weekend between traditionally the strongest provinces in South Africa (and we are talking way back here). Agreed, the Sharks were successful in the nineties but since then their record in finals are second to everyone! It was 10 years ago since their last famous victory and at their current performance levels the trophy cupboard will remain as barren as the Great Karoo.

OK. Let us not kick a province when they are down even though a good kicking might be exactly what they need, starting at the top… Bygones. The semi-finals proper are; the Bulls vs. the Lions at Loftus and WP vs. the Cheetahs at Newlands. The first match is probably the more intriguing one mostly because of the different strengths of the two teams, while the second will be a far more tactical match where the smartest team on the day will suffice.

The Bulls have most going for them, they have a brilliant forward pack who boasts an intimidating front row custom designed to scrum, scrum and scrum. Behind the big men are the world’s premier lock pairing guaranteed to rattle any hooker’s aim and in the process turn him into a quivering bundle of nerves every time the ball crosses the touchline. The loose forwards are big, mean and very well balanced although the only potential weakness is speed to the loose ball but then there is a better chance seeing John Daly take a half swing than a Bulls wing with the ball from phased play. That brings us to the backs.

The Bulls possess some excellent backs, they just choose not to use them often enough and few will criticise three Cups in a row. Hey if it isn’t broken, why fix it? Hougaard or van Wyk are accomplished kickers of the ball but it is the latter that probably excites the most with his overall play and also the one to start. Outside him he has efficient hard working backs but none flash. Wynand Olivier is alright but needs to step up and prove his talent on the big stage.

The Lions are up against it, no doubt, Loftus is intimidating, the opposition pack even more so BUT if they can maintain a degree of parity and Lukas van Biljon can find a few of his jumpers then their wildly exciting backline under the leadership of distributor extraordinaire Andre Pretorius will make the difference. They need to ensure that scrumhalf, Nicholas Ayre gets the ball wide pronto and bring Wylie Human, Jaque Fourie and Jantjes in play. The obvious gameplan will be the very same one, the Aussies used to thump the Springboks in Sydney earlier this year.

The other semi-final at Newlands will have the locals hoping to atone for their defeat last year in the rain. Nowadays, Newlands is almost a home game for the Freestaters as they have won there more often than they have lost. The astute technical brain of Rassie Erasmus will ensure a one off plan to beat Province by keeping it tighter than the normal Cheetahs gameplan and try and nullify Burger and van Niekerk’s pace and skills in open play. The Cheetahs are very much a team effort and as we all know, there are few greater team games than rugby.

WP is the enigma of SA rugby at the moment, few knows what team will run out and how they will fare. Traditionally, they are keen to run the ball and have the country’s best centre in Jean De Villiers at their disposal. He has been ineffective without the ball, funny that… and that will be Rassie’s plan, whatever you do, keep the ball away from Jean and don’t give Seconds a minute, he is a try scoring freak.

As for predictions, Lion’s to get third time lucky and Province to benefit from some fortunate intercept/mistake to win a tight contest. Enjoy the games!



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It would be presumptuous of me to think I could just come back and play for England, I can't just say, 'I want to play another game'. You have got to make a long-term commitment and the next stage is the World Cup in 2007. We will see what happens but I can't make that sort of decision until I am back on a rugby pitch playing for Wasps.       Lawrence Dallaglio

I would not have put myself through the week I have just been through if I was considering retirement. Retirement is something that is always around the corner. I am not starting my career, I am aware of that, but it is not something I have not faced in terms of setting time aside for it. I am aware of what I have to do to make a decision at the time.        George Gregan

We simply told them the truth. There is no money at present to contract any players. While we have managed to meet our current financial obligations, we do not have any guarantees that we will have money to contract players for next year. It was the honourable thing to inform the players of the state of affairs and allow them to make their own decisions, whether they want to leave or not.      Barend van Graan, the chairman of Eastern Province Rugby (Pty) Ltd

It's not a bad thing to go to South Africa first, traditionally you'd rather catch the South African teams early on. Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher on the Super 14 draw

In Australia it seems you've got to be in that little inner circle to get a coaching job, maybe it helps if you want to be a yes man. Perhaps that improves your chances of getting selected.        David Campese

I have been approached by the sponsors of SA Rugby to represent them on the board. We are still having discussions and, if and when there is finality, an appropriate announcement will be made by the sponsors.       Dr Ali Bacher

I don't go out there to do things illegally. I know what I'm doing at the breakdown and do things to win the ball back.       Richie McCaw

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