Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 35

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Hardly ever, in the history of South African rugby have so many supporters delighted in the great deeds of so few. The immortal result of the 2005 Currie Cup will be remembered longer than a superb hat trick of similar events. Fair? You decide. Congratulations Cheetahs, you won the Currie Cup!

The match itself was not a very good one and actually a terrible tribute to the current state of the game in this country. Judging from that display, we are not the number 2 ranked country in world rugby. There were niggles, plenty of off the ball incidents, a huge amount of poor kicking that resulted in even poorer mistakes from top players who could not catch a ball on a wind still highveld afternoon, a physio running on to the pitch and a refereeing display best forgotten. Correction, best remembered so Kaplan can work on his current level which is short of the lofty heights from a couple of years ago.

Luckily it was not all bad. In the final 20 minutes or so, the ulterior motives of both teams disappeared and they realised there was a tremendous history and prestige to play for. They stopped fighting and played some excellent rugby to finish off a match that had supporters cursing, crying, elating, bleating and finally- there was extreme ecstasy and deep despair.

Everybody by now know the statistics of Free State’s many previous attempts at the title but few can probably appreciate the magnitude of coach, Rassie Erasmus’ achievement. The young man, at a sprightly 33 years old was a player in the same team last year, so within a year he has undergone a transformation from player to coach, to Currie Cup winning coach. It is truly phenomenal and a large part of the memorable victory is thanks to his efforts and planning.

The Blue Bulls, on the day should have won the cup. They did not play their usual game and allowed themselves to get involved in all sorts of off the ball incidents resulting in yellow cards. They made the kind of mistakes one would expect from a team in their first final not 4th on the trot. Inexplicably, or arrogantly so, they chose not to kick penalties for post and they wasted two sure try scoring opportunities with fumbles behind the goal line. In hindsight a weak display from a much better team.

All credit to the Cheetahs though, they had a plan, to disrupt the Bulls forwards and their locks and lineout forwards put in a brilliant display against the world’s top pairing. Naka Drotske, as captain and hooker was excellent and combined with De Waal’s kicking prowess, they were too good on the day. The Cheetahs deserved their victory.

Away from the euphoria of so many anti-bulls, the Springboks are back in action and the latest squad was announced after the Currie Cup final. Two player's inclusion is to be lauded, Conrad Jantjes and Wikus van Heerden thoroughly deserve their call up. Jantjes played in a few tests under Harry Viljoen and regardless of many’s feelings towards the ex-Springbok coach, he was a brilliant spotter of young talent. It all probably came too early for the highly talented youngster but nowadays his play is matching up to his doubtless ability. Wikus van Heerden is simply one of the hardest grafters in the game and with his second bite at the cherry will not disappoint anybody.

The first test of the end-of-year-tour is in two weeks time, so next week, more on the Springboks as well as the All Blacks almighty quest to become the first team in history to beat the Lions and achieve the Grand Slam, all in one year.



Visit www.rugbyforum.co.za

New Zealand are lucky they have natural ball-runners, we don't probably have many natural ball-runners, so we have to work hard at improving that skill in terms of ball-running.       Eddie Jones

The atmosphere at Western Province just wasn't good for a youngster wanting to play rugby. There was an atmosphere of fear in that dressing room this season. No one in that team can go against Mallett. Players can't speak out or say what's worrying them. They're all afraid of him.          Enver Rose

I can't do anything about it if these players are scared of me. You may not like what you hear, but I have never been unapproachable.       Nick Mallett

I cannot believe that it is a year already, the time as a coach seems to fly by a lot quicker than when you are a player. I feel I have answered those who said that I was too young and not ready. I believe you either know this game or you don't. The players know if you know your stuff, and that is what is important.        Rassie Erasmus

I wouldn't say we have mediocre players, because we are not a mediocre team, but we do not have all the big name Boks like some other provinces do. That has been what has been most rewarding for me this season. Getting to where we are without a team of stars has been a huge challenge, and meeting that challenge has been fulfilling.        Rassie Erasmus

I haven't thought of it like this - that I've already won the World Cup and the Tri-Nations. I did know, however, that it was possibly my last chance to win the Currie Cup. I was very emotional.        Os Du Randt

I've never seen Os so emotional. He cried like a baby. It just showed you how the guys played for one another. Rassie Erasmus

The best team won. There are no sour grapes, we must pick our heads up and take it on the chin.        Heyneke Meyer

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

Hi Lucas,

Time too eat some humble pie old chap! Confucious said" Lord make my words sweet, cus one day I might have too eat them." I took the the following from last weeks message - ad verbatim. "“The Weakest Link” and one feels the only result will be, “Cheetahs, you’re the weakest link… goodbye!” Ouch!!!

Lucas for somebody who follows the rugby scene so avidly, it appears as if you missed one small detail. At Loftus the Bulls managed to scrape a win by 4 points, and the Bulls favourite tag was over emphasised. The Cheetah's had the players up front to match the Bulls, and to disrupt the top Lock pairing in world rugby. They won the cup with few stars, but with a collective team effort, guts, and some shrewd coaching.

The Bulls supporters will bleat about the Ref, and the yellow cards, but the facts are the the Bulls were guilty of over robust play, and were found wanting when the Cheetah's didn't back down. Bakkies headbutts Naka, Matfield klap Os with a forearm, where he basically had to change his line to achieve this. Habana got his yellow card probably because Kaplan was fed -up with the Bulls tactic.

Sure both sides had their share of off the ball play, etc. etc. The difference is that the Cheetah's made the play when the chips were down.

To the detractors, "Deal with it" The Cheetah's have lost their fair share of finals, due to marginal calls by referees. We'll take this one. They have been rewarded for their consistent efforts over the past seasons. Every year they lose their players, but hopefully the Super 14 will provide some much needed financial muscle. To the rest bad losers, I say "Bring it on"

To all the Cheetah's supporters, savour the moment, me thinks it will not take another 29 years to achieve, as most Bulls supporters are now claiming. More wishfull thinking than rational thinking.

Thank you "Wit Tornado's" and all their supporters.


Hi Lucas

After watching the NPC Final in Auckland and then later watching the Currie Cup Final, the latter was a poor advert for SA rugby. I am not referring to the standard of play which was not that high in the Currie Cup final, but all the other on the field happenings between the players, referee, linesmen and first aid men. Why is it that many SA rugby players have this mentality to take their aggressive nature onto the field and to use it against their opponents who are often there own Springbok team mates. One can understand the passion and adrenalin rush created by the occasion, but unfortunately many players believe that to get on top in the game, physical assault is necessary. Is this because of the violent society we live in and/or the baggage we carry from our past?

The ruling that the player who retaliates to a punch, ear biting incident or any other physical assault and is automatically penalised, should be re-visited as it is extremely harsh. It is human nature that when any person is physical assaulted in any situation they will automatically react or try and defend themselves in whatever means that comes to mind at that precise moment. How often do you see that the officials do not see the original transgressor dishing out his dirty deed and only for the officials to see the reactions of the retaliator. Let's face it the rule stating that 'you cannot take the law into your own hands' cannot apply when many officials are below par. By penalising the retaliator is just an easy way for the official to make a decision. Television replays should be used to identify the initial aggressor and nothing less than a red card should be given. This will make players think twice before throwing the first punch or the first bite.

To conclude I have the greatest admiration for Rassie Erasmus as having met him on many occasions in the past on flights to and from Australia and New Zealand. Pity that he did not extend his playing career by another year to win the Currie Cup as a player. Maybe winning it as the coach could mean bigger things for him in the future.


Goeie naand Lucas,

Ek hoop jy plaas die volgende stukkie by die "Quotes":

Saturday will be a great game between two teams who thoroughly deserve their passage to the final. If this writer has to pick a winner and remembering a 100% wrong track record last week, it can be no other than the Bulls. Enjoy the match!

Onthou, rugby is ook 'n sport, en sport het die manier om 'n mens nederig te hou.

Ek het eintlik net die laaste paar minute van die wedstryd geniet, maar ek geniet nog steeds elke oomblik na die wedstryd.


Bertie Liebenberg

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.