Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 36

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Thank goodness for the return of international rugby… an inbox can handle only so much Cheetah SPAM in 2 weeks! Few things in this world excites this supporter more than a four week test rugby gluttony to rival the World Cup. Definitely a DW with Angelina Jolie but Brad's has her booked, so its rugby nirvana for the next month and hopefully no more reworked, old Bulls jokes...

The two Southern Hemisphere superpowers and Australia are all on their end-of-year tours and the press officers are already formulating a new spin to the standard lines of ‘it’s been a long season’, ‘there is too much rugby’ and ‘we need an international season’ blah blah blah. All true but heck, it has been going on now for years and it is about time teams get on with it, play to win and if they lose, well, bygones.

Of the three, the All Blacks certainly have the most daunting EOY tour in their recent memory. Not completely satisfied with a whitewash over the Lions and a Tri Nations trophy, they are attempting the Grand Slam in the same season. If and one suspect when they accomplish this feat it will probably go down as the single most successful accomplishment in All Black rugby after winning the World Cup in 1987. It will certainly confirm a very, very good team as a great one.

It would have been nice to kick off against the Scots, for a happy throw around, test a few combinations and stretch the legs before the serious business of winning the Slam proper but no, this is a tough schedule. First up, are the Six Nations’ champions Wales, probably the most improved team in the Northern Hemisphere. In the last few seasons they have come close to causing major upsets over visiting marauders from down south and they will test, thoroughly, Henry and Umaga’s quest for immortality.

In Paris, France will host the Wallabies and the big question is, will Eddie Jones’ men break their 5-match losing streak? It is a lot to ask of a young Wallaby team under pressure and with a few new players. The frogs are a tough nut to crack in front of a partisan crowd who makes more noise than a lottery winner. The key for Australia and probably the focus of the tour, will be to lift their forward’s performance to rival current international standards and provide their enormously skilful back row and backline with enough forward momentum to score tries. Few teams are as good as the Wallabies when they get consistent good ball up front BUT first they will have to outmuscle the French pack.

At more or less the same time, a few time zones and a continent away, the Springboks take on Argentina in Buenos Aires. The Argies will be playing with their ‘first’ team as this is a sanctioned international weekend and the French clubs, where most of their players ply their trade, will have released them for the test. The difficulties for Marcello Loffreda, their coach, are many. Squad practices are held in Europe and he cannot always select his best team but despite all this, they present a formidable challenge, especially at home. Over the last few seasons, they have achieved some really good results but there is one result, no Argentinean coach or player can boast as yet of and that is a victory over a Springbok team.

Jake White and John Smit will certainly not want to break that proud record, especially after the highs of the last two seasons. The Springbok team is once again reasonably settled despite a few injury omissions from the tour and what a change that makes to team confidence. If only old Brian can now learn the names of the team and what provinces they play for, heck he has a lot less names to remember than poor old Silas. White has accomplished a fair amount of consistency with core players in vital positions and he has augmented his squad with talent, youth and promise. These are ideal conditions for players to thrive under and they can subsequently produce their best. Their best is what will be required however to beat off the famous bajada challenge and a team that plays slightly unconventional.

The rolling maul is one of the big threats and White, quite correctly stated that there is no legal way to stop it from chewing up yards of opposition territory. The only way is for one player to sacrifice a penalty and card and bring it down. The other method, worth exploring is to isolate the charging group from the ball carrier, who usually takes up the protected spot at the back. As soon as contact is lost, the ‘truck-and-trailer’ effect will result in a penalty to the defending side. Easier said than done obviously, but Solly Tyibilika can be very influential in this phase as he does not have Burger’s reputation (for yellow) and is probably small enough to get in between the opposing players and cause havoc.

The weekend will be a long slog in front of the couch with a couple of cricket matches to play against the New Zealanders, why can we not beat them so readily on the rugby pitch? All the rugby, golf… hopefully the weather is bad! As is usual this is an opportunity to eat the pie… NZ to win, France to win, SA to win. Enjoy!



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Then, and I still can't believe this, the nurse asked me if she could have my Lions shirt! Mother of God, what was she thinking? I've been speared off the blo-ody pitch after just 40 seconds of a test series and she wants the shirt off my back as well. What is wrong with this blo-ody country? Just start treating me like a human being, will you!       Brian O'Driscoll in his Lion's tour diary

I think they (players) realised that we just can't afford to offer contracts to a large group, because we don't have enough money. You have to be realistic about these matters.      A senior SA Rugby official

We don't play for bonus points. If you lose, it's the end of the story and if you win, one point is more than enough. A penalty kick in Europe, as a matter of fact, is nearly just as valuable as a try, because the outcome of matches is often decided by kicks. It's very similar to the knock-out rounds in the RWC tournament, where it's just about winning or losing. I consider this tour a good trial run for the RWC (to be decided in France).     Jake White

It would liberate the game and, if we are going to be a global sport, how we can ignore Asia, with two-thirds of the world's population, is beyond me.         Bob Dwyer fears Japan may not get to host RWC 2011

We have never done anything like this before in terms of shifting our Sunday service to make way for anything - let alone the rugby.        Pastor Russell Embling from the Greerton Bible Church in the North Island coastal town of Tauranga on moving sermons for All Black tour matches on a Sunday morning

When I told Meyer (Bosman) that he was going on tour with us, both he and his father burst into tears. This just summed up how important it is for players to be a part of this team.       Jake White

The direction of the All Blacks that we've created since last year's tour is about getting along with one another for the best of the team, and to grow the team rather than looking at the individual aspect and saying: 'That's my position'. As long as you say 'this is my jersey' it's a more selfish thing.        Byron Kelleher

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Hi Lucas,

Thanks for your Brilliant summary of our southern season. I am not confident in the guys traveling well mainly because the team has a lot of tired players and that's part of the reason why the Currie Cup final was a dour display or at least below par display. If anyone can pull this team together for the tour Jake can but lets congratulate SARFU for another inept display and there uncanny ability at looking after everyone but the players of this great game. The future in their hands makes me think of our neighbours under Mad Bob. Oh Despair.


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