Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 38

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Imagine most rugby teams in the world were capable of beating the All Blacks on any given day. That Azerbaijan could host the no 1 side at the Tofig Bakhramov Stadium in Baku and slap them around a bit. Or that Kazakhstan can demolish the England scrum, not in a hail of bullets to avenge a British comedian’s ridiculing of the national character but because they can.

Well dear readers, we really would need an international season because there were 16 tests played over the last weekend! To put this into perspective, it was an international football week and only 11 matches were played. This rugby supporter would never leave his couch!

What a tough year it has been for Australian supporters. Their last victory, against the Springboks early in the year promised so much when they dealt a confident Tri Nations champion team a comprehensive beating. Since then, a lot of injuries, serious pressure on individuals and some close calls have turned this into Australia’s worst year in professional rugby.

The match against England was an interesting one; it was not a great test or an exhibition of flowing rugby but rather a test of steely desperation. Eddie Jones and George Gregan desperately needed the victory but do not forget Andy Robinson, England’s beleaguered coach. Quite often the camera settled on Robinson and his face displayed the kind of panic prevalent in a schoolboy standing in front of the headmaster’s office after being caught smoking in the change rooms. It was Desperate Dan stuff for 75 minutes before Mark Cueto sealed the victory for England and Robinson actually cracked a bit of a smile until some insensitive &^%$#* mentioned the All Blacks visit…

England deserved the victory with a very strong forward performance. The power and intensity of their big men was similar to their demolition job of the Springboks last year, when Jake White called it ‘men against boys’. England always had strong forwards; it is the numbers beyond 10 that seems to be problematic. In Cueto and Cohen they have two big strong and quick wings that can score tries but they lack midfield creativity to bring out the best in them. Will Greenwood is sorely missed but the good news is, they are winning again and the foundation for winning is up front and with Jonny Wilkinson still to come, they will be a force to reckon with.

The All Black ‘2nd XV’ clobbered the Irish in a relatively boring match at Landsdowne Road. They were too strong, too fit, too quick and too good for the poor home team who missed the presence of Brian O’Driscoll. It is strange how a country that has been playing some excellent rugby over the last few years can build such a dependency on one player. Before BOD it was Keith Wood and the bald hooker almost always made them competitive regardless who they were playing. It is true that a world class player inspires his fellow men but their standards should be raised because of him not only with him.

This weekend, the Springboks take on Wales. The official second best side in the world will need to be careful of the Welsh in this game. Their two previous outings were utterly forgetful and they are due a good match where as the Springboks were mildly asleep against the Argentineans. The rivalry between the countries is a proud and old one but John Smit will not want his 50th cap tarnished by emulating Gary Teichman in 1999. Politics played a huge role in that defeat but Jake White has done tremendously well in his embracement of transformation. This happens to be a team, with less black representation than most his selected and there will almost certainly be criticism from certain quarters in this country.

It will be a huge match for young Meyer Bosman, only 21 and his Springbok debut. He is a Currie Cup champion with impressive references from seasoned coaches but it is a big ask in foreign country poor conditions and 60,000 wild Welsh supporters. This old supporter certainly wishes him well, he should think of the Millennium stadium as Loftus of a few weeks ago and do his thing. It is a young age to be thrown to the dragons but if he can emulate a young Schalk Burger or Drew Mitchell then his age is no factor.

Right, Nostredamus here is yet to get it wrong… so here the weekend predictions; All Blacks to take England but only just, Wallabies to skin Ireland, Springboks to beat Wales and Jake White to have at least two watches in front of him. Enjoy!



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A Tale of Two Countries by Desmond Organ
New Zealand and South Africa are pencilled in as number one and two in the world and yet there is a gulf between the two countries that is as wide as the ocean that separates them.

All Black fans will celebrate the prospect of the prospect of 30 players who could take them to the next World Cup whilst Springbok fans will spend the week postulating the next political outburst from Parliament. Whilst the South Pacific provides the future of All Black rugby Jake White plays a game of chess to gives the Fat Cats in Cape Town a weekly dose of political expedience.

New Zealand rugby pillages the talents of the South Pacific whilst we spend our time punching numbers in an attempt to eradicate the injustices of the past. The success of the U19 and U21 world cup teams is deemed irrelevant by the politicians who congratulate themselves on a daily basis for transforming the way we play the game in South Africa. The violence in Club Rugby and the corruption and incompetence that plague many aspects of the game play second fiddle to the numbers game.

Nobody doubts the need to transform the game in South Africa and there are individuals that are playing their part on a daily basis. Behind the scenes however there is the ongoing potpourri that is rugby in South Africa. Incompetence, prejudice and ill conceived appointments continue unabated. At the same time Graham Henry continues to build on his 2007 challenge and a victory over Ireland will see him take a step further along the road.

The squabbling, corruption and incompetent state of many of the Unions in South Africa is testament to the fact that the current team is the vision of a few men who cannot mange the broader rugby picture; this is not an indictment but a statement of fact. I cannot remember a time when the national coach and his provincial coaches were in agreement about the future. There are a few emerging coaches like Rassie Erasmus whose vision of the game is far more advanced than the majority but that in itself is never going to be enough.

There are positions where we appear to have sufficient depth but it is a little misleading because injuries have forced White to play the same group of players again and again. Defeat with a second string team would never be accepted in South Africa, it is win at all costs or face the wrath of the nation. Against this background we will always continue to be the team that manages one off wins against the major nations without ever really dominating at the level that the All Blacks do. This is the reality and nothing short of a major change in approach will change the status quo.

Jake White has dome a fantastic job as coach but he has failed to grow the squad to the point that there are two teams of fifteen that can compete with the best teams in the world. The All Blacks have achieved this for a number of years and always push the Northern Hemisphere teams year in and year out..

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The most disappointing thing is that we know we are better than this. We are performing at training the best I have ever seen any Australia squad train. We have some of the most talented individuals in world rugby in one team and it is small things that are losing us test matches. Behind all the frustration there is a lot of confidence, there is a belief we are not that far off. We could easily click.        Chris Latham

This autumn we have to lay down a marker so the rest of the world remembers what English rugby is all bout. We have to develop very, very quickly because we only have 18 months. At the moment, I don't think its too out of order for me to say that we wouldn't be winning the World Cup, so we have got a lot of work to do in the next 18 months, that's for sure.      Matt Dawson

I do wake up in the middle of the night wondering whether we are putting the right cards on the table in some or other aspect of our presentation.        Francois Pienaar

We're going through a learning curve in professional rugby and no one has any exit strategies for players. These guys are highly paid, they're not going to roll over and give up their income, they're going to stay as long as they can.       David Nucifora

We certainly weren't up to it today, I'm enormously concerned. It was quite evident there was not only a size factor but a technique factor as well.       Eddie Jones

Scotland have some very good players, and in the ruck situation they were much better than South Africa, there is no doubt about that. Against South Africa I think we only lost two or three balls in the contact area, and they have Schalk Burger - one of the best back row players in the world.       Agustín Pichot

It's important that the whole team understands it's not their right to play. Players must appreciate that there is accountability and responsibility when they are picked. It is a honour and a privilege.     Jake White

I categorically say that England are not involved in any way in terms of espionage. It is not true, so we move on. The game is going to be won this weekend on the pitch, so that is the key for us.      Andy Robinson

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