Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 5

Editors Note

Brilliant!     One of the Super 12 competition’s strange peculiarities reared its ugly head again after the second week of matches. And no, this is not a reference to Australian rugby player’s drinking or gambling habits but rather the unflinching regularity of South African teams ‘sudden’ decline after the opening home derby weekend.

In fact, not even Bill Murray’s film ‘Groundhog Day’ reflected the same unerring ‘sameness’ when he awoke to Sonny and Cher’s famous ditty than what the SA Super 12 contenders produce every year. Somewhere there is a lousy scriptwriter in the employ of SA Rugby and the same, dead beat drivel is dusted off for public consumption every year this time.

At least the unscrupulous reporter (Murray) finally turned into a likeable human being that used his rather unfortunate predicament to do some good (after some considerable abuse) for the residents of Punxsutawney and so escape his quandary. Could this be the root of the 2nd week malaise? That every year things will stay exactly the same until there is unity in the governance of the sport and goodwill to all players regardless of their race or colour. If, by some chance ‘somebody’ is playing out a ‘Groundhog Day’ on SA rugby we are in for a helluva lot more ‘I've got you babe’ wake up calls.

That said administration and coaches are not all to blame for a weekend of poor quality from the local franchises. Yes, the Stormers managed a 2-point draw in horrible conditions in the most southern city of NZ but they were the better team for a large part of the game. Their inability to convert kicks or even offer a second option to Gaffie’s notorious unreliability with the boot cost them a famous victory.

How can a guy who can thread a 80 meter punt, through 3-4 charging suicidal loose forwards miss a 5 meter wide target from a stationary position? Please Gert, give the kicking duties to somebody else. Who? I hear the big man rumbling from their Manly base in Australia. Well if the Brumbies can call on Stephen Larkham who is probably the Brumbies 7th choice kicker to slot the goals there is something seriously wrong with the skills levels of South African players.

Worse still, the Bulls were a couple of kicks away from an even more famous victory over the Brumbies in Canberra – a Twickenhamesque fortress to visiting SA teams. Despite a strong forward display and remarkable tries interwoven with exciting, dynamic play they lost the match because ‘wunderkind’ Derrick Hougaard cannot kick anymore… it’s a bit like Paris without the Eiffel tower, Austen Powers without his mojo… WHERE are the back up kickers and a captain who can make the change?

The Sharks performance was lamentable and noting that the Durban side is in deep trouble is like calling Shabir Shaik a dodgy businessman or stating the obvious. The situation is no longer a butt for jokes and jibes, the team is in serious trouble and the Bulls situation of a few years ago springs to mind. The problems are not entirely evident but there is a cancer, in what was one of the country’s premier outfits not too long ago, which will be difficult to cure. It requires something drastic or SA rugby will suffer more than it can afford to especially with a World Cup 2 seasons away.

As for the Cats' performance, Ollie Le Roux in his forthright column on keo.co.za (hopefully written by the big man himself) spoke about ‘letting down’ and ‘these things happen’ – what to make of that? True, we are all human and sometime sh*t happens but hell guys how can a team be so Jekyll and then Hyde in one week? Consistency remains the biggest curse in South African rugby – can you imagine what would happen if those Aussies could stay sober for every game? There would be three Australian teams in the play offs – instead it is the South African supporters who drink themselves into the play offs after watching their teams performances!

This writer inaccurately stated last week that there will be Six Nations matches over the weekend but of course it is this coming weekend. The Tsunami charity match at Twickenham was a wonderful occasion probably intended to showcase the best of South against North. But the North again suckered the Southern Hemisphere into sending their finest but not throwing in any of their own. The ‘no name’ brands fielded by the North were even less known than the Sharks outfit and they were duly dispatched by the superstars from the Tri Nations. A nice game but it could have been a real humdinger.

This coming weekend, hopefully, will see some positive results for the South African sides. The Stormers and Bulls have the ability to raise their levels and if they do i.e. play to their potential and ability then supporters can celebrate at least 2 SA victories. As for the Cats against the Waratahs, probably the Waratahs by a close margin and the impressive Hurricanes to beat the Sharks.

Competition:    There are 2 sets of tickets available for the Sharks/Hurricanes clash to the first RF reader to mail me the name of the Sharks fullback.

Enjoy the weekend rugby and support your teams live at the park, after all they need it more now than ever!



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You used to have quality players queuing and begging to sign for the Sharks and a core of guys at Kings Park that stuck together, whatever the circumstances, Now you have all these new guys who are just covering their backsides and, if the rumours are to be believed, they don't trust the coach.          Ollie Le Roux on the Sharks demise

I do not like it when age is mentioned. If the guy is good enough, he should play.         Marius Hurter

When you look at the timing of the game, it's not ideal. I'm under pressure back home to earn my place back in the Crusaders so a week away doesn't help that. But, at the end of the day this is a great opportunity, and to be invited is a huge honour and a big thrill. I may never play in this sort of game again.       Andrew Mehrtens

We shouldn't put too many [game plan] restraints on our players which can kill their skills and initiatives. If you become a one-dimensional team you will be found out very quickly.        Gert Smal

They are big and angry. I know that about them.        David Fitter, new Brumbies prop on the Bulls forwards

I don't think Andy said anything any team official wouldn't have said.          Clive Woodward

I get the feeling that with Tappe (Henning) if you haven't got clean boots he'll penalise you.      John Drake during the Blues/Reds clash

I don't know what to make of the Sharks.       Nick Mallett

We are disappointed with the performance of Derick (Hougaard), because we could have won against the Cats and the Brumbies if he was accurate with his kicking.        Heyneke Meyer

It adds up to nearly 120 weeks, and two-and-a-half years spent in squad sessions preparing for matches!  Fabian Pelous on his upcoming 100th test cap

He is a referee we like but I sincerely believe that he had a bad day and was completely wrong.      Bernard Laporte on Jonathan Kaplan

I don't expect to win the game by a mile.        Andy Robinson re England's game against Italy

Join the SARUGBY news and discussion group for the fastest sarugby news and the most intense debates around the South African game. Send a blank email to sarugby-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Hi Lucas

Demise of the Sharks.

Any knowledgeable fan who witnessed the absolute debacle on Saturday night against the Waratahs will realize that this has been coming for a long time. In fact, after careful consideration one realises that we have been in a steady decline for the last 3 years. The Sharks management has steadily eroded the magic and instead of raising the bar and setting new standards, has precipitated the drop to mediocrity and rubbish rugby by taking short term decisions with long term consequences and in short, operating with absolutely no vision

It is now time to wipe the marketing hype out of our eyes; ignore the fact that we have the best after party in the world; ignore the fact that excellent effort is going into the family’s and kids; ignore the fact that we have a great Sharks magazine; an excellent website; a great 15 minute show on TV and are probably the most widely recognized rugby team/franchise in the world. Ignore all this because if you are playing the kind of rugby that we saw on Saturday – all the above is worth nothing!!. The Sharks are a rugby team – they are here to play rugby. I do not spend over R2500 every year to have an after match party or receive a great magazine. I spend it to watch the great game of Rugby. Hopefully good, honest rugby, where I do not even mind if we lose, as long as we do so with honour and honest effort.

There is something seriously wrong at the management level of the Sharks. It cannot be the players!!. Some of them have been and still are good enough to be picked for the Boks and there are more than a handful who are unlucky not to have been picked. The Sharks are a team without a game plan and with no clear goals. Their motivation is suspect and the underlying stories are of players who are unhappy with each other and with their surrounds.

What has Sharks Management done in the last 3 years to ensure that the Sharks are a force in the Super 12 and the Currie Cup??. This does not make pleasant reading as it is an endless litany of failures and loss of players due to bad management. To name a few; what did the management do to keep Mark Andrews, Luke Watson; Warren Brosnihan; Gary Botha, Shaun Sowerby, Solly Tybilika and a host of other good players??. In the last 3 years; the only worthwhile and world class import has been …… that’s right folks, very difficult to remember even one player that has set the world on fire. (Brent Russell is the guy that you are thinking of!!). With all due respect to all the others – not one is going to even be on the Springbok top 50 let alone in the squad. There are great players in the team – Butch James could have a great future; Davidson, Botha, Coetzee, Muller, Breedt, Halstead, Mentz, Keil, Hall, Bobo, etc are all good journeyman players and could force their way into contention BUT not at the moment and not the way they are playing. Maybe AJ and John Smit could be the difference but you cannot build a Super 12 winning team around only two players.

Sorry Puttie, it is time you did the honourable thing and faced up to the fact that this effort has failed and move on. And immediately mind you!!. We cannot hang around when positive action needs to be taken. Get the best and quickly because without a winning team – The Sharks are nothing. Sharks management need to take a good look at themselves and this must start at the very top. With a report card of the last 3 years, this is a failing grade and you are the weakest link, - so goodbye.

Give me back the real Sharks; the ones who are focused on the game and not the sideshows; the ones who are professional rugby players who put 100% into every game they play. I am now tired and gatvol of hearing the mealy mouthed platitudes and excuses that I have been subjected to every damn Saturday for the last 3 years. I want to enjoy going to Kings Park again and to wake up on Sunday morning with a rugby song in my heart.

Cliff Arderne

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