Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 6

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Yaaaawn. Another weekend of Super 12 rugby and yet another weekend of South African drivel slopped up to an undeserving public. Grabbing a Thesaurus and listing every synonym for poor, pathetic, useless will come nowhere close to a favourite Afrikaans expression and apt description of the past weekend’s efforts – kak!

In the 5th season of a ‘career’ of writing on rugby, this supporter/fanatic has hardly ever been this low on motivation regarding the South African game. Let’s face it, the past decade was calamitous in the context of Springbok history, some of the lowest of ebbs ever were reached and yet the bottom is still to be found. And Jake White had the temerity to give us all hope with last years Tri Nations title?

What is the gripe? The list is long but let’s look at the main points:

No victories in 8 matches: The first time in the history of the competition that no SA team won two weekends in a row. Say no more.

Kicking: Chipping and tactical kicking. SA sides have NO respect for possession, every player has kicked away with gay abandon and the most irritating thing is that they are too stupid to realise what they are doing and this must include the coaches for why does it continue?

Goal Kicking: How can teams exist without a second kicker? These are professional players with access to kicking coaches and more time on hand than anything else. So nobody wants the responsibility... and they get paid? For what?

Homework: Have none of the SA teams worked out by now that there is hardly a weak Australian player under a high ball? The country invented Aussie Rules and every kid growing up dreams of making a match winning catch wearing the country’s famous baggy green cricket cap at the SCG. The only guy struggling with the Garryowen (in the past mind you) is… correct you guessed it – Clyde Rathbone. Stop 'testing' the opposition with mindless up-and-unders!!

Tactical awareness: When a ball goes wider than the inside centre crashing it up, the ball is almost certainly turned over or more often than not a penalty is given away. The Brumbies or any of the other teams hardly ever get a player isolated, they know exactly up to the umpteenth phase where the plays are and who supports. Are SA teams only practicing 'scrum runs'?

High and late tackling: Yellow cards to ‘serial offenders’ De Wet Barry and Werner Greeff – two Springboks. Barry was unlucky for his yellow by got his just deserve for the Rathbone coathanger. He actually played a very good game and his centre play is one of the few middlelights of the season so far but marred by stupidity. Werner Greeff is playing on the odd moment of brilliance (very few and far between) however his overall play does not justify a starting position, too many brain farts too often.

Discipline: The most penalties in the competition? You’ve guessed it – SA teams. There is no respect for the ‘release the ball’ or the off side line. No patience and basically zero professionalism. Pathetic.

This can go on and on but why waste column space? The Six Nations has produced an epic season so far and the competition has shown why it has remained an attraction into its 3rd century. The high standard of rugby from Wales, Ireland and over the weekend, France has made this a far more entertaining prospect than yet another bloody Super 12 game. Imagine, Super 14… whoopido… how exciting will that be? Rugby as a product is fast losing its allure in the Southern Hemisphere and this is not purely because SA teams are shite but because over exposure is taking its toll.

This weekend will see the final round of the Six Nations and the big question is if Wales can overcome the Irish to bag their first Grand Slam since 1978. They have home ground advantage, excellent results, momentum and confidence in their playing pattern. The Irish was shown up by a mean French pack and some hard tackling backs that did some exquisite running with ample possession. They will be livid and sure to try and spoil the Welsh party with a far more structured game from the forwards from where O’Gara can dominate with the boot.

The match features a few interesting mini battles, Henderson against O’Driscoll will determine the Lions pecking order and Nigel Williams can further cement his claim for the tour to New Zealand. A great occasion and the Welsh is favoured to win but the occasion might prove too big for a young team forever living in the shadow of the greats from the seventies.

This armchair fanatic will be watching the following on TV this weekend: Six Nations, Big Ernie in the States, re-runs of Dallas and the Teletubbies, … Super 12? what Super 12?



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 A View from the North by Desmond Organ
A little over three months ago the Springboks and the All Blacks defeated a spirited Welsh team that had still not learnt how to win big games; Saturday finally defined the emergence of a Welsh team that now needs to learn how to kill off the opposition.

In recent years the All Blacks and to a lesser degree England have perfected the art of literally going for the jugular, anybody who watched the All Blacks smash the Springboks in Dunedin and at Loftus will know what I am talking about. England have also destroyed South Africa at Twickenham and proved once and for all that the Springboks have been living in a dream world for the last several years. The Springboks got one back at Ellis Park last year and went a step further with their victory over an inexperienced Welsh team. If Wales do win the Grand slam this weekend, there will be the usual banter about the strength of rugby in the opposing hemispheres; for one I am convinced that the Welsh have improved but generally the English, Irish and French have got worse than they were a year ago.

The game in Edinburgh was over by the half, but even still you cannot see an All Black team not going for the kill in similar situations, falling off tackles has become a profession of Scottish and South African and for that matter Italian and Welsh players. If these same said teams deliver the same type of performance against an Australian or All Black team they will get a good hiding. I have no doubt that the French are going to get better and better over the next two years and they are possibly the only real threat the Southern hemisphere teams at this point in time. The pressure of being Grand Slam favourites got to the Irish at the end of the day. Wales were always going to be the underdogs amongst the top three and they probably now have the best opportunity since the 70’s to go all the way.

The All Blacks must be relishing the prospect of playing against the Lions because of the drop off in performance of some of the other teams in the Six Nations, a good historian will tell you that could be risky because balanced Lions sides are often the most successful. At this point in time the potential make up of the Lions team has a 74 look to it, lots of Irish forwards, Welsh backs and the odd Englishmen and Scotsman. I firmly believe that the All Blacks are going to be a huge challenge for the Lions and it will be a great series.

South Africa is in the middle of a Scottish type crisis; the only difference is that we have a lot more players to choose from. The basics of tackling, distribution, general support play and off-loading in the tackle are key components of the modern game and we like the Scots just do not have the right level of skill in these areas. I have deliberately not included the Italians in this debate because I think that their forwards are playing more skilfully than all the South Africans in the Super 12. Italy may not have the depth that we do but the level of skill in individual players amongst the forwards just looks a lot better. We do not seem to have the coaching structures and performance targets to set as benchmarks, in fact our national technical skills committee is a debating club of questionable value.

I should in many ways probably be talking about the demise of South African rugby when it comes to the quality of rugby that I witnessed over the past weekend. Let’s just hope and pray that the Stormers and Western Province find a way to drag the rest of the country out of the quagmire that it currently finds itself in and let’s use the Scots as a benchmark of where we will end up if something is not done in a hurry.

 Round 3 Update by Dingo Marshall
Round three of the highly entertaining and super charged Super 12 brought more misery and doom and gloom for the South African sides as the teams from the Antipodes continue to flourish and lead the way at the top of the table. South Africa’s complement has played 12 games to date winning 2 (against other SA teams), drawing 1 and losing the other 9. No wonder Jake White sees the impending season as a very difficult assignment and one to be viewed with trepidation.

The Waratahs lead the way after securing full points in each of their 3 wins, 2 away from home. They have been in this position before and the big question on everyone’s lips is whether they can continue this form as they push for top 4 honours. Peter Hewat has been a real find this season and filled in last week for Mat Rogers at fullback and played a blinder against the Cats in scoring a try, kicking 6 goals and being voted as man of the match. Lote Tuquri continues to impress with his pace, strength and high skill levels. There is talk in Australia of more League players converting to Rugby, a scary thought for other teams if they have the same impact as recent converts Mat Rogers, Tuquri and David Lyons. This week the Stormers take on the ‘Tahs in Sydney in a very important match for both sides.

The Brumbies did just enough against the Stormers in Canberra last week to sneak home by 3 points and maintain their unbeaten status and top 3 position on the log. One of the big talking points before the game was Ivan Henjak relegating George Gregan to the bench after his Tsunami duties at Twickenham. He is highly regarded in Brumby territory and played am excellent game in George’s absence the previous week. De Wet Barry was very fortunate not to be sited after his head high, off the ball tackle on Aussie Clyde. Rathbone was unable to breathe after Barry’s late hit and certainly he can’t be enjoying all the additional attention he seems to be receiving from his former South African comrades. The major talking point after the Brumbies win was Bernie Larkham’s operation to remove a 4cm by 2cm cancerous melanoma from behind his left knee. He will miss at least 3 Super 12 games and he has spoken of being more concerned about living than anything else. It is a powerful life occurrence and certainly helps one to reassess their priorities. Good luck on your rehab Bernie and I for one look forward to seeing your silky rugby skills back on display.

The Reds continue to be very poor and were last week pumped by the Crusaders, who are holding down 4th place on the table. The Reds look as bad as the Bulls who couldn’t put any points on the board at the House of Pain after being tipped by many to achieve their first win of the season. The Chiefs surprised many by defeating the Blues last week and it certainly has opened up the competition somewhat.

Down in Durban the talk continues to centre around on how much longer Kevin Putt will be in charge after the Sharks were beaten by the unbeaten Hurricanes at home. There is talk of the Sharks massive support base boycotting games and there were plenty of boos heard around ABSA stadium last weekend. Not a good sign for the Sharks when their very loyal and large group of supporters is looking to turn their backs on their side, when they need their support more than ever. The Sharks also need their fans to help generate the income required to run a rugby franchise not only through gate takings but also via merchandise sales. Sharks supporters around the globe are shaking their heads in bewilderment.

Round 4 awaits. Bring it on.

Apart from the facilities, South Africa has the climate and outstanding, top class accommodation. Together with our rugby culture, we are in a position to stage the biggest party ever.     Francois Pienaar on SA's 2011 RWC bid

Discipline cost us the game and I'm very disappointed. I told the players as much. Despite only having 14 players for 20 minutes, we had opportunities to finish it off, but we let ourselves down.        Gert Smal

Ever since the (2003) World Cup, where I did so well, I've thought that was the pinnacle and I wanted to go being remembered as a good referee, not a slow one.        Paddy O'Brien on his retirement

Yes, he is not playing well, but a change to the fly-half will only be considered if it would lead to a significant improvement.        Heyneke Meyer on Derrick Hougaard

Botha is playing on last year's newspaper headlines, he's far too individualistic and needs to become more of a team man.       Joost van der Westhuizen on Ettienne Botha

It's pretty desperate stuff when a touch judge gets involved and can't tell you who or where it was.      Murray Mexted

If you look at the performances of some of the other South African teams it probably means that the depth is not there. Particularly in a competition such as the Super 12 where South African teams travel as much as they do, I think that team would really, really struggle. At this stage I just think it is pretty unrealistic to expect them to be competitive.      Clyde Rathbone on a 5th SA franchise

It (Barry's tackle) was definitely a high shot but these things happen and I don't think there was a lot of malice in it, I think probably more was made of it than was actually the case.      Rathbone, on De Wet Barry's tackle

I was so concerned that I approached Chris Whitaker after the match and told him that I was greatly appalled at what I'd heard.        Nathan Grey after being accused of a racial slur on a Cats player

You are really naive if you think 7.5 defeats in the last 8 Super 12 matches are not proof that South African rugby is pathetic.       Naas Botha

Only players good enough should earn millions a year.        Naas Botha

I'm extremely disappointed for any grief and hurt that I have caused Chumani Booi over a comment I made during the match. I offer a public apology to Chumani, the Cats, Nathan Grey, my team-mates and the community for what I said. I'm also disappointed that Nathan's name has been dragged through the press when he is innocent.        Justin Harrison owns up

Chris (Rossouw) will take over the kicking duties. Gaffie has been working on some new techniques, and once he's used to them his percentage will go up.         Gert Smal, forever the optimist...

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Hi Lucas

After week 2, I hung my head in shame ... but bravely decided to take a peak through my fingers at the TV during week 3.

And it only got worse ... and then I saw the light: the Super12 is not our problem! It's the blêrrie Currie Cup that's causing all our problems!

The Currie Cup is what causes us to believe that Derek Hougaard has BMT after his debut Final appearance.

The Currie Cup is what made us all shake our heads in disbelief that no-one picked Ettiene Botha for the end-of-year tour to the North "cause he was easily the best centre".

The Currie Cup is what leads us to believe that unforced handling errors are just part of the game.

The Springbok backline cannot play in anything worse than a light drizzle. (We should have taken note of that one before the end-of-year tour...)

Hougaard has the distribution skills and attacking flair of a sea-anemone, glued to a position some 30 meters behind the 8th man's feet.

Botha is worse ... can't believe he's first receiver from the abovementioned.

In short, it is a "cake-league" compared to the Super12, designed to boost spirits back home, to offer false hope that Rugby is alive and well in SA.

That's what it was in the 80s ... nothing's changed!

How we won the Tri-Nations is beyond me ... in fact my money is on us getting a good hiding from a rejuvenated All Black side, and Matt Rogers, Lote Tuqiri, Larkham, Rathbone, Giteau and co. running circles around us for the Wallabies.

Oh how I long for the day when South African debutants take the field and dominate, instead of looking like lighties loading their fathers' voorlaaiers whilst huddled behind their moms. Just look at Norton-Knight, Hewat & Baby (France) for good examples of International near-debutants who put our experienced campaigners to shame.

In fact, if there is one ray of hope, it is ... oh sorry, I lost track of my thoughts for a second.

Just kidding: Brent Russell & Jean de Villiers do make me smile.

Why can we not find a coach brave enough to place these 2 most-creative athletes permanently in the Springbok backline, instead of on the wing and the bench?

I think I shall view the games this weekend through the merciful haze which is brought upon by a 1 beer too many!

Philip, PE

Hi Lucas

Boring Super 12

I wonder how many of your readers are feeling the way I am.

It was only last year that I was still taping the Friday games from down under and trying to watch them sometime during the weekend between the other live broadcasted games on Friday evenings and Saturdays. How I use to be glued to the TV screen after an early morning cycle on a Saturday morning, now I could not be bothered spending most of my Saturday in front of the box and if I do I find myself doing the man thing by flicking channels to see if there is anything better than the boring rugby. I mean when you start favouring watching South Africa slaughtering Zimbabwe, then you know something is wrong.

Personally I feel the Super 12 has run it's coarse and is becoming like a stuck record. Adding another 2 teams from next year is just going to water down the tournament even further. I believe the Tri Nations is heading on the same destructive path.

Once again you have the majority of the SA sides propping up the bottom of the table and besides the Stormers having one or two decent performances, the rest has been woeful. Somehow it appears as though the sides from Australia and New Zealand take the tournament far more seriously and their preparation is streets ahead of South Africa's

What will I be doing most this weekend you may ask? Watching the practice sessions and qualifying of the Malaysian Grand Prix, which is another sport been strangled to death by the Bernie & Max Show.


Hi Lucas

Cliff Arderne, you speak I am sure for thousands of us long suffering Shark fans. the Sharks used to be one of a few reasons I would brave going to Ellis Park in the heart of JHB and I would also do the Durban run but you are right the after party is not enough any more . When will the supporters be represented on the managenment body or is our collective input insufficent ? difficult to decide who but prehaps there is a way so that the views of the supporters are made clear . We need people like Teichman and others from his era to take over the management structures asap .

George Fanning

Hi Lucas

I am sitting at work in London trying to look busy, feeling a little hungover and extremely disappointed with the report I read this morning on the sharks game. It seems we lost again. I guess I have to thankful the game wasn't broadcast over here (or if it was - thankful I missed it). I reread the latest rugby forum, in my efforts to look busy, and don't know how I missed the letter from Cliff Arderne. What a fantastic effort. I had to say I whole heartedly agree. Mr Putt, you were a good parrot (sorry, I mean player), and no doubt you did your utmost to succeed. Unfortunately you have come up short, and it probably is the right time to say goodbye. Please, lets hope the replacement is experienced and not a sentimental appointment.

Charles Knight

Hi Lucas

Don't fret..... yet!

The dismal performances by the South African Super-12 sides (except perhaps the Stormers) once again serves to illustrate how remarkable the Springboks' championing of last year's Tri-Nations tournament really was. Renewed accolades must be bestowed on Jake White, his coaching staff and the selectors for distinguishing between the real talents and the pretenders, moulding them into a world-class unit and finally instilling sufficient self-belief into every player to produce a side that all the old-time Springboks (and their ever-faithful supporters) could be justifiably proud of.

On the downside, there are probably about 50 pretty average players representing South Africa's S12 sides; on the upside, however, we can still pick 22 of the greatest players in the world to represent our national side. So, my advice to all suffering SA supporters (whose weekends are pretty much spoilt as early as a Friday morning) is not to get despondent... enjoy all the entertaining play from the abundant flamboyant teams - including the Aussie and Kiwi sides - with the awareness that we can compile a world-beating combination from within our own ranks. Just think of names like De Villiers, Paulse, Barry, Du Preez, Matfield, the inimitable Burger, Monty and so forth, and it will lift you from the doldrums of depression.

It certainly works for me!

Colin van Rensburg

Hi Lucas

Ek is so ‘n klein bietjie terleurgesteld in ons spanne. Veral in die Stormers en die Bulls. Van die Sharks hoef ek nie eens te praat nie. Hulle is hul eie grootste vyande en lyk onbeholpe.

As ek Gert Smal was sou ek vir De Wet Barry vervang het na die eerste waarskuwing, en vir Chavanga op vleuel ingebring het met De Villiers op binnesenter. Die Stormers sal moet hard werk aan hul dissiplienne. In die game tussen die Blues en die Chiefs was die verskil tussen die SA spanne en die ander spanne duidelik. Die Blues neem ‘n vinnige en diep lynstaan, die Chief speller vang die bal en druk ‘n drie. As dit Werner Greef was sou hy die Blue speler uit die poel uitgeloop het en ‘n strafskop af gestaan het vir ‘n vroeë tackle. Ek wens hy word gepos. Hoeveel keer het hy nie al ‘n man in die lug getackle nie. Daar is te veel tostesteroon in die Stormers se spel en te min koel koppe. Dit is jammer dat De Villiers die bal op die doellyn verloor het en dat Adrian Jacobs nie nie by die bal kon uitkom nie na ‘n goeie skoppie.

Ek wil nie “gripe” nie maar in die Stormers game was daar ‘n spear tackle deur Rathbone uitgevoer wat nie gestraf was nie. Dieselfde in die Sharks game. Dingane was ook so getackle sonder dat die opposisie gestraf was. In die game tussen die Chiefs en die Blues was die Blues gestraf vir ‘n spear tackle.

Verder was Marius Joubert gestraf vir ‘n deliberate knockdown terwyl hy die bal probeer vang het. Die beweging wat hy uitgevoer het was opwaarts en vorentoe, maar die ref beslis anders. Die Brumbies het weer die bal afgeslaan, duidelik ‘n deliberate knockdown, maar die ref beslis dat die bal aangeslaan is.

Miskien is is ek verkeerd en dat 2 lynregters en refs in beide gevalle nie nie spear tackles gesien het nie.

Ek hoop vir die beste vir die Cats + Waratah’s game vanmiddag want my hart sal nie nog ‘n verloor kan hanteer nie.

Koos, ek het vir my nog ‘n hond aangeskaf dat die een hond darem nie al die skoppe kry na ons spanne verloor het nie. My kinders vra ook al hul dinge voor die rugby begin, want na die rugby is al my antwoorde nee.

Marius Stegmann

Hi Lucas

Geagte Red.

Ek lees Cliff Arderne se brief oor die vertoning van die Sharks en wil ek ook graag net 'n paar opmerkings maak. Iets is verkeerd in die mondering of die bestuur van die span. Die een besliste moontlikheid is die afrigter. Laurie Mayns het ook kom probeer maar niks uitgerig nie. Alhoewel Putt hier rugby gespeel het, gaan hy dit ook nie verder maak nie. Was en is hy die regte afrigter vir die span. Is daar in SA nie ander afrigters wat by hom kan oorvat nie, of was hy die enigste persoon wat bereid was om die pos vir die vergoeding wat aangebied was te vat. Ek kan onthou net na die aankondiging dat Putt aangestel is, is dit op TV gewys. Putt en van sy span het op die rugbyveld gestap. Hy voor en 'n paar lede langs hom. Skielik gooi iemand hom met 'n rubybal van agter af teen die kop. Die persoon is nie gewys nie. As dit nie 'n teken van minagting was nie, dan weet ek nie. Hy het net nie die "bols" om 'n span met die kaliber van die Sharks af te rig nie. Een ding weet ek vir seker. Hulle kan nie swakker (ek dink hier aan 'n woord wat met swakker rym) speel nie. Hulle kan net verbeter.

Chris Erasmus

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