Editors Note


Volume 5, Week 7

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Bread of heaven. And thanks heaven rugby is a global game and not just a willy measuring contest between SA, Aus and NZ cleverly disguised under a marketing frock called the Super 12. Wales and Fiji, take a bow!

After last week’s doldrums this writer received a timely boast akin to a personal visit from pop goddess Kylie Minogue. The emotional Welsh victory in the Six Nations was just what the doctor ordered for a flagging interest in the game reputed to be played in heaven. And a few (hundred thousand) Welshmen are still in seventh heaven after a magnificent game to secure a first Grand Slam since 1978.

The occasion, was befitting a World Cup final and the Millennium Stadium presented a modern classic to be remembered both for the quality of the rugby and the celebration of the result. Sitting in far away South Africa it was a pleasure to host a dinkum Welsh rugby fanatic (are there any other kind?) and share the joy of a remarkable victory with a son from Carmarthen. This was the Hollywood ending to the Cinderella story that is Welsh rugby. And credit to them for winning the Grand Slam in the royal or should one say princely fashion of open, flowing, running rugby.

Talking of flowing running rugby, Fiji rolled out the big guns for the 4th Sevens World Cup to produce a magnificent victory over archrivals New Zealand. With an old geezer of 36 years conducting play, the island men were just too big, too strong and too fast for a young Kiwi team devoid of any real XV stars. The Super 12 taking precedence over the abbreviated version, of the game. Serevi and co was a pleasure to watch; they were adventurous, innovative and displayed unbelievable individual skills.

A baffling question for this observer is how come Vunibaka struggles to catch a ball when playing Super 12 but in Sevens he can throw and seize 25 meter spin passes with a goose step and a hand off at ready. It is remarkable how ‘game plans’ and Marginot like defensive patterns have ‘robbed’ rugby of individual skill. Yet, all the coaches are looking for those players with the ‘X factor’ ability to penetrate Fort Knox.

The secret is in the percentage of execution. A XV man game will never be Sevens and the variety of lineouts, scrums, rucks and mauls provide dimensions unfathomable in Sevens. The ideal modern rugby player must be able to adhere to the 80/20 principle i.e. 80% is a structured game plan with moves, phases, pockets and all the claptrap used to describe what happens in 80 minutes of modern rugby. And 20% is that moment of individual brilliance, the instant summation that a prop and a lock should never stop a class flyhalf from going through the gap or an off load when the move is all but dead and buried. That is the difference between two good sides nowadays and of course goal kicking but that is a debate for another time.

The past weekend did not prove to be much better for SA rugby. The Bulls won, admittedly and well done to them for a great effort in saving SA blushes. The Cats put up a valiant effort against the Brumbies but one never got the impression that they were stretched at all, with Giteau making an excellent comeback from injury the champions played well in an entertaining match. The Sharks were poor and the Stormers lamentable.

It is now time however for SA supporters to lift the chin, look the wife square in the eye and apologise for kicking the dog, repeatedly on Saturday mornings and remember the popular song of yesterday, ‘I get knocked down, but I get up again’ – the Welsh certainly did.



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 Catastrophe by Desmond Organ
One of my greatest rugby friends will have spent Saturday night celebrating the Grand Slam and he is not even Welsh, such is the state of the game in South Africa that people are looking to alternatives. Supporting Wales in itself is not a bad thing, it is a celebration of what the game is all about and a living example how adversity can be turned into success. If only being a supporter of South African rugby was that simple.

There was a time when being a Sharks supporter was more than just being criticised for buying players, it was also a time when there was genuine appreciation for the game and the spirit in which it is played. Anybody who has had the pleasure of watching a game in Durban knows that it is about many things other than rugby; it is also about celebrating what the Welsh have just done this past weekend. Many people will remember the dark ages of the B Section of the Currie Cup and the end of year struggle against the Purple People Eaters. It was all turned around by a combination of brilliant marketing and a strategy that surely was built around more than the number of cars in the car park.

Saturday must be a low point from a Sharks perspective, Reece Edwards was diabolical, Straeuli had his moments but Kevin Putt is my worst nightmare. I have never wanted a Sharks team to lose, now every defeat represent one more step towards a potential revival and that can only come with the former players resignation or removal. There is a lot of merit in the argument that we do not have the coaches and the players, which is true, but to lose so many consecutive matches at home pains a sorry story. It is one thing to lose it is another to hear a coach saying the same thing week in and week out. The point is either that you have it or you don’t and Kevin does not have it.

There have been rumours circulating regarding the potential recruitment of Alan Solomons along with players like Skinstad and Krige; which for many Sharks supporters would have been unthinkable a year ago, now it would be a godsend. Perhaps more people who support the Sharks should be voicing their disapproval, which would represent progress. The reality is that none of our teams are actually doing that well at all and it is not surprising that former Sharks players of yesteryear and today are saying the same thing, we are not well coached, we are not disciplined and we are simply not good enough to compete in the international sporting arena.

Jake White will be fooling himself if he thinks that he can go to the World Cup in 2007 on the back of such chaos, something has got to be done to turn the boat around and maybe we should look to the Welsh to provide us with some direction. In the 90’s they won the 5 Nations only to slump back into mediocrity, now they have gone a step further. I hope that last years Tri Nations was not a flash in the pan to be followed with another several years of pain. When we won the title last year 1998 felt like a long time ago, right now last year seems to be a long time ago. The National coach has also got a few problems to deal with and the lack of representative game time for certain categories of players is at the top of the list.

It is indeed a sorry state when a game that used to be a benchmark for being “South African” has collapsed to a point where we are always talking about the same thing year in and year out, it is even more depressing when a team like the Sharks which represents more than just Rugby is headed in the wrong direction.

Rather than to catch people out, it was for the coaching staff to have a better idea of who needed extra tuition or work on the plays, who needed to go through them more at training.       Owen Finnegan on writing written exams for the Brumbies....

They're an older, ageing team while we are a lot younger, so we're hoping for a fast, open game - and may the best side win.       Gavin Henson

Players train physically where the levels of fitness and strength are comparable at optimum levels, but it's the mental side of things where you can still expose weaknesses. They might still run as fast but they might not run at someone if they know they're going to cop a mouthful. It's not vindictive; you can remind players of things they may not want to do and force them into doing it.       Justin Harrison

I am certainly getting a lot of advice from my friends in Wales now but that is what makes it such a fascinating job.         Clive Woodward

I think if the referees play their part in keeping Richie on his feet and off the ball on the ground then some of the temptation would be avoided.        David Nucifora, Blues technical adviser

The Sharks need a Freddy Kruger at flyhalf, instead they've got Herkie Kruger.        Dave Waterston

The Stormers are not Chelsea and Smal is not Jose Mourinho, he can't afford to rotate players like that and expect to win. Paulse is the Stormers best wing and he's got to play.        Dave Waterston

It is unacceptable to concede tries from first phase moves at Super 12 level.       Luke Watson

I am not satisfied and I am very disappointed with our teams' performances, especially those of some individuals - among them some of our top players.         Brian van Rooyen

They (English internationals at Northampton) worked against him and in all my time in professional rugby I have never experienced influential players working as hard to get a coach out as they did with Solly (Allan Solomons) Robbie Kempson

As I said to my mates, if you're disappointed at having watched that, know how we feel, we actually produced that.         Joe van Niekerk on the latest Stormers defeat.

I am demanding wins. I don't want anything less. Players must realise that they have to deliver for the paying customer. We have an obligation to the spectators.        Rob Wagner, Stormers chief executive

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Hi Lucas

Great column - I just read it for the first time. I agree with just about everything you said about the SA sides. My favorite is the Stormers hands down. Regarding the boys from Cape Town, I have one question for you: Am I the only person that wants Greeff off the team. He plays like a moron - as if he gets paid per up-and-under. I can't believe they (as a team) don't keep the ball in hand more. They have great backs (minus Werner and his sour-puss expressions) and should get them out in the open. The Brumbies were a beatable side that day. I still have hope the Stormers will make the semis, but they need to play sound, disciplined rugby and they are just not doing it right now. My fingers are crossed for the Waratahs game.

Peter Shaw

Hi Lucas

I am amazed, that we have so many comments on how well or how badly a team performed. Do you think that management, coach, selectors and players should perhaps take note and listen / read (as we are seeing the game from the outside) and perhaps win a game or two.


Hi Lucas

Super Twaalf Rugby

Banggatte, dit is wat ons SA spelers is. Veral die agterspelers en Marius Joubert die kaptein. Hulle is te bang om kontak te maak en wil nie verdedig nie.

Pateties en beslis nie bevorderend vir die sport rugby nie.

Verder wil mens nie veel se oor die afrigters nie. Tog is dit duidelik dat Kevin Putt nie bevoeg is nie. Mens wonder hoekom die Cats so goed teen die Bulls was en nou so sukkel? Is dit omdat Brendan Venter te veel
krediet gekry het en Chester nou liewers met sy poer-poer rugby wil voortgaan eerder as om erkenning te gee aan iemand beter.

Dit sal 'n heuglike dag wees wanneer ons oud springbokke ophou dink hulle kan afrig ook. Hou op as jy sien dit is nie vir jou nie.

Net eerlikheid van ons administrateurs sal die spel kan red. Huidiglik stel niemand meer belang nie.

Tjaart Coetzee

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