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Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 6
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 6
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
13 Mar 2002
[SARF]
Rugby Forum is a weekly newsletter produced by rugbyforum.co.za, it is reposted here with their permission.
Be sure to check out the full Rugby Forum archive at www.rugbyforum.co.za

 
Volume 2, Week 6                                                     Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Or as one reader suggests a “brilliant mess” and who can argue with that juxtaposition when referring to South African sport in general and rugby in particular? Three defeats in the Super 12, a home series defeat against the Australian cricket team, soccer in turmoil so yes one could concur, what is so bloody brilliant? 

It is very difficult to stay positive amongst the magnitude of negative results and feelings of despondency prevalent in our sports community at the moment and even more so when the president of the country makes it quite clear that winning should not be the sole focus.

To hell with that – it is about time the government ceases their ambiguous statements and clearly spells out its terms. Is it a mathematical formula i.e. a % of “various colours” out of total registered players? Is it along total population i.e. white versus non-white? The sooner the players and coaches know where they stand then we can work to attain the necessary goals and targets. That is if they can find any professional players left in the country who has not left for the Northern Hemisphere in avoidance of politics and the bad rand! 

Positives – the Stormers, enough said. The men from Cape Town played magnificent entertaining rugby and there was nobody who did not enjoy their display last Friday. The Sharks defence and guts against a superior side and of course Ernie Els! Brilliant!

The sad truth remain that South African rugby is currently in a “brilliant mess” with two of our teams devoid of the plot and the Sharks struggling to notch their first victory. The New Zealanders have lost all complacency and their top teams look hungry and ready to reclaim a trophy they regard as their “own”. The Australians are performing magnificently and with all three teams performing well it is easy to see why they are World Champions and so good in whatever sport they choose. There is a lot of professionalism and intelligence in their play. We can learn from that.

The grand old man of broadcasting Bill McLaren finally unveiled his full all-time best XXII, the team is: A Irvine (Scotland); G Davies (Wales), D Gerber (South Africa), M Gibson (Ireland), D Campese (Australia); R Andrew (England), G Edwards (Wales); F Cotton (England), S Fitzpatrick (New Zealand), G Price (Wales), C Meads (New Zealand), F du Preez (South Africa), Z Brooke (New Zealand), F Slattery (Ireland), M Davies (Wales). Replacements: J Leonard (England), K Wood (Ireland), J Eales (Australia), I Kirkpatrick (New Zealand), N Farr-Jones (Australia), M Lynagh (Australia), M Burke (Australia). Two of SA’s greatest were included and it must be noted that Bill had very few opportunities to see our great players of the eighties perform. 

The current trend of reality television on our screens are enormously popular, there are ‘Pop Idols’, ‘Survivor’, ‘Big Brother’, and a nice little one called ‘Temptation Island’ now I’m sure most of you are au fait with these and probably spend some time watching them. If you wonder what this has to do with rugby you are quite right – nothing! But use a little imagination and look at these similarities with our current state of rugby.

Pop Idols: an exhaustive weekly sifting of “talent” countrywide to find the one “special” performer that will be the next Pop Idol. SA rugby has been doing this for years and ever since the departure of one Joel Stransky and Henry Honibal the scouts have been out sifting and searching for that “idol” to perform in the Springbok no 10 jersey. The general public and press make old Simon Cowell look like a farm tannie selling koeksisters at the kerk bazaar and the contenders might as well perform Y-M-C-A with movements such is the “abundance” of talent available.

Survivor: this one must go to the men in charge of South African rugby in whatever disguise; with all their strategies, alliances, back stabbing and hanging about doing nothing before the next task they manage to survive year after year while the rugby is heading one way – south. How about a special episode Survivor: Last of the Dinosaurs and maybe extinction will follow.

Big Brother: well unlike Ferdie who eventually apologised for “kaking” in the garden our dear politicians keep on doing it all the time without apologizing and they are creating one monster mess. Meddling in every sport they have single-handedly destroyed all national sports pride in the name of transformation and created inferior teams who will soon lose any support they may have left in this country. Oh ja, they get to keep the millions.

Temptation Island: like the couples our Springbok coaches have been tempted by all the worlds playing styles and Bob Skinstad, they’ve tried their best to force them upon our players with very little success. Hopefully the latest will emerge as one of the greatest by resisting temptation but then Wilde famously declared that he can resist anything but temptation.

This weekend there are some tough matches for all the South African sides, the Stormers will face a stern test against the Highlanders and the Sharks will hope to salvage their campaign and register their first win. 

Enjoy!
 
Lucas
 

www.rugbyforum.co.za

Heads We Win, Tails You Lose by Desmond Organ

This past week we have yet again been enlightened as to the ultimate agenda that is driving sport and therefore rugby in South Africa. There has never been any doubt in my mind or the minds of countless others that there is a definite target that the government is aiming at. That target involves the systematic transformation of rugby in South Africa.

That is not to say that there are not similar efforts being undertaken in other sports. Rugby however, was the real symbol of apartheid sport in South Africa. Forget about the cricket saga of the late 60’s and early 70’s; that was cosmetic compared to the control over rugby, exercised by the Government and their watchdog, the Broederbond. The fact that we are hearing the same cries from disadvantaged communities today; as we heard from the English speaking South Africans in the 70’s should not surprise us. 

There is absolutely no doubt that there is a large economically and thus socially disadvantaged majority in South Africa, the government has done a fantastic job of cosmetically addressing the imbalances in South African society, without necessarily changing the status quo. The “leaderless” majority of the 70’s has a dictatorial minority and nothing short of an election miracle will change that.

What does all this mean for rugby in South Africa? I think that the words spoken by our erstwhile leader at the recent sports awards function, provides succinct clarity.

There is an abundance of talent through the length and breadth of this country, in our villages, in our cities, to be unearthed and developed. I often think about how much more successful we can be as a nation in the international sporting arenas if we were able to draw our athletes from 100% of our population, rather than from just 20% or 30%. A bigger resource pool must surely mean a more united South African front, keener competition and, therefore, higher levels of performance. I am aware that several national federations have signed performance agreements on representivity in their teams with Minister Balfour. I am keen to find out whether they have lived up to those contracts and, indeed, what new targets they have set for themselves in the year ahead.

Wise words indeed, spoken like a true politician. The only problem is that there is no barometer to measure success, other than the transformation goals. It is like a game of heads and tails, heads you win, tails you lose, that is if you happen to be in the role of coach/administrator and also player.

The direction is clear. South Africa has multitudes of talent and the government in preoccupied with statistics around “colour”. The fact that they have done us a favour to call it representivity is an insult to educated men and women in South African and around the world. I wonder how many of the disadvantaged dwellers in the slums and shanty towns of South Africa will ever experience the joy of representing their country. I hope for the sake of South Africa that there is a multitude of Pele’s and Maradonna’s out there, because the government needs you to back up their statistics package.

A bigger resource pool should equate to increased representation, but to assume that this leads to better performance is highly controversial. Focusing on one side of the equation to the detriment of the other may also lead to decreased sponsorship, decreased facilities and poorer results. 

The African continent is full of talent; the only problem is that the leaders are obsessed with economic and political power, just like their colonial rulers. 

I think it is a blessing that countries like Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe, to name but a few are still able to put a rugby team of some competitiveness onto the filed of play, I hope South Africa will be able to do the same. 

If we are able to do this, it will be a tremendous achievement, it will take courage and commitment from the very people that are trying to run sports in South Africa today, they may well expect more direction, target’s and support from the government, but if the President is as vague as he appears to be, do not expect words of wisdom from any of his “cloans”.

des@rugbyforum.co.za


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


Differing Standards by Mark Foster

The Super 12 competition may be billed as the most exciting and toughest competition in the world however this writer begs to differ. Round three of matches produced easy wins for all the top teams and there were bonus points galore, an indication of poor defences and a rift in standards. 

The Australians are performing very well and the general organization of their three teams smack of professionalism, preparation and willingness to play an attractive brand of running rugby. This is not an ode to the men from Oz, look at the facts, two teams at the top of the log including perennial under achievers the Waratahs with three away victories on the trot (surely a record for any Australian side) and the Reds in sixth place they are well placed to dominate the competition.

The Brumbies at this moment are beyond compare, they seem to be better than last year with less stereo typed “league style” running but more thinking football, Pat Howard has a lot to do with this. The forwards have taken a step up in personal skills and there is never a problem if Gregan is not at his post or with delicate chip kicks over rushing defences. This team has phenomenal handling skills and their running out of depth, at speed is textbook stuff.

The New Zealanders have two struggling teams in the Hurricanes and Chiefs, the Hurricanes were poor against the Stormers and the presence of All Black test stars did nothing to inspire an ill-disciplined team. This is not a new problem however in the past the brilliant form of Cullen, Lomu, Alatini and Umaga caused many a team to fall short against them – these “stars” are not playing very good rugby so for a team reliant on them it is disastrous situation.

The Crusaders and the Highlanders are made of sterner stuff and their displays so far make them serious contenders for a title. Particularly impressive is Laurie Mains’ men from Otago, their systematic destruction of the Cats massive forwards proved many a barroom point about size against strength and technique. The Crusaders, inspired by good forwards and the presence of Andrew Mehrtens have a superstar in the making with Aaron Mauger – this guy can play!

This brings us to the South African sides they are not having a happy time in Australasia or in South Africa for that matter. The Stormers was involved in a close match against the log leaders last week but proved their class in a good win over mediocre opponents – but you still need to go out and put the points on the board and they did a thoroughly professional job of it.

The Bulls do not deserve a mention, all patience has run out and quite simply they are a waste of time and effort to write about.

The Cats and Sharks played top opposition however there was a massive difference in their play, the Sharks played reasonably well and their spirited defence should be commended. They need to hold the ball in hand longer and create more multiple phases – they did it once and Terblanche scored an easy try. The step up for youngsters like Kruger and Keil was huge and the depth in the Sharks midfield will be stretched with Snyman’s injury.

The Cats are finding it difficult to cope and yes they have injury problems but they always knew that and the youngsters must begin to stick up their hands or rather stick them out and hang on to those passes. Basic errors cost them again and they looked very under coached and one-dimensional.

Criticism is easy but then so is praise but with the difference in standards as it is in this year’s competition, all the pre-tournament talk about expanding the Super 12 will be an ill judged decision. 

What is there to look forward to this weekend? The South African sides may yet record only one victory, at best two. The Sharks will fancy their chances of uprooting a struggling Hurricanes outfit that jetted back during the week and should target this match for a full collection of points. They need to attack the Hurricanes’ forwards and spread the ball wide to the likes of Terblanche, Kayser and Swart. Kruger must improve his goal kicking – he has the talent, it is all about concentration and application.

The Cats will find the going tough against the pace setting Waratahs who should prove too good in their own backyard despite traveling back from SA. The Cats need to change status quo and try Andre Pretorius from the start and provide him and strong runners like Hall and Lombaard with some much needed ball to score tries. It is a pity that the exciting Bobo is injured – he was having a sparkling tournament.

The Stormers will face their toughest assignment to date against the Highlanders. Many will remember the semi-final when the Stormers lost comprehensively after an excellent showing in the competition. The Highlanders have therefore no fear or intimidation of Newlands, sometime a huge factor in favour of the home team. This will be a forward battle par excellence and with both sides sporting brilliant backs it could be a festival of running rugby.

The Brumbies have a nice little warm up in Pretoria before facing the Stormers next week. 

The best clashes of the weekend will be the Stormers/Highlanders and the Reds/Crusaders matches and they should provide some scintillating football for every supporter of rugby to enjoy.

mark@rugbyforum.co.za


Super 12 Log

Team

Played Won Lost Bonus Points Points
Brumbies 3 3 0 2 14
Waratahs 3 3 0 2 14
Crusaders 3 3 0 0 12
Highlanders 3 2 1 3 11
Stormers 3 2 1 2 10
Reds 3 2 1 1 9
Blues 3 1 2 1 5
Hurricanes 3 1 2 1 5
Cats 3 1 2 1 5
Chiefs 3 0 3 1 1
Sharks 3 0 3 1 1
Bulls 3 0 3 0 0

Rugby Forum Super 12 XXII

The favourites are beginning to show and this is reflected in the individual performances with the Brumbies, Crusaders, Highlanders, Waratahs, Reds and Stormers from SA producing the goods. An interesting selection would be the Worst XXII available!

1. Bill Young (Brumbies)
2. Jeremy Paul (Brumbies)
3. Greg Somerville (Crusaders)
4. Justin Harrison (Brumbies)
5. Hottie Louw (Stormers)
6. George Smith (Brumbies)
7. Owen Finnegan (Brumbies)
8. Toutai Kefu  (Reds)
9. George Gregan (Brumbies)
10. Stephen Larkham
11. Graeme Bond (Brumbies)
12. Aaron Mauger (Crusaders)
13. Matt Burke (Waratahs)
14. Jeff Wilson (Highlanders)
15. Percy Montgomery (Stormers)

16. Greg Feek (Crusaders)
17. Anton Oliver (Highlanders)
18. Daniel Vickerman (Brumbies)
19. Corne Krige (Stormers)
20. Johannes Conradie (Stormers)
21. Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies)
22. Matt Rogers (Waratahs)


Quotes
"When these guys tackle you they assault you."      Frans Ludeke

"If the bloke was not showing promise we wouldn't take the punt."      Bob Dwyer on Mat Rogers before the competition.

I look at Colin Meads and see a great big sheep farmer who carried the ball in his hands as though it was an orange pip.     Bill McLaren

When overseas teams tour South Africa we treat them like gods. We seem afraid of upsetting them. But they feel nothing for us when we go overseas.      Rudolf Straeuli


Letters to the Editor (letters@rugbyforum.co.za)
Dear Ed.

I'm Afrikaans speaking but for the sake of all my fellow rugby "crazy heads" I'll do this in a language understood by everyone. See, the same goes for rugby. The basics is understood by all.

First of all I wish to mention that I 100% agree with TOM MARCELLUS about his piece in the 
Volume 2 week 5 edition of Rugby Forum "You can call me Mister Straeuli" - Tom, please become Springbok coach because you are a legend mate. What you say is so true. Hope Straeuli read this!

Adding to Tom's posting, I wish to suggest to all my fellow rugby "crazy heads" to watch the Brumbies next time against the Sharks. Look I do not like them at all but there is ONE thing they do that was taught to us on Primary School level and that is to receive the ball at speed - from the flyhalf to centre to centre to wing. Look at the Brumbies, they do that 9 out of 10 times and what happens? They run rings around their opposition but not only that, once tackled (50 meters later by the way!) the ball comes out lightning fast again while the opposition is still wondering where the hell or what the hell to do? See my point?

Look at our halfbacks - how many times has the ball been taken form our own rucks being available, but where is the halfback? the ball is available but it seems nobody wants it and then comes the opposition and says: "thank you! If we can do this too, with forward play and a running backline, all hell will break loose! 

Forget this "poefter" type rugby of these days, just forget it, it's confusing all. Get back to the basic rugby play - forwards and a backline. Forget the rest. JUST DO IT for heavens sake!

Ja well no fine!
FRANS.


Dear Ed.

You usually start your story with "BRILLIANT!" I'd like to know what can possibly be BRILLIANT about the state of South African rugby at the moment? I call it a brilliant mess. Heavens knows what is going on in SA rugby now a days, but I doubt if there is any South African who can truly say he/she is proud of what he/she saw last weekend. Yes, the Stormers did well. But that is only the Stormers! We are supposed to be one of the big dogs in rugby. It is impossible when only one of our four Super 12 teams perform. How on earth are we going to take on the Australasians in the 3-nations? We do have the players, I agree, but how do they play? Will Dolfie be able to get their minds turned away from this horrible competition? Teach them to win and win well? I am so glad I never applied for that job. Not that I stood any chance of getting it, but what if SARFU decided to give it to any pampoen like me, anyway. I think any pampoen couldn't make a bigger buggerup of it, they might have given me the job, anyway.

Where do we start looking for the solution to this horrible problem? What I heard from Joost on Superrugby, E-tv, last night, made my hair stand on end. It is really true! The players are told how to play! There is no initiative! They play like robots! Game plans! Game plans!! Game plans!!!

I hope Dolfie's game plan is to win matches. That was the only game plan we had, forty years ago when I played this marvelous game. I know it has changed over the years, but like Joost said, a prop forward has a certain, basic duty to fulfill, so has a hooker, a lock, and all the other players. Only after the tight 5 have done their basic duties very well, they can start thinking of playing along with the backline. In other words, only after you have tapped almost all the energy from your opponent, he must be barely able to breath, only then, if you still think you can, go join the backline. In other words, go back to the message given to that famous Bok team in, when was it, 1937? "Scrum. Scrum. Scrum." Now a days it will include rucks and mauls. Any player with a number from 1 to 5 on his back, outside a ruck or a maul, must either be injured, or shouldn't be in any team. Not even under 9!

The next step should be, I think, to find a backline full of energy, enthusiasm, speed, vision, skills, footwork and as tough as nails. Energy to keep on and on at full speed in the attack. Enthusiasm to support every move made by any team mate, to take the ball another 10m farther. A vision to read the game in the first 5 to 10 minutes and see the gaps for himself as well as for the man next to him. To enable every pass to stick and put the catcher in a better position. Feet that can keep the opposition guessing. What will he do next? Which way is he going to move? Tough, to tackle an opponent but once, fair but as hard as possible. The next time the ball comes his way, his eyes must be wondering, searching for the guy who tackled him the last time. We all know what happens next. Either he knocks on or misses the ball completely. And if he is so brave as to catch the ball a second time, give him one more, fair and as hard as possible. Sometimes it might even take three such tackles, but in the end I can asure you, it will work. That is how we played. All right, I never played for the Bokke or any provincial side. Why? Because I got tackled like that. Fair and hard and I broke my leg. Those days the medics weren't so organised and that tackle ended my career.

We need men who want to play for their team, for one another and their country. Guys who will be proud of the salary they receive because they really, really earned it with good, hard, fair and honest play.

The trash we have been dished up the last three weeks, we'll just not take. Coaches must realise that they are not there to be nice to the players. Rugby has always been a very tough, competitive sport. Soft hands make septic wounds in this sport. If your player can't cope, Mr. Coach, get rid of him as soon as possible, before he takes your name down the drain. A lesson our previous Bokwagter never learnt. To coach a rugby team is a very, very lonely job. Sometimes you like a player very much, and he is a good player. But there is someone better, then, Mr. Coach, your integrity comes through. Then you must show courage to make the right choice. Your friendship or your team? Where does your loyalty lie? Many coaches will tell you that the bribes they took, to choose a "friend" in the side, just never worked. Their conscience ate them all the time. Some coaches will even tell you that they hated a player's guts, but because that player was the best in that position, he chose him and made a new friend for life. And the team won game after game. And that coach slept well, night after night.

To summarise, choose the best players available, do the basics right, and make your game plan: "LOOKS AT THE SCOREBOARD!"

Kys.

Dear Ed

Thanks for the Brilliant! reviews and views expressed in this forum.

I read this week's forum and everybody seems to focus on Super 12. This is fair. I suppose this is one of the most prestigious rugby competitions in the world. It is just a pity that SA's teams can't seem to make it with the big boys!

Stormers - It is very obvious that they miss the likes of Braam van Straaten, Robbie Fleck etc. Last year Braam could kick them to a win. This year they are also struggling because of the lack of a trustworthy kicker. Good luck to them. They seem to be the strongest of our four teams.

Cats - Again they disappoint. Their win over the Bulls was not that great as expected. With all the names in their team, you can't help but wonder what will happen if they get it right.

Sharks - Seems that they forgot how to swim. They are most probably our strongest team. You can't help but wonder if Straeuli leaving them does not have something to do with it. I hope the Sharks can get a good coach to pick up the pieces. Snyman and Terblanché are showing sparkles of brilliance again. Good for them.

Bulls - The underprivileged team in the Super 12. They always seem to have to build a new team each year. What bothers me about the Bulls, is that they use the Blue Bulls as the core of their Super 12 squad. Unfortunately this does not seem to work for them. They have very good talent with their Vodacom cup team. Maybe Heyneke must mix the experience that they have, with the raw talent that he has got in the Cup team. Jacques Olivier, Joggie Viloen, Derrick Grobbelaar, even Dan van Zyl, can give him the balance that he needs in the team. Chris le Roux is good player, but not a Super 12 captain. They have nothing to loose and
everything to gain. GO BULLS!!!

I hope this weekend is better for SA Rugby. Thanks again for the Forum.

C Dippenaar


Rugby Forum

By the looks of it the writer is also from the Cape. Why is it that you have excuses for the Stormers not having there best side available however the Cats are without the best 3 in world rugby in Andre Venter, Rassie and Vossie. Then we lost a Tinus and Smiley and Japie and Wylie but nobody noticed this. For the Stormers to play without Bop it actually strengthening their side as Adrie is a better rugby player.

One thing I do believe is that the Bulls hade enough opportunities to perform and SARFU now needs to appoint the 4th franchise to the Cheetahs as year after year we are in the semi finals 

Regards
Ernest

The Stormers lost Kempson, Marais, van der Linde, Skinstad, De Kock, van Straaten, Paulse all test players as well as Rossouw and Dixon who are midweek players to injury. The Cats lost 3 test players to injury the rest left their provinces and country for various reasons - hardly worth comparing isn't it?


Dear Ed

Here we go again. 

I was an avid Sharks supporter, but another "maak sag" game-plan has turned me away completely:

"Okay Boys! We're up against the Brumbies this week so let's try to intimidate them and tackle the moer out of them and surely by half time they'll be willing to throw in the towel. And just remember: this is a new plan now. We have never targeted Larkham before so let's remember what our injured comrade in arms told us: "when in doubt, clothesline the buggers! Oh, and there's this new guy now ... George Smit or Smith ... you'll recognise him by his hair, and when you see him pull his hair, Guys! PULL IT!"

The Stormers are the most exciting team in SA Rugby because they play the game with passion. They have flair, and it doesn't involve smashing the other team to ribbons before scoring points. They score points just by attacking!

Get back to what you know is Rugby, Sharks! With players like Thinus, Justin Swart, Andre Snyman, Stefan Terblanche, Deon Kayser and Craig Davidson in your backs, the flair is abundant. There is hardly a more skilled and impressive backline in the game! Play with confidence. Try everything you can. Run them ragged, but with the ball in hand. And please don't be selfish. It doesn't matter who scores the try and no single person is going to push Owen Finegan over the line on his own!

The SA Rugby Public are desperate to see you perform to your abilities.

Philip


Dear Ed

Most of the letters and conversations about SA rugby are the same old.....this is wrong that is wrong from people that mostly have very little idea what the solution is....so please let me enlighten these masses....SA rugby is suffering from a hangover.....they had to much Ian Mac just before we returned to international rugby and we don't seem to rid ourselves of that mental picture of hit, go to ground, drive over....as we see from the amount of penalties the SA sides gave for holding the ball on the ground. 

This hangover is a big problem....we make the breaks well but we then go to ground at the first contact....this is the problem....instead of staying on our feet and waiting for support so that we go to ground when WE want to, we go to ground out of instinct.....for if...k sake William Web Ellis picked the soccer ball up because he wanted in his hands...why do we want it back at our feet?....just a little proof of what I mean.....against the Cats Larkham did a basic peel around and ended up with just Janjties to beat...now a SA player would have tried to take him on....Larkham simply stopped 2m from him....taking him out of the game....waited for the support and boom 5 points....

Going to ground is not a bad thing.....so long as it is at your terms.....defenses against a SA team is made so easy by this problem...just provide them something to make contact with and they will go to ground WHERE EVER THEY ARE...and more often that not you can get to the ball and win it or they will have to hold on and bingo you win both ways...and by the way I have coached with great success but you can imagine the shock when I coached teams to stay on there feet and create continuants in a Mac craze set up.

Thanks and I hope somebody can see the method in all the madness.

Regards.
Andre van Rooyen

Ps: chatting to an ex Shark/Bok he tells of a conversation with Kobus Venter...Straeuli's assistant last year....the Sharks wanted to play a more expansive game but he said that they lacked the basic catch and pass skills.

Dear Ed.

Thanks for some interesting and honest opions. It seems to me that all our sports are in freefall and it makes one cynical and despondent. My biggest concern is for the players, do they continue because of the money or do they genuinely believe that they can avoid further humiliation ? I dont know if I can watch week after week of this second class ability by our players (Stormers aside at the moment) Is there any one out there who can see a silver lining to SA Sport in General and rugby in particular?

G Fanning


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