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Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 10
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 10
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
14 Apr 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 10 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Du dim… du dim… (Jaws music for those of you who cannot read music!) The Sharks finally won a match, does this herald the bright new dawning of the Putt era? The most successful South African franchise in the Super 12 is a vital cog in South African rugby, please “Puttie” keep it up!

The Six Nations concluded with the gallant French victorious over an Irish side that had the better of them in their two previous meetings. The French were magnificent and their play was a wonderful testimony to their dominance in this competition, forget England - Les Bleus pose the biggest threat to Southern Hemisphere dominance in the RWC 2003.

Bernard Laporte has built an incredible squad of youth and experience and installed a splendid game plan of controlled, disciplined, thinking rugby. The players are sanctioned to PLAY the game as it unfolds on the field, tactical kicking was followed by flowing backline movements from depth and was it not for some dogged defence from Brian O’Driscoll in particular the score would have been ugly! They were a joy to watch and their Grand Slam title is well deserved!

Rudolf Straeuli, after his first week as The Coach is making the right kind of noise; he appears positive, not too futuristic and he will be relying on basics as his emphasis on fitness indicates. After all, that is step one; you need fit, skilful players honed into the right combination and empowered to play and vary play under different circumstances or to make it easy, guys that can think! The introduction of trials is a wonderful concept even in the congested playing calendar – Springbok teams for years were exposed to this form of selection and hey who can argue the results?

The tense conditions of trials allow selectors the benefit of weighing the contenders for a position against each other and the pressure is almost more than in a test match. The result? Sink or swim – you cannot hide in a game where there is so much at stake and you do not have your teammates to make up for you. At the end of the day, that is why they call the real thing “tests”. Good one Rudolf.

The Stormers/Reds match was a wonderful display of running rugby and yes the defence was very weak at times but you still need to exploit it and players like Rossouw and Joubert managed magnificently. The umpteenth close loss was heart breaking but then the Stormers never had enough possession to really clinch this one especially after being reduced to 14 players for 20 minutes, in such a tough game it was a laetificant performance. Paul Honiss, you need to work on your game “mate” - it was a shocking display from the Kiwi.

The armchair selectors have a new favourite for the Spingbok flyhalf position, he is a young man called André Pretorius. The Cats pivot was seen as a sevens specialist mostly because he was ignored last year due to his size and he found the sevens circuit tailor made for his remarkable skills. At the moment he is doing remarkably well in the fifteen man code, to quote James Smal’s opinion of Victor Matfield a few years ago before he became Springbok, “The boy can jol hey”. If only Bobo was there to benefit from André’s playing style!

The coming weekend will be a tough one for all the South African sides but the most mouth-watering prospect is the Stormers meeting with their old chums the Crusaders. Last year’s match was an excellent Stormers display, one of their very best victories in the history of the competition. This time it will not be as easy! The Brumbies will also be back in action and maybe Lomu can upset the fancied boys but in Canberra, fat chance!

My thanks to all those readers out there for their excellent letters and opinions, more of the same please, enjoy the weekend's rugby and come on Natalians – fill up the Shark tank… du dim… du dim!
Lucas
 

www.rugbyforum.co.za

"And the Oscar Goes To..." by Desmond Organ

Hollywood’s Oscar event with all its fanfare and trumped up actors and actresses was a spectacle to behold. It was the first time that the event was held at the new Hollywood theatre. 

I am almost convinced that the South African rugby administrators could well walk away with an Oscar for their comical performances over the last year. If they keep up the pace of blundering failures they will be able to release a new version of the Jim Carey classic, Dumb and Dumber.

The appointment of Accenture to identify the new strategic direction of South African rugby is a bold step. I am positive that the recommendations will be professional, economically viable and embrace the transformation efforts that are at the centre of all recommendations on South African sport.

I doubt that they will address some of the real reasons for the “climate of chaos” that appears to linger in the halls of rugby officialdom. I remember several journalists calling for the rugby bosses to publish their strategic intent in order to clear up the transformation issue and to provide a clear direction to the rugby public. That was a year ago and we have gone absolutely nowhere. 

I challenge SARFU to publish its strategic direction so that the man in the street can decide if there is any hope. I chose a small sample of key indicators to measure the performance of the rugby officials in South Africa over the last year. I will measure their performance on a scale of 1 to 5; anything below 2 will indicate that there is a crisis in South African rugby.

The criteria are:

Professional Leadership and Decision Making
Clear Economic Objectives
Strategic Brand Management
Resource Management
Performance Indicators

Professional Leadership and Decision Making – 2
The bare facts are there for all to see; I have still not seen a published strategy for South African rugby. From the Supporters Club to the structure of the Super 12 Franchises there has been a complete break down in communication and direction. We have recently learnt that the Supporters Club Franchises, except for London will not be renewed. All those people that have put in the effort to build the Springbok support around the world are to be left high and dry. 

The make up of the Super 12 Franchises and the appointment of coaches has become a huge embarrassment. It is a minor consolation that only John Connolly and Mark Ella have come out and slammed the South African rugby establishment. Last weekend saw the Cats playing in Bloemfontein and there was not a single representative from the Free State in the team. A team that played in last years Currie Cup semi final and a Province that boasts the best rugby school in South Africa.

If transformation is the objective, why are players of the caliber of Eugene Meyer and Adrian Jacobs being underutilized by a coach, whose record is not what I would call an example of professionalism? How is it possible that the coaches whose appointment is approved by SARFU can fail to build on the successes of a team like the Falcons? I am amused at the outbursts of the SARFU President who lambastes the players on a frequent basis, whilst providing the rugby public with no firm commitment on what transformation is and how it will be achieved.

Clear Economic Objectives – 3
The fiscal performance of SARFU looks good on paper; a good profit was recorded for the last fiscal year. My question is this, where is the money going to? I would like to see a financial report including the salaries of key officials and their economic contribution to the growth of South African rugby. I might be dreaming here, but you get what you measure. South African rugby has the luxury of a dual structure which appears to be resulting in dual responsibilities and dual payrolls.

Strategic Brand Management – 2
The Springbok is a powerful brand and I can assure readers that the primary recommendation from Accenture will be the centralization of brand control. One only has to look at the Sharks to see the potential of effective brand management. The Springboks are a popular commodity and they will fill Twickenham every year, until the team results are so bad that England closes the door. Try and purchase an item from the SARFU website, good luck because it is quicker to fly to South Africa and get it yourself. SARFU should set itself a target based on a comparable brand like the English rugby team and measure its revenue against that.

Resource Management – 1
On two occasions last year there were players that had to deal with the embarrassment of having their names read out incorrectly at the announcement of a Springbok squad. I am sure that there is no other rugby nation in the top 5 with such a record. The transformation goals appear flawed when a player like Kennedy Tsimba is not playing Super 12 rugby. If the Bulls coach can be reappointed, then the Department of Home Affairs can get Tsimba a South African passport.

Last year the South African management team was so large that it took two pages of the program that was published for the England game. The impact of the Australians has been so effective that our backs are at their worst ever. I leave this point with the words of Boela Vermaak from Rapport. “Stuur vir Less Kiss en Tim Lane met die eerste beskikbare Qantas-vlug huis toe. Onder hulle het Bok-agterspelers binne skaars 'n jaar wêreldrugby se swakste hanteerders en skoppers en verdedigers en aanvallers geword.” English Version: “Send Less Kiss and Tim Lane home on the first available Quantas flight. Under them the Bok backs have in just under a year become the worst handlers, kickers, defenders and attackers in world rugby.”

Nine coaches in ten years, need I say more.

Performance Indicators – 0
I do not know of any, please can somebody shed the light on this one? If there are any they do not relate to the results on the field. I was tempted to score this 1 because of the emergence of several players like Conrad Jantjes and Adrian Jacobs, but the poor quality of rugby in the Vodacom Cup and the erosion of club rugby are so visible that it merits a 0. Those of you familiar with schools rugby know that South Africa has some of the best players and schools in the world, yet we are thumped by the Kiwi U19’s.
In a recent article, Harry Viljoen encouraged the new coach amongst other things to do the following.

Courtesy of an article by Boela Vermaak in Rapport
1. Keep the Australian involvement of Tim Lane and Less Kiss
2. Keep the majority of the Springbok Management team, each one of them gives extra value to the Springboks
3. Keep Bob Skinstad as captain, he is a wonderful player and is the right man to lead the Springboks at the World Cup.

I wonder if Harry realises that you cannot cry over spilt milk.

I encourage any readers to add to the debate around the performance of the rugby administrators, please feel free to comment on my rankings and send me more details of what is being done to address these.

des@rugbyforum.co.za


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Shut Out by Mark Foster

The South African sides were back in action after a weekend off from Super 12 humiliation, unfortunately the rest period did not improve results and only one victory was recorded. The semi-finals are now beyond the reach of South Africa, for the first time since the inception of the competition! First the Australians were shut out in 1998 and the Kiwis followed suit last year, both bounced back stronger and better.

The Sharks finally produced a win after 5 defeats in a row, with that launching the Kevin Putt era with a bang. The first half was in Shark vernacular a feeding frenzy with some fast paced, highly attractive rugby on the menu. Forwards combined with backs and slick passing from Herkie Kruger made it look easy as they swamped the Blues with unexpected running rugby. It was quite beautiful to watch but the high-octane rugby did not last and a second half of errors and visibly tired forwards left the Durban boys clinging to their first win of the season, a well-deserved one.

The Reds dealt the Stormers another cruel blow with a 3-point defeat, it was an extremely entertaining match characterized by excellent running rugby of high quality. The Stormers missed too many opportunities at goal and this inevitably cost them the match. The problem with possession seem to continue and if they can secure more than the scraps they have become use to the score lines will reflect victories and not last gasp defeats. An indifferent performance from Paul Honiss, the referee who sent two Stormers players to the sin-bin has irked many a South African rugby supporter. The referee is a vital cog in a match and one can expect, no less demand a fair amount of competence from an official handsomely paid to do an unforgiving job. Mr Honiss was very poor.

The Cats did not look like a side capable of winning and although there were a few good performances from individuals, the team lacks the ability to challenge the rest of the field. The stand out player was André Pretorius, the young flyhalf and Sevens player extraordinaire. It is not yet the time or the place to rant and rave him into a Springbok no 10 jumper but he is improving tremendously with every outing. Seven’s players find the 15 man code very constrictive for their phenomenal array of skills but only from the first phase, subsequent phases see the defence spreading out like in Rugby League and then these skills come to enormous use. What the young Pretorius needs is game time to get the “feel” of the game, well done Frans Ludeke, André’s selection has been one of your few successes thus far.

The Bulls are plodding ahead and admitted they played against title contenders the Crusaders with very little hope of winning in Christchurch, the question begs do they ever have any hope of winning?

The coming weekend is another tough round for the local sides when is it not? The Stormers play the Crusaders in their fortress in Christchurch and the weather in New Zealand seem to be turning and that is always a factor. The Sharks take on the Chiefs and Kevin Putt will hope to produce more of the same brand of rugby for a longer period against Deon Muir’s side. The Sharks will not however surprise the Chiefs as easily they did the Blues and a full 80-minute performance will be required for victory. The Bulls are losing to the Reds and the Cats to the Blues.

Any salvation in sight? Well with the Sharks first victory will come a lot of confidence, the Stormers are maintaining high standards and since the Springbok team will mostly comprise of players from these two franchises things can only get better. Rudolf Straeuli is optimistic (well, he has to be!) and with the crocks returning in good time with enough recuperation and small miracles this year’s Springbok class may just contain exactly that, class.

mark@rugbyforum.co.za


Super 12 Log

Team

Played Won Won
Home
Won
Away
Lost Lost
Home
Lost 
Away
Points
For
Points
Against
Tries
For
Tries
Against
Bonus
Points
Points
Brumbies 6 5 3 2 1 0 1 244 126 32 13 6 26
Crusaders 6 6 4 2 0 0 0 210 140 21 15 2 26
Highlanders 7 5 3 2 2 1 1 231 119 27 13 5 25
Waratahs 6 5 2 3 1 0 1 225 120 30 12 5 25
Hurricanes 7 4 3 1 3 1 2 159 193 15 23 2 18
Reds 6 3 3 0 3 1 2 174 167 18 16 4 16
                           
Blues 6 3 2 1 3 0 3 166 141 19 16 3 15
Stormers 6 2 1 1 4 3 1 171 163  17 15 5 13
Chiefs 6 2 0 2 4 2 2 160 189 18 22 4 12
Cats 6 1 0 1 5 1 4 135  245 14 32 1 5
Sharks 6 1 1 0 5 1 4 76 203 10 22 1 5
Bulls 6 0 0 0 6 5 1 135 280 17 39 1 1

Rugby Forum Super 12 XV

Consistency in selection is important and most of these players are producing good rugby at the moment and finally a spot for a South African, Slaptjips is playing well and one can hardly ignore his current form anymore.

1. Bill Young (Brumbies)
2. Keven Mealamu (Chiefs)
3. Greg Somerville (Crusaders)
4. Justin Harrison (Brumbies)
5. Chris Jack (Crusaders)
6. George Smith (Brumbies)
7. Owen Finnegan (Brumbies)
8. Deon Muir (Chiefs)
9. George Gregan (Brumbies)
10. Tony Brown (Highlanders)
11. Pieter Rossouw (Stormers)
12. Aaron Mauger (Crusaders)
13. Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies)
14. Ben Tune (Reds)
15. Matt Rogers (Waratahs)


Quotes
I can understand people's wishes for Bok rugby in this country, but the game doesn't belong to you or me, it belongs to the people.     Rudolf Straeuli

I suppose you can say I am a bit old school. I expect the players to go onto the field expecting to play a full game.      Kevin Putt

I have been a huge admirer of South African rugby and its great teams and players, but I have never seen them so devoid of attacking ambition.     Lawrence Dallaglio

Don't ask me about emotions in the Welsh dressing room. I'm someone who cries when he watches 'Little House on the Prairie'.      Bob Norster


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

With reference to Barry Falkson's comments regarding the referee issue in Rugby Forum Week 9: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, I agree 100% with him and maintained this all the years. Needless to go into detail but there are numerous incidents that could be brought up as proof - incidents that shows clearly the inconsistency of referees applying the rules during certain games. 

I have over a very long period of time kept track of happenings on and off the rugby field and have a huge amount of stats regarding referees influence in games and decisions at crucial times. I cannot e-mail you all I have but will give you just a few pointers to chew on;

To me these stats shows beyond all doubt that there is a cloud of suspicion when it comes to certain referees and it is my honest hope that someone in charge of this forum will read and bring this under the attention of appropriate people - although I doubt this as the South African authorities (SARFU) seems to have this spineless attitude to stand up for its players and this attitude towards Australia and NZ of "Thank you so much that you give us the opportunity to compete with you guys in this Super12 and Tri-Nations Competitions. Hell, we apologise for living" 

This is facts not fiction and if someone does not believe me, I challenge you to go to the record books (if you can find them or kept track of happenings) and check for yourself. I'm a passionate rugby supporter and watch tests/games with a Hawke's eye. Look besides everything else, there is no doubt that there is a huge inconsistency amongst the refs applying the rules. 

The game Stormers vs Reds was the latest. Lets look at one example: Barry getting 10 minutes in the bin for clearly trying to roll over the opponent in an attempt to prevent the try! no ways was there any attempt from him to high tackle or whatever crap Honis Mr bounis came up with! How many times in other games players come down with their knees into players (sometimes on their backs - very dangerous) that ALREADY scored the try (about 5 seconds ago) not to try and prevent the try but clearly to cause injury to the try scorer but this do not bring a penalty? 

Stats indicates the poor and hapless performances of the South African sides in the present Super 12 and one can look at various reasons for this - reasons like inexperienced coaches, top management not working together and players not even doing the basic things correctly like catching a ball. 

In the first 6 seasons of the Super 12, South African teams only won 37% from 200 matches. Under certain refs only 20%, under a certain 5 refs NONE! 2 from 13 Super12 matches (2000 Season) with Kiwi refs after the Springboks beat the All Blacks in the 1999 RWC for the 3rd place play-off? 

Amazingly after March 1999, in which THAT e-mail meant for ARU send by NZRFU "to teach the Japies a lesson" accidentally reached the SARFU's computers, then suddenly the South African teams success rate shot up to 39% - an improvement of 27% in comparison to the previous year!(1998) 

After the Super 12 the Tri-Nations follows. In 6 seasons of the Tri-Nations, The Springboks only won 9 tests - normally the last two of the four played against Aus and NZ. But in 1998 The Springboks won the Tri-Nations Competition but interesting is the fact that 2 N/H refs was involved. This caused a huge outcry from the Kiwis! Why? 

Guys I can go on and on and on. I have plenty such stats and the refs mentioned in the pervious postings like Steve Walsh, Honis (Bonus tries), Wayne Erickson, I have even more stats.

Wayne Erickson: Before that March 1999 e-mail, SA teams could not win against any NZ team with him in charge, but after that e-mail the victory rate shot up to 56% - same ref we talking about?

Andrew Cole: Before that March 1999 e-mail, SA teams won only 58% with him in charge but after that e-mail the victory rate shot up to 83% - same ref in charge? 

Stuart Dickinson: Before that March 1999 e-mail, SA teams won only 22% with him in charge but after that e-mail the victory rate shot up to 31% - same ref in charge? 

Paddy O'Brien: Before that March 1999 e-mail, SA teams won only 36% with him in charge but after that e-mail the victory rate shot up to 50% - same ref in charge? 

With such a sudden increase in success rate for the South African sides, it proofs the problem was the refs and not so much bad coaching or bad play from the SA teams! 

We are now back to square one - is this maybe the result of refs causing huge confusion with the SA players as every time they run on the field they wonder what is the next surprise the ref is going to come up with?  

I'll leave it there guys. Decide for yourself. 

Look not all of us are sleeping. Some of us are wide awake and keep track of what's happening on the field of play. Cannot say this of the SARFU officials! Seems they get to much pay! High time for N/H refs to control games in S/H and visa versa - as the IRB is so adamant about promoting the game world wide, lets have refs touring the world so we have consistency all over the world. Don't tell me the N/H refs ain't up to standard, well then they should not be allowed to control games in the RWC AT ALL? 

We should start some kind of petition to show our unhappiness with the state of affairs and mail to SARFU. 

Any suggestions guys? 

Cheers
Frans

You know Frans, I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiments regarding South African teams being on the short end of refereeing decisions. Historically our biased referees were seen as the reason for not losing a series in SA before the 1974 Lions demolished us. They were just so much better in every way that not even a ref could win a game for the Springboks! We are now in a situation where the sons are paying for the sins of their fathers. If rugby was amateur, fine the wheel turns but no longer, there is a lot more involved and I agree its about time SARFU stand up for their players and rights. Rudolf has what it takes and his "mentor" Kitch was famous for standing by his players, when in the right and disciplining them when in the wrong.  Ed

Redakteur

Nadat ek "Rugby Forum, week 9" gelees het, het dit my opgeval dat meeste van ons ondersteuners dieselfde dinge aanhaal om oor te kla. Die ergste is die geld en kort daar agter die skeidsregters. Ek stem saam met beide sienswyses. Daar is egter steeds een ding wat my meer pla, nl die feit dat spelers in SA so maklik van een streek na 'n ander kan verhuis.

Hierdie rondtrekkery van spelers veroorsaak dat elke afrigter elke jaar met heel nuwe spelers moet begin, of die spelers met 'n nuwe afrigter. Dit is 'n feit soos 'n koei dat karakters in ag geneem moet word wanneer 'n span gekies word. Maar dit is amper een van die gebooie dat 'n afrigter en sy spelers se karakters, geaardhede, strewes, drome, noem nog as jy wil, ook in ag geneem moet word. Daar is mense wat drome het en iets daaromtrent doen. Hulle bereik gewoonlik waaroor hulle droom. Daar is ook mense wat drome het en net droom daaroor. Hulle word die parasiete wat die span/groep verteer. Dit lyk vir my daar is van daardie parasiete in ons spanne. Name sal ek nie noem nie, maar dit is die ouens wat ongelukkig 'n kontrak gekry het, ongelukkig is in sy omgewing en daarom ook in sy werk. In Engeland is daar voorbeelde van mense wat as gevolg van die omgewing waarin die kantoorgebou staan, ernstig siek word. 

Daar is geskryf oor die spelers van die Vrystaat wat ontwikkel word en twee jaar later bevind hulle, hulle in een van die "geldprovinsies". Daar verdwyn hulle, word klubspelers. As gekyk word na die lys dinge wat traumaties op 'n persoon inwerk, staan verhuising redelik hoog op die lys, asook werksverandering asook omgewingsverandering. Om te dink jy gaan dadelik inskakel met die kultuur van die nuwe omgewing, is een van die grootste foute wat mens kan maak. Die lewe van 'n speler bestaan nie net uit rugby nie. Elke mens het ook 'n privaatlewe. Elkeen weet in sy gunsteling inkopiesentrum waar die apteek is, in watter ry in die supermark die vlieëgif staan, waar die kerk is, wie die predikant is, waar ek om hulp kan gaan aanklop in die nag ens. ens. Dit klink simpel, maar wees verseker, dit werk in op nuwe intrekkers. Die hele omgewing moet van vooraf leer ken word. Dit is tog waarom mens effens vreemd voel in die buurman se huis, by 'n vakansieoord/hotel. Dit is waarom ons, hoofsaaklik Calvinstiese/konserwatiewe Suid-Afrikaners, sukkel op toere in die buiteland. Die vreemdheid van die lewe in die ander lande oorval ons. Enige persoon wat my kom vertel hy het dadelik 100% ingeskakel in 'n nuwe omgewing, sal ek sê hy lieg. Dit vat tyd, baie tyd om van bv Bloemfontein na Johannesburg/Kaapstad/Durban te verhus en werklik deel van die kultuur van daardie stede te word, en ook anders om. Min mense kan van 'n stad soos Kaapstad op die platteland gaan woon en sê hy/sy is gelukkig. Naas sê mens maak jou eie geluk, en ek stem ook daarmee saam. Maar dit neem tyd om in hierdie omstandighede jou geluk te skep.

My beroep op SARVU is dus, om dit 'n reël te maak dat 'n speler van 2002 eers daaraan kan dink om ander weivelde/kontrakte te oorweeg, vir Super 12 doeleindes, in 2005. Manne bly waar julle is en pluk die ryp vrugte in die somertyd. As jy nou groenappelkose eet, wag net, dit sal beslis ryp word met tyd.

Kortliks oor die skeidsregters. Ek het reeds op 2 Maart tydens die Cats vs Brumbies wedstryd in Canberra 'n aantekening gemaak dat Mr Honis sy mes in het vir die SA spanne. Tydens daardie wedstryd het hy talle kere voordeel vir die Cats gewys, maar 'n paar treë verder die strafskop aan die Brumbies toegeken voordat die voordeel behaal is, of verval het. As Honis ooit 'n toetswedstryd gaan hanteer waarby die Bokke betrokke is, voorspel ek ons begin met 'n agterstand van 6 - 9 punte! Hy oortref oom Kaalkop uit Oz by verre. Ek hoop die kapteins en afrigters meld sulke blatante verneukery in hul skeidsregters verslae.

'n Kort vragie, en ek hoop iemand kan my 'n stawende antwoord gee: Wat maak André Pretorius 'n beter losskakel as Werner Greeff? (Ek woon in Alberton, Gauteng.)

Sterkte Dolfie! Ek is bankvas agter jou.

Kys.

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The Sharks finally have a winning streak and now Puttie is talking about resting some guys against the lowly Crusaders this week... WTF??!?!?
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