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Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 11
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 11
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
18 Apr 2002
[SARF]
Rugby Forum is a weekly newsletter produced by rugbyforum.co.za, it is reposted here with their permission.
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Volume 2, Week 11 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Chatting to a close friend I was reminded of the power of the tantrum, no not some Eastern Philosophy or New Age BS but the loose your composure “strip jou moer” kind. The SA Super 12 results and performances, few can argue, is the kind of stuff that nightmares are made of and everyone from the referee to the neighbour’s dog can be called to justice and held responsible. However throwing such a tantrum will cause about as much consternation as lighting a joint at a UB40 concert. What is the use?

In last week’s issue there was a call to arms regarding the performances of the referees involved in South African matches, one can agree that South African sides seem to be pulling on the short end. Bare in mind the word “seem”, one of the cornerstones of a democratic society is freedom of speech and opinion however another equally important fundamental is the right to be innocent until proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt. This is not a complete turnaround of opinion just another one, we should also look at our player’s roles in many of the decisions. The exercise might shock a few critiques, remember nothing but Lot’s wife is cast in stone.

Thursday is D-day for the RWC and this whole unfortunate saga will be decided at the “principal’s office”. A decision will be made that will be popular in some quarters and vice versa, the acrimony will however not disappear with this fell decision. One cannot but feel that in the end rugby will be the looser as many bitter enemies was made over an issue that could have been avoided. The RWC will continue and for years to come but this episode should serve as a lesson to the organizing company to look after the small things and the big things will sort itself out.

The Sharks won a knock-on infested match in Durban over the weekend, with that securing a second victory on the trot or is that on the Putt? Hopefully (regardless of all the anticipated changes the new coach intends on making) the whole mindset of the squad has changed and winning becomes a habit to the “Derbin and all” boys. I have said it before and say it again; a strong Sharks team is vital to the success of the Springboks. Some food for thought, history has proven that a Springbok coach always favours his home province i.e. if it comes to a 50/50 call on a player, who will get the nod?

The Stormers were thumped by the Crusaders, ok there was injuries and the loss of Corne Krige early in the match made a huge difference and this is a classic example of only realizing the true worth of a player once he hass gone. Gert Smal would probably have “budgeted” on losing this match anyhow but for SA pride and confidence sake a victory overseas will do a world of good. Alas, this weekend against the Chiefs there is a realistic chance and the Stormers must convert the opportunity.

The announcement that Jake White, as national under-21 coach will utilize former greats as talent scouts must be congratulated, the question begs why only now? This formal kind of interaction/networking should have happened long time ago – yes, it always helps to be recommended by a former great and many players can thank some of the old guard for being rugby millionaires. One hopes and expects they will cast their nets far and wide to create opportunities for more than the privileged few who attend universities and good rugby schools. The positive spin offs can only be good for South African rugby as a whole.

The coming weekend, Dr Venter’s team London Irish will attempt to win the first trophy in their 100 odd year history, and we bemoan our lack of success in the Super 12! Brendan has achieved remarkable results with his team and it is quite clear that as a coach he can achieve results, ultimately the most important factor. Good luck to Dr V. and there is sure to be a few of his South African conscripts on the field.

I will be attending a breakfast on Thursday where Nick Mallett and Rob van der Valk will elaborate on a few of the Springbok secrets, be sure to read next week what happened but if you cannot wait, the book ‘Nick & I’ is available at the booksellers.

Enjoy a fascinating rugby weekend with two great games in the pipeline, the Waratahs vs the Brumbies and the Sharks face the Crusaders, get down to the Shark Tank and support the boys!

Lucas
 

www.rugbyforum.co.za

"Whither the Blou Bulle?" by Tom Marcellus

When I was but knee high to a grasshopper, back in the late-70's, there were only really 2 rugger teams to choose from. After all, the Boks were only hauled out in anger every couple of years, invariably to play against some or other motley rebel XV, so they hardly counted.

Nah, back in those carefree days you were either a supporter of the blue 'n white hoops of "Prooovince", or of the demonic, gritty manne in their blue jerseys from north of the Jukskei River. And despite the rather sporadic appearances of het Springbokken in those days, we could at least content ourselves with the certainty not only that the Green 'n Gold reigned supreme, but that the standard of our provincial rugby was the best in the world. Huddled over squaddies 'n cokes in various dives throughout the country, we would agree that nothing compares to the venerable Currie Cup, né?

And let's face it, for an upstart, new-ish Union, the Blou Bulle had done well. Founded as recently as 1938, they had soon begun to rival their older, more illustrious Cape opponents for the Currie Cup title. By the late 1960's the Pretoria-based Union had well and truly arrived: the bristling, macho Louis Schmidt had already been installed as the "original" Blue Bull, further Cup successes had been tasted in 1968 and '69 (with another final in 1970), and then again in 1971 and '73-'75, and the turf at Loftus Versfeld was home to the idol of all (white) South Africa, the great Frik du Preez.

Growing up in the Natal Midlands, young 'uns like myself often felt short-changed on the afternoon of the Currie Cup final. Those were the dark, dismal days of B Section rugby for the "Banana Boys", which meant that by Cup Final day our side had long-since been out of the reckoning for glory. This also meant that we should have been more-or-less impartial on the big day – but which team would it be?

Unfortunately, in our sleepy hollow of Little England there was little or no risk that the XV strapping boere in their blue jerseys would enjoy much support from the likes of us, and our sympathies invariably lay with the Capetonians. The names of all thirty players were invariably of Dutch or Huguenot extraction, and almost every player was gnarl-fingered, big-boned and moustachioed, but still we felt some allegiance for the "softer", wine-guzzling boere from the Cape!

The rugby duopoly between these great Unions continued well into the 1980's, during which time the Blue Bulls, sans the regal presence of their blonde flyhalf, sometimes faltered at the last hurdle. Even so, they contested a mammoth 20 finals between 1968 and 1991, winning 11. When, isolation finally over, the Boks ran out again against the All Blacks at Ellis Park on 15 August 1992, seven of the starting XV had worn a Barberton Daisy on their breasts at the trials a week before.

Even having never been a fan of the Blou Bulle, I can only but commiserate with the players and fans of this once mighty club. That the administrators of arguably the strongest provincial team in the world in the 1970's and 1980's have allowed it to not only fall into disrepute, such that it is now viewed merely as a Super 12 powder-puff, but to remain manifestly out of step with the sassier coastal unions, is an outright disgrace.

Let's hope that old timers like Frik, Naas and Thys Lourens, who all sweated blood in the name of The Cause, will forthwith be able to restore some pride for the old blue jersey. Otherwise, 40 years of sporting excellence might find itself permanently consigned to the ash-heap of history.

tom@rugbyforum.co.za


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“The SA influence on the semi finals” by Mark Foster

The results over the weekend has opened the race for the elusive four semi final positions in this year’s Super 12, it may not contain a South African side but the local teams will have the ultimate say as to who will fight it out on the weekend of 18 May - in a much different way though.

With bonus points probably the biggest influence on a place in the play offs, teams like the Blues, Reds and log leader the Crusaders who all have matches against SA teams will benefit more than the other candidates who are facing tough matches in the coming weeks. It is a shame that local teams are targeted for bonus points but that is the reality of this year’s competition and there is a strong rumour doing the rounds that Clover (dairy company) will be sponsoring the South African Super 12 matches in 2003!

The Sharks achieved the holy grail of SA Super 12 achievements in this year’s comp by winning their second match in a row, well done gentlemen but it could easily have gone the other way. The poor handling was a bit of a concern but some excellent individual efforts from amongst others Craig Davidson was amongst the highlights of this match. Interesting to note the decision of Mr Ayoub to card Lowen for obstruction of a player after he awarded the penalty try, in the past the seven points was regarded as enough punishment.

Kevin Putt, the Sharks coach is having a flying start to the Super 12 and with a policy of nobody is sure of their positions including the likes of Mark Andrews, Ollie Le Roux et al the players are giving their all to impress the new incumbent. Hopefully this similar approach from Rudolf Straeuli to the national side will have the same desired effects as all national contracts expire in May.

The highflying Crusaders nailed the Stormers in Christchurch and remain the only unbeaten side in the competition. There are already strong cases to crown the Canty outfit as champions, there are a few more rounds to go but they are looking the part and with tremendous depth in playing personnel will be a dead cert for a semi-final position. The Stormers have lost it a bit and with injuries plaguing and strong opposition it will cost a lot of character and strength to beat the Chiefs at home although this is an attainable result. Deon Muir’s men will have trekked all the way from Durban and as we all know the travel makes a difference but with superlative finishers in Roger Randle, Reihana and Te Nana one could never write them off.

The Cats have been disappointing at home although Bloemfontein Stadium may not be quite the green grass of the mostly Lions orientated players but once again injuries clouds the horizon. Frans Ludeke is both young and inexperienced and to be saddled with a second string side in a competition as tough as the Super 12 is suicide, it does however present a challenge for players like Andre Pretorius to perform in a losing team and there are few more difficult things to do than impress in defeat.

The time is running a bit thin for Springbok selection and from next week it will be appropriate to spend some column time on the likely candidates and selection criteria for the June internationals. The rest of the Super 12 is purely a four-week trial period for all the possibles and probables. Hopefully likely candidates can attain/maintain form, as it is imperative for South African hopes in the Tri Nations.

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
Crusaders 7 7 5 2 0 0 0 251 161 25 18 3 31
Waratahs 7 6 3 3 1 0 1 256 133 34 13 6 30
Brumbies 7 5 3 2 2 1 1 257 146 33 15 7 27
Highlanders 8 5 3 2 3 1 2 244 150 28 17 5 25
Hurricanes 8 5 3 2 3 1 2 179 206 17 24 2 22
Reds 7 4 4 0 3 1 2 222 179 25 18 5 21
                           
Blues 7 4 2 2 3 0 3 190 153 21 16 3 19
Stormers 7 2 1 1 5 3 2 192 204  20 19 5 13
Chiefs 7 2 0 2 5 2 3 178 210 20 24 5 13
Sharks 7 2 2 0 5 1 4 97 221 12 24 1 9
Cats 7 1 0 1 6 2 4 147  269 14 34 1 5
Bulls 7 0 0 0 7 5 2 147 328 19 46 1 1

Rugby Forum Super 12 XV

This week's selection has changed somewhat although it will be unfair to drop a few players since their team lost once. The axe will fall though on any more lackluster displays!!

1. Bill Young (Brumbies)
2. Keven Mealamu (Chiefs)
3. Greg Somerville (Crusaders)
4. Justin Harrison (Brumbies)
5. Chris Jack (Crusaders)
6. Richard McCaw (Crusaders)
7. Owen Finnegan (Brumbies)
8. David Lyons (Waratahs)
9. George Gregan (Brumbies)
10. Duncan McRae (Waratahs)
11. Pieter Rossouw (Stormers)
12. Paul Steinmetz (Highlanders)
13. Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies)
14. Ben Tune (Reds)
15. Matt Rogers (Waratahs)


Quotes
Our success comes from stability.    Bernard Laporte 

When he was a player Kevin was always influential and now that he is officially the boss he has stamped his authority.      Ollie Le Roux

Referees are only human, I think.    Phil Kearns

Against Ireland, the English midfield were playing in an aircraft hanger of space. Against France, it was as if they were confined to a space the size of a Cessna cockpit.       Stephen Jones


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

This has gone far enough. Week after week we see Australian and New Zealand referees treating South African Super 12 teams with utter contempt. It is time for action. If SARFU doesn't do it, then we as South African rugby supporters should. Perhaps we should use your excellent electronic publication as the vehicle for a petition. If acceptable, I suggest everyone who agrees with the sentiments expressed send you an e-mail with the message below copied and pasted, and their names, and you hand over the final result to SARFU, for submission to SANZAR.

We as South African rugby supporters hereby strongly object to the biased manner in which our Super 12 teams are treated by some Australian and New Zealand referees. Year after year, and week after week, the same one-sided officiating is meted out by the same prejudiced referees to the unfair detriment of our teams. In particular the performances of Stuart Dickinson (most recent example: Crusaders vs Stormers) and Wayne Erickson of Australia, and Paul Honiss (most recent example: Reds vs Stormers) and Steve Walsh of New Zealand should be reviewed from video evidence and evaluated. Forward passes, knocks-on, offside play and killing the ball on the ground by opposing teams are tolerated, while SA teams are severely and ruthlessly penalised for real and especially presumed transgressions. Yellow cards are shown to SA players on the assumption that they are habitual and willful perpetrators of skullduggery. This can no longer be tolerated. We therefore demand that our grievances be submitted to SANZAR from which we, in turn, demand that these allegations be properly investigated and a solution found for the matter.

COLIN VAN RENSBURG

Let the people speak!      Ed

Dear Ed

Seeing as everyone seems to know who should be picked for the Bokke, and no selection ever meets with approval from every supporter in the country, it is quite clear that this is what keeps rugby competitive. If every person agreed with every selection, it would be similar to a country only having one Political party, with a Parliament made up entirely of people from the only party with no one ever questioning ...

But just because everyone comes from different backgrounds and has different opinions, it doesn't mean that we all have to have a different purpose! When oxen are yoked together, it is important that they all pull in the same direction or the Ossewa will get pulled to pieces and never get moving. Everyone in positions of authority in SA Rugby seem to have their own agendas. 

It is time for someone to step forward to unite all leaders in Bok Rugby, whether the Super 12 or Vodacom Cup Coaches, SARFU CEO or Grey Bloemfontein 3rd Team Rugby coach: we all need a purpose. And not something like "Win the next World Cup!" That is the goal of every team in the world! Springbok Rugby needs a purpose, unique from every other team in the world.

Mr Straeuli will take no prisoners, cite all offenders, refs included, and stand up for the heritage of Het Springbokken. Now we need the management to take their hands off the throats of our players. Let them think on the field. They are all talented sportsmen, not pawns. You've got to show confidence to grow confidence and consistency in selection is one of the keys. And please can we have a captain who ends each game wounded and bleeding, and starts each game with his fingers bandaged together, who grinds away at each ruck to win the ball for the glory of the Bokke!

Best of luck for the TriNations. Fickle supporters there will not be this year. Patient, yes, but fickle, no! 

Philemon


Dear Ed,

I have been following schools rugby, especially across the Vaal, for many years now and some sad conclusions can be drawn from my experiences. In the 1980's various schools tend to win (or get close to winning) the then Admin Trophy/Director's Trophy. Schools, like Afrikaans Hoër, Monument, Alberton, Hugenote, Pietersburg, Nelspruit, Potch Volkies, Potch Gimmies, Randburg, Lichtenburg, KHS, Ermelo, Kempton etc were major powerhouses (and some are still). Each year, one had the situation where nearly every game was tightly contested and the moment the teams got to their respective finals (before going through to the Quarter finals of the Admin trophy) it was a 50/50 game.

Then in the 1990's, into 2000's things changed. Big schools started to emerge, e.g. Waterkloof, and the Technical schools opened up their doors for girls. These schools now had numbers in excess of 1500 and started to produce some good rugby teams. (Earlier, it was always easy to beat the Tech schools by playing high tempo rugby, keep them guessing and keeping it away from their forwards, well it still applies to certain Tech schools, but I won't name them). The advent of the big schools meant that their results improved dramatically, they produced more boys in the Craven Week teams and in return, parents sent their kids to these schools.

However, what's really sad is that :
1. At present there are only four consistently good rugby schools in the four provinces, being Affies, HTS Middelburg, Monument and Waterkloof. Every now and again, an EG Jansen or Ermelo comes into play, but not
consistently. 
2. What's even more sad is that either Affies or HTS Middelburg have been in the Director's Trophy final in the last approx. ten years, but neither have produced good Boks.
3. Schools like Monument and Ermelo, have only 300-400 boys and murders much bigger schools on an annual basis.
4. When they leave school, the really good boys are not fast tracked to play for their province. I can only think of Nel Fourie, Francois Swart and Jacque Fourie (who incidentally has more flair than the current Bok centres) that have been selected for their province while still U/19 (in the last 2 years).
5. Only Tuks (with Affies) and RAU (with Monnas) have a structure where the University works together with the school to retain rugby talent. Our Clubs do not have similar strategies.

And then we ask why our rugby is not adjusting to Aussie and Kiwi standards.

Regards

Kenloos

You are making an excellent point - there are many fine schoolboy players out there and as we know some may be late developers but without good continuity in structures they are lost to SA rugby.    Ed

Hi Desmond, w.r.t. your letter in rugby forum just a few comments from my side. I support you on all your points.

Myself and a lot of us grew up with the game from the time when we were "laaities" and although it was still in the amateur era of rugby I still believe the basic skills and basic administration of the game is still the same. It is only a matter of adding the correct "flavour" and "icing sugar and cherries" on top which is needed to adapt to the professional requirements of today. Everybody, specifically in SA, is so overwhelmed with the issue of professionalism and the money issue that goes with it that they miss the point totally. Our focus is not on rugby or rather the main focus is not rugby anymore. It is mainly about money (surely we need it), job creation (which is acceptaple), development (we all want it to work) and then suddenly by the way it is realised we are into rugby instead of the other way around. 

Two, three years ago I shared some of my ideas with the other members on the SARugby group and I also forwarded it to SARFU and specifically to Christo Ferreira who was responsible for the SA Rugby Competitions at that time for his comments. Till today I did not receive any reply from them. I know the people at SARFU might be very busy and cannot reply to each and every mail they receive, but at least a "NO it is not a good idea" from a secretary would be good enough. But here is it anyway for your comments and we may discuss/debate on some of the issues because I think as time goes on some of the requirements and comments should be adjusted accordingly. This topic was actually on the issue of development and the current Currie Cup system. 

Frikkie Nel

Hi Guys

I believe the idea Rudolph has on trials, is BRILLIANT. He will now have the opportunity to see the best of our rugby player in a match where no "game plan" exists, thus forcing the players to rely on skills (if there are any of them left). The next thing I like about his approach, is the fact he believes in fitness. It is clear for to see that most of our forwards are not fit enough for the demands of the S12. This was evident when the Sharks played last weekend. And thirdly, the return to "formal" dress code for the Boks. It should have been this way before, as it not only looks neat, but helps to build character and pride. Good for you, Rudi!!

Secondly, why are our S12 teams not interested in Kennedy Tsimba? He has been cleared by SARFU to play S12. He could have made a huge impact in the Bulls side, and with Smiley playing form rugby, they would inject some creativity and speed in the Bulls back line.

Enough was said lately to comment on refereeing except that I agree with concerned. Good luck to Rudolph!

Enjoy the rest of a unhappy S12. 

Bren 


Geagte Red.

Dit is aangenaam om weer die gebruiklike korrespondensie te ontvang. Intussen het daar heelwat water in die see geloop. Ek kan met 'n mate van gerusstelling uitsien na 'n beter Drie Nasies reeks as in die verlede. Die vertoning van die SA spanne in die Super 12 is egter nie iets om op trots te wees nie, maar ek gaan tog 'n paar stellings maak wat miskien nie oral gewild sal wees nie.

1. Ons spelers is moeg van te veel rugby.
2. Die Super 12 het nie meer die "glamour" wat dit in die verlede gehad het nie.
3. Ons spelers, die SA spelers, laat beserings herstel en operasies uitvoer om gebrekke reg te maak.
4. Die Australiaanse en Nieu Seelandse skeidsregters is openlik partydig wanneer sekere spanne speel.
5. Iets was nie, of is steeds nie lekker in die SARFU sirkus nie. (Ek hoop dit word gou reggestel)

Aan Roelfie, moet nie dieselfde foute maak as jou voorgangers en jou span "laai" met een provinsie se spelers nie. Kyk rond daar is goeie spelers in die kleiner bonde, en raak tog in hemelsnaam ontslae van filmsterre en manne met toiletrol kartonne in hul Speedo's. Kry ook 'n kaptein wat kan, wil en sal rugby speel. O ja, kry die manne ook vir 'n slag weer fiks, al gebruik jy 'n afgetrede "army" instrukteur. (Basiese opleiding, paal PT, Obstacle course, 2.4km met full pack ens) . Sterkte met die span.

Groete.

Chris Erasmus

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Let us know what you think!

The Sharks play at home in a tank??!?!

No wonder they struggled so mightly on the road!

Could prove difficult for the Crusaders though, lucky Razor has his surf board....

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