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|Volume 2, Week 13|
|Brilliant! Rugby Forum’s
clairvoyant power was proven beyond any doubt! In the previous issue I
boldly declared that South Africa suffered “three losses and a defeat”! As
the local teenagers would say, duh! But surprise surprise, what happened
on Saturday? South African teams suffered the ignominy of yet another
total shut out over the weekend in this disastrous of Super 12 seasons –
this time, unquestionably there were “three losses and a
The old muck about lies, damned lies and statistics are unfortunately true and never more so than in the Super 12 log, for SA it makes for dismal reading. This season will be remembered or rather forgotten for a host of things and with two matches remaining one wonders if:
· The Bulls will win a match (They have won at least once every year since 1996)
· The Bulls will concede more than 500 points (446 to date)
· The Cats will win a home match (Won at least one every year to date)
· The Sharks will win an away match. (Won an away match in every year to date)
· The Stormers can beat the Cats (WP beat Transvaal in 1996)
· Any South African team can leap above the Chiefs and avoid a quadruple wooden spoon.
Local derbies will be the feature of the next two weeks and in true South African style we can expect hard uncompromising affairs. Ironically teams feel they can throw name away against the big, bad Kiwis and slick, sophisticated Ausies but heaven forbid not against your own! One can expect loads of niggle with coveted Springbok places the only prize to play for, to jog the old memory, remember the Japie Mulder/De Wet Barry incident that caused so much outrage? Hopefully all four teams contrive to present their best in an otherwise wistful year, supporters need some hope for the international season.
The Crusaders march on with yet another semi-final place, their 4th in history (same as the Sharks!) and currently look like a good bet for the title. The champions and pre-season favourites, the Brumbies have suffered their 4th defeat in as many weeks. They were a brilliantly coached team under Eddie Jones but his departure, a few injuries and a losing run of three matches rattled even the champions. And with Highlanders’ skipper Taine Randell’s answer of “muscle” when questioned on how they managed to beat the men from ACT it has become clear that coaching and coaching experience count for a helluva lot at this level. Cannot say we are too sorry to see it happen, SA sides (and taxi drivers) have suffered enough at their hands!
The crocked Springboks are returning slowly but surely, Bob Skinstad, incumbent skipper made a successful return to contact rugby, a Vodacom Shield match against the Griffons does not qualify as a first class outing but according to all reports Bob played well. The other skipper, Andre Vos impressed with a magnificent display against the Crusaders, his early retirement may be about as premature as Bjorn Borg’s – he can still contribute loads to a test team. The young Joe van Niekerk also impressed with some good touches and with Mark Andrews and Andre Snyman back for the Sharks this weekend the injury situation looks far better. Pity about Fleck, Kempson and James – they will not win the race for fitness.
Some by the by news: The Heineken Cup is nearing its end and Leicester scored a narrow victory over Llanelli to join Munster in the final after their victory over Castres. Leicester has proved to be the dominant force in English and European rugby over the past few seasons, they benefited immensely from foreign coaches like Bob Dwyer and a host of foreign legends adding priceless experience to the local lads. Selborne Boome, a Springbok in 1999 will make a return to South African rugby and for a country under continuous siege of the mighty pound and euro an influx of ex-internationals will be like manna from heaven. The players may have chosen to leave their countries but like a mother we should welcome them back and utilize their added experiences to the benefit of local rugby. We will of course lose some players as been rumoured over the last few weeks.
This week, there is another fine array of letters from you the readers and I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their day to air their views. The referees are not out of trouble… but there is an interesting reply regarding their assessments and of course a host of comments from disgruntled rugby supporters. Today’s quotes center on the men in the center.
Support your teams at the park and don’t be shy to let me know who you think should be the best XXII to take on Wales this winter.
|Visit www.rugbyforum.co.za for statistics, all the quotes and an archive of previous issues|
|SARFU’s Crystal Ball by Desmond Organ|
South Africa actively began it’s migration into the world of
professional rugby at the end of the 1995 World Cup. Migration being the
appropriate word to describe what has clearly been an arduous and complex
journey. In the world of business, professionals talk of transitions as
opposed to migrations. The failure to rapidly adapt to new ways of doing
business results in stagnation.
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 email@example.com
|Playing for Higher Honours by Mark Foster|
Hands up those South African rugby supporters who’s lost
interest in this year’s Super 12 competition, thought so… just about
everybody. The 2002 edition is now officially closed for us and we should
look upon the remaining games as a prolonged trial period for Springbok
team selection against Wales. The real contenders are involved in an
exciting, closely fought competition – one suspect the original reason for
the creation there of.
|Super 12 Log|
Rugby Forum Super 12 XV
Rugby Forum Springbok XV
1. Bill Young (Brumbies)
|1. Daan Human
2. John Smit (Sharks)
3. Faan Rautenbach (Stormers)
4. Albert van den Bergh (Sharks)
5. Hottie Louw (Stormers)
6. Corné Krige (Stormers)
7. A.J. Venter (Sharks)
8. Andre Vos (Cats)
9. Johannes Conradie (Stormers)
10. Andre Pretorius (Cats)
11. Pieter Rossouw (Stormers)
12. De Wet Barry (Stormers)
13. Ettienne Botha (Bulls)
14. Breyten Paulse (Stormers)
15. Percy Montgomery (Stormers)
|After awarding a try in the very first test match,
Scotland vs. England in 1871 - When a referee is in doubt, I think he
is justified in deciding against the side that makes the most
noise. A.H. Almond
I feel two teams are like two chemicals and the referee is the catalyst. If you get a good reaction, you get a good product. Neil Midgeley
Refereeing is a balance between tolerance and neo-fascism - I tend to lean towards the latter. David Elleray
Players and spectators at all levels can enjoy sport better if they
totally accept two simple rules:
|Letters to the Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
In response to your questions dated 24 April.
What do assessors look at in every match, are there fixed criteria?
Referees are assessed on different criteria:
Technical ability, which is knowledge of the laws.
Physical ability, which entails fitness and positioning.
Mental ability’ i.e. to handle the pressure on and off the field.
Are these assessors present at every match and are they neutrals?
There are assessors present at every provincial match and higher up. There are always neutral assessors at test matches.
Do referees receive a “report card” of their performances?
Referees receive immediate verbal feedback. Also a written report and video footage. Just to give an example of the detailed assessment, it includes number of scrums reset, collapsed, early engagement, etc.
What can teams do if they “suspect” that a referee is “biased”?
I am not sure I understand this question. If a coach or management is unhappy about a referee’s performance, they can always contact someone like Freek Burger at SARFU.
I hope this clears up some of the misunderstandings. It is impossible for me to duplicate these assessment forms for you via e-mail and one only really appreciates them once you have done an assessment course. (something I would like to do in the future)
I am quite glad about Jenny Bentel's letter in last week's issue... somebody had to cover for the poor referees!
Surprise, surprise! I, too, was once a referee! In the early 1980's, after a second serious knee injury (both sustained after tackles on me), I was forced to quit playing. Desiring to still be part of the game I took up refereeing and spent a number of years refereeing "koshuis-rugby" (inter-residence matches) at Stellenbosch University. I finally had to give that up when part-time study while doing my articles took up all of my time. Anyway, I am just mentioning it to clarify that I am quite sympathetic towards referees in general and am quite cognisant of their points of view and difficult circumstances.
I agree that referees are a most important part of the game and they sometimes have to perform under unwarranted duress. I also agree that South African supporters (in general) tends to be, as Jenny puts it, "moaners" and too often blame the referee when their teams aren't performing well. For the record, I also believe that André Watson, Tappe Henning and Jonathan Kaplan are amongst the finest in the world. For that matter, I even have a high opinion of some of the Australasian referees, such as Scott Young and Paddy O'Brien.
So let's be very clear on one thing: I did not criticise referees in general. I pointed out that certain referees - week after week and year after year - are clearly biased when it comes to South African teams in the international arena. Anyone can see who they are. And I am not grabbing this out of the air, the facts support this! To mention just two:
The infamous 1999 e-mail that was circulated to Australasian referees, inciting them "to teach the Japies a lesson". Can that have any other meaning than "be prejudiced against their players"?
De Wet Barry was yellow-carded when he tackled a player as he was scoring a try, in an attemp to dislodge the ball. You could hear the ref's words: "I tell you... you connected with your hand to his head". Watch the incident again: If he connected at all (which is not clear from the video), it was surely an accident (that much IS clear from the video). Two weeks later, as Hendrik Gerber was scoring a try, a New Zealand player (I think it was Doug Howlett of the Blues) hit the ball with his fist as hard as he could. At that moment the ball was adjacent to Gerber's face. Had the player made the slightest miscalculation, Gerber's jaw could have been broken. That particular player was not even spoken to. And yes, it was the same referee. My point is: As the player concerned in the first incident was a South African, that particular referee had the preconceived idea that Barry must be some kind of miscreant up to his usual mischief. As the player involved in the second incident was a "cousin" from across the Tasman, any mishap would have been purely due to a bona fide accident, in that ref's mind.
In my letter I also mentioned that those particular referees may not
necessarily be wittingly prejudiced against South African teams. It may be
more a case of being biased inadvertently, due to their preconceptions
about either South Africans or Africa as a whole. In the same fashion as
Ms Jenny Bentel has (had?) about "the likes of Mr. Colin van
In reaction to Jenny the ref, I wish to forward the following piece of information.
Could our Jenny the ref please explain to us, the confused shareholders of the game (paying our TV subscriptions and gate money) the e-mail of March 1999 send by Mark Lawrence Kiwi Referee chairman from NZRFU to his Australian counterpart in which the following was mentioned: "Keep the Japies in the dark with the rule changes and lets teach them a lesson"? Please explain this so we could understand and then stop whinging. In this same e-mail there was very uncalled remarks made by Lawrence towards Freek Burger the SA ref. Lawrence later apologised to Freek.
With this e-mail in mind, let me refresh our Jenny of the following;
WAYNE ERICKSON from Aus;
Before this e-mail not one SA team could win a kiwi team with him in charge. After the e-mail the SA teams success rate shot up to 56% with him in charge?
ANDREW COLE from Aus;
Before this e-mail SA teams success rate was 58% with him in charge. After the e-mail the SA teams success rate shot up to 83% with him in charge?
STUART DICKINSON from Aus;
Before this e-mail SA teams success rate was 22% with him in charge. After the e-mail the SA teams success rate shot up to 31% with him in charge?
PADDY O' BRIEN from NZ;
Before this e-mail SA teams success rate was 40% with him in charge. After the e-mail the SA teams success rate shot up to 50% with him in charge?
With these stats in mind it seems the improvement of results before and after the March 1999 e-mail had "something" to do with the refs?
I can give our Jenny ref heaps more very interesting stats, but for the time-being I wish him/her to comment to us the poor confused supporters of SA teams to explain. No offence. Just wish to try and clear up the confusion.
I would just like to reply to your comments about "cheating ref's". You and so many other have the spectator's complaints completely wrong! We are sick and tired of the gullible attitude of rugby-officials, coaches, managers, and media-people towards the actions of referee's toward SA teams!
This unwarranted "nice-guys" attitude towards people like P. Marshall, W. Erickson and a few others must come to an end, and SA rugby coaches and managers must start taking responsibility for their players, and what's happening to them on the playing field. We DO know most of the rules. and we CAN see that these rules, no matter how complicated the rules have become, are not being applied the same way for SA teams (Saturday's penalty try was a clear proof of this.), as for their opponents. And don't try to tell us that SA teams do not listen to the referee. Their opponents give very little heed to a referee when it comes to stop contesting for the ball in ruck-situations( how intelligent must a ref. be to interpret this rule?), they DO NOT release the ball IMMEDIATELY as the rules prescribe, and they go into lengthy discussions when they disagree about decisions, with referee's, while SA players are being given rude and off the cuff reproaches by these officials.
In short, my friend, we are not claiming that ref's are applying the
rules of rugby incorrectly, we are claiming that their application of the
rules allows opponents to play a "infringement-riddled" game, while the
other team are not allowed the same benefits. Do you really believe that
the Sharks on Saturday lost a game which they had in their pockets because
they all of a sudden lost their discipline in the second half? And by the
way, this criticism is as applicable to the "blind" and negligent
lines-men as well! Go study the tapes of a number of these games, and you
will come up with the same resolution.
The issue of refereeing is very much a hot topic right now, and I would like to add my 2c worth. As an ardent supporter of rugby, I was fortunate enough to watch the Sharks last week (sad they lost), and watched it again on tape on Sunday. The number of clearly poor decisions made was inexcusable, and even at club level would not be acceptable.
My gripe is the issue of "Interpretations".
There are no clear rules for a player, and the team must get to grips not only with the opposition tactics, but also on what "rules" the ref allows to be abused, infringed or otherwise.
It has become patently obvious that this has become a problem, and the sooner 57 old farts sort this out, the better. Rugby is becoming spoiled by the ineptitude of a few omnipotent, arrogant, pedantic fools (Peter Mashall leaps to mind!) while the decent refs are being dragged down by the whole anti-ref sentiment.
I read the letter from Jenny Bentel . Many of us are sympathetic, but it is a few refs who are spoiling the game for the other refs, for the fans and for the sport itself. We need a rethink on the critting of refs, as well as actions against those who don't have the ability to referee at Super 12 level.
I must commend you on your excellent forum publication, it is generally
superior to anything I have seen on the NZ and Australian web
Here are some interesting facts. The four SA teams have now played a combined 32 matches against the eight overseas teams in this years Super 12 and have only won a dismal four matches against these teams which represents a shocking winning percentage of 12.5%. Of these four wins, three where at home (Sharks 2 and Stormers 1) and a solitary single win away by the Stormers which was against the Chiefs, now the fifth placed side in the competition. The top side the Crusaders have been unbeaten in nine games, the Bulls have been beaten in nine games. The total combined points of the four SA teams is less than the points achieved by the top team and the odds are strongly in favour of all four SA sides ending up occupying the last four positions on the log, a first in the history of the competition.
Some of the losses at home against overseas teams have been by very narrow margins, but then as Naas puts it 'a win is a win' and then again the overseas teams have fared far better when touring.
So where to now? Well the question has to be asked whether the Super 12 competition is on it's way to becoming an Australasia only competition as the SA sides are currently surely, diluting the competition. Maybe the SA sides will remain in the competition only for financial reasons i.e. sponsorships and television revenues and they surely not attracting the crowds at home matches as they use to.
The reasons or more like excuses given for the poor performances of unjust refereeing against the SA sides and injured Springbok players are absolutely pathetic and very short sighted. The poor performances is a symptom of far greater problems which have been effecting the game in this country for some time now. These problems range from SARFU's poor administration and puppet to the Minister of Sport, to the structure of the game at all levels, to political interference, to coaches and players (particular to on field discipline), and so on. Based on the Springboks performance of last year, I do not believe that by having all of them available in this years Super 12 would have made much difference, as those that did play, few really performed. Why is it that both Australia and New Zealand had the majority of their international players available and fit for the Super 12 and SA not? Makes one think.
As for the upcoming Try Nations it is difficult to try and be optimistic. The rot is well entrenched in SA rugby, however SA rugby now shares this rot with many other team sports in South Africa. The only way to instill pride in SA sport is through individual sports, however most these sports still suck the hind tit to team sports.
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