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Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 24
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 24
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
24 Jul 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 24 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!?? No, ouch! Klapped again by the All Blacks! The past weekend’s test against the highly efficient New Zealanders was by all accounts a thrilling encounter that will be remembered for a lot more than the mere score line! The game had it all… great tries, controversy, politics (before, after and during!), fighting, biting accusations, referee blunders (?) and probenecid, oops sorry that’s the Ausies - we will get to that!

Wellington was seen a “sympathetic” venue to the Springbok class of ’02 – alas it was not to be. An All Black team of players that have not lost a match this year calmly dealt with the Springbok’s thunder and lightning opening twenty minutes. The experienced campaigners rode the storm and then applied pressure as only a well-tuned All Black machine can do and quickly rallied to their second largest victory in history.

The Springboks funny enough did not disgrace themselves and for the first time in many years a big defeat like this was seen with a lot of positive reaction to the team’s future growth and chances. The inexperience showed but we always knew that this team is there to build for the RWC and if Straeuli heed the quest for character in players like All Black coach Mitchell does, the current crop of youngsters will come out smoking after a very humbling experience.

Where did it all go wrong? No, it was not the fault of Stuart Dickinson – the Australian official after what initially looked like an indifferent refereeing display. There were many 50/50 calls but to adhere to the advice of a respected source, do not criticize if you do not have facts. I will not. The Springboks managed a couple of tries and some excellent driving play with the said official and the turnaround can only be attributed to a. inexperience b. handling errors c. deviation and bad execution of the game plan. The difference between provincial, Super 12, test against Wales/Samoa and playing in the Tri Nations is the speed at which things happen. The severity is another factor, one mistake and there are points on the board, quicker than anyone can say stuartdickinsonsemase…. Bygones!

Why the positivism? The Springboks did recycle the ball at pace and with previously rare continuation of phases, the backline initially attacked with pace out wide and through the middle (they overdid the back to the forwards, a highly congested area) the tight phases indicated a solid platform for future matches. Fine-tuning is needed and this will come after more exposure at this level and this includes the young coach.

The substitution of Lawrence Sephaka opened a can of worms, I’m sure many a viewer was surprised by his substitution but the subsequent outcry and devaluation of his Springbok status (he was questioned as being an “anthem singer” only) by certain people is an insult to the player and any other Springbok player for that matter. All of us are acutely aware of transformation and none more so than sportspeople - whatever the reason for his substitution I fully believe that he was not on for window dressing. The almost 30 minutes was probably more than what he would have got had he sat on the bench, Sephaka is a 23 year old prop – that is incredibly young for any player in his position. He is on a learning experience and that he coped so well under the extreme pressure is a feather in his cap and probably secured him his next test start. Sela.

Another little furore broke out during the week, Ben Tune (my personal favourite Australian player) was tested positive for a banned substance. Tune, as an injury prone player had ample reason to use banned substances for quicker recovery hence the big hooha. The ARU has cleverly shouldered the blame - who will ever ban them for two years? Tune will seem to get away with it and there rightfully should be heavy critique against the ARU for contravening the laws of the IRB but deep down a certain respect for protecting a very valuable asset, testament of the lengths certain unions will go to protect their players.

The Krige "biting incident" was crazy stuff and not even worth commenting on – in any normal society situation he should have had his lawyers onto the citing commissioner for defamation of character. As we know from Johan Le Roux’s case a few years ago, allegations like this end your career, there and then. Shame on you Tim Hardman!!

The coming weekend will be a watershed for Springbok rugby; it will define the public and press’ view of the current Springbok team. Predictions have not really gone RF’s way of late so fence sitting is the order of the day!! I'm looking forward to a great match between two sides keen on running rugby, organisation will win this one, the best organised defence/attack will suffice.

Enjoy!!

Lucas

lucas@rugbyforum.co.za


Visit www.rugbyforum.co.za for statistics, all the quotes and an archive of previous issues

Grim reality? by Tom Marcellus
On a number of occasions during my ill-spent youth, I had to endure the dribbled yarns of some ripe old geezer down at the boozer. These crusty "When We's" (and I'm not referring to our Rhodesian brethren) often caused me to loose my enthusiasm, temporarily (thank goodness), for my Boksburg Chardonnay, as they waxed lyrical about some long-forgotten deed of yesteryear. "Hmmmph", I would no doubt snort, barely disguising my disdain, as the dogged old bullet, not to be side-tracked by my grunts of vexation, embarked on yet another chapter of his life. Such is the arrogance of youth, I guess.

I remember from my own youth that my old man used to whinge about his own father's old army mates, who were wont, when in the mood, to chat away endlessly about wartime spats with "the Hun, up North" after a few drams of the fiery stuff. I suspect that my dad developed a lifelong distrust of any fellow with pink cheeks and a neatly clipped moustache from those sessions at the golf club with "the Major" and his ilk.

I must confess that I felt an odd pang of regret on Saturday (amongst all the other pangs on that miserable day), as I watched het Springbokken slide to an unfairly heavy defeat against the All Blacks, as the fact that we lost again, and by a big margin, reminded me of those red-nosed old blighters jabbering away, scotch in hand.

Of course, there was a time not so long ago when a showdown between these two old foes would generate the interest of the entire rugby world. In fact, for much of the last century a test series between the Green 'n Gold and the All Blacks decided the game's unofficial crown. As a young student of the game, I loved reading about the battles between these two sides, whether it was Doc Craven and Boy Louw versus Ron King's XV of 1937, Jaap Bekker taking a few heavy shots from Kevin Skinner's well-trained right fist in '56, or Meads and Bunny Tremain's epic duel with the one-eyed Martin Pelser in 1960. Always, there had been so much more than just a game of old rugger at stake, as the hopes, nay the self identities, of both nations rested upon the outcome of each series. Indeed, the fervour with which the whole of New Zealand went on a war-footing to see off the Bok threat in 1956, in so giving the South Africans their first series defeat of the 20th century, would have earned the admiration of the knights of the Crusades themselves, as they prepared to smote the Mohammedan hordes. 

Like many a good Japie boy who could still remember the thrilling 1981 series in New Zealand, I viewed the rise and rise of "our" union game in Australia with a great deal of skepticism. After all, in my mind, as in the minds of many SA fans, the matches against those manic Kiwis were the true benchmark of our game, and I treasured that old rivalry, which had been forged in the 20's, had thrived in unofficial contests during the war, and had continued unabated, and without peer, until Clive Norling blew his whistle in the 8th minute of injury time in that epic test at Eden Park. Our expectation, of course, was always that our rivals across the seas would forever reciprocate this approach.

Sadly, this belief was maintained out of naÔvetť, and it would appear that the majority of NZ rugby fans now consider their noveau riche neighbours, the Wallabies, as their greatest foes. And, hell, to this grizzled fan, that's like booting out Oxford, and having a Cambridge/Durham boatrace!

But, to be fair, this new-fangled belief has arisen through no fault of the Kiwis, as it stems surely from the simple fact that the Boks, since readmission in 1992, have failed (obvious exceptions aside) to be consistent title challengers. In fact, the die was cast from the word go, with those 2 losses on consecutive weekends back in '92. If we are to be the cuckolded husband, it is only because we have allowed ourselves to go to seed a bit.

Our players and pressmen (this humble arm-chair correspondent included) still harp on about the special bond in rugby between South Africa and New Zealand, but, in doing so, are we not like an aging movie star, destined to forever pine for the lost beauty of her golden youth? Old-timers like Meads and the irrepressible Mr Mexted aside, most Kiwis appear less nostalgic, and are now in the fortunate position of (it would appear) being able to take a home victory over a Bok XV for granted. God forbid, I have to ask myself, has the special magic between these contests now evaporated for ever?

Despite what we might have thought about Stuart Dickerson's occasionally atrocious refereeing, and whatever we might say about new dawns and learning curves, the history books will show that the Boks received their second worst defeat in their history. It's hard not to be complacent, as we consider this week's game against the World Champion Durham, ag, I mean Aussie, side. Something has to be done, but I'm not quite sure what that is just yet. Perhaps just a little more faith and patience.

In the meantime, pour me a double, like a good chap. Have I ever told you the one about the …..

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


Hang in There by Desmond Organ
“You reap what you sow”. Many of us are aware of the phrase and its biblical origins; a pity that divine intervention was not on hand to help the Springboks in their second largest defeat of all time. Not that I intend to bore you with a list of gripes as to why South Africa were undone by a combination of match officials and weather patters. Quite the opposite, it was a good old fashioned drubbing of the first order. We only remember the team that wins and not the team that came second.

Whilst the score was perhaps not a true reflection of the events that unfolded on a blustery evening in Wellington it is clear that the All Blacks won because they were simply better at execution and came out on top in several critical areas. The seasonal pragmatists of doom should not be preparing for the next round of musical chairs on behalf of the rugby administrators in South Africa. At least South Africa was doing the right thing from a tactical perspective, the fact that they lost because of inferior execution leaves us with the hope that in time the benefits will be reaped and the patterns displayed will be executed with fine efficiency. Divine intervention will only be necessary if we follow the course of the last 10 years and fire away at the players and coaches with gay abandon.

This of course does not mean that there is not room for criticism and the identification of some real obstacles that need to be addressed if we are to avoid the pattern of development that we have been used to so far in the past. It was interesting to notice on Saturday that many of the players and coaches of the Harry Viljoen era were still in place. This is certainly not an attempt to nullify the criticism that I myself launched upon the then Springbok coach, it is merely an acceptance that there were some interesting challenges facing the whole organization and that they made bad mistakes after initially moving down the right road. The fact that Viljoen chose to quit at a time when he was potentially about to succeed may haunt him in the future. The fact that he went downhill on the end of season tour is his own doing. 

Straeuli and company face several of the same challenges, albeit from a slightly less difficult perspective. What I mean by this is that there has been a less rigorous schedule this year, the opposition in the early tests was anything but daunting. The real challenge comes this Saturday because a failure to improve on the performance of a week ago will bring out the ghosts in Cape Town. The team communications strategy has done a fine job so far of pointing out that the teams still have to come to South Africa, forget it; that is not the real issue here. The players have got to show real commitment and determination to succeed. They have to play for 80 minutes and give 150%; anything short of this will give the rugby public more room for skepticism. 

In reality the coaching staff and the team have been handed an olive branch by the rugby mad South African public. In the past this type of loss would have seen the sports press up in arms and demanding an immediate rectification of the situation. It will be interesting to see how they respond. 

Turning to the game on Saturday; the first 15 minutes were a pleasure from a Springbok perspective. The following 65 minutes were like drinking a really sour glass of lemon juice. As a part time writer I am the first to admit that the comfort of the bar stool is far more desirable than the front lines. However, there are several areas that the Springboks must learn to execute on. A week ago I noted that the game would be won on the basis of defence around the fringes and strong direct running. Saturday saw the All Black No 8 enjoy a fabulous game, partly because he is damn good and partly because he had a vacation on attack. We all know what I am talking about so I will follow the wise words of a renowned journalist and leave the players name alone. South Africa has a great number of loose forwards as do the All Blacks, the fact that only two South Africans contributed is part of the problem. McCaw and van Niekerk were outstanding and I am sure that they will provide us with a great deal of entertainment in the years to come. 

South Africa’s inability to retain possession through several phases undid the hard work of securing a greater deal of the possession, this combined with awful tactical kicking and poor option taking was the key differentiator between the two teams. I will write this down to a lack of test match experience and the youthfulness of several of the Springbok players and positional combinations. What I cannot forgive though is the defensive lapses and the poor interplay between backs and forwards both on attack and in defence, these are some of the basics of the game and the record defensively from the Tri nations a year ago proves that this was not an area of deficiency in South African rugby.

There has to be a balance between establishing the correct lines of defence and removing yourself from the subsequent phases because you have focused on eliminating your opposite number completely, fact is that when you are on the defensive you are already on the back foot and the attacking team already has an advantage. 

The poor handling of the ball is not acceptable at this level, neither is the slow arrival of players at the ruck or loose maul. Slow attendance usually results in slower clearing of the ball and the subsequent pressure is exerted on the other players. Small wonder that on several occasions the Springbok backs received the ball standing still. The All Blacks constantly attacked the advantage line through their forwards and backs, I only remember a handful of South Africans doing the same thing, most of them in the forwards. 

I suspect that their will be several minor changes to the team, Paulse to replace Hall and a minor adjustment to the forwards. Sephaka should be given a longer run, unless his scrumming technique was the reason for last week’s problems. I suspect that it was the referee and this week we should be able to settle this dispute. I am sure his short presence on the field has caused some havoc back in South Africa and I know of at least one reporter who will make a meal of it in an attempt to secure political favour.

If the Springboks are able to eliminate the basic errors and remain focused for the full 80 minutes we could see a real surprise performance this Saturday. I hope to see at least one change in the forwards and we all know where that is. 

A Wellington Hurricane by Mark Foster

New Zealand 41 Springboks 20

The 59th edition of the greatest rivalry in test rugby began with an awe-inspiring New Zealand anthem – the authorities cleverly omitted any music and the strong voices of a capacity crowd motivated their players. The Haka led by Caleb Ralph was not the most fearsome seen by this reporter, with all respect to the wing but he does not strike fear in any opponent’s heart! The honour is traditionally awarded some battle hardened forward and the face of a Craig Dowd or Zinzan Brooke in full cry is still used by New Zealanders to scare their naughty children! 

The first half was extremely competitive and both sides used the opportunities as they presented itself to score points, at 13-13 NZ managed to gain the upper hand just before halftime with an 8 point haul in about 5 minutes due to SA inexperience and many believe an error(s) from the referee. The ball did (?) make the required 5 yards and Hammett’s feet were in the field of play but the point is the Springboks were badly caught by what is essentially a high school move. Imagine the satisfaction of the analyst/player/coach who spotted the Springboks propensity to leave the smallest man on the field to guard a 5-meter corridor and suggested this oldest of tricks as a try-scoring move! 

The All Blacks never relinquished the lead after this devastating blow and played quite splendidly in the second half. The Springboks promised so much yet failed emphatically to record their second worst defeat in history against the old enemy.

Set Phases

The Springboks were quite competent in the set phases, the referee penalised the scrums religiously and the substitution of Lawrence Sephaka after 20 odd minutes was very surprising to say the least. For the rest of the match this department was pretty even. The lineouts were not the best and Victor Matfield was used very sparingly. Dalton at one stage managed to convey his dismay in Afrikaans about basics, he was right, once the basics were observed possession was a formality. A poor area for the Springboks was the restarts, there were a few opportunities to reclaim their own kick offs but players inexplicably did not opt to catch the ball.

Broken Play

This area was pretty good during the opening 20 minutes but the tight five “fell asleep” during the second half in clearing out the rucks with some bad protection of their scrumhalf. The turnovers were numerous and here the All Blacks clearly had the upper hand. The Springboks have the speed and personnel to play an expansive game yet opted in the second half to return the ball to static tired tight players who did not do much. The defence around the fringes was appalling and many a time Scott Robertson carried the ball meters in succession. The All Blacks taught their opponents something about “numbers to the ball” and holding on to the 50/50 ball. 

Backline

The backline played well when they opted to spread the ball wide and use the skills of Joubert and Greeff. The defence was good, one on one but the tactics to play back to the inside all the time was very weird. There was a lot of chipping and aimless kicking and this cost the Springboks on a few occasions when possession was relinquished, the All Blacks always managed to use their possession constructively and with purpose, again another valuable rugby lesson.

Individual Performances

15. Werner Greeff - 7

This guy is a good footballer and his try was out of the top drawer, generally the best Springbok back on display with excellent defence and always dangerous with the ball in hand. His kicking was very weak and the aimless chip kick should be banned from his repertoire by coach Lane!

14. Stefan Terblanchť - 5
The Shark player has not really used his opportunities, his defence is very suspect with a clear miss in a one on one situation with Reuben Thorne – he was incidentally responsible for the build up to the try when he could not control a ball after dropping back. With a player like Breyten Paulse in waiting he has not convinced and his sideway running is not helping any of his teammates. 

13. Marius Joubert - 6

The young centre is a try-scoring machine and for a Springbok no 13 jersey that is an essential quality. One very worrying factor is his defence, he received a yellow card although questionable for the fighting bit but definitely dangerous. This has to be his final warning as a certain Butch James realised. He is though a very good player and with a bit of space a dangerous customer.

12. De Wet Barry - 6

Barry was good on defence, his attacking skills are not yet in the Mauger mode but the hard running centre will get use to playing with Andre Pretorius and if he can “gel” when the young pivot makes his brilliant brakes we will see far more line breaks.

11. Dean Hall - 7

The big winger had a very solid match with some awesome defence and strong runs, an unfortunate knock on in the swirling wind came at an opportune moment but Hall is skilful enough despite much criticism. He needs to be utilised as something other than a battering ram as with a bit of space his true worth on attack will materialise.

10. Andrť Pretorius – 5.5

The inexperienced flyhalf had a blistering start to the match when he ran, kicked and tackled with aplomb. Strangely things did not go well after a huge tackle from Kiwi man of the match Scott Robertson, Pretorius struggled with his kicking rhythm both out of hand and placekicking. Unnecessary pressure by the Australian referee Stuart “50/50” Dickinson to remind Andre of “25 seconds remaining” further dented his confidence. The young man is a perfectionist and he will be back with a far improved game – the Kiwi’s have proved to be THE acid test for young SA flyhalves but unlike one Gaffie Du Toit his coach did not choose to criticise his play.

9. Johannes Conradie - 6

The scrummie was well looked after by both sets of forwards but inexplicably the Springboks “forgot” to clean out the rucks as efficiently in the second half, making a debutant scrumhalve’s job very difficult indeed. His kicking out of hand was not very good and in a swirling wind he would have been better off to keep it along the ground. He was not helped much in the speed of his delivery when forwards like Dalton ran to the ruck only to pick the ball up and hand it to him, wasting valuable backline seconds! This was a real test and the young man will have learnt a lot from his Tri Nations debut.

8. Bob Skinstad - 6

Bob will be the first to admit he was totally overshadowed by the brilliant Scott Robertson on attack but his lineout and defensive workrate was very high, add to that a few deft touches and quick hands. The benefit of somebody with Bob’s ability is to play the game wide and get him involved in crossing the gain line by beating his man with skill rather than bulldozing over him. The current gameplan does support an expansive game but the execution is not there yet. When this happens, Bob will really be in his element. 

7. Joe van Niekerk - 7

“Big Joe” had a very good match and even the Kiwi commentators felt he neutralised the excellent Ritchie McCaw, in both hard yards and carrying the ball, Joe was strong. An early minute high tackle conceded 3 points and all the Springboks need to sort out their tackling. The defence around the fringes is an area of concern and Joe, Krige and Skinstad need to sort it out with some big hits. A very satisfactory test.

6. Cornť Krige (captain) - 6

Captain courageous tackled like a man possessed but was not as influential on the park as so many tend to expect. The hard man spent a lot of time in the murky depths of rucks and mauls even to the extent where some Australian citing commissioner accused him of biting!! Defamation if you ask me after the so-called victim in the accusation exonerated him.

5. Victor Matfield - 5

Victor was not used much in the lineouts and there was hardly any poached ball from him, questioning why was he selected? He did carry the ball well on occasion but is not a classic driving lock in the Andrews, AJ Venter or Hottie Louw league. The man might play himself back into form but we need form players to win the tough tests.

4. Jannes Labuschagne – 6.5

The Cats captain is proving to be one of the best players “unearthed” by Straeuli, excellent in the driving mauls he does his fair share of work around the park and in the lineouts. He is a valuable member of a strong and growing tight five. 

3. Willie Meyer – 6.5

Hallelujah, “oom” Willie played one of his better tests and certainly his best of the year. No stupid penalties and a lot of strong driving work, his primary task – scrumming was done efficiently and the Springboks did not take a step back to the much vaunted All Black scrum.

2. James Dalton – 5.5

James was not at his best, he did well enough in a minefield of lineouts however his general play was not up to his high standards, there were a few occasions his bulk in clearing the mauls would have been far handier than standing and handing the ball to Conradie as an extra scrumhalf. He is the most experienced forward and we need him to lead by example.

1. Lawrence Sephaka – 6

Lawrence was very good in his twenty minutes before his much-publicized substitution by Ollie, apparently his scrumming led to a few infringements picked up by Dickinson. Up until then supporters unaware of the intricacies of propping believed him to play a very good and strong driving game. If he made mistakes to be replaced after 20 minutes, why was he chosen in the first place?

16. Ollie le Roux - 6

Sixty minutes of play as a sub, his scrumming was solid and his bulk around the field did contribute. Ollie is not the high impact player of a few year ago but his experience is invaluable and he brings a lot of stability to the team.

17. Faan Rautenbach

Faan did come on late in the second half but there was little to comment on.

18. AJ Venter

The man seems set to make a comeback as lock, probably his best position in the modern game as he can provide the much needed go-forward coupled with a lot of skill and attitude. His in your face style cause penalties, maybe he should learn when and where to concede them! He looked dynamic when he replaced Matfield.

19. Hendro Scholtz

Did not play.

20. Neil de Kock
Played a few minutes at the end of the match, he has the best pass in SA and that is maybe what is needed for the moment in the tough tests, Conradie’s propensity to run across the field may work for Gregan but his teammates are aware of league style angles, are the Springboks?

21. Adrian Jacobs

Came on briefly in two spells, missed a tackle on Umaga, did not see much to comment on.

22. Breyton Paulse

Came on for a short period but had too little chance to impress in a well beaten side.

Springboks

      Wallabies

Werner Greeff/Brent Russell 15 Chris Latham
Stefan Terblanche 14 Ben Tune
Marius Joubert/Adi Jacobs 13 Matthew Burke
De Wet Barry 12 Daniel Herbert
Breyton Paulse 11 Stirling Mortlock
Andre Pretorius 10 Stephen Larkham
Bolla Conradie/Neil de Kock 9 George Gregan (captain)
Bob Skinstad 8 Toutai Kefu
Joe van Niekerk/AJ Venter 7 George Smith
Corne Krige/Hendro Scholtz 6 Owen Finegan
Victor Matfield 5 Justin Harrison
Jannes Labuschagn 4 Nathan Sharpe
Faan Rautenbach 3 Patricio Noriega
James Dalton/Delarey du Preez 2 Jeremy Paul
Lawrence Sephaka/Ollie le Roux 1 Bill Young
16 Brendan Cannon
17 Ben Darwin
18 Matt Cockbain
19 David Lyons
20 Chris Whitaker
21 Elton Flatley
22 Mat Rogers

Quotes
Nothing is more important to the future of the professional game than the health, welfare and security of our players and the reconciliation of their best interests with the demands of a professional contact sport.    Vernon Pugh

It's the last thing that even crosses my mind. I don't think about colour in any form of selection.   John Mitchell

There's no question the Tri-Nations has taken some of the needle out of the rivalry. So what if we get beaten today . . . we'll get you next week. That seems to be the belief. Tours are the way to go.      Frank Bunce

"I'm not so sure I would have wanted to play in this age," said Stanley. "Call me a traditionalist, but tours make players what they are. Tours are about meeting guys, talking and drinking. That doesn't happen any longer. The brotherhood no longer exists."      Joe Stanley

David Campese was a magnificent player. There's no record of his being a magnificent selector.     John O'Neill 

I realise that representing state and country and being a high-profile rugby union player means that the public do have a little bit of insight into you as a person, but when it comes to medical issues, I think they've got no real right to be concerned with that type of stuff.       Ben Tune

Letters to the Editor (letters@rugbyforum.co.za)
Hi To All at RF and the readers.

I wish to congratulate you on an extremely well articulated and expositional magazine. Let me also say that while I am extremely happy that my beloved All Blacks beat the Boks on Saturday, I was hugely impressed with several of the pivotal players in a young Springbok team.

Rome was not built in a day and I think that Rudi has a good thing going on here. The All conquering Australian team of 1999 had seven players in it that had been playing together for five plus years and it showed dividends, so to Rudi we say; looking forward to the next few years with you at the helm. You seem to have brought back a sense of teamwork into a Springbok team that believe it or not we All Blacks do wish to see prosper.

RF thanks for the history table between our two sides. Maybe if we can get Hugh and other South African commentators to read it they will stop saying that we have never beat the Boks at Ellis Park. They only need to look at the 1997 result in Johannesburg and they will remember that in the dying moments of the game Jannie De Beer missed a penalty that would have leveled the game. 

Good Luck to the Springboks on Saturday, I hope you beat the Aussies (arrogant bunch) and do the All Blacks a favour.

Regards

Bryan Torien

Dear Editor,

Mohammed Ali achieved so many knockout victories because he hit his opponents with punches they never saw coming.

The media, rugby analysts, etc. may point to wrong decisions, lapses of concentration, etc. for the loss to the All Blacks on Saturday but the simple issue is we were taken out by punches we never saw coming. Straeuli should advise Oberholtzer that a 'Bok team coached by him will never play under the officiating of either Stuart Dickinson, the Pom Lander or Wayne Ericsson. Its time officials took note of the effect they have on game results.

We'll never know whether we could have beaten the All Blacks or not, but it was obvious that the Ref's intervention swung the game away from an up till then dominant Bok team.

Why did every scrum become a free-kick/penalty for the All Blacks? How could Robinson receive the lineout ball while running inside the 5m channel not be called up by the Ref/Linesman for not having been thrown 5m? Anyone who has been 2-0 up in a squash game, relaxed and been beaten 3-2 will know the effect of a change in rhythm.

My man of the match for the 'Boks was definitely Janus Labuschagne. He hit the rucks and mauls with the venom that must have made 'old' Boks proud. Joe Van Niekerk was excellent but the power grunt was supplied by Janus. Now please fly Matfield home and send Hottie Louw out there to partner Labuschagne!

Hey, I said Werner Greef was a possible Heunis, but I think he's stepped up to an HO!

Storm Ferguson

Geagte Red.

Hier begin 'n nuwe frustrerende tydperk in ons rugby dagboek - eensydige skeidsregters.
Wat kan ons doen om dit reg te stel? Wedstryd na wedstryd word net na die een kant toe geblaas. Foute na die een kant word reggestel deur oordrewe gunste na die ander kant.

Vandag se wedstryd, al die skrumfoute is na ons kant - Swart mag nie 'n fout maak nie. Aan die begin 'n strafskop -teen die end mooi gepraat - skade klaar gedoen. Hoekom word daar vir die swart skrum gewag - wait for Black? Maruis Joubert - geelkaart - waar is Tana dan? lilly white.

Bokke het baie potensiaal - en moet net aanhou.

Groete
Jan Leonard

Geagte Red.

Ek sÍ dit al jare en ek sÍ dit weer: Met Stuart Dickinson in die middel het geen Suid-Afrikaanse span 'n gelyke of regverdige kans om te wen nie.

Behalwe vir ou Stuey (die ewigdurende pyn in my sy, saam met Wayne Erickson, Paul Honiss en Steve Walsh) is die ander ding wat my pla: Ek hoop nie Streauli steek ook die "happy-snappy-sub"-siekte aan nie. Die halfuur wat Lawrence Sephaka op die veld was, was hy die beste Springbok-voorspeler. Hy het die bal by die All Blacks afgeneem wat tot Werner Greeff se drie gelei het, was die middelpunt van die dryfbewegings en - in een merkwaardige Springbok-stormloop - het hy die bal drie keer hanteer, waarvan hy die een keer meer as 10 meter veld gewen het. Na hy vervang is, het die Bokke se pak voorspelers heelwat van sy gif verloor.

Verder het ek nie te veel klagtes nie. Die Bokke het passie getoon en by tye briljant gespeel. Die telbord is, soos hulle in die "classics" sÍ, nie 'n getroue weergawe van die wedstryd nie. Daarom is daar geen rede tot paniek nie en voel ek steeds die Bokke is op die regte pad.

Die "drie" wat Stuart Dickinson aan Mark Hammett toegeken het, was die grootste komedie van foute wat ek nog van 'n skeidsregter gesien het. Dit was om 'n volle 4 (ja: VIER!) redes nie 'n drie nie, en tussen Dickinson en Wayne Erickson het hulle binne 4 sekondes 4 foute gemis... gemiddeld 'n fout per sekonde, wat die een of ander rekord moet wees, selfs vir Australiese skeidsregters!

Mark Hammett staan met albei (ja: ALBEI!) voete binne die speelgebied toe hy die bal ingooi; 
Hy gooi die bal skeef na die All Blacks se kant toe in; 
Scott Robertson ontvang die bal aan die kantlyn se kant van die 5-meter stippellyn (met die halwe meter wat Hammett in die veld gestaan het en die halwe meter wat Robertson die bal aan die verkeerde kant van die 5m-lyn ontvang het, het die bal dus hoogstens 4m i.p.v. die vereiste minimum 5m getrek); 
Die aangee vanaf Robertson terug na Hammett is vorentoe.

As hierdie beslissing - tesame met die vorentoe-aangee beslissing na Joe van Niekerk (as diť een vorentoe was, was die een tussen Robertson en Hammett ook) - die Springbokke nie die toets gekos het nie, sou ek my slap gelag het soos vir Laurel & Hardy.

Nou dink ek so by myselwers..... Stuart Dickinson wat ooglopend partydig is ten gunste van die All Blacks..... 
Tim Hardman, die Australiese wedstrydbeampte, "cite" die Springbokkaptein vir byt..... terwyl die "slagoffer" (Scott Robertson) self sÍ hy is nie gebyt nie en daar geen bytmerk aan hom is nie.....

Ja, ja, ja. Ons almal weet Australiese rugby-beamptes dink alle Suid-Afrikaners is "by default" skurke..... 
MAAR: Kry julle ook die gevoel dat Australiese beamptes hard aan die gatkruip is by Nieu-Seelanders oor die WÍreldbeker-fiasko???

Laastens: Interessant genoeg het die Bokke in 1997 ook met 'n groot telling in Nieu-Seeland verloor (iets soos 55 - 35), maar self 'n klomp sprankelende drieŽ in die proses gedruk. Daardie span was natuurlik die fondament van die onoorwinlike, rekordbrekende span van 1998.....

Colin van Rensburg

Geagte Red.

Dit is weer 'n vooreg om my beskeie mening op die forum te mag lug. Ek is nogal trots om weer 'n ondersteuner van Suid Afrikaanse rugby te wees al is dit die onder 21 span, en die Craven week spelers.. Soos elke persoon maar sy eie mening en opinie van elke ding onder die son het, dink ek het Rudof het die lig gesien. Soos ek in die verlede menigte kere my mening uitgespreek het oor die basiese elemente van rugby is ek nogal bly om te sien dat dit weereens toegepas word. 

Ek is net oor een keuse nie te opgewonde nie en dit is oor agsteman. Ek betwyfel nie die man se spel nie maar hy is nie 'n speler wat onder druk kan speel nie. As die Bokke voorloop speel die man goed maar 'n goeie speler vir my is een wat wanneer dit sleg gaan nie sal "wegraak " nie. Die manne lyk dit vir my is ook fikser as in die verlede. Die "game plan" is ook weer reg, nl die wil om te wen. 

'n Laaste gedagte is, die sogenaamde verskil tussen die mister van sport en die Groot Leeu. Let wel ek ontvang geen betaling van die man nie, maar ons geagte mister van sport moet nog oor Rugby en die administrasie leer wat die Groot Leeu al vergeet het. Dit is egter nie verbasend dat die ou uitgerekte holrug storie van apartheid weereens geopper is nie. Dit is mos maar so, dat wanneer jy niks het om positief by te dra nie, probeer die apartheidskaartjie maar gerieflik om die nek gehang. Vergeet die vet mister van sport dan wie is verantwoordelik vir die drie nasie reeks en een van die individuele grootste borge van rugby in die land. Net goeie raad aan die mister. Wanneer jy in 'n gat is hou op grawe en "an unasked opinion is a sign of stupidity"

Groete
Chris Erasmus

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Let us know what you think!

There is nothing I would love more than for the South Africans to reclaim their place as the All Blacks greatest rival, mainly because it would mean that we were back to routinely spanking the Wallabies!

Please Lucas, make it happen!

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