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Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 27
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 27
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
14 Aug 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 27 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!       Drama, non-stop drama – what else can happen in a week! The Durban fixture between the Springboks and All Blacks was again a phenomenal match, the rugby was of such great quality it left one breathless. Breathless, bruised and bloodied was one Pieter van Zyl after the first Allied Springbok/All Black attack since the 2nd World War.

The melee in the 42nd minute of the enthralling test was as unwanted as Pilchards left in the afternoon sun, the stink however pales in comparison to the one left by van Zyl in his moment of madness. South African sport and the general population was mottled by one stupid, fat man and this selfish act will haunt and linger for years to come. Much has been said and blame apportioned but in all essence the incident has accentuated the poor security at international sporting events. 

ABSA Stadium is decidedly embarrassed and one can understand their reasons for omitting security fences around the parameter but unfortunately not all their spectators are the friendly people of Durban. Reminds me a bit of the joke about the man (maybe an Ausie!) who proclaimed all his good deeds and how he was never known as “Bruce the good bowler” or “Bruce the great farmer” but after getting “personal” with just one sheep… 
The Sharks, the avant-garde rugby union of SA will no doubt rectify the problem and their magnificent marketing arm will nullify the damaging effect of the episode but it will take time.

Back to rugby or not yet, there is the “small” matter of Ben Tune, the classy winger thought he saw the last of the “drug scandal” after being acquitted by an “independent Australian Tribunal”, in itself an anomaly, on “exceptional circumstances”. But, the IRB it seems is not happy with the verdict and will appoint its own committee to investigate the matter, sans Dr Jakoet the local expert castigated by John O’Neill for “impetuous” comments (which sounded pretty close to the official part line of the IRB) and lack of knowledge on the escape clauses which the Australian CEO knows so intimately. The IRB and O'Neill managed to expose the New Zealand board's actions, is it not time the IRB take a firm stance on the ARU, to show, not only their (IRB's) backbone but consistency in dealing with inappropriate behaviour of member unions.

Another matter the IRB needs to investigate with speed (akin to instructing the QE II to make a u-turn in the Panama Canal) is the referee issue. There is great unhappiness in many quarters with the way in which matches are handled, mistakes and so forth. The last few weeks it has reached boiling point and directly, for the first time in international rugby history, assault. The job of the officials is at best a thankless one and a brilliant article on www.rugby365.co.za gave some wonderful insight on how the international panel is selected and assessed, ditto Freek Burger on a television talk show during the week. But, these are all current processes and they are not working, something different must be done and hats off to SANZAR for their initiatives with technology in the Super 12 and Tri-Nations. The problem with this though is that the IRB will take maybe another year to ratify the proposed enhancements but implementation there of next year will put the Southern Hemisphere players at a disadvantage come the RWC where a referee has to rely on the limited current technology provided for by the IRB. Catch 22.

Now, the rugby. The final match of what has been an excellent Tri-Nations competition will be played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The stadium is not a happy hunting ground for the Wallabies but to put that as a reason for a defeat would be foolish. The Springboks have improved with every test and the discipline over the weekend was a remarkable turnaround feat from the 23 penalties of the previous match. Against the masters of multi-phase play this discipline need to be markedly better as the demands will be, with all respect to the Kiwis, even greater than last weekend. The Springbok defence needs to show the same percentage improvement for the Australians have the ability to retain possession for protracted periods of time and the SA defence will be tested to its limits. Straeuli and Lane concede the deficiencies and if they address the problem and the players display the same application and maturity, the team is in with a shout.

Enjoy the match on Saturday and may the Springboks come of age, it is 10 years to the day (15/08/1992) that South Africa played their first test after re-admission. The decade delivered precious few highlights but then the next ten years could be the swing we as supporters have been yearning for. It all starts on Saturday, and oh yes, behave!!

Lucas

lucas@rugbyforum.co.za


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

Sole purpose of visit by Tom Marcellus
Although Durbs is a famously laid back place, full of bronzed babes and eager boogie-boarders, I don't think that its active 'n attractive inhabitants were quite expecting the fun and games that took place last weekend, courtesy of Pieter van Zyl Esquire, visiting businessman from Potchestroom.

Much hoo-hah has since been raised in the local and foreign press about the incident, and (rather predictably) many Bok supporters have pronounced in favour of the adventurous Western Transvaler, whose core gripe against David McHugh is evidently that the Irishman was "anti-South African". Perhaps Mr Van Zyl, in his tired and emotional state, having spent a long day in the sun sucking on a brown bottle, truly believed that the whistleman was an envoy of those evil bomb-toting fiends from the IRA, intent on the destruction of our fledgling democracy.

Although such an argument will probably be a difficult one to establish in court, it does remind me of the time that the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, was asked in a standard US Customs questionnaire, upon his arrival in New York, whether it was his intention to overthrow the US government by force. His written response was "Sole purpose of visit".

Even more disturbing is the fact that a number of lawyers have now crawled out of the woodwork, eager to provide their professional services to the hard-pressed Mr Van Zyl, free of charge. His was a patriotic gesture, we are told, caused by a desperate need to see justice prevail. Principled lawyers – a dangerous breed indeed.

My own views on this shameful affair are simple. Watching a test match between het Springbokken and the All Blacks is a wonderful way to pass the day. Matches between these two old foes have always been brim-full with passion and pride, and it goes without saying that the result is often vital. But sport it remains. For Mr Van Zyl to think that Mr McHugh's errors – and let's be honest, there were enough of those – merited his drastic action is simply outrageous. For one thing, there can be few more complex sports than rugby, and how many louts who jeer from the sidelines have ever tried their hands at refereeing? B*gger all. Mistakes happen, and sometimes they seem to have the habit of going against the same team, again and again. C'est le vie.

Furthermore, any student of rugby history will tell you that, in the old days, touring sides to this country often complained about the perceived bias of our own referees. Indeed, dyed-in-the-wool All Black fans have often alleged that the 1976 series was decided not by the Boks' fierce pack or the odd Gerrie Germishuys-inspired try, but by the sympathetic whistles of the local referees who blew in the tests. And that's forgetting about the complaints of '49 and '60.

My last point is the one that makes me bitterest. When I was a young 'un, I used to be a fan of the Paul Hogan Show, in which Hoges portrayed the archetypal, rough-as-a-billygoat's-chin Aussie mate. It was the late 1970's, long before INXS, Kylie, Elle McPherson, Pat Cash, the Sydney Olympics, Russell Crowe etc, and Aussies were viewed by many in these parts as being a bit "rof". That, of course, has all changed, although the "fair dinkum" stereotype did manage to linger a bit. When I lived in London, I was called a "Ja-Ja" and a "Japie" for the first time. I didn't mind too much, although I did sometimes resent the insinuation that I was a backward colonial – in fact, much like we had viewed our good mates, Bruce and Sheila, in the old days!

My point is thus one of perception. I don't care if Van Zyl is given the freedom of Potchestroom – he can be fed to the lions for all I care. But it does bother me that his oafish gesture will taint all South Africans, even those who looked on in utter horror as that mass of flesh came stumbling onto the pitch. With his boep, his snor, and his fat ars*, he was a wheezing caricature of a supporter of "the Apartheid regime", so beloved by ANC spokesmen.

But enough about him – let's talk rugby. Roll on Saturday, and glory to the Green 'n Gold.

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


Trifecta by Desmond Organ
Horse racing fans like it, it’s better than going for an outright winner, the odds are easier and the returns are well worth the effort; a real pity that the Springboks seem to be making the same fundamental errors week after week. Instead of focusing on the real differentiator between winning and losing they throw themselves into battle like possessed individuals as opposed to war veterans.

The odds on success when you make the same errors are greatly reduced when the opposition is able to exploit the same weaknesses week after week. Not that this is meant to be anti patriotic, quite the opposite, even the well rounded referee basher failed to bring us the required result. The hooligan should be banned from all sporting events for the rest of his life. In the space of a few mad moments he gave every anti South African in the rest of the world ample reason to return to the soap box he had abandoned several years ago.

The refereeing controversy that surrounds this Tri Nations has little to do with the real reasons for the Springboks failure to produce a victory. I have through the benefit of electronic media read the thoughts, comments and criticisms of former players and coaches with the purpose of developing somewhat of an objective opinion. The majority of opinions have pointed to three major deficiencies. They are in order of importance: Defensive lapses, forward tactics and support play.

The statistics will show that the All Blacks and Wallabies have exploited these to perfection. The tries that are being scoring against the Springboks are coming from the same patterns of play. The ability of the opposition to control several phases of play and then develop an overlap through defensive lapses is alarming. The defence appears to be caught between waiting for the offence to reach them and running onto the player too rapidly. The missed tackles that have occurred have only served to further exploit the advantage that is being delivered on a platter. In stark contrast the Springboks have been scoring from broken play and with several acts of individual brilliance. 

Herein lies a real positive, they are developing the capability to score tries from nothing and this is something that few teams of recent years have been able to perfect, apart from the scintillating play of the French three quarters. Not that I am an expert by any manner of means, but considering the talent at South Africa’s disposal it is not that difficult to erase those defensive lapses. The true professionals will tell me that it is not that simple, but then again I have statistics on my side that will show that if anything South Africa was defensively sound last year. There are major defensive concerns in three critical positions; No 9, No 12 and No 8. These are adding pressure to an already struggling defensive set up. 

The forwards of both the Wallabies and the All Blacks are completing the basics far more efficiently. The Wallabies are not quite as efficient, but they have the ability to steal the ball with regularity. In both the games this year against South Africa, Scott Robinson has had a field day charging up the middle. There appears to be a problem in the combination of 7 and 8 on the South African side, both players are individually gifted, but only one is operating at his true potential, or maybe there is a combination problem. I have absolutely no doubt that Van Niekerk is just as good at No 8. If the current incumbent is being kept in the team for his lineout ability it is not worth the points that are being lost in the defensive lapses. 

Of equal concern is the pressure that is being placed on individuals at the point of breakdown. The All Blacks and Wallabies are committing two and often three players to such situations, the Springboks - one, if they are lucky. This only adds pressure to the person trying to clear the ball; it also encourages the referee to blow for holding on to the ball. Jannes Labuschagne has been outstanding on the drive; imagine the set play advantage that would be created if he had a support player or two working with him. If the Springboks scored two tries from such situations they would have won two games this year.
I have seen several forwards on vacation in the three quarters, further complicating the defensive pattern. They certainly do not seem to be covering for the missed tackles. 

Several players have been put under scrutiny by the press for questionable performances; most of those have responded and improved the next week. What is perplexing is that Stefan Terblanche has not been rotated along with De Wet Barry, Bolla Conradie and Bob Skinstad. The coaches have praised the all round performance of Andre Pretorius and with a few more games his tactical kicking can only improve. AJ Venter gave 150 % on Saturday and James Dalton reduced the penalty count against him by the same margin.

The Springboks have several real match winners who need to be nurtured and developed. Additional pressure is being placed on key players like Krige, Pretorius and Joubert. The best thing would be the unveiling of a defensive specialist, a forward support specialist and the rotation of a few players.

DON'T FORGET: The September issue of SA Rugby magazine (with James Dalton on the cover) is on sale now. 
To subscribe to SA Rugby phone 021-418-0141 or e-mail monarchc@mweb.co.za


A Durban Rhapsody by Mark Foster

Springboks 23 All Blacks 30

The Durban match was the best performance from the Springboks this year and a magnificent match, what a great pity the game was lost (yet again!) and tinged with the whole spectator debacle. I wont even go there, it’s been debated ad nuseam in the press and quite frankly the idiot does not deserve the attention. 

Let us rather discuss the wonderful rugby, the match was again a tension filled spectacle and after last week, who would have thought the All Blacks would be involved in yet another thriller? The Springboks made the perfect start with an excellent early try after a valuable turnover from Dalton, good skills and a fair amount of luck saw De Kock dot down for his first try in a test. The All Blacks, and here was the biggest problem for the Springboks on the day, returned the compliment within minutes. 

The Springbok defence was poor and simply cost them the match - the All Blacks cleverly exploited the confusion and miss-communication in the Bok ranks to create havoc with the speed and power of Umaga and the guile and tactical nouz of Mauger and Mehrtens. The problem may be rooted in the defensive system (?) employed by the Springboks, something Straeuli has commented on but the statistics on high tackles especially amongst the centres and a very ordinary game from De Wet Barry went a long way to harm the cause. 

The match contained some of the best open play running seen in a long time and definitely better than any Springbok side in the last 5 years. The attacking skills of the speedy backs and some excellent interplay with the loose forwards were a joy to behold. A big credit must go to the All Black defensive expert for keeping them at bay!

Alas, the referee – again mistakes were made, some too glaringly obvious for the professionals everyone claims them to be. The season has highlighted the inadequate systems in place and the IRB need to act sooner than their normal year or two turnaround time. Technology is an answer and can be utilised in combination with two referees and a television adjudicator.

The Springboks has shown a drastic upward performance curve over the extent of the competition, in every match so far certain elements improved none more so than the discipline. Based on this theory, the Springboks will produce their best 80 minutes of the year this coming Saturday at Ellis Park to defeat the world champion Wallabies.

Set Phases

The pack was absolutely awesome, Meyer and Sephaka was rock solid in the front row and my guess is the selection of two hard working locks behind them provided the beautiful site of an All Black pack being scrummed off their own ball!! The lineouts was simple an effective, it goes to show that all the fancy moves and grooves can be avoided. The kick-offs need further attention with more effective competition on own ball.

Broken Play

The class of ’02 is fast gaining the reputation as a “turnover-team”, this area of play is excellent and the platform for the exciting backs to attack from. The loose forwards are not yet an effective combination, individually they are doing a fine job but the All Blacks and Wallabies have perfected the right ratio of brawn, speed and graft.

Backline

The attack was mentioned and to confirm there is very little wrong with this aspect of their play, the bleedin obvious is the defence. The general discipline improved remarkably in one week so all is not lost as far as sorting out a working defence against the masters of angled running. It comes down to concentration, a fair amount of hard work, communication and faith in your teammates.

Individual Performances

15. Werner Greeff - 7

The lanky fullback played yet another excellent match and his strengths include faultless positional play, awesome highball skills and a devastating tackle felt by Andrew Mehrtens in particular. His running is strong and a season of Currie Cup rugby at fullback is essential to be the settled Springbok in this position. 

14. Breyten Paulse - 7

The little winger is back to his busy best, with some darting runs and good defence he added more value on the right wing than the previous occasions on the left. He was utilised as expected on the right side of the field to kick into touch and after missing once settled in this extra responsibility. It is amazing how confidence change a player.

13. Marius Joubert - 7

The try-scoring machine was at it again, always running himself into try-scoring positions. This week a valid effort was disallowed by the referee, in the process destroying an attempt to match Christian Cullen’s 2000 form of scoring a try in each match. His current 3 tries make him SA’s joint top scorer in a season for the Tri-Nations competition (with Percy Montgomery, Cullen is the leader with 7). The young centre’s man on man tackling was strong, evident in the penalty try where his effort alone would have prevented the try. Another good showing despite closer attention from his opposite numbers.

12. De Wet Barry – 5.5

The Stormers hard man proved to be the worst disciplined Springbok of the day, wrestling away the title from such luminaries as Skinstad, Venter, Meyer and Dalton. His two dangerous tackles conceded 10 points – unacceptable. He is however a skilled poacher of tackled ball and his little break created the first try. Work on that discipline son!

11. Dean Hall – 7.5

The burly Cat played an excellent match and the best Springbok back on display. His work rate was first class and he always dropped back both in defence with his fullback as well as cross defending. The Hall/Paulse/Greeff/Russell combo is dangerous.

10. André Pretorius – 7

The young flyhalf played very well and there was a definite improvement from Australasia, his kicking was superb until he missed the crucial one but we will never know if it would have made a difference. One worry is his skip passing under pressure, it tends to go awry but his attacking skill culminated in a beautiful try. Needs to become more of a general.

9. Neil De Kock - 7

The find of last year played a wonderful match, he scored a great try made quick clearances and did his bit on defence. There was the blotched kick from the base of the scrum that led to the All Black try but all in all a satisfying game.

8. Bob Skinstad – 7

Bob played another blinder and since he “klapped” the “oke” in a pub it seems like his play has improved drastically! The discipline problem evaporated but he remains one of the most effective “slowing downers” of opposition ball. He played a bit tighter than normal but his attacking flair was evident.

7. Joe van Niekerk - 8

The young flanker was the man of the match and definitely the best Springbok player on the park. He was very strong on attack in carrying the ball over the advantage line, good offloads at sensible times displayed a great feeling for the game. His defence was allright and his covering superb in saving a certain try.

6. Corné Krige (captain) - 7

The Captain again played his heart out with many tackles and strong presence in the turnovers. He does take a few knocks in a game his substitution in the second half is not good for continuation or confidence. He will produce the best for last come Saturday.

5. AJ Venter - 7

The flank cum lock played one of his better matches in a green and gold jersey, he worked tremendously hard in the tight phases and his bulk was more than welcome in the scrums. Connected with a few good “klaps” on the spectator!

4. Jannes Labuschagne – 7

The combination with Venter worked very well and Jannes might soon be the Krynauw Otto of the team. His workrate is awesome and can hold his own in the lineouts, definitely the most consistent player in the pack.

3. Willie Meyer – 7

The “old geezer” was dynamite and with no stupid penalties and solid scrumming impressed with his speed against Somerville! A chuckle from the two big men was a nice touch in such a tense game.

2. James Dalton – 7

The “Bullet” was effective, he played the percentages in this match and his penalty for obstruction was ludicrous. Excellent in the lineouts and with his discipline in check he is a major asset to the team. We need another big game from the seasoned campaigner this Saturday.

1. Lawrence Sephaka – 7

The big man impressed with his excellent scrumming and general workrate on the park. He made a few telling tackles and the one knock on was from a very difficult “torpedo pass” from De Kock, next time he will take it, a much improved player over the past few weeks and all credit to him and Straeuli for his faith in him.

16. Ollie le Roux 

The bigger man made an impact with a few big hits and solid scrumming.

17. Faan Rautenbach

Nothing to comment.

18. Victor Matfield

Nothing to comment.

19. Hendro Scholtz

Makes an impact as expected but for the second match in a row is guilty of a stupid penalty for his eagerness.

20. Johannes Conradie

The previous week’s incumbent struggled a little bit when he replaced De Kock, he tried too much rather than keeping the rhythm going.

21. Adrian Jacobs

Nothing to comment.

22. Brent Russell

The “super-sub” made another big impact and this exciting player is such a wonderful footballer to watch. He must be careful of trying too hard and keep his sensibility when weighing his options but his attack-attack-attack philosophy is great! No slouch in the tackling department either. 

Quotes
SA Rugby and all of its supporters apologise to Mr McHugh for this unfortunate incident, that kind of behaviour does not belong at any rugby match.     Rian Oberholzer

I guarantee that he will never again attend a rugby match in South Africa for the rest of his life.     Rian Oberholzer

Referees around the world think they are bigger than the game and they're not. Fans like me is what rugby is about.      Pieter van Zyl

The whole of the stadium was mal (angry) with him (the referee). It's just that I decided to do something about it. Pieter van Zyl

Although I'm still seen as public enemy number one, I've been swamped by people congratulating me for crash-tackling the referee.       Pieter van Zyl

I don't want money. I would rather donate it to a refereeing body to train international referees.     Pieter van Zyl

For a New Zealand rugby man I don't think there's a greater challenge than playing against the Springboks in South Africa.      John Mitchell

The match was close but we must not fall into the trap of being happy with playing well and not winning.    Rudolf Straeuli

One of the old golfers (Bobby Locke maybe) once said, ''We drive for show and putt for dough.'' Maybe the rugby equivalent should be, ''We run for show and tackle for dough.''      Mike Amm

Australian rugby officials should have been in the dock. It was their behaviour after they found out about Tune's treatment that has only underlined the farce that is Australia's stance on drugs in sport.        Patrick Smith

Rugby works in cycles. You need the right players coming through and staying injury-free. Everything has to work together. I can sense an energy in this Springbok team.     James Small

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

How ironic! After the Springboks got the real raw deal from the refs in two successive games, it is André Watson who gets publicly criticized! Is there no justice in this world?!!!

That the Springboks were unjustly penalized by Mr Lander on at least six occasions was clear for everyone to see. The only obvious error Mr Watson made in the whole game was penalizing Noriega when Paul was about to score a try. In both instances I believe there was no malice intended and the errors were indeed bona fide. The same goes for the likes of Paddy O'Brien, Peter Marshall, Wayne Erickson en George Ayob... The fact that the Springboks usually get the short end of the stick from them, I believe, is just how the cookie crumbles; the wheel turns and on another day the Boks will have the 50/50-decisions going in their favour again.

The same cannot be said for Stuart Dickinson, Paul Honiss and Steve Walsh (jr.)... they are so obviously biased against South African teams that it is exasperating for South Africans and embarrassing to their opponents. Dickinson's bigotry is so blatantly obvious that a video tape has even been made by the Stormers' management that delivers irrefutable evidence of this.

Then of course there is the handful of international referees who really are in a class of their own. You hardly ever see any mistakes from the likes of Jonathan Kaplan, Scott Young and André Watson and certainly never any bias. (By the way, I read somewhere that Scott Young is struggling with an injury that kept him from refereeing the first test between the Boks and the All Blacks --- what a difference that could have made!)

Which brings me back to Andrew Mehrtens' criticism of André Watson. That the latter had to be the target of criticism is unfortunate and I really believe it emanates purely from frustration, as Mehrtens had one of those once-in-a-season-absolute-shockers of a game, and he knows that his missed penalty kicks ultimately cost his team the match. BUT - and this is my point - I will defend his right to air his criticism to the end! How else is poor refereeing going to be publicly exposed? We as supporters have for years complained about poor standards in this regard and for the last three years I personally have been pointing out the anti-South African bias shown by Dickinson in particular. Where has it brought us? Yup, we're still in Nowhereland in this regard and Dickinson still officiates in matches where the Springboks are involved.

I believe the loquacious Master Mehrtens have shown the way, as has Gert Smal with his compilation of Dickinson's underhandedness. If this helps to eradicate Dickinsonian prejudice and otherwise indifferent performances from other referees, I'm all for it!

COLIN VAN RENSBURG

Hi Ed

What a shame that a man had to go to such an extreme act to wake up or bring to the world's attention, the utmost frustration, anxiety, pain and disappointment that the Bok supporters must endure when their team is beaten by unfair biased decisions, test match after test match. 

Don't tell me it's only a game, this is serious stuff. I don't condone the deed, but I have great sympathy for the man. Enough is enough. A player is penalised when infringing, even suspended and can lose his place in a team, lose
his income, may never regain his place. The team suffers, and, and, and. But the referees go on, may do what they like, blow the way they "see it", arrogant, how high and mighty they are, beyond reproach, untouchable. Almost seems like they are writing a new set of rules as each game unfolds. 

One lousy decision by a referee can cause any team to lose a game, can make any warm blooded supporter, blow his top. The players may not speak out, nor the coach, when they are cheated out of a game. I deliberately call it cheating because the incidents that we all witnessed in the last three tests, were not judged according to the rules of the game, they were judged according to the twin set of rules that apply for SA and the rules that applies for the opposition. 

The administration also stands to blame for this one "silly" deed. They were asleep on Saturday, they did not prevent this and highly unlikely their intention to do anything about the bad refereeing that is handed to our team and us, the "brainless" rugby fans. We are only the paying mob, without who, there will be no rugby stands, salaries etc. Excuse us for being naive, for expecting a well and fair contested match. Where the quality of the players make the difference, not the referee. 

We must be a lot of masochists, willingly and knowingly, crowding in the stands or sitting down at the TV, hoping for and expecting a fair deal, match after match, but again and again mercilessly being dealt harsh blows by yet another bad "executioner" of the rule book. We are pleading for an even chance, a level playing field, where all things are equal to start off, where the gladiators meet and speed, strength, agility, mental toughness and pure genius takes over and reign supreme, not the bloody ref !!! No team can play a perfect came, but it is expected from the Boks. mistakes they'll make, but it seems that it will take a 100 % performance have a decent chance of winning against the Aussies and NZ (and the referees?)

The "Bi-nations that the OZ and NZ referred to was precisely what they meant, knowingly? Can any referee being trusted, for that matter, cricket umpires too? Cowboys don't cry and it may even sound like sour grapes, but
what if the Marshall, turns out to be an out-Lander or Mc..Hughe White crook that makes us all the Dick-ins-in? I prefer Nokia to Erikson.

Surely this case will end up in court and I'm looking forward to a case where the defence will have more than a case than most may think. Think of all the possibilities; the referees being charged that they were biased and favoured only one team and caused severe and utmost distress, anxiety and multiple cases of near heart failures. Because they failed to handle the game in a fair manner a number of betting punters lost their money. That's a thought, who did put money on the outcome? The defence will have all the video-evidence they require to their disposal.

The All Blacks should pay for the defence of Mr. van Zyl. Why? His timing was excellent and gave them a huge breather, and time to regroup and at the same time stopped the momentum and concentration of the Boks. The Boks were rampant at the time of intervention and it put them out of stride.

Show me a good loser, and he will be a constant loser, a hopeless case, therefore I'm a bad loser, especially when I feel cheated.

Last but not least, the Boks WILL become a greater team than they already are. The way to play is Attack, ATTACK AND ATTACK THROUGH DEFENCE !

J. Carelse

Hi Ed,

The game in the weekend was very worrying.

I'll list my worries at the end

I guess every one has been talking about it and it deserves mention. The actions of the lout who attacked the referee were indefensible and the fact that some South Africans have argued that his actions were justified, or understandable reflects poorly on that sick section of South African society. 

I won't even bother going into the utterly bizarre paranoid fantasies that the rugby world discriminates against
South Afrucans, it's the punishment for the podgy Potchefstroomian's actions that I am curious about. The life ban imposed upon him sounds good but practically how feasible is it? I hardly think that there are going to be security guards at each entrance with a picture of him at each rugby game ready to bar his entrance. Unless he attempts to purchase a season ticket in his own name, does the life ban actually mean anything? 

On that point, his sister, who according to media reports applauds his actions, could buy the tickets on his behalf. The only suitable penalty would be to prosecute him successfully under criminal charges. The criminal conviction on his record may mean something to him in the future. Obviously any fine he receives will be paid by his well-wishers as his bail already has been, so won't hurt him financially.

Enough on that onto the refereeing which South Africans always have an issue with as noted above.

Overall, I felt the refereeing except for a couple of incidences wasn't bad. There were not a huge number of penalties in the game. Having said that there were a number of contentious calls.

The first was De Wet Barry and his head high tackle on Tana. In the strictest sense it wasn't a penalty try, Marius Joubert would probably have tackled him before the line. The appropriate action would have been to sin bin Barry and award a penalty which from the left hand side of the field Mehrtens would probably have goaled. Barrys second head high tackle again on Tana Umaga in the second half confirmed that his first high shot wasn't accidental, he was lucky to stay on the field again and there were grounds for a red card for repeated dangerous play.

So if the correct decisions had been taken the All Blacks would have got a penalty and Barry would have been in the bin for 20 minutes. With a one man advantage the All Blacks should have been able to score a try in that time. So my view is that at the end of the day the Boks got to keep all 15 players for the game for a net loss of 4 points (penalty try 7 minus penalty 3). They didn't do too badly all in all. I don't expect everyone (and especially Pieter and the rest of the psychotic van Zyl clan) to agree.

The second call was disallowing Paulse's try for Dalton running interference. That was plain wrong, no question the Boks were robbed. Daltons action did nothing to impede the defence and it is something the Australians do about 50 times a game and get away with. 

In all fairness the game should probably have been a 30-30 draw. Thus allowing Australia to win the Tri-Nations by beating the Boks in the final game :)

Now on to the worrying aspects raised by that game. Many in NZ will now regard this season as a successful one as in all likelihood NZ will win the Tri-Nations and they will feel we are on course to win the World Cup. There will be a tendency to gloss over the following facts: The All Blacks beat Australia in Christchurch because Australia can not play wet weather rugby in freezing conditions. This will not be an issue at the world cup.

The All Blacks lost to Australia in Sydney by two points and were lucky to do so. The 50-50 calls and bounce of the ball went their way. The Jeremy Paul and Richie McCaw tries being the cases in point. A realistic score would have been 21-9. Not that close at all.

The All Blacks beat South Africa in Durban by seven points and once again if the 50-50 calls hadn't gone their way would have been looking at a 30-30 draw and once again losing the Tri-Nations as well as the Bledisloe.

On Saturday the All Blacks played to their potential no one really played badly. Everyone played to their usual consistent standard, maybe Chris Jack had a quiet game by his high standards, but other than that they played to their potential. I'm worried because I can't see any of these players growing much more in the next year.

On the other hand the Boks almost won.

They have parity with the All Blacks in the forwards and for a change they did not give away penalties. I understand the penalty count was only 9 against them when the previous week it was 23. Skinstad, Dalton and Venter did not consistently give away penalties. Straeuli identified this as a problem from the previous week and had a referee work with the players, and here is the worrying thing. THE PLAYERS LISTENED AND ADAPTED. Demonstrating rugby intelligence and the ability to learn from the previous game is not something I have ever seen South African forwards do before, hell even the All Blacks don't do it within the space of one game. What if the Boks actually wake up to the fact that constant infringing can cost you games? What if they actually learn before the world cup?

The Springbok backline is actually dangerous now, every time that Brent Russell got the ball I had this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that he was going to carve through the All Black back line. Thank God he was only on for 20 minutes. The thought of Russell with a fully fit Paulse outside him bearing down on Caleb Ralph and Leon McDonald at the world cup worries me, you'd have to back those guys two out of three times. Jonah wouldn't be much help in that regard either. What happened to the good old days (like last year and before) when the Bok backs were only there to make tackles and kick the ball back?

The growth potential for the Boks in the next year is huge and that of the current crop of All Blacks pretty limited.

I still blame Taine Randell for his gutless efforts in leading the All Blacks to disaster in 98 and 99, but even he has got to be better than Sam Broomhall. What about Jerry Collins, Rodney So'aialo, and Paul Miller? What about Paul Tito and Dion Waller instead of Simon Maling or Royce Willis? Pita Alatini instead of Daryl Gibson? Roger Randle instead of Caleb Ralph?

Why does the All Black coach seem to be coaching like a Springbok coach and the Springbok coach like an All Black coach?

I had enough concerns about the all Blacks beating Australia on their home grounds, now the Springboks look like they are going to be genuine contenders in the World Cup. Isn't it time you guys changed coaches again? Please.

Salutations
Vinesh Naicker

Hi Lucas,

Brilliant, that is the only way the match of Saturday can be described. The only thing that leaves a bad taste is as Naas has put it, the All Blacks scored more points then us. And the spectator that did something we all have thought about when fuming about all the blatant bad decisions that comes our way week after week. It was not nice to have seen it though. One thing that I thoroughly enjoyed watching was Superrugby on MNET Monday evening. For the first time I could convince my wife I am not a out of my mind when I protest every bad decision that is made on the field. I enjoyed seeing them speak openly about how they feel about bad refereeing. It was so sad to see a spectator took things in his own hands because the authorities who knew we were victims of bad decisions never did anything to correct the situation.

Regards,
Gordon

Hi Ed

Kyk, ek wil geensins daardie toeskouer wat die skeidsregter platgeduik het se optrede goedpraat nie. Maar ek kan waaragtig sy frustrasie verstaan. Die wyse waarop Suid-Afrikaanse rugbyspanne die afgelope paar jaar gedurig aan die kortste ent van skeidsregterbesluite trek, het eens te veel geraak. Kom ons begin by die begin...

* Ek glo die afguns van sommiges in veral Australië en Nieu-Seeland spruit uit die feit dat ons na isolasie met ons eerste probeerslag die Wêreldbeker gewen het. 
* Dat die kampioen-Springbokspan van 1998 toe boonop die enigste span ooit word om die Drienasies-titel onoorwonne te buit, was vir hulle een te veel. 
* Daarom is daar aan die begin van die volgende jaar die berugte e-pos boodskap onder Australiese en Nieu-Seelandse skeidsregters versprei waarin hulle aangemoedig word om "die Japies 'n les te leer". Die bewoording van hierdie boodskap kan op geen ander wyse vertolk word as dat dit 'n sameswering teen Suid-Afrikaanse spanne aanmoedig nie. 
* Nadat dié lande se skeidsregtersverenigings SARVU skriftelik om verskoning gevra het, besluit SARVU om in plaas van die saak verder te voer na die hoogste vlakke van SANZAR en die IRB, dit liewer diplomaties onder 'n matjie in te vee. 
* Sedertdien voer sekere skeidsregters, by name Mnre Stuart Dickinson, Paul Honiss en Steve Walsh (jr.), 'n kruisvaart teen Suid-Afrikaanse Super-12 spanne asook die Springbokspan ter voldoening van dié komplot. Talle voorbeelde kan uitgewys word (en is al male sonder tal in rugby-publikasies gedoen) waar hierdie drietal Suid-Afrikaanse spanne onweerlegbaar verneuk. 
* Hierdie drie skeidsregters se oneerlike optrede plaas ook die optrede van andere - waar 50/50-beslissings meestal teen die Springbokke gaan - in die oë van ondersteuners onder verdenking. Voorbeelde van skeidsregters wat soms onbevoeg voorkom en dikwels foute ten gunste van ons teenstanders maak, is Wayne Erickson, David McHugh, Steve Lander, George Ayob en Chris White. 
* Hierdie toedrag van sake het vanjaar 'n hoogtepunt bereik toe eers die Strormers ooglopend uit die Super-12 reeks geblaas is (deur veral Dickinson) en die Springbokke daarna ook uit die Drienasies reeks geblaas is. 
Die aanloop tot verlede Saterdag se gebeure het begin toe die Springbokke die eerste toets teen die All Blacks verloor het deur 'n kombinasie van die skeidsregter se eenogigheid en die lynregters se onbevoegdheid. 
* Daarna het die Springbokke boonop die eerste toets teen die Wallabies verloor as gevolg van beamptes wat nie opgewasse is vir hul taak nie. 
* Die Durbanse toets was die klimaks van onbevoegdheid toe verkeerde skeidsregter-besluite 'n OMMESWAAI VAN 35 PUNTE bewerkstellig het*. McHugh se toekenning van 'n strafdrie aan die All Blacks (as senters nie meer hul doellyn mag verdedig nie, kan die spel nie meer "rugby" genoem word nie) en miskenning van twee wettige Springbok-drieë, tesame met White wat by minstens twee geleenthede verkeerdelik die Springbokke teruggeroep het nadat 'n wettige drie reeds gedruk was of hulle op pad was om een te druk, was die enigste oorsaak dat die Springbokke verloor het, en nie met 51-23 gewen het nie. En die Springbokke sou volpunte wees vir so 'n groot oorwinning!

Om sake in perspektief te stel: Niemand wat ek ken het al ooit die bevoegdheid of onpartydigheid van skeidsregters soos Scott Young, Paddy O'Brien, Peter Marshall, Andy Cole, Derek Bevan en vele ander bevraagteken nie. Indien hierdie here regverdig en uitmuntend kan blaas (soos ook o.a. ons eie André Watson, Jonathan Kaplan en Tappe Henning), waarom kan die ander nie? Dit is immers duidelik watter ontsaglike moeite die spelers doen om fisiek voorbereid en geestelik gefokus te wees vir 'n toets... Waarom kan dieselfde nie verwag word van die beamptes wat sulke wedstryde beheer nie?

Ja, ek betreur ook verlede Saterdag se voorval. Maar as dit al is wat drasties genoeg is om die fokus op internasionale skeidsregters se gebrek aan aanspreeklikheid te plaas, is dit 'n liederlike aantyging teen die wêreld se rugby-owerhede.

* Vir die rekord:

* Die hoogs omstrede strafdrie wat aan die All Blacks toegeken is (as Bok-senters nie hul doellyn met mag en mening teen All Blacks verdedig nie, is iets mos drasties fout!) - minus 7 vir die AB; 
* Breyton Paulse se drie toe James Dalton instede vir "obstruksie" gestraf is (so blatant verkeerd dat dit nie eens verdere kommentaar nodig het nie!) - plus 7 vir Bokke; 
* De Wet Barry wat op pad doellyn toe was toe McHugh die Bokke terugroep vir 'n aanslaan (die bal het Skinstad se knie getref en hierdie insident was ook blykbaar die laaste strooi vir 'n sekere toeskouer!) - plus 7 vir Bokke.

Nadat Chris White oorgeneem het...

* Marius Joubert het reeds 'n drie gedruk toe die Bokke weereens teruggeroep word vir 'n aanslaan (die bal is deur 'n All Black teruggekrap en geen Springbok was eers naby nie!) - plus 7 vir Bokke; 
* Breyton Paulse was op pad pale toe, toe die Bokke teruggeroep word vir 'n "vorentoe"-aangee vanaf Werner Greeff (op die kykweer is dit duidelik dat die skeidsregter aanvanklik nie die aangee as vorentoe beskou het nie, maar 'n oomblik later van mening verander het... moontlik 'n roep deur 'n lynregter?) - plus 7 vir Bokke.

En dan is daar natuurlik verskeie ander bedenklike besluite, soos die strafskop wat teen die Bokke toegeken is op die All Blacks se doellyn met Skinstad wat grond toe gaan en daar beslis is die volgende ondersteunende speler het van sy voete gegaan, wat ons nie eens aanspreek nie!

COLIN VAN RENSBURG

Geagte Red.

Nie goed genoeg nie Bokke

Die media en die publiek moet ophou om die Bokke te prys vir hul "puik vertonings" in die Drienasies. As SA 'n toets verloor dan het die Bokke nie hul taak verrig nie. SA is veronderstel om 'n groot rugbyland te wees,ons is nie 'n land soos Skotland,Italië of Samoa wat net tevrede is met 'n goeie vertoning teen Aus en NZ nie. Die publiek moet van die Bokke verwag om elke toets te wen. Ons het nou 3 gespeel,3 verloor en die Bokke word steeds geprys. En goeie sportmanne maak nie verskonings na die wedstryd nie, soos die skeidsregter was swak of ons bou aan 'n span nie. Strauli moet manne soos Daan Human,Albert van den Bergh,Joost van der Westuizen,Hottie Louw en Shaun Sowerby kans gee teen die Wallabies sodat die Bokke weer wenrugby kan speel!

Dis die span wat Saterdag teen die Wallabies moet speel : 

15.Werner Greeff
14.Breyton Paulse
13.Marius Joubert
12.De Wet Barry
11.Dean Hall
10.André Pretorius
9.Bolla Conradie 
8.Shaun Sowerby
7.Bob Skinstad(c)
6.Joe van Niekerk
5.Albert van den Bergh 
4.Victor Matfield
3.Willie Meyer
2.James Dalton
1.Daan Human 

22.Deon Kayser
21.Chris Rossouw
20.Joost van der Westuizen
19.AJ Venter
18.Hottie Louw
17.Ollie le Roux
16.John Smit

Johann Loubser

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Let us know what you think!

Yes indeed, "Pieter the ref rogerer" has really embarrassed SA rugby, and spoilt the memory of what was a great game of rugby.

It's great to hear that in general the SA rugby public are disgusted by his actions too though.

If Pieter's deranged view of the world was actually true then he would be a hero. Thank god he didn't decide to wear a skintight costume! *SHUDDER*

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