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Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 33
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 33
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
25 Sep 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 33 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!       The various local competitions are in full flight and in this week’s issue you can catch up with the Currie Cup and NPC results. The most satisfying thing about following the Currie Cup is that there is always an SA team winning and after a debilitating semi-final loss against India in the ICC trophy today, it is a comforting thought!

With the end of year tour only six weeks away the Springbok coach, Rudolf Straeuli is looking for the best 26 players in the country based on current form. He has wisely initiated a few training camps for "Elite Squads" against all the major teams in the country to further assess the talent available to him. It will be foolish to ignore the claims of the many returnees from injury, especially the Springboks but the core of his squad should consist of the players who turned the tide in the Tri-Nations this year.

A quick roll call will reveal an abundance of loose forwards, old and new, ditto for locks and more than enough exciting backs to choose from. One of the worrying areas are at prop, where the depth has suddenly shrunk dramatically. Quality international props don’t pop up over night, it is a learning curve of note and Lawrence Sephaka’s journey to Springbok regular is testimony of this fact. The injuries to Faan Rautenbach and Cobus Visagie make it even tougher to find suitable backup and eventually replacement of the ageing Willie Meyer.

Members of the “ABC” club are at best an eccentric lot and few people truly understand their job but many fully comprehend their worth. It is therefore with more than a passing interest and a lot of anticipation that I’m monitoring the progress of one “Os” Du Randt, in his day the best prop in world rugby by a country mile. If the big man can produce the same kind of performances that made him an international superstar of the nineties, the Springboks are halfway there towards forward domination!

On the subject of the big men up front, Lukas van Biljon is back in the mix and playing for the Natal Wildebeest after a host of injuries. With John Smit his provincial team mate excelling in recent weeks for the Shraks, the hooking position is brightening up because with all due respect to Delarey Du Preez, Leon Boshoff, Pieter Dixon et al they are not quite up to international standard. James Dalton and the two Natalians provide a “warm feeling” around this reporter’s heart for a clash against the POMS at Twickenham!

There are a few good matches available this weekend for the armchair fanatics and the Western Province v Blue Bulls game is an interesting case of “Survival”. The Sharks meet the log leading Cheetas in Bloemfontein and this match could truly define the rest of the Cheetas season. They are brimming with confidence and ultimately that is what’s needed to become champions. In the Sharks they will find a streetwise, intimidating team and Warren Britz will have one brief, Kenny Tsimba. If the match winner survives this ordeal, the Cheetas can stop dreaming about repeats of 1976 and stride confidently to reality.

RF’s website, www.rugbyforum.co.za celebrated its first year of existence during the week and with no advertising or hardly any fuss it managed to attract almost 6,000 impressions. Thank you for your support during this time.

Enjoy the fantastic rugby this weekend and remember to support your team live at the park!

Lucas

lucas@rugbyforum.co.za


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

Mountain Mania by Desmond Organ
The recent rounds of Super Eight action have opened up one of my favourite Pandora’s boxes. Nothing like a little controversy to stir up the emotions and get the tongue wagging going. Amidst all the emotion there is reason for both optimism and an element of trepidation. What more could the psychologically strained South African rugby supporter ask for.

The announcement of the National Elite Squads comes on the back of several somewhat unexpected results. Not many people expected the Free State to overcome Province and the Blue Bulls on successive weekends. The undoing of the Sharks by the Lions was a lot more convincing than meets the eye during several sessions in front of the VCR. Even more unexpected was the slight margin of victory by the Sharks this last weekend; almost a reproduction of the dominance displayed by the Lions a week earlier. 

This brings me to the conclusion that either there is something revolutionary going on in South African rugby or we are being duped into believing that we are in the midst of a remarkable recovery. As an ardent supporter of things South African I can probably be excused for saying that I am going to keep my options open; not a case of draad sitting but a case of “ I have been promised the same before.”

A quick analysis of trends in our rugby since the loss against England on 05 December 1998 reveals some interesting facts. In that period of time the Springboks have been anything but successful on the international stage. The number of record losses is alarming as is the number of defeats against the big four of New Zealand, Australia, England and France. Prior to this period we had one of the most successful periods of South African Rugby against the same opposition. 

What is revealing is that the Springboks perform better when they are a mix of players from all the so-called traditional Unions. Just as Gavin Rich has emphasized the influence of the Free State as true survivors in South African rugby, so too should we note the degree to which the Western Province has dominated the scenes from coaching to player representation in the period from 1998 to the present.

Several articles have been written about the need for a change in the style of rugby that South Africa produces and it is significant that we appear to be gaining some reward for the investment in player development. Not only that, but the influence of sevens rugby has been remarkable and hat’s off to SA Rugby in this regard. Furthermore it is noteworthy that at last the issue of Provincial bias appears to be at an end. The appointment of Rudolf Straeuli has arguably ended a long procession of Cape based influence on the national team. 

South Africa’s national team has been under a massive Western Province influence since the 05 of December 1997. In this period of time we have played 25 games against the big four and the results are desperate. We have had 18 losses, 6 wins and a draw; that is a success rate of about 24 %. Further analysis reveals that when the team was composed of 5 or more Western Province players the statistics are even worse. In the same period we fielded a team on 20 occasions with 5 or more Western Province players. We had 15 losses, 4 wins and a draw, a success rate of around 20%. 

Now the magical use of statistics is never without dispute, however, the Springbok's record before this was sensational to say the least. The bearers of the “Mountain Mania” drum are going to be up in arms with this comparative analysis, but so be it. Not only have we got worse under a period of domination by one Union, we have also forgotten what has made us successful in the past.
Western Province has without doubt been the dominant Currie Cup team in the period from 2000 to the present. The same could be said for the Sharks in the late 1990’s. Yet the make up of the national team was very different. In the period of Province dominance we have lost 14 games against the big four, including a run of six defeats from 25 August 2001 to the 17 August 2002. There is a distinct warning here and several journalists were quite correct when they said that the make up of a Springbok team could not be weighted heavily in the direction of one particular Union.

Rudolf Straeuli selected a team comprising at least 6 or 7 Western province players in the Tri nations series this year. An article on Supersport eloquently outlined that this was an indicator that the former coaches were not biased towards the region. I wonder if this is in fact correct when we consider that the real game breakers in the Tri nations came in the form of the following players. Jannes Labuschagne, Joe van Niekerk, Andre Pretorius and Marius Joubert. 

When we consider the Currie Cup results of the last few weeks, injuries aside, it appears as if the tables have started to turn. The response has been a combination of injuries impacting player patterns and complaints of dirty play. Well the less said about the trend of high tackling experts and the use of “weapons of mass destruction” in a fist fight; and the hitting of opponents after a legal tackle, the better. 

I believe that Mr. Straeuli might be on the path to the correct solution, what is even more remarkable is that it is being achieved in a wonderfully subtle manner. The bulk of the test side against the Australians in Johannesburg was from the Western Province. Point taken, but then we have the incidents of poor defence and the subtle changes in several positions. 

I am excited about the National Elite squads announced at the weekend because it is going to create a means to compare the current against the potential. In this regard we could have several players who are currently in the team that are in fact part of the difference between losing by a point or two and winning more consistently.

I will leave it up to the reader to consider the following two teams. The one that played against Australia and the one that I believe is our strongest team for the crucial games against England and France. It might just be possible that the mix of representation is there and the defence improved. These two factors combined with the new flair of creativity are what will distinguish us from the big four.
SA vs. Australia SA vs. Eng
15. Greeff Russell
14. Paulse Paulse
13. Joubert Joubert
12. Barry James
11. Hall Hall
10. Pretorius Pretorius
09. De Kock De Kock
08. Skinstad Van Niekerk
07. Van Niekerk Wannenberg
06. Krige Scholtz
05. Venter Venter
04. Labuschagne Labuschagne
03. Meyer Meyer
02. Dalton Smit
01. Sephaka Sephaka

Join the OFFICIAL SPRINGBOK SUPPORTERS CLUB by contacting 021-438-8185 during office hours or mail info@springboksupporters.co.za and take advantage of special offers, members discounts and great competitions and prizes!!


NPC passes the halfway point by Vinesh Naicker
There were quite a number of good match ups this week.

Auckland vs. Canterbury
Touted as the game of the round, this one was always going to be the acid test for Auckland. Last week they thrashed Southland and were second on the points table Auckland were supposed to have the edge, based on having home ground advantage and the best defensive record in the tournament this year. Canterbury however had also beaten Northland well last week and being still just outside the top four were hungry. In the end the weather was a factor, the driving rain meaning that percentage rugby was called for. Canterbury responded with Mehrtens consistently kicking for territory. Percentage rugby seems to be a bit of a forgotten art in Auckland and they paid the price. The penalties came and inevitably these decided the result 18-11 to Canterbury.

Bay of Plenty vs. Southland
This was an important game for both sides and both coaches would have targeted this game as winnable in order to avoid relegation. Bay of Plenty (BOP) were at home, but on form to date Southland should have won. However, BOP took Southland on up front and managed to wear their pack down. Some good play from BOP, and Chiefs, fly-half Glen Jackson helped to see BOP home with a good 24-11 win. This should see them safely out of the relegation zone.

Otago vs. Waikato
Otago ground out a win against North Harbour last week, not pretty but effective. Waikato in direct contrast had enjoyed a carnival style match against Wellington where defence was purely optional and 11 tries were scored. Waikato beat Wellington, but the indications were they would need to tighten up their defence, as they weren’t always going to be able to rely on scoring a large amount of tries. Despite this Waikato went to Carisbrook as favourites. They started off well, but a number of key handling errors, and a leaky defence, meant they were always in trouble. The game was still delicately poised with 15 minutes to go, when Otago, capitalising on Waikato’s defensive lapses, scored two quick tries to win the game 35-20. After their dream run of five straight wins, all with bonus points, Waikato were brought to earth with a thud, earning no points in this game. They are still well poised to make the top four but know that they will have to be at the top of their game to make it to the finals. Otago continue to build and are second on the table.

North Harbour vs. Northland
Northland have done so well in the previous two years and yet they arrived in round 6 of this year with no points at all. It was always going to be a hard game with North Harbour needing to win to have any chance of making the top four. In the end without their inspirational captain, Glen Taylor, Northland had their worst result of the season going down 42-3. Still no points on the table for Northland.

Wellington vs. Taranaki
The battle between the two teams in the Hurricanes franchise was always going to have an edge with places in next years Super 12 team, under a new coach, up for grabs. Taranaki have knocked off two of the big boys, in Otago and Auckland, and Wellington have downed an under-strength Canterbury. Unfortunately for Taranaki the Wellington A team came out to play. It was a comprehensive display from Wellington, Taranaki have always prided themselves on their forward power but the Wellington pack outplayed them. Add to this their outstanding attacking backs and Wellington demolished a bewildered Taranaki. Wellington took their foot off the pedal in the last 20 minutes allowing Taranaki a couple of consolation tries to gain some respectability. Still the 46-17 final score to Wellington left no doubt that Taranaki had been taught a lesson.

Balie Swart's Nelson Bays went into the round in fourth place after beating East Coast in an away game last week. They took on Marlborough who started the game in fifth place. Although dominant in the first half Marlboroughs forwards tired in the second, allowing Nelson Bays to take the lead 17-9. Daniel Muller at loosehead prop for Nelson Bays contributed with some punishing runs. A controversial try by the Marlborough centre Pederson, where he appeared to lose the ball forward over the try line, had Swart upset after the game. Nelson Bays came back to lead 23-16, but the Marlborough centre crossed once more to equalise. The game ending in a 23 all draw. It was the third draw in five years between the two teams and leaves Nelson Bays still precariously poised in fourth place in Division 2.

With the NPC past its half way point it seems like a good time to choose a form 15, so here goes. 

1. Dave Hewitt (Canterbury)
2. Andrew Hore (Taranaki)
3. Kees Meuws (Auckland)
4. Chris Jack (Canterbury)
5. Royce Willis (Waikato)
6. Vila Maimuri (Northland)
7. Marty Holah (Waikato)
8. Rodney Soaialo (Wellington)
9. Justin Marshall (Canterbury)
10. Lee Stensness (Auckland)
11. Joe Maddock (Canterbury)
12. Mark Mayerhofler (North Harbour)
13. Tana Umaga (Wellington)
14. Doug Howlett (Auckland)
15. Carlos Spencer (Auckland)

Reserves
Deacon Manu (Waikato)
Mark Hammett (Canterbury)
Paul Miller (Southland)
Richie McCaw (Canterbury)
Jason Spice (Wellington)
Aaron Mauger (Canterbury)
Christian Cullen (Wellington)

Note, these players may not gel for an All Black team but they have been the form players of the NPC.

2, 3, 6, and 10 were the hardest to choose. Greg Somerville and Andrew Mehrtens would probably be in an All Black team because they have that X-factor, but they’ve been relatively quiet in the NPC.

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


Raise the Pressure by Mark Foster
The business end of the Currie Cup kicked off on Saturday with a few tough matches and quite surprisingly only one home team managed to salvage a win, the Cheetas. The general rugby was not of outstanding quality although there was and will always be superb individual performances. The players seem encouraged by the Springbok coach’s implementation of his form players’ selection policy and more than a few are raising their level of play. The weekend’s games:

Pumas 38 - Falcons 32
The “Bottom 3” battle is in full swing and the Pumas registered a vital win away against the Falcons. For the Pumas, Marius Goosen proved to be the difference on the day as his normally erratic boot ensured that points were taken when on offer. The Falcons who outscored the Pumas by 6 tries to 4 had a nightmare evening with the boot and this ultimately cost them the match and maybe even their chances in next year’s Super 6 tournament.

Natal Sharks 36 - WP 29
The Sharks overcame a host of penalties in the second half to beat WP in a tough encounter at Newlands. The Sharks forwards inspired by Mark Andrews and with brilliant performances from Warren Britz and Sean Sowerby knocked the stuffing out of an out of sorts Province side.

A lot has been said of the many injuries suffered by the Cape side and one look at their bench in comparison to the Natalians confirmed a cupboard laid bare. To add to their woes, WP lost Springbok utility forward Selbourne Boome early on and the Sharks with Andrews and van den Bergh rampant, dominated the lineouts. With ample possession the Sharks played some excellent attacking rugby at times but their inability to “finish off” the opposition must be a worry to Kevin Putt. In all fairness, with the stats favouring them heavily, the Sharks should have won the match by far more than the seven points on the scoreboard.

For Province, Neil De Kock always tried hard and Quintin Davids and Hottie Louw gave their outmost best. The Sharks however had the stars and first time starter, Ryan Walker at scrumhalf played a fine game, Deon Kayser, Rudi Keil and Andre Snyman kept Springbok incumbents Greeff and Barry at bay. Snyman scored a magnificent try, reminiscent of his 1997 effort at Twickenham where pure pace and power accounted for seven points.

The Province boys have lost an unprecedented second match in a row and their problems begin in the front row where they are not dominating opposition. Bob Skinstad is neutralised in a losing pack and the usually dangerous outside backs looked pedantic and out of sorts. There is a lot of work to do and with a tough fixture list it is not going to get any easier. The Sharks cannot quite breathe easy but the win was a timely one and Putt and co will be able to eye the semi-finals far more realistically than had they lost.

Lions 29 - Griquas 12
The men from Gauteng won a tough encounter in Kimberley and the score was rather flattering in the end. The Griquas tackled their hearts out and sustained the big Lions pack for most of the match. With loads of ball the likes of Daniels, Esterhuizen, Jorrie Muller, Dean Hall and the exciting Jaque Fourie had ample running opportunities. It was in fact the latter that scored the final and bonus point winning try after a break and sprint of almost 70 meters.

The Griquas displayed far more appreciation for the harder and tougher games then during the previous round and they forced the Lions on the back foot with commitment and guts. They are fighting a difficult battle with the lack of superstars but as a team in Kimberley they might just surprise one of the big guns in the coming weeks.

Cheetahs 35 – Blue Bulls 29
The men from Bloemfontein scored an excellent victory over the Blue Bulls on their home turf; this was also the only home victory of the round. Inspired by the confidence of Kennedy Tsimba the Cheetas did well to match the Blue Bulls up front, except in the lineouts where Vic Matfield reigned supreme. The fair share of possession allowed the always exciting and enterprising Cheetas’ backs to dominate their opposition in the first half.

Tsimba is one of the best players in this year’s competition and his contribution of 30 points tell a story of its own, not only is he lethal with his kicking but also the joint leading try scorer in the competition with 8 tries to his credit. The Cheetas rely a lot upon his mercurial decision-making and should the ex-Zimbo have an off day the rosy picture will change considerably. However with the astute Rassie Erasmus playing better and better and youngsters raising their hands, the Cheetas are a shu-in for a semi-final position.

The Bulls played much better in the second half and considering their position at the break did very well to salvage a bonus point from this match. All be it from a second time baffling decision by captain Erasmus to gift an opposing side 1 bonus point by not opting for goal. The loss of stand in captain and chief ball winner, Vic Matfield was an expensive loss and not only for this game but for the next again archrivals Western Province.

A sight for sore eyes was the continued unearthing of young talent, Derick Hougaard a 19-year-old, originally from the Cape produced an assured and accomplished performance for someone so young. Add to that, Pedrie Wannenberg’s weekly starring role and South Africa’s future stock look bright.

Weekend Fixtures

27/9/2002 Natal Sharks v Cheetahs The Absa Stadium 20:05
28/9/2002  Lions v Falcons Ellis Park 15:00
28/9/2002  Pumas v Griquas Puma Stadium 15:00
28/9/2002  Blue Bulls v Western Province Loftus Versveld 17:05

Currie Cup Top 8 Log
Team Played Won Lost Draw Pts
Cheetahs 4 4 0 0 18
Lions 4 3 1 0 15
Natal Sharks 4 2 1 1 13
Blue Bulls 4 2 1 1 12
Western Province 4 2 2 0 11
Pumas 4 1 3 0 8
Griquas 4 1 3 0 5
Falcons 4 0 4 0 4

Quotes
The most important thing for me as a youngster is to get game time to show what I can do as a rugby player. It's no use signing a big contract but not getting to play.     Clyde Rathbone

I thought I knew what 'hard' was before I came here.      Russian national team coach James Stofberg

In the winter we have to train in a stable when they're not using it to train and ride the horses.       Russian national team coach James Stofberg

Geoff Evans, IRB game development officer on new ball technology.      We are not Luddites. But to be able to kick goals from all over the pitch might not be right for a sport in which tries are the main aim

I like quick teams - not necessarily quick players but sides that overall are fast.    Ian McGeechan 

If they (IRB) wanted to stop me playing, I would have thought they would have done that by now. The fact that I haven't heard anything at all at this stage means I've pretty much written it off as any real concern.     Ben Tune

We do not need a bunch of primadonnas who can't take a tap on the shoulder without wanting to sommer don'ner a guy. I mean, that is really SO uncool.      Helen Esperandieu

THE REAL BOB SKINSTAD: Get the October issue of SA Rugby magazine now for an inside look at SA's golden boy. To subscribe to SA Rugby phone 021-418-0141 or e-mail monarchc@mweb.co.za

Letters to the Editor
Dear Ed,

Re: Bobby Skinstad

It appears that the debate whether Bobby Skinstad is a villain or hero, brilliant or mediocre, arrogant or self-confident and a glamour boy or not, still seems to be as strong as ever amongst SA rugby folk. There are those who support WP and who are naturally in favour of the man and support him. Then there are those who support other provinces, who are highly unlikely to favour of the man and then there are those who I have met, who utterly dislike and even hate him, for whatever reason/s.

As a neutral, who neither supports a local provincial side nor the Springboks, I find this debate most interesting and one has to view Bobby's rise to fame, fall and now a come back, in perspective. There is no doubt that the player has great talent, however his performances to date have ranged from brilliant, to mediocre, to disastrous. It strongly appears that influences of others, pressures placed upon him, his youthfulness and his own in-mature behaviour at times, have contributed to his mixed fortunes on and off the field. Lets look at some of these:

1. Bobby really first burst onto the scene from a national perspective, when he scored his first try in the Tri-Nations game against the All Blacks a few years ago. This resulted in the first nation wide public viewing of his tongue pulling act, which resulted in mass media coverage, mass publicity and lead to glamorous photo shoots. Bobby had hit the big time and was in the lime light, not mostly for his rugby genius, but for his tongue pulling act and good looks. Certain sexual connotations went along with his tongue pulling stunt, which may have helped sell more magazines and put some extra cash into his pocket, but did little for his rugby career. This was a prime example of his in-mature behaviour which he allowed the media to exploit and thus he picked up the reputation of "glamour boy". The SA rugby public in general where somehow perplexed by this new kid on the block and how could a glamour boy play rugby when rugby players are supposed to be rugged, hard and not even think of appearing in photo shoots. This situation he mainly created himself and has had a negative impact on the nations rugby fraternity, notably those rugby enthusiasts not living beneath the mountain.

2. Bobby's role in the national side mainly remained as an impact player. Then came the disastrous affair when Nick Mallet in his wisdom decided to axe Gary Teichmann in favour of a young, in-mature player and person who had only played a few full games for the national side. This placed undue pressure on him and he had not been adequately trained beforehand for this leadership role in international rugby. Here was this youngster who was to lead some far more experienced and better players than himself. This situation reminds me a lot of the business world where most often people are put into management positions without being properly groomed and trained for the position, and when they fail, management cannot understand way. This ultimately has a harmful and disastrous impact on the person. Unfortunately, this situation damaged Bobby's immediate rugby career as not only did his on the field performance drop considerable, the teams performance also declined rapidly after a 17 game win on the trot. This situation was created by the powers of be at the time, poor decision making by the coach which ultimately lead to his own downfall. Bobby had little control over the situation as he was totally out of his depths and was carrying the additional baggage of being a glamour boy. In these bad times he lost his self-confidence, was viewed as arrogant and eventually this did become so. The situation re-affirmed his glamour boy image in the minds of the rugby public and also created serious doubts in their minds as whether he was a player of international standard. In a nutshell, Bobby had not earned his stripes, had not earned the respect of the rugby public on a national basis which Gary Teichmann and Francois Pienaar had, coupled to the fact that he had a hard act to follow. The hard men of rugby are generally far more respected (sometimes are less liked though) and to name a few - Sean Fitzpatrick, Uli Schmidt, Francois Pienaar, Frik du Preez, Martin Johnson, Zinzane Brooke, John Eales and Corne' Krige.

3. The best thing that happened to Bobby, although he and others may disagree, was when his captaincy was taken away and given to Corne' Krige. It must have been a blow at first, which may have hampered his performance in the run up games to this years Tri-Nations. However, in the Tri-Nations he began to shine and got better in every game and at the end was playing his best rugby ever, as far as I am concerned. 

Bobby now has the opportunity to focus on his own game and has matured a lot (except for beating up blokes in pubs - had to have a dig). The monkey on his back of being a glamour boy will eventually disappear through performing consistently at a high standard and rugby folk will see him as a rugby player and not as a "favoured" son of Nick Mallet. If he wishes to maintain his glamour boy image then he has to prove that glamour boys can play rugby through consistent high performances which will result in him earning the respect and recognition amongst the entire rugby nation. If he exploits his rugby talent and shows more of those brief blitz's of brilliance as in the Tri-Nations, all will come naturally over time and he may yet become a successful Springbok captain of the future.

Regards
Schultzy
(All Black Supporter) 

PS. Must add that this years Currie Cup is turning out to be a "stomper" and lets hope it carries on that way to the end. For the first time in many a year I went to the local Lions/Sharks game, as I am accustomed to only going to games involving touring NZ sides. 

Hi Lucas

Re: Poor hapless WP

I have always been a passionate WP supporter all my life but I can not remember a time when I was more disappointed with Western Province than after the game of Saturday.  Even when Province lost some games before, they came out of the match with honour, at least they tried their very best.  For the last few games they were playing with very little fire and with zero commitment. Apart from the fact that the ref allowed Natal to score a try after John Smith crawled a few meters with the ball, (Crawling = penalty) WP never deserved to win.  Martin van Schalkwyk had an identity-crisis every time he had to throw the ball into a lineout.  It looked like he was actually throwing the ball in for the Natal jumpers.  In this professional age no team can afford to field a Hooker that can not find his line-out jumpers!  A hooker's primary job is to throw the ball into the line-outs, I think that I can bring 20 High School hookers that can find they jumpers. I blamed Gert and the rest of his team because the Stormers lost most of their games in the Super12 because Tjoepie Martin could not find their jumpers in the line-outs, but they still persisted with those two as backup for Peter Dixon.

The WP backline looked hapless.  Every time they passed the ball at the centres the runners had to stop and catch the ball behind them.  Greeff is an excellent fullback, but useless as a centre, because he never passes the ball.  Egon Seconds would have been much better that Breyton Paulse, because at least he would try to run around the defenders and not just jink inside every time.  Swys Swart would also have been better than Chris Rossouw, because the only thing that he did ok in, was his kicks to the posts.  It looks like Bob Skinstad has got a serious problem with his maths. He doesn't seem to know that 7 points is more that 3.  The epitome of stupidity was when Province were playing against 14 men, were 2 meters from the try-line and Percy dropkicked.  Province's defence were also non-existent, they gave away so many soft tries!  If Corne' was there he would have told them at the break that they have not played any rugby yet and that they will lose the match unless they start playing some rugby.  The only player in the whole Province team that looked like he played with fire was Hottie Louw.  I suppose that Province misses Corne', but even more so Hendrik Gerber.

Last season I watched Brent Russell play for WP '21 and could not wait to see him play in the Province senior-side.  In his infinite wisdom Gert Small decided that Brent was not good enough for Wp and let him go.  I don't regard myself as a rugby expert, but even I could see the enormous potential that Brent Russel has.  I could not fathom why WP would let the best prospect they have had in 10 years go.  This year I expected WP to contact Brent with their hats in their hands, bags of money and with lots of contrition beg him to play for Province next year, but I hear that only the Lions and Natal are vying for Brent's services next year.

I would not be unhappy with my team if they tried to play good rugby and still lost, but this rubbish that Province dished up for the last two game was not acceptable.  I don't think that Province were doing in their thousands of loyal supporters the way they were playing lately.  In fact the way they have been playing they don't deserve any supporters.  If the team and the couching staff continue to dish out tripe like they did in the last couple of games, they would see Newlands run empty. Changes are needed starting with number 2 number 10 and they need to rethink what they are about.

Come on Province, we need some enterprising rugby, we know you can!

A disturbed Province Supporter.
Marius Stegmann

Dear Mr editor,

I have just spent a busy month in Europe so I am only just reading Rugby Forum for Wk 27. I will not dwell on the P. van Zyl incident as most of the people I talked to overseas did not blame the average S. A. fan for this attack, (luckily). I very much enjoyed Vinesh Naicker's letter, he is knowledgeable?? enough to be a Sharks supporter, the reason I am writing this letter is to let him know that he is not alone, ALL the people that I talked to in the U. K. were highly impressed with the improvement of the Boks & could not believe the speed of our backs. I believe that if we build on our last two performances we are in with a good chance of taking the World Cup next year.

Regards 
Davron

Hi Lucas

With reference to JB in Cape Town, he is 100% correct on the issue of foul play. Not only the actual incidents, but SARFU's handling of them. The fact that players are given lenient sentences, and the hearings become law cases with lawyers and appeals is ridiculous. The problem is parents seeing what happens on the field (dangerous play and bad injury) and then yanking their sons from school rugby. SARFU are not taking a long term view of this, they should severely censure the players making an example of their acts. The Deon Kayser incident show's SARFU's selective morality, which is questionable at best. 

The other thing is that players should be fined, and this should be made public. Not necessarily the exact nature of the punishment, but the fact that players were disciplined internally.

All the best and keep up the great work on RF.
Mike (Durban)

Dear Lucas

In response to James Sleigh comments on Andre Watson the two occasions, Mr. Watson had crucial decisions to make, he had the option of making use of the television ref and he did not take that option. In general I personally find that Mr. Watson's referring standards seem to drop when blowing in local matches, yet on the international front he is one of the tops. Speaking of refs and been a Shark supporter, two weeks back when Lions played the Sharks I was looking to make use of the excuse about poor referring plus linesmen aka refs assistants but could neither fault Jonathan Kaplan nor his helpers and beside the loss, actually thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment of the game, well done Mr. Kaplan I only hope the rest of the bunch can follow suit.

One last thing regarding the Sharks loss, I believe in conspiracies and believe the loss against the Lions was not due to the coach or rugby players but blame the Lions administrators for tampering with the ball. Every time the ball hit the Ellis Park deck it bounced the way of the Lions. I believe an investigation should take place with regards to the leather/rubber used and the type of air inserted into the ball, (hehehe). 

Great forum, cannot wait to read next weeks.
Wayne

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Great to hear that the SpringBoks should be able to field a strong team in their end of season tour, with the World Cup next year getting a psychological advantage over the top European teams is critical.
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