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Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 41
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 41
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
23 Nov 2002
[SARF]
Rugby Forum is a weekly newsletter produced by rugbyforum.co.za, it is reposted here with their permission.
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Editors Note

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Brilliant!      Aye, it was murder on the dance floor! The Springboks slumped to their second record defeat in as many matches at Murrayfield where they once, arguably had their finest hour. An excellent Scottish pack ripped the entrails from their Springbok counterparts as if preparing for the famous Haggis dish and there was only ever one team on the field - Scotland the brave.

Edinburgh is a splendid city and on the morning of the test match it was transformed into a sea of green and gold, mind you the 1-hour flight from London was filled with accents far better understood at Newlands or Ellis Park than British Midlands. South African supporters were everywhere to be seen and the mood was one of optimism and self-assuredness. What a wonderful feeling to be in a city so far away from home with the scenic splendour of a medieval castle and hear more Afrikaans than at home.

Murrayfield is a stadium befitting the beauty of the city and when both teams lined up in front of a mass of pipe bands one could be forgiven for wiping away a tear. The atmosphere of 58 000 people, a firework display and a fighter aeroplane flypast accompanied by the sweet tunes of Flower of Scotland obviously inspired the local boys to unseen heights. To put it mildly, the Springboks were clubbed like baby seals.

The match was a massive disappointment for all the legions of Springbok supporters participating in the annual trek around Europe this time of the year. As one “seasoned” campaigner expressed his disdain, “In the last three years I’ve followed the ‘Boks they’ve only beaten Italy!” Yet the supporters are there and those of you watching on television would have heard the magnificent rendition of the national anthem, maybe the Springboks needed Claire Johnstone in person and not just her unforgettable voice!

Where to from here? The same question was posed last week and looking at Rudolf Straeuli at the press conference the big man was very disappointed in his charges – and rightly so. The young guns can be excused for being overawed, green or inexperienced but catching a ball is one of the most basic of basics and there was precious little evidence of it on the day. Yes, the team is young and they will learn from the experience but how many of them will be playing next year? Very few I say.

As another writer argued, little should be seen in these matches and if there is one positive to take from it or even one lesson learnt then the tour should be regarded as valuable. Here are a few point worth pondering:

· Experience is invaluable and should not be disregarded.
· Select horses for courses.
· Establish a dominating forward pack
· Source lineout exponents
· Introduce variation in the backline
· Establish a better work ethic – the Springboks did not deserve their day’s pay, even in defeat more should be expected and delivered.

England at fortress Twickenham on Saturday… well for one it could be a profitable affair investing a few pounds with the bookies should the Springboks sneak a victory. The only way an upset can happen is if the England team become complacent, sure enough Clive Woodward will be working hard on this aspect but it is human and changing human nature is very difficult indeed.

The Springboks need to play a game of pressure and when England errors occur they must strike quicker and more effective than the London train drivers. A game of percentages will not win South Africa this test, England is too good a team. The forwards will have to stand their man, something not yet accomplished this tour and secure some ball which the backs need to utilise wisely, kick the ball to the corners but not out and pressurize the likes of the new kid on wing and Robinson. Parry, attack and retreat like a De Wet of old are a few Guerrilla truths, this match cannot be a conventional one or England will ensure that this team is the worst ever to leave South African shores.

The other games were lost in the aftermath of the Scottish defeat but apparently England deserved their victory over Australia yet almost lost and France did not convince over New Zealand yet almost won. The game is at that stage that any of the Big 5 can win on any given day.

Lastly, news from South Africa that Bob Skinstad is moving to the Lions came as a huge surprise, obviously the story will unfold over the next few weeks but WP loss is a huge gain for the Lions and the Cats. The inspirational ex-Springbok captain will ensure that the Cats boast a host of the best loose forwards in the country although the question must be asked, is it wise to have all the Springbok contenders in one team?

Hopefully Saturday will produce a game of guts and determination, one to make all the supporters who have travelled far and wide proud.

Yours from a cold and rainy London

Lucas

lucas@rugbyforum.co.za

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The Never Ending Story by Desmond Organ ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Falkor the luck dragon came to Edinburgh for the weekend and for once it was not the Scots that were complaining at the end of the game. Well, that was the opinion of the majority of well-weathered Scotsmen that I have spoken to since their biggest ever victory over South Africa. Not that it matters were the “wise” words of the ancient one, well in South Africa’s case it does.

It is not the fact that we lost but the manner in which it occurred that is the most distressing. I personally have never seen such a lackluster performance from a bunch of players that literally weeks ago were complaining about the size of their pay packets. A trumped up load of barney I would say. If I performed like that in my current profession I would be looking for a new one. It was almost as if they were going through the motions. Even still the hoards of South African supporters were there to the last minute of the game. They waited at the bus to catch a glimpse of their so-called heroes. At the beginning of the game they sang the National anthem with pride and passion following it up with long lines of admiration during the course of the game.

What for I would ask or have they all taken some magic potion before they got on the plane in London, Johannesburg and Chicago. Do the players realise that the supporters have come from far and wide to watch their country? I would think not, just ask the average South African what the cost of his trip was and you will find it hard to believe that the majority of them are not asking for their money back. 

It was just over a week ago that Straeuli summed up the performance against France as one of the worst ever, well he forgot to remind the players that they had just as tough an obstacle the next week. Now the tour is surely in the balance, a loss to England will mark this tour as the worst ever performance by a South African team in the Northern Hemisphere. We have already seen the two largest margins of victory over South Africa by France and Scotland, god forbid that I should be able to write the same about the England game in a weeks time.

So where did it all go wrong, one Scottish journalist was of the opinion that the Boks played like a bunch of school kids, bring on the school kids I would say. There were no fewer than 22 unforced errors committed by South Africa during the course of the game and 11 of these were balls that were knocked on. I do not remember the U13 E team at high school knocking the ball on so many times. Combine this with the appalling lack of application in the lineout, which led to us fumbling on no fewer than 5 occasions and that about sums it up. While I am at it we should mention the penalty at the kick off, the off the ball antics of the one and only glamour boy from the Cape and the lack of commitment from several of the players.

Ashen faced is the best way to describe Straeuli and Krige at the post match press conference. Scottish pride has been done the world of good, pity we cannot say the same for South Africa. Quite alarming is the apparently uncoordinated manner in which the rugby administrators have responded. The head of SARFU slammed the forwards’ performance whilst the head of the professional arm went after the tour fixture list. The last time I read up on it in professional publications it was the leaders who are ultimately responsible for the performance of the organization, that is what the big bucks are for.

Another argument is that the players have simply had too much rugby, not the case if you look at the number of new caps and the number of rested players. Perhaps we need to look a little further at the positional music chairs played by Provincial coaches during the Currie Cup. Strength versus strength is the so-called solution to our skill dilemma, what then I ask is the solution to the public’s expectation and the long-term health of our rugby? There seems to be a lack of coordination in marketing, managing and communicating the success of the brand. There have been so many changes in direction that it is hard to find a consistent message. The argument that this is a young team is hard to swallow when you look at the performance of the All Black team. 

The game against England this Saturday is crucial because it could well mark the future well being of our rugby. England took a bold step several years ago with a group of younger players and they improved considerably over the duration of the tour. A good performance will leave us with the hope that this is just a development process. With just under a year to go before the World Cup there is a need for a huge effort on behalf of the players and the coaching staff. It just feels like 74 all over again, hopefully history will repeat itself and bring the Boks a victory on Saturday.

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The Moral Victory by Vinesh Naicker ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

The All Blacks played the French over the weekend and the result was a 20-20 draw. This was the first drawn test match between the two teams. The All Black coach John Mitchell came out after the game and declared that the All Blacks had won a "moral victory". Now I know that Mitchell has spent a lot of time with Clive Woodward, but for him to say that the game against France was a "moral victory" the week after the game against England was labelled a "glorious defeat" is a bit too much to stomach.

Having said that at least they didn't lose to the Scots. I haven't been able to see a replay of that game but I can only imagine what it's like to be a Springbok supporter. Losing to the Scots is akin to being beaten up by an 80 year old lady who is suffering from Parkinsons disease and stuck in a wheelchair. All I can say is that the All Blacks had better not lose to the Welsh or I'm going to… to…They just better not lose, that's all.

Anyway back to the moral victory over the French.

The lasting impressions of the game for me were:
· The inability of the All Blacks to compete at set piece.
· The lack of progress of the All Blacks.
· The failure of John Mitchell to use the bench.
· The lack of invention of the French.
· Scott Young's refereeing deficiencies.

I will address these issues one at a time.

The All Blacks were unable to compete with the French at set pieces. At the start of the game the scrum was just barely holding its own, and by the end of the game they were being driven backwards at a rate of knots. I don't think the ball was cleared well from number 8 once in the game. This meant that the back line was always receiving the ball on the back foot.

Now I'd be the first to admit that I don't know what goes on in the murky depths of the scrum, but it seems to me that this policy of choosing mobile forwards, over ones that can scrum, is not really a great success at international level. NZ has been committed to this policy since 1997 and frankly it isn't working. If you look at the success of the All Blacks for the first 92 years, then in comparison, their performance in the last 5 years has been pretty poor. Most people attribute it to the advent of professionalism and other countries now focusing more on the game and getting better. I agree that this is a big factor, but another big factor is the change in style of play. The amazing success of the NZ back line in 1995 and 1996 when each player was the best in the world in his position lulled us into taking the road not travelled. The line of thought was that our back line could unlock all defences and win us the game. The job of the forwards was to be fast and mobile and to support the backs.

If you look at the historical success of All Black rugby and indeed Springbok rugby the basis for success has been forward domination. Pre-97 every team that took the field against the All Blacks new that they would be fighting for every scrap of possession. It was a given that they would have to put their bodies on the line at every set piece or they would be beaten. Rare was the team that could say after a game that they had dominated the All Black forward pack. England and France now assume they will have an edge in the scrums and lineouts and sadly the All Blacks now concede that that will be the case. Over time the All Blacks have lost some of their world class backs and other back line defences have gotten better, and thus we now see the All Blacks in the unenviable position of consistently playing the game with less that 50% possession because our forwards cannot win the ball from set piece.

The line-outs were a total shambles. With the selection of Brad Mika at lock it was obvious to everyone that Ali Williams was the only ball winner in the team. Accordingly the French locks double teamed him, one jumping in front of him and one jumping behind, as a consequence NZ received very little clean ball. How John Mitchell could send his young inexperienced team in to battle the French with only one line out jumper, and absolutely no deceptive moves to put uncertainty into the minds of the French jumpers is beyond me, it borders on criminal negligence. If the French flyhalf had been astute enough to drill the ball into the corners at every opportunity the All Blacks would have been dead and buried by half time.

The taking of the ball in the air after the restarts was also shambolic. NZ never took the ball cleanly from a single kick off and hence were under pressure from the start.

Some of the failures in set piece can be blamed on the number of new players and new combinations, but what is disheartening is the continuing lack of progress in these areas. Throwing into the line out, variations in lineout jumping, scrumming techniques and taking the ball from restarts are not black arts, how is it that the All Blacks are not able to make progress in these sorts of things. The players and the coaches are all professionals and the playing personnel are relatively constant, unlike the Springboks who have almost a revolving door policy on players and coaches. Why then is there a lack of progress?

Mithcell's failure to use the bench was also astounding, the All Black forward pack were demolished and Marty Holah was the only competitive loose forward, and yet Mitchell refused to use Rodney So'oialo or Carl Hayman who were on the bench. So'oialo plays for Wellington and the Hurricanes and so is used to playing number 8 in a beaten pack, his experience would have been valuable. Mitchell's reasoning after the game was that he believes that leaving the players on for the whole 80 minutes shows his faith in them and that it builds their confidence. How can getting thrashed for 80 minutes build your confidence? Wasn't Wayne Smiths failure to properly use his bench one of the reasons he lost his job as All Black coach? I'm starting to question Mitchell's reasoning in a lot of areas.

The All Blacks were lucky to come away with a draw in that game, the French had total set piece dominance and 70% of the possession. However they were very tentative in using the ball. After a few bone crunching tackles by the NZ backs it was quite obvious that the French backs were getting gun-shy. The depth at which they were standing increased substantially and they were very reluctant to take on the NZ back line. As mentioned before the flyhalf's failure to kick for territory and go for the line out, which was almost guaranteed ball for them, was tactically naïve. The French also conceded numerous turnovers which was the main source of possession for the All Blacks. In addition 30 minutes of the first half were played with NZ a man down, the inability of the French to capitalise on this highlights how truly inept they were on the night.

Scott Young had an absolute shocker, there is no point in going into it in depth but the following points need to be noted. Three All Blacks were yellow carded which has never happened before, two for pretty tame retaliations and one for a professional foul. No French players were yellow carded despite the fact they were the initial offenders and that one touch judge reported that a NZ player had been stamped on.

Apparently Paul Honiss didn't have a good game as the referee in the England vs. Australia game either. The performance by these gentlemen has put paid to any notion that Southern hemisphere referees are better.

In summary this All Black team is young, but as expected of any team pulling on an All Black jersey is pretty good. However they are not great, for example they are not better than the Tri-Nations, Bledisloe and World Cup losing teams of 1998 and 1999. The French and English should have put them to the sword, the fact that they did not is a damning indictment on them. Both teams will have to step up a couple of levels in the World Cup because the All Black team which takes the field in a years time should be better than either the current team or the one that won the Tri-Nations. Things are looking pretty good for NZ unless the wheels fall off against Wales.

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Embarrassment in Edinburgh by Mark Foster

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The Springboks lost their second successive match in Europe by another record score. Scotland played magnificent efficient rugby to send the Springboks “home to think again”.

The mastery of the Scots began in the front row and the combination of Smith, Bulloch and Douglas annihilated the inexperienced Roux and Carstens. Never in this match did the SA scrum achieve a right shoulder, an important prerequisite for launching attacks. The lineouts were again woeful, Scott Murray cemented his growing reputation as one of the world’s best, the Springboks tried to contend in the first half but was soon reduced to spectators. Plan B was to stop the Scots from starting their famous driving play by not contending in the lineouts – sadly this did not work either.

Behind the scrum the problems were accentuated by the dismal forward performance, with De Kock injured Bolla Conradie was faced with the same demons as against Wales and sorry to say but there was very little improvement from the young pivot. Butch James failed to use any of his centres and was utterly predictable in chipping and looking for the gap, the excellent Scottish loose forwards lapped up his errors and with little support at hand turnovers were made and the Scots did what they did best on the day, probe for the corners.

This was again not a good performance from the Springboks and with England waiting, who knows, this could be the worst team ever to leave the shores of South Africa.

Individual Performances:

1. Wessel Roux - 2 Not a good day for the strong blue Bull, he was shown up in the coalface by more experienced campaigners in a day he will probably want to forget as quick as possible.

2. Lukas van Biljon - 4 His lineouts were not bad but then he did not really have the jumpers who could dominate the opposition. Known as a strong scrummager his contribution did not help in the tight facets. In the loose he tried a few of his trademark runs but the momentum never really gathered.

3. Deon Carstens - 2 The highly rated Shark met the best loosehead prop in the world and he quickly realised why his opponent received this kind of acclaim. This was definitely the kind of match where he could have made a name for himself but then, Smith has beaten up a few better players than him before.

4. Marco Wentzel - 3 In what was supposed to be the answer to the lineout problems of the previous week the young Puma realised the difference between Currie Cup and test rugby. Scott Murray was the teacher and hopefully this young man learnt.

5. Jannes Labuschagne - 5 Played allright but he needs a complimentary lock partner as foil for his strengths. The pack got a hiding and their driving, Jannes’ forte never quite materialised. He will need to take a step up before next week’s challenge.

6. Corne Krige - 4 The captain was fairly anonymous and his turnover abilities seemed to have deserted him, a few strong tackles impressed but too many errors made this a sorry test for the skipper.

7. Pierre Uys – 2 Was out of his depth, he seemed to drop or spill the ball at every occasion and was never in this test. Probably his first and last opportunity wasted.

8. Joe van Niekerk - 5 Again one of the better Springbok players but totally overshadowed by his counterpart on the day. The Springbok scrum struggled and any eightman regardless of his skills will feel the effect of a reversing scrum.

9. Bolla Conradie - 4 Bolla struggled in the wet weather and his service was not the best to his flyhalf and indirectly cost the Springboks a try. A good trademark break almost resulted in points for the South Africans but it was not to be. He still has a lot to learn about options, when to run sideways and when to fire out from the base.

10. Butch James - 4 Made too many errors and his up and under games was both predictable and not very well executed. His tackling was a massive bonus and he did a lot to stop the excellent Scottish loose forwards around the fringes. His future may yet be at inside centre where he was moved later in the match.

11. Friederich Lombaard - 5 Received the ball probably once and gained some ground, a lethal attacker he needs to receive the ball more.

12. Adrian Jacobs - 3 The young centre is not having a very successful tour and looked out of his depth in both attack and defence. His skill is broken play running but there was and probably never will be any of that on the heavy Scottish field.

13. Robbie Fleck - 3 The so-called “elder statesman” of the backline was a hotheaded liability and his temper and attitude needs to be questioned if it is acceptable for an international player.

14. Breyten Paulse - 5 He showed the odd touch and was solid in kicking the ball into touch. Almost scored in the second half but with precious little ball all the backs had little opportunity.

15. Werner Greeff - 2 His worst performance of his career, everything went pear shaped for the young fullback and he will quickly realise the short distance between hero and zero.

Referee – 5 Nigel Williams was not good and he needs to reread and think the whole advantage law. The try was a try and he overruled the TMO, ultimately the correct decision was made but at the time very controversial.

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MARK ANDREWS AND JAMES SMALL SPEAK OUT: Read our exclusive interviews with the two former Springboks in the December issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale now.

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Quotes

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This is our big opportunity. Martin Leslie, Scotish flank

I think the Bok players should hand their R75 000 match fees over to charity. Rob Louw

Boetie, I swear that was worse than anything I've ever seen (from the Boks). Hempie Du Toit

Yes, Saturday's defeat to Scotland hurt even more than the one to the French did, but there definitely is no crisis. However, what was proved was that there should be a strength versus strength format in the Currie Cup. Rian Oberholzer

One should not get too emotional now. The people at home are disappointed and we are not feeling good. Rudolf Straueli

It was a very special day as we don't beat South Africa very often. We did it because a group of players raised their game to a new level. Ian McGeechan

Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Jan Smuts... Your boys took a hell of a beating! Front page headline in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper.

Now their status as as one of the proudest rugby countries in the world is in tatters. Findlay Calder

It is very disappointing to finish a match like that. Francois Gelez

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Letters to the Editor

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Dear Editor/Roelfie

Some points to be considered and carefully analyzed.

1. Northern hemisphere waste.

Looking at all the stats of Southern hemisphere teams going to Northern hemisphere, it must look dreadful, especially South Africa's. Lets face it, Teams start preparing in Jan each year, Vodacom cup, some other unimportant tests against Samoa, etc, Hectic Super 12, Tri nations, Curry cup, and then still a Northern hemisphere tour - ridiculous. Players will never be able to sustain such a program, and injuries occur. Give them a rest please, and the super results will be forthcoming. Rather take newcomers on the brink of Springbok, to go and tour, pick up experience, and let the public accept this.

The WC is around the corner!!!!!

2. Team, team, team.

Take the Bulls as an example... how they started off, and continued through the year.... Shaky, OK, confident, SUPER!. Why.... because the same team played together, for months.

3. Fitness.

Don't play or take unfit players on tour.- Have to play at least 4 full match fitness, before selection. At this tour, I can point them out - Robbie, Marius, Corne, Jean, Werner, Paulse, AJ.

And last but not least, Roelfie, catch a wake up, my friend and consider the 3 points above.

Hein Groenewald

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Lucas,

Names Ian, esteemed Springbok rugby supporter.

I felt that Dalton took a lot of criticism which was not altogether called for. He was trying for find two inexperienced locks in the sense of lineout jumping is not their strong points and actually their week points. Everyone raves about Big Joe and deservedly so BUT one area where he can improve and expand is making himself available as an alternate line out jumper just like the Skinstads, Teichmans, Vossie's of the world. I have to admit I think I've only seen him used once or twice.

Many of the players are young in the sense of experience from Currie Cup to Super 12 level not even thinking about International, Tim Lanes latest remark in the Amabokke book, If they good enough they old enough. That's all fair and well but you can't buy experience and no one is born with it.

I will support any team that runs onto the field because they deserve to be there from the coaches script on how and what will he select a person and they all fall into the category.

Should we not still be having at least a couple more "old timers" experienced players not necessarily having the legs and power any more but the knowledge and wealth of experience. Look at the Galthie's, Merhtans, Randals, Gregans of the world, they are definitely not as sharp as before but by just having that knowledgeable advantage is an awesome tool.

I feel that possibly Os Durandt in the front, even Ollie as back up in all three positions in the front row. A Albert Van den Berg or Victor Matfield for competing, then a Rassie. At scrum half Neil has done superbly but I still think the likes of a Joost should be there. Just look at what he did for the Bulls as a captain and experienced campaigner in the final or for that fact the Bulls whole Currie Cup campaign.

At Centre, the Snymans, Estherhuizens and Kaysers to mention a few. We only need one "old timer" here and there.

Anyway I'm sorry to run on like this I'm sure you get my point.

The last point is, I realize you have to and always will have critics but if Rudolf's plan paid off on Saturday against the French, I mean with all the youngsters etc then he would have been praised as God with his disciples but guess what it didn't and now people are starting to raise an eye brow or two and starting to question things which they never done before with him.

Tim Lane is quality and his record proves it, but I sense tension especially after the French game with Rudolf being the forwards coach and Tim the back line, that Rudolf was not that happy with Tim's choice or game plan for the back line. However having said that, they can only perform if they get good quality ball from the forwards.

To end, these guys always have and always will do me proud and I'm certainly not a fence sitter. They my boys and to Rudolf and his whole management team, players etc they all deserve to be there. Go Bokke! rip them kilts.

Ian Colyn

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Hi there

My name is Yvette de Villiers and I'm a 17year old from PE, SA. I am an avid rugby fan and there is not one game that I miss, but I have actually come to the point where I don't bother watching the Bok games. Is it the coach's fault; the many advisors or the players?? In my mind it is all of the above.

Rudolf Straeuli and Tim Lane sit there like two idiots on the sidelines. They have had an entire week to rectify the errors of the previous week, yet we still jump and run around in the lineouts like cattle. What happened to the good old full man lineouts and throwing it short to your best lock?? What is this business of rushing it and calling, but losing it every single time!! What is a lineout? BASIC ELEMENT of rugby!!

Where is the PASSION AND DETERMINATION in the team?? TOO MUCH MONEY is being paid to these guys who claim to want to play for their country. As far as I'm concerned they deserve not one cent and they are disgracing what the Bok emblem and it's meaning stands for.

Yes, we have many injured players and it's hard to gel, but the team has to be confident and man enough to take the blows and move on ensuring that on the Saturday they are worthy of representing this great land.

Where is the fear the other nations had for SA?? NAHHHHHH, THE BOKS are nothing. Japan and Romania are probably licking their lips after seeing what terrible 'rugby' we're playing.

Too much technicality is involved. Watching videos of past games and computer games?? THE JOB IS DONE ON THE FIELD!! It is not a computer game for heaven's sake!!

Poor Brent Russell gets put on the wing where he can't receive one decent ball and the opposition is right on top of him. SUCH BIG NAMES ON PAPER, but what is the use if they play like sheep on the field.

I have just watched the Scotland vs SA game and I feel like screaming, but it is actually not worth it. The ref was not consistent and I don't want to raise my feelings towards Stuart Dickinson, the linesman. Everytime he makes his way towards the ref I know he's going to give a penalty against SA. It's always the green player who did something. Poor Paulse stepped to the side of the ruck and was accused of tramping-hehhehehehhe-it's a joke. Then there is the try that you can't see at all. Just go according to the facial expressions of the players-valid enough!!

But, even with the latter events mentioned there is NO EXCUSE for the DREADFUL PERFORMANCE of SA. I will stick to the Boks through bad times and good, but this is really pushing me!

I know we can't chop and change coaches etc, but when we had one decent coach and not so many little advisors and the players were playing for their country where money was not an option we had the best results ever.

I have nothing against Rudolf, but I never considered him the man for the job. I know Naas Botha was not a candidate for coach, but I believe that he and Jake White will would work wonders for the team. Just look what they did with the u-21 boys?? They only had them for a short period of time and whalla-CHAMPS!!

If we want to even get through to the quarterfinals of the World Cup we will have 2 WAKE UP verrryyyyyyy verryyyyy soon.WE HAVE THE PLAYERS and we have THE TALENT so what is stopping us??!!

BRING THE PASSION ,LOVE AND DETERMINATION BACK!! COME ON BOKS I'M REALLY ASKING NICELY. DO IT FOR THIS GREAT LAND AND THE PEOPLE!! MAKE US PROUD AND JUST PLAY TO WIN. NOTHING CAN STOP YOU!! PLEASE BOYS !!

I have so much more to say, but I don't really have the will to continue and my heart is really sore. I hate seeing the boys lose, but losing in such a fashion is heartbreaking...

Please get back to me if you can. I'm sure there are many other fans who feel the same way as I do and we all deserve to be heard .

I thank you for your time and I will just pray that we don't lose 100-0 against England.

Yours sincerely

Yvette de Villiers
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Dear Editor: 

Re: Loosing faith quickly 

Ho hum ... Now is not the time to think or say that there isn't a problem but to look for solutions.

I believe the solution lies with that oft used statement "lets get back to basics". The team must stop trying to be heroes and start playing rugby. The team must stop this notion that they are the best and, therefore, don't need practice the basics.

If the ball comes out of the scrum on their side, the flyhalf should try and cut the angle as soon as physically (and onside) as possible. When holding the ball, the Springboks must "use it or loose it!" When tackling the opposition, the guys must watch for high tackles but must aim for turnover ball!!!

These are not new lessons! They are adequately done by school boy teams.

England are going to beat the 'Boks on Saturday and, even although I'll be upset (again), lets hope they play properly while they use rather than their present lethargic attitude on the field!

Kind regards

Raymond Travers
(Still a supporter but extremely downhearted)
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Dear Ed

On Saturday I was ashamed to be a Bok supporter for the first time in my life and this is why. The Boks did not do what they got taught from the first time they lifted a rugby ball and the referee must have been paid a lot for those decisions that he made. The Boks problems came firstly at scrum time instead that our tight five dominated we were completely runned of the ball, I say run because I have never seen a scrum going backwards that fast. Then the lineouts sometimes we did not even jump on our own ball and when we got a clean ball Conradie messed it up and messed it up good. Butch James I think was lucky not to get more penalties against him as well as Robbie Fleck. And look not to put the WP on the spot but how can a side that did the worst finish with the most Springboks?

My 26 that I would have taken would have looked very different and here they are.

Fullbacks : J. Fourie , W. Greeff
Wings : D. Hall , F. Lombaard , A. Pitout
Centers : D. Scholtz , A. Snyman , J. de Villiers
Flyhalves : D. Hougaard , A. Pretorius
Scrumhalves :J. vd Westhuizen (He is still good enough), N.de Kock , B.
Russell (I think this may be his spot)

Loose Forwards : J. v Niekerk , C. Krige (C) , P. Wannenberg ,A. Venter
(André not AJ)
Locks : V. Matfield , M. Wentzel , J. Labaschagne
Props : W. Meyer , L. Shepaka , F. Rautenbach , O. du Randt
Hookers : L. v Biljon , D. Coetzee

And with the injuries I would bring M. Joubert , N. Jordaan , H. Louw , D. Human , W. Roux if Sephaka's ankle does not heal in time you need guys like André Venter on tour guys that are as hard as stone and does not give a yard away at any time.

Well that is that for now thanks a lot for reading

Nardus Oelofse

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Hi RF

Commiseration's to the Springboks who were beaten on Saturday. I need to apologise up front for the way in which this letter will need to be edited by Lucas.

What the hell was Tappe Do*s Henning doing on Saturday night. To be a bad referee is one thing, (he has proven this before) but to openly prejudice a side in the way he did on Saturday night was ludicrous. I know you all say that's just an All Black fan speaking, but think about it this way.

Tappe has been chosen to represent South Africa at his level. This means he is representative of the way you and I think. It is sad to state that other Rugby Superpowers think that South Africans don't understand the game, but if this is the representation we are getting then what the flip do you think people would say. 

A week ago, Jonathan Kaplan (in my mind the best ref. in the world at present) blew the game between the All Blacks and England, and did a decent job except for one instance. A referee should be allowed one or two terrible decisions in a game, especially when the game is being played at 150KPH. Scott Young wasn't any better. I won't comment on him cause he is an Aussie and I never liked them anyway.

It is high time that these highly paid officials are performance managed. We have heard so many promises in the past about action plans for upgrading the standard of officials but never hear any outcomes. Pray do tell what is going on. When we make mistakes at work, we are performance managed, warned, even fired, and what is happening to these people with the high profile jobs.

I feel short-changed, not because the All Blacks didn't win, (they didn't do enough of the basics right anyway) but cause of the fact that we were robbed of half of the spectacle the game could have been.

Anyway the next weekend speaks of a mouth-watering clash at Twickenham and I hope the Springboks put on a better display of Rugby cause right now the Southern Hemisphere is looking to be usurped by their Northern counterparts.

Regards & well wishes to all at RF and readers.

Bryan

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Morning Ed, and hauzit in the UK?

I think we need to campaign for a reasoned reply section in your forum and say Boots 'n All from a Ref's Ref like Freek Burger. He must be charged with highlighting the strange calls we all notice and question, then explain whether we're wrong or the ref was a do*s! Then he must tell us what action has been taken against the Ref as his decisions do affect huge investments.

My initial questions are:

1. The Ref called 'Use it, Use it' twice at a Scottish maul, nothing happened as there was a wrestle for the suspended ball, then he penalised the Boks. Why?

2. If a player knocks on and one of his colleagues, standing in an offside position, catches it and plays it, isn't it a penalty? The Ref ignore that twice in Scotland's favour by calling for a scrum.

3. How did Dickinson 'see' Paulse using his boot excessively at a loose maul when Paulse was obscured by the entire maul, had his feet on the ground and Dickinson was on the other side of the field? Has he been asked to justify his call?

4. Has Andre Watson given his x-ray eyes (Boks vs England in Bloem - Joost's try) to the third Ref at Murrayfield?

Now don't think for a moment I believe a really crappy and under qualified Ref had anything to do with the standard of the Boks play, I don't. I do believe that its time for us all to accept we may just not be good enough with this current crop of Boks.

One thought though for Straeuli to help with the handling. Why not stuff the match fees (R75000 per player) into the ball? That way their avaricious hands will ensure no one takes it away?

Storm Ferguson

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Geagte Redakteur

Re Sonsverduistering in die Springbokkamp 

Is dit nou nie om van moord te pleeg nie? Nee, nie lelike moord op iemand anders nie, selfmoord! Ek was in my hele lewe nog nooit so in 'n gat weens verloor op 'n rugbyveld, soos gedurende November 2002 nie! 

Wat is aan die gang? Hoe is dit moontlik dat mens dríe wedstryde in 'n ry kan belewe wat, identies dieselfde verloop? Eers was dit die Leeus wat met alles op die veld gegaan het, maar toe niks vermag het nie. Die Bokke vertrek met beloftes van alles en nog wat, en wraggies, ons spog met twee rekord nederlae teen ons! Dit moet beslis iets met die komende sonsverduistering te doen hê. Ergste van alles is, ons trek nou eers by die gedeeltelike verduistering! Die totale verduistering sal eers komende Saterdag geskied. Om die waarheid te sê, ek dink Saterdag sal donkerder vir ons wees as wat die Swartgat van Kalkutta vir die Engelse was!

Ek wil darem ook iets uitlig wat ek hierdie jaar opgemerk het. Aan die begin van 2002 het die noordelike halfrond se spanne in die suide kom toer. Dit was aan die einde van hul seisoen en ons het net pas begin. Ja, goed, net na die Super 12-reeks. Hulle was maar bra eina as ons nou daarna terugkyk. Nou staan ons aan die einde van ons seisoen en hulle begin hul 2002 - 2003-seisoen. Ons manne van die suide is gaar. Selfs die Ausies het 'n stywe jaar en lang tyd om te roes agter die blad. Hul kompetisie is nie so groot lank ons en N-Z s'n nie. Rus en roes al lankal. N-Z het hul NPC-reeks voltooi met harde inklim rugby en hier weet ons hoe die Curriebeker reeks verloop het. Nou loop al wat 'n span in die noorde is, ons outjies plat. Dit is 'n herhaling van die begin van die jaar, net anders om. Die probleem lê nie by die spelers of spankeuses nie, dis die verskriklike lang seisoene. Ons moet in gedagte hou dat dit mense is wat gedurig die stampe en stote moet vat. Al is die spelers veronderstel om profesioneel te wees, beteken dit nie hulle is skielik van titanium gemaak nie. Dis vlees en bloed. Seer bly seer, maak nie saak wie dit dra nie. Net so bly moeg, moeg. Daar sal dae wees wat mens nie van die bloukolle, skrape en trapmerke bewus is nie. Dan sal ander dink jy is fiks en reg om aan te gaan.

Maar, om van begin Januarie tot einde November op die manier aan te gaan, sal beslis sy tol eis. Die ouens wat nie die skete nou voel nie, sal beslis oor tien of twintig jaar weet dat hulle rugby gespeel het. Ons gemaksugtige leuenstoel kritici voel nie hoe dit in die voorry voel as die manne sak nie, of as 'n man jou hard lak nie. Ek wil nie eens dink aan die trapskrums, waar jy aan die verkeerde kant beland en niemand kan jou daar uit help nie. Dan straf die skeidsregter jou ook nog. Dit moet liggaamlik en geestelik op 'n mens inwerk.

Nou wat sou die oplossing wees? Wel, minder van die harde wedstryde vir die top spelers. Krag teen krag soos beplan, in 'n enkel-rondekompetisie om die Curriebeker. Dit sal beslis hierdie verskriklike lang seisoene verkort. Dan kan die Bokspan aangewys word en hulle het 'n langer tyd om goed voor te berei. Die afrigter kan dan sy kombinasies uitsoek en taktiek (en moenie die basiese beginsels van rugby vergeet nie) indril. As dit dan nodig is kan die voorspelers byvoorbeeld in Bloemfontein oefen vir twee weke, skrums, lystane, dryfbewegings ens. terwyl die agterlyn, sê maar, in Johannesburg die vaardighede, bewegings, verdedigingslyne en aanvalslyne oefen. Spesialiste in verskillende afdelings van die spel kan baie aandag gee aan hul ekspertgebiede. Trek die twee groepe afsonderlik, by die sogenaamde Rugby Institute bymekaar vir 'n tydperk, of so iets. Maar om in die Suid-Afrikaanse klimaat gedurende Oktober nog met strawwe kompeties soos die Curriebeker besig te wees, speel mens met mense se gesondheid.

Ek voel baie jammer vir die Bokke, en hul bestuurspan, maar mens kan wragtig nooit bloed uit 'n klip tap nie. Om van hulle te verwag om na so 'n seisoen steeds met die reuse van die noorde af te reken is bietjie dik vir 'n daalder. Dis net mense.

CL de Wet.

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Bokspan

Enigste positiewe ding wat ek kan se is dat gelukkig het die onervare spelers hulself nie gekies nie. Net jammer hulle speel met so min trots. Duidelik tyd vir n nuwe kaptein ook.

Graag herhaal ek wat ek die dag toe Straeuli as afrigter gekies is gese het: Geluk en ek glo hy is die regte man .Al probleem wat ek met hom het is dat hy niks van agterspelers weet nie. Verder lol hy met n Australier wat nog minder weet.

Daar is net twee afrigters wat agterspelers in SA kan afrig en dit is Gysie Pienaar en Kolonel Kleynhans. Gebruik ons eie mense en kry hulp met die kies van n span . Die hudige keurders moet gaan, want hulle help nie veel nie en laat hulle intimideer deur n leek soos Straeuli.

Luister na Oom Ian Mcintosh en ander. Kry Rassie, Os , Andre Venter en Mark terug, al kos dit geld. Mark moes die Kaptein gewees het. Nou glo ek Rassie is die man en dan moet Joost ook weer speel, want die jonges is hopeloos.

Rudolf moet hulp soek en luister na kenners in SA. 

Verder kan ons nie help nie. Hy moet nie n god begin raak soos sy voorgangers en dink hy alleen het al die antwoorde nie.

Sterkte

Tjaart Coetzee

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Ed.

Ons as Springbok rugby-ondersteuners moet waak daarteen om nou paniekerig te raak en links en regs op drastiese veranderinge aan te dring. Die wêreldbeker-toernooi is minder as 'n jaar weg, en ons moet eenvoudig hou wat ons het en daarop verbeter.

Die regte vrae moet egter gevra word en daar MOET eenvoudig antwoorde voor gevind word. Ek wil nie voorgee dat ek oor al dié vrae beskik nie, en nog minder oor al die antwoorde. Maar ek meen die dringendste vraag is: Waarom is die noordelike halfrond se pakke voorspelers soveel beter as dié van die suidelike halfrond?

Ek het twee voorstelle in hierdie verband:

1. Hoe gouer Argentinië ingesluit word in 'n Viernasies-toernooi, hoe beter. Die "genepoel" van die huidige drie nasies is te soortgelyk en ek glo die manne van die Pampas kan ons weer die waarde van goeie voorspelerspel laat besef en die basiese beginsels daarvan help aanleer (hulle was immers die enigste suidelike halfrond span wat verlede naweek gewen het!).

2. Nader tuis: Moet daar nie gedink word aan Heyneke Meyer as spesialis-voorspelerafrigter nie? Ek vermoed as dieselfde pak voorspelers van die Bulle wat in die Curriebeker-eindstryd gespeel het, die afgelope twee naweke vir die Bokke op die veld gedraf het, ons arme agterspelers nie gedurig die bal op die agtervoet sou gekry het nie. Nie omrede die Bulle man-vir-man beter voorspelers as die Springbokke het nie; allermins! Maar eenvoudig omdat hulle as 'n pak saam gejag het.

Die Bokke trek omtrent by hul derde keuse van voorry, ons wêreldgehalte lynstaanslotte is beseer, die motiveringsvermoë van 'n Bobby Skinstad is gemis (en, onthou, hy was ons primêre bron van lynstaanbesit gedurende die Drienasies-toernooi), ens. ens. Juis daarom is dit nou tyd vir kalmte. Volgende jaar is die meeste van hierdie sleutelspelers terug, en dan is dit 'n ander storie...

Uiteindelik moet ons in elk geval nie te veel in hierdie einde-van-die-jaar-toere lees nie. Beserings het die suidelike spanne uitgedun en die spelers is moeg na 'n lang, uitmergelende seisoen. Miskien moet ons maar hierdie pakke soos manne vat - net soos die Noordelike spanne aan die begin van die suidelike seisoen gereeld hier onder kom pak kry - en die geleentheid gebruik om met nuwe bloed te eksperimenteer, soos nou die geval is.

COLIN VAN RENSBURG

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Ed.

Re: Maak Joost Bokkaptein

Die eerste stap wat Strauli moet uitvoer om die Bokke weer op die wenpad te kry is om vir Corné Krige te pos en vir Joost van der Westuizen kaptein maak. Joost het in die Bankfin Curriebekerreeks bewys hy is 'n puik leier en is steeds een van die beste skrumskakels in wêreldrugby. Tweedens moet Strauli vir Mark Andrews kies, al sê SARFU spelers wat in die buiteland speel word nie oorweeg vir die Bokke nie. Andrews en Matfield sal 'n uitstekende vaste vyf vorm saam met Cobus Visagie of Willie Meyer,Lukas van Biljon of Dalton of Smit en Os du Randt. 'n Lostrio van Warren Britz,Rassie Erasmus en Big Joe en dan nog vir Skinstad op die bank hoef vir niemand in wêreldrugby terug te staan nie. Losskakel is nog 'n probleem. Die Super 12 sal bepaal of Hougaardt reg is om wêreldbeker te speel. Fleck is ons beste senter. Sy sentermaat moet Dries Scholtz of Marius Joubert wees. Dalk herwin De Wet Barry weer sy vorm? Vleuls Dean Hall en Paulse, en heelagter Greeff of Russell. Met dié span sal die Bokke weer op die wenpad wees en dalk weer wêreldkampioene.

Johann Loubser

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