Welcome, Guest.
Please register or login below:
 
 
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 42
Rugby Forum - Vol 2, Week 42
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
28 Nov 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

Editors Note

------------------------------------------------

Brilliant! Saturday’s test match at Twickenham had the makings of a seedy MasterCard advertisement; plain ticket to London - R 6 000, rugby ticket – R 800, match programme R 60, return train ticket to Twickenham - R 45, an all-time Springbok record – priceless! Not!!

The lovely Twickenham stadium was splendid in sunshine and for a few hours the rugby gods seem to smile on this tract of land in SW London. Unfortunately the very same gods chose the men in white and totally ignored their counterparts from South Africa. 

Being in possession of a prized “rugby writers” pass the whole Twickenham occasion took on a different dimension. A laminated card allowed said holder in the press box where a kindly old matron persuaded a ”Bovril on toast for the week, pound- challenged” South African to a scrumptious cooked meal and drinks of his choice! This was very civilised and after the meal, washed down with a pint of Tetley bitters, it was a short search for the seats from where to view the match. The press seats are East Stand, upper tier, and dead centre on the middle line - in other words, the best seats in the house!

Twickenham is hailed as a fortress for the home team and again proved to be that except they did not just defend the castle gates but open them up and sent out sorties all over the lush paddock to inflict the worst beating in history on an already battered Springbok team. The match as a contest was over in the 21st minute and it was always going to be a damage mitigation act after Jannes Labuschagne left the field for a mindless act of foul play on Jonny Wilkinson. One thought had it been anybody else but Jonny it would have been yellow but as it turned out, the big lock received his marching orders becoming one of only a handful of Springboks to be sent off the field.

The match then developed into an even blacker day for South African rugby as the 14 men decided that losing the match was a given but losing the fight not. There were plenty of off the ball stuff which prompted Clive Woodward to speak out at the after match press conference. He was unfortunately quite right in his assessment, anybody watching Robbie Fleck in isolation will not believe that this is a man who played in his 31st test. His discipline is shocking and since he does not do much else but “intimidate” the opposition why select him?

On this point and the readers must forgive this whinging session, call it end of season blues but South African rugby need to seriously reconsider their contribution to the world game. As it stands the Springboks are known as a dirty team intent on playing the man and hope to score tries through “exciting” backs on the counter attack. Referees have caught on to this indiscipline and it would be totally naïve to think they will continue to treat us neutrally. As a matter of fact referees can wholly concentrate on South African players breaking the laws because there are so many fouls at every given opportunity. This does not mean the other teams do not infringe but the referees have an anti-green biased from the word go and who can blame them? It is self-inflicted and totally deserved.

The sending off of Jannes Labuschagne will be the first of many if there is not a total reconstruction of discipline and mindset amongst all players and coaches. South Africa should not become soft quite the contrary the way AJ Venter played the game on Saturday should be adopted as the blueprint for the Springboks approach - hard and ferocious but 100% legal. AJ, usually on the wrong side of the fence in terms of discipline pointed the way forward, it is a pity so few chose to follow.

The tour was a disaster but a few players managed to keep their reputation intact and a few more gave a glimpse on what to expect in the future, others destroyed any credibility they might have had with the rugby public. The Springboks who vowed to return tradition into their make-up and make their supporters proud is in serious arrears for this tour, seasoned old supporters chose to fling Springbok caps and scarves from the stand and this was a sight this writer thought he would never see.

Next week a summary of the season and the state of rugby globally.

Lucas

lucas@rugbyforum.co.za

----------------------------------------------

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!!

-----------------------------------------------

Springbok Potjie by Desmond Organ

-----------------------------------------------

The occasion, England versus South Africa and on the menu a unique blend of cuisine served by the chefs of the day. For South Africa it was passion, youth and testosterone, for England flair, patience and a touch of arrogance. What was supposed to be a competitive encounter ended up being a rout and did nothing but confirm what was destined to happen from the moment that Paddy O Brien sent Labuschagne on his way. That clinical act whilst being within the boundaries of the law book deprived in excess of 65000 people the opportunity to witness a classic English performance.

What are we to make of it all, the biggest ever margin of defeat for South Africa for the third week in a row and with it the hopes of many a fan were left in tatters. The post match press conference was an opportunity for the victors to determine the exact contents of the post match “peace agreement”. The victors were able to praise the performance of the referee and castigate the actions of the defeated. What was compelling is the fact that Woodward has lost some of the over exuberant gloating of the past and replaced it with a touch of subtle rule definition.

South Africa made their appearance and demonstrated anger in defeat, hardly acknowledging the gaping errors in judgment and promising a reprisal in the future. The questions came flying from all corners of the room and the best Straeuli could offer was a comparative analysis of the experiences of the English rugby team’s thrashing downunder several years ago. This is potentially a recipe for disaster if there is not some serious soul searching by the decision makers and players in South African rugby. What is clear is that the South African fans seem quite prepared to witness one agonizing defeat after another, let’s face it we have already exhausted the list of available knee jerk reactions.

The world of professional rugby is not the domain of physical aggression and passion alone, but perhaps more of a unique blend of brand management and wealth creation. England appear to be at the top of the board in this regard, despite the obvious claims of the Kiwi’s and Australians. The French too are able to make up for any apparent gap in business excellence with limitless talent in manpower. The Kiwis are blessed with an abundance of talent and have started to realise that this alone is not the path to success.

None of the South Africans at Twickenham really believed that they could win on the day, but they were able to take away several positives from this nightmare of tours. Primarily we now know which of the youth have what it takes to be top-level performers and we should also know which of the more senior players should not get the opportunity again. The lesson that should be learnt immediately is that there is no place for uncontrolled aggression, quite simply put it is a recipe for disaster because it leads to embarrassing defeats and makes you the focal point of the referees; combine that with an official who loves the limelight and you are really in trouble.

Secondly there is enough talent in South Africa; which if nurtured and developed will ensure a place in the limelight. Surely we can be saved the embarrassment of a player of a particular representative group making one pathetic blunder after another; this is not only insulting to the player but to the people that aspire to represent their country at the highest level. It is no longer an excuse for any South African to blame the quota issue for our performances on the field. The best players must be on the field of play and there should not be a need for quotas to make up the numbers.

There has been a remarkable turnaround in the administration of the game in South Africa and the administrators deserve credit for the achievements that have been made. A lot of this would not have been achieved without the firm pressure that has been applied by the Government.

I wonder if the expatriate cash cow will continue to put up with sub par performances; but perhaps that is the real beauty of the Springbok business, it makes money week after week because the supporters get a warm fuzzy feeling watching their team play and there is always the opportunity to get inebriated, bi-tch about the present and recount the past.

------------------------------------------

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

-------------------------------------------

Expecting the Expected by Vinesh Naicker

-------------------------------------------

Before the game the Welsh faithful were just hoping that the All Blacks wouldn’t beat their team by more than 30 points. I’ve never seen an All Black team lose to Wales and I didn’t expect to see it happen on Sunday, but then I never expected to see a Springbok team lose to Scotland.

Here are the notes that I took during the game.

First look at the Millennium stadium before the teams come out for the anthem and the surface is shocking. It looks like a very light covering on a sea of mud, anybody who tries stepping their marker is going to be on their back. It’s a sad reflection of the game in Wales that they’re actually happy to play teams on a surface like this because they feel that it is a great leveliser. This means that Wales can look forward to only getting beaten by the opposition rather than thrashed, as they would on a good surface. Perhaps they should consider putting a bund around the field to keep a constant 15cm or so of water on the field in future, this will mean that they only lose by 10 to 15 points at the most.

The two teams come out and I’ve got to say the greatest thing about a Welsh game that I’ve seen is their anthem. I can’t understand a word of it but it sounds great. I can only imagine what it sounded like 30 years ago when their rugby was great too and the crowd justifiably passionate. The only anthems (aside from the NZ one) I like are the Welsh and Irish ones. The haka is greeted with a respectful silence too, and a great cheer at the end. This is in direct contrast to the Aussies and the way that they screech on about some sheep stealing sodomiser (who probably represents the fond aspirations of the typical Aussie supporter), it’s nice to see the Welsh crowd show some dignity.

I’m a bit puzzled as to why the Welsh are out on the field wearing black, but before the game they strip off their black tops to show their red jerseys. They are still wearing black shorts though, instead of the traditional white ones, perhaps hoping some of the magic of the All Black colours will rub off onto them. Fat chance, the magic has leached out of the All Blacks in recent years.

The match kicks off and the Welsh are immediately under pressure from the kick off and subsequent lineout. Doug Howlett almost scores within 5 minutes. The scrums look like they may as well be uncontested as neither side will be able to keep their footing and get a shove on. Five minutes of sustained pressure on the Welsh 5 metre line and the AB’s can’t score. The Welsh eventually clear from a penalty, that should give them some heart. The AB’s need to get a try before the Welsh think they have a chance.

Wales attack the AB goal line and eventually get 3 points. Score 0-3. Immediate reply from the AB’s 3-3. AB’s attack, Mehrtens kicks a grubber which rebounds off a Welsh player who hacks it ahead, the ball travels 65 metres upfield and sits in the in-goal. As the Welsh centre races in for the try I’m thinking where’s Blair? I see on the replay that anticipating Mehrtens kick he had run through the line and was already behind the Welsh fullback, probably the player furthermost from the ball when it was dotted down. 3-10.

AB penalty 35 metres out which Mehrtens kicks. 6-10. 22 minutes played and the AB’s have had about 3 chances to score but their handling is letting them down, pushed passes, slow ball etc. 36 minutes played and the error rate is 9 to NZ and 3 to Wales. This is why NZ is still behind. Umaga seems to be having trouble adapting to inside centre as well. I don’t understand this business of using players out of position at international level, it has never worked for NZ. Even Jeff Wilson, a world class winger and one of the most talented NZ sportsmen ever, (he played cricket for NZ and could have played basketball too if he’d had the time apparently) was hopeless at fullback. Test matches are not the venue to experiment with this sort of stuff. Modern case in point Fast Eddies Wallabies. Back to the game. Wales mess up from the base of the scrum 15 metres out and Mehrtens kicks the penalty. 9-10.

Half time. The All Blacks are in the unusual situation of having 65% plus possession and 70% plus territory. Why are they still behind? The modern All Black game plan is based on living off opposition scraps and thereby 40% possession. Do they have so much ball they don’t know what to do with it?

Second half starts and the AB’s start off looking like they mean business. Within 2 minutes they have a penalty and go ahead for the first time. 12-10. The game continues and Reagan King seems to be expecting too much from his support players, the combinations aren’t as slick as he expects and as a result the ball is going to ground instead of to the hand.

10 minutes into the second half and Randell is subbed off for Holah. We should see some good link play now. It seems that despite his puerile excuses of last week Mitchell realises you can’t win games without intelligent use of the bench. 16 minutes into the game and the errors are 16-11 to NZ.

Blair goes off with an injury and Howlett moves to fullback. With Randell and Blair off the team really starts to fire, within minutes Howlett combines with Umaga to score a try. The Welsh crowd think the last pass was forward but even with the benefit of a replay from overhead it looks like a line ball. 19-10 to NZ. From the restart the Welsh forwards are unable to drive the ball out of their own half and eventually concede a penalty which Mehrtens converts. 22-10.

35 minutes into the second half and the Welsh decide to scrum a penalty on the NZ 5 metre line. Wave after wave of attack follows and the NZ defence looks ragged. After two more penalties Tappe awards a penalty try. I’m a bit unsure what it’s for but the AB’s did look to be in trouble. 22-17 and the Welsh think they have a chance.

From the kick off Wales try to run it out of their 22. The fools. They forget who they are playing against. Marty Holah effects the turnover with contemptuous ease. Umaga kicks it through and Howlett collects the ball and beats a tackle to score. 29-17.

After some general play, and realising the game is lost, the Welsh defence starts to disintegrate and Kees Meeuws breaks through to score under the posts. 36-17. One minute to go. Collecting the ball from a ruck on halfway Umaga beats Charvis and kicks ahead to the Welsh 5 metre line. Wales turn the ball over to Holah on the 22 and debutante Reagan King scores on the right wing. 43-17. The Welsh public have got their wish and the All Blacks haven’t beaten their team by more than 30 points. The respect for the black jersey will continue to linger for a while more in Wales.

Brutal truths:

In retrospect Wales let themselves down badly in the last quarter of the game. They assumed that because they were in touch with the All Blacks at 22-17 they had a chance of winning. The truth is they are a second rate team and need to play percentage rugby as they lack the talent to be truly competitive at the highest level. Until they can unearth that talent there must be a reliance on structure and percentage rugby to keep them in the game. Graham Henry was criticised by many of the Welsh for forcing the team to play a structured game, they contended that he was stifling the creativity of the players and not allowing them to play their natural game. The brutal truth is the Welsh have all the creativity of a headless chicken and I don’t know what their natural game is but it seems to be a losing one. I have never seen a good Welsh team, mind you I have only been watching rugby for seventeen years or so. You can only live off the stories of the great Welsh teams for so long before they become meaningless. Soccer is overtaking rugby in popularity in Wales. To retain its following and to grow Welsh rugby needs to focus on being competitive teams at the national level. Wales are a second rate team, have been for a number of years, and will be for the foreseeable future. I for one feel that international rugby is the poorer for it.

--------------------------------------------------

Subscribe to Sharkmail, weekly E-Zine sent to you from the heart of Natal Sharks Rugby. Get the latest news and competitions. Subscribe at sharksrugby@mweb.co.za

--------------------------------------------------

Unwanted Record at Twickenham by Mark Foster

--------------------------------------------------

The Springboks suffered their worst ever defeat against a marauding England team, this was the biggest losing margin in any test match, ever! The 14-man South African team held on for dear life but it was not good enough to avoid a 50-point drubbing.

Twickenham was awash in splendid sunshine and many thought that maybe the sun would shine on Rudolf Straeuli’s battered team. They certainly started the game with a lot of vigour and territorially dominated the England side. The points though were not forthcoming as the white wall stood firm. SA managed to win their troubled first phase possession like lineout ball and the forwards established some platform from which to go forward. At the back Andre Pretorius struggled to cross the gain line, it happens when you stand so far back and the exciting talent of Paulse and Lombaard was largely ignored.

The first twenty minutes was a competitive period but the difference was the clinical English’s ability to convert any forays into the Springbok half into points. The moment of madness struck in the 21st minute when Jannes Labuschagne for some idiotic reason shoulder charged Jonny Wilkinson short of the latter going to the showers. Paddy O’Brien who was constantly warning both teams for off the ball incidents instantly reached for “something in his pocket” but whether the incorrect card came out or not he showed the Lion lock the red. The game as a contest was over.

The Springboks with one man less battled bravely but with 60 minutes of defence left in the game they were on a hiding to nothing. The match turned into a bit of a brutal affair as many of the Springboks started playing the man and discipline was obviously a problem. England to their credit stuck to the job of dismantling the Springboks piece by piece and eventually breaking them with seven tries including a pushover and penalty try. They did it in various fashions, backline runners carefully avoiding the tacklers and utilising the overlap craftily and by brute forward strength – a good old fashioned beating!

It was a dark day for Springbok rugby in more ways than one, obviously the huge score rankled but the behaviour on the pitch was not good to put it mildly.

The individual performances:

1. Wessel Roux - 3 The Springbok scrum started off solidly against a highly rated pack but the loss of a lock did absolutely nothing to enhance his floundering reputation. The man of the match, Phil Vickery gave him a thorough working over. Hopefully he can recover mentally from the match.

2. James Dalton – 4 Dalton tried it all and played one of his better matches of the tour with some good tackles and a few turnovers that helped his team. The tremendous amount of pressure though caused him to pop his head out of the scrum and Mr O’Brien punished him mercilessly.

3. Deon Carsten – 3 Playing against the most capped prop in the world left the young Natalian under no illusions where he needs to take his game. He would hopefully have learned from the episode.

4. Jannes Labuschagne – 0 The stupidity of his act is unforgivable.

5. AJ Venter – 6 The one man that can lose his temper played with calculating ferociousness, the way the game is supposed to be played and his tackling was tremendous. He worked very hard on the field and gave his all but at the end he was exhausted from covering for his departed lock partner.

6. Corne Krige – 4 The captain had a torrid time and his usual style of play could not come to fruition once Jannes was sent off. His captaincy must be under suspicion now especially with the atrocious discipline showed by his team.

7. Pedrie Wannenburg – 6 The young man was a bit anonymous in the beginning as can be expected in your run on debut but the guts and determination he showed when having to play lock was admirable and he really came into his own in the second half. He needs an extended period in the team as this man can play.

8. Joe van Niekerk – 7 After last weeks match he learnt the lessons of a retreating scrum and actually played an excellent match under the circumstances. The young man is clearly a class player and will show his mettle in the 2003 RWC as one of the best in the world. Does need an Andre Vos or a Bob Skinstad to create those half gaps he exploits so effectively. 

9. Bolla Conradie – 6 Played well before he was concussed and his trademark breaks created a bit of havoc in the England defence, he will return a better all-round player and needs a good Super 12 to get the confidence up to where it belongs.

10. Andre Pretorius – 3 The flyhalf was not good and his propensity to stay so far behind the advantage line prohibits any forward momentum. His drop kick attempt was woeful and the ball was quality enough to run at the time and if SA scored seven points at that stage, the game could have turned drastically.

 

11. Friederich Lombaard – 4 Never got the ball on attack to display his impressive speed. He needs to up his awareness on the field in terms of defence and what his counterpart is up to.

12. Butch James – 3 The experiment with James at inside centre is probably over, he is a menace on a defence but only when close to the fringes, he almost every time chose to tackle his man when the ball was away. He did not receive enough ball on attack to display his creative passing talents.

13. Robbie Fleck – 1 A petulant schoolboy with NO discipline and he must decide long and hard about his future. At the current rate he is a liability for any team and his positives do not outweigh his glaringly obvious shortcomings.

14. Breyten Paulse – 4 Did not get the ball again and was shown up a few times on defence. Tough day to be a wing.

15. Werner Greeff – 4 Much better match than against Scotland, he made a few good tackles but was also responsible for the penalty try. The man’s kicking was also better and on the hard fields he will show why he was so highly rated after the Tri Nations.

Replacements:

Norman Jordaan: Did well for a young guy who has hardly played at Super 12 level or Currie Cup never mind a test match at Twickenham. Once he sorted his passing out he was a solid player.

Lukas van Biljon: Made a bit of an impact after Dalton left but it was a difficult day to replace anybody.

Adrian Jacobs: Not much he could do but he did miss a few tackles and his suspect defence was proven exactly that, suspect on this tour.

Brent Russell: Replaced Paulse and tried a few things but was completely outthundered.

CJ van der Linde: Came on late as a replacement for Carstens and looked solid.

Referee - 6 Paddy O’Brien made a very tough call on Labuschagne that effectively ended the match as a spectacle and contest but then it is the players and not the referee’s job to ensure self-discipline.

---------------------------------------------------------------

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.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Quotes

---------------------------------------------

The game against England is first and foremost about restoring pride. Francois Pienaar

As long as the guys remember that they are playing for the jersey, I'm sure it will go well. Willie Meyer

My philosophy on rugby is very similar to that of Tim (Lane). It is no secret that you play well when you get on with management. Bob Skinstad

It'll be a great experience, and I can't wait to get started. Mark Andrews

In the past England have slipped up in the crucial games and Saturday will be a test for them. They have everything to lose - we have nothing to lose. Corne Krige

President Mbeki felt I should come here, so did the cabinet, because our boys have had a rough time and they need to know they have our support. Ngconde Balfour

It was a brutal test match and it was disappointing that South Africa approached it the way they did. Clive Woodward

Do they think that we concussed ourselves. It was hard, it was physical, but it was not just us who were guilty. It was just another really hard test match. Rudolf Straeuli

I'm not that convinced they (England) can play much better but we can improve by at least 60 percent. Corne Krige

It was appalling out there, South Africa were dirty from the start. They should concentrate on playing the game rather than trying to maim everyone. The game's tough enough as it is but they were trying to hurt you purposefully. There's a difference between physicality and cheap shots. Their game was full of cheap shots. Jason Robinson

As dark as it seems now I know we can stand up. We didn't get the results we wanted to, but at the end with 14 men the guys showed huge character. A lot of young players have now got their first experience of test rugby and only time will tell whether we're still building to a peak or whether England have peaked too soon. Rudolf Straeuli

He kicked the ball and on coming down he jumped on my shoulder. Jannes Labuschagne

----------------------------------------------

Letters to the Editor

----------------------------------------------

Dear Editor

England's day of rejoicing was a sad experience for Springbok supporters and for world rugby- which can ill afford to see any team of renown and skill decline as fast as South Africa - despite this 2002 tour party being very much a "barrel scaper" XV. Whatever the Zurich world rankings might say, the honest know in their hearts that the Boks are now ranked 7th and plummeting towards losing that spot to Argentina. Unbelievable? All too true. 

The Boks actually improved vs England and fought with tenacity after being reduced to 14 men which obviously ruined their chances. They started very well, then tackled like madmen, caused turnovers, won lineouts, forced England back in the loose on occasion and even held their own in the scrums with 7 forwards, something they failed to do against France and Scotland with a full pack. The score did not flatter the immense courage of a totally outgunned team - but was representative rather of England's utter composure and confidence. Here is a team that knows exactly what it is going to do - and does it. They have also a priceless asset- depth at all positions. Watching England was like watching the workings of a fine machine. 

Comments will be made about Paddy O Briens' penalty count, the red card that should have been a yellow and penalty try - it seems impossible for SA to get the benefit of the whistle, even when they are playing far better than against England - but it is not an excuse, just an observation. South Africans should expect to play against 16 men on any given international day and adjust. Clive Woodward moans in defeat or when winning - England did not play like angels and if they took a physical battering, that's a comment on Springbok toughness. 

Are England favourites for the WC 2003? One wonders, despite their recent form. A full All-Blacks, Australia or even Springboks on another ground would be a very different proposition and France are another hurdle. Let's not forget Englands 45% win rate away from Twickenham. 

Australia are the real losers of the 2002 Investec series - it's obvious their team is creaking and the tactic of gridiron-sized ponderous backs and Eddie Jones' tricks and ploys has run it's course. We are all wise to Australia these days. The snap and sparkle has gone out of the Wallabies. 

England should take away a lot from this game against what might be called a Boks 3rd XV, and deservedly so, but they are not home and dry yet. 

As for SA it's obvious combinations are wrong, whatever players skills and individualism might be. Hall, Terblanche, Le Roux, Smit, Skinstad, Rautenbach, Erasmus,Snyman and even the slower but "go forward" Joost Van Der W are needed, plus whatever can bring Andrews and Venter out for one more season. The youngsters are too raw and the balance of youth and experience is all skewed. 

Individually, Van Niekerk, Dalton and A.J. Venter played their hearts out and Wannenberg passed muster. Greef redeemed himself. The rest is doom and gloom. One hopes they will not sack the coach ( Woodward lost his first 8 matches) or the entire team - they won't win the RWC 2003 but can still manage a semi-final place if they concentrate on skills,discipline and gameplans. 

Peter Giraudo,  Nairobi, Kenya

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Lucas,

Thanks for your very informative emails - I am a major fan of the weekly rugby updates that your team puts together. You guys are very informative, and clued up on the game.

In the wake of our most forgettable tour ever, and having lost 3 games in a row by record scores to Northern opposition, I want to make one single point - the penalty count! When last did the Boks play a test match, and actually win the penalty count? Granted, the decision to send Jannes off was marginal, and even the English commentators suggested that a yellow card would probably have been a fairer call. The game was effectively killed as a contest at that point. 

I am so severly gatvol of seeing us getting blown out of the park every time we take to the field! Against France, penalty against us in the opening kick-off, by no less than our captain. Against Scotland, ditto..!! C'mon - why do our guys not know the rules? Every other test side plays the game professionally and within the rules. We seem to have a complete disrespect for the rules, and pay the price badly. Players like Robbie Fleck, and Butch James have no place in Test rugby - these guys cannot contain themselves, and behave like spoilt brats on the field. These lads in particular are not able to control themselves, or play a hard, fair game. I saw these chaps running up at the defence, with stiff arms out - many times missing their man, and narrowly missing the ref's whistle - where were the straight, low hard hits that you usually see elsewhere? 

One of my favourite centre combinations of the last 10 years was the Bunce / Little combination for the All Blacks. Reckless penalties have been a major problem since post-isolation readmission. I'm convinced that as much as 40% of every score that the opposition puts over us, is due to our own bad understanding and application of the laws. Is it too much to expect our team to start cleaning up their act, and for once, coming in with a lower penalty count than the opposition? This is a major focus point for Rudolf to work on with the team - if we don't get this cleaned up, we may as well forget the World Cup.

We are the laughing stock of world rugby, as far as the penalty count is concerned - every other team knows exactly how to press our buttons on the field, because they know the Bokke are always worth a good 15 points at least for - in short, we are our own worst enemies! I would hate to think how many tests were marginal, and lost by us because of legally illiterate players taking the field, and handing away matches through penalties.

Thanks again for a great weekly newsletter - I am a devout fan of your column.

Grant Bassingthwaighte

------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Ed

Bet the 'rain' running down your cheeks on Saturday was more dampening than the Pommie weather? It is so tempting to try and find excuses for the Bok results these past three weeks. Its also just as tempting to start looking for players who've 'marched into history' to fill positions and hopefully give us a better performance chance. The simple fact however is that we have been plastering over the cancer for years; now the foundations are exposed to show we actually stink! Our current players are just not up to international standard.

Are we as physical? Yes we are, but it's in the brains department we are entirely lacking. The 'Game Plan' rugby introduced with 'professionalism' here has seen our players become mechanical. Whether a pass is on or not, if the game plan says it should be, the ball is passed and inevitably lost. Similarly the game plan has taken the individual flair away from players and stuck them in to a robotic corporate game of CYA. Follow the game plan - if it succeeds you're a hero if it fails the coach is a do*s! 

Mannetjies Roux would have kicked the game plan and its proponents into the stands, just like he did that demonstrator back in Avril's 70's! Tackling too has dispensed with taking an opponents legs away to stop him running and gone the league route of trying to prevent the ball from being spread. The result is opponents breaking free and, due to the upper body contact, more than one player needed to bring an opponent down. Joggie Jansen would have the current players running into the stands for mum's protection. What happened to tackles that not only gave an opponent nightmares but also sent shudders through his grandparents as well as messages to his unborn children?

Now I see that Rian Oberholtzer says that the results have highlighted the need to play a strength versus strength Currie Cup. More plaster I'm afraid! Just look at the rugby style that won this year's Currie Cup. Do you think it has a hope in hell of winning a World Cup against New Zealand?

Who have been the Bok coaches with the best results? Kitch who coached the basics - scrum, lineout, tackle and fitness. Mallet because he left the team alone to succeed with its own skill and style. When he couldn't resist sticking his finger into the pie to prove his personal 'brilliance,' all the wheels came off. The base foundation of the Teichmann era, which should be serving us now, was washed away by a succession poor administrative decisions.

Two other RSA coaches have achieved international success - Eric Sauls and Jake White - with the U21 Bok teams. How did they achieve? Selected the best players on offer and practised the basics. The on field flair was inherent and since they were free to play the game as they found it the teams played with every chance of success. Do the U21 play on a strength versus strength basis? No, but they play off a solid foundation of good basics and use their individual skills to beat their opponents.

How do we bring this into the international arena? Let our coaches concentrate on coaching the basics and leave the players to exercise their on-field flair. Pay them according to their delivery. To attend training, and that doesn't mean time off for golf, pay them a basic salary like that earned by their high school rugby coach. Pay their medical and rehabilitation from injury expenses. Allow them a reasonable per diem while on tour, then offer huge bonuses for international wins, with losses bringing nothing but aches and pains. That would make them professional. 

The current inflated value income they received is nonsense. If they were worth the really big bucks they'd be on par with the world's best. They aren't and should have to earn the right to high income. Strangely enough if the above came about, even against the threat of an initial walkout, there would be many more players who would step up for the honour of provincial and national colours. The paying public would also know that they were there to play their hearts out for pride, province and/or country, and to earn the rewards paid to winners!

Storm Ferguson

---------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Lucas

A sad forum for all us South African rugby fans, if you look at the England match as a whole a ref can either make a game enjoyable or destroy it entirely. I believe this is exactly what Paddy O'Brien has done, I for one condone all forms of foul play but a red card has to be questioned. 

Unfortunately it won't so I believe there needs to be steps taken by the fans who week in and week out get robbed of FAIR entertainment. The first option is to give Balfour and Chester Williams their wish, of selecting who they want and us the fans begin supporting individual sport like golf, English Premier league football, English rugby Union, Australian rugby Union and even league. The second option is to organise a group with the likes of Pieter van Zyl and when the likes of Paddy O'brien and Stuart Dickenson arrive on our shores, to welcome them in to our tradition of "ons vat nie k*k nie, ons blik-sem onregverdige refs net". the interpretation for our English readers ( Welcome Paddy and Stuart to SA, enjoy your stay). 

The second option I can only dream about, what amazes me in this country is people like Makgraaff get the marching orders, but Balfour is covered up. One day the story will truly come out when someone becomes desperate again and writes a book. 

The sport in SA in general looks bleak not because we of the losses but the outside agents causing the loss. Discipline plays a big part but so do the officials handling the matches. 

Players have been caught for match fixing, has anyone begin to inquire into any of the officials radical decisions.

Wayne Ferencak

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi Lucas

I have been following the tour closely, as well as comments in the letters to the editor. Just a few points: People should read more and listen more with regards to players before the critisize and pick their own team that should have gone on tour. Os, Matfield, Joost, Andre Venter, Dean Hall, Faan Rautenbach, etc were all unavailable to go on tour through retirement, injury, or not yet ready after long lay offs. Derrick Hougaard would have made no difference to the Boks, as he played the Currie Cup in the box behind the magnificent pack, and Joost protecting him all the way. He would have come back a far worse player. Remember that Ackers (Johan Ackerman was sent home and relieved of his contract) might also again be available for selection, should some unions boss be awake and sign him before some overseas club does.

With regards to the Boks, they have improved in the match against England. And to such an extent, that I feel more that positive for next years world cup. Think about it. Os, Ollie, Matfield, Rassie, Bob, Hendro Scholtz, Cobus Visagie, Faan Rautenbach, Dean Hall, John Smith, etc would all then be ready for the side, bar injuries in the S12. What I do agree with, is to pick your side according the conditions. With the northern hemisphere experiencing wet winter weather this time of year, it would have been better to pick a side that fit the style of play expected in the wet.

Last week, after umpteenth biased referee getting at us, we pondered the though to club together to get Oom Piet van Zyl over to Twickenham. Maybe Rian Oberholzer should swallow his pride, and pay for Oom Piet to attend all Bok matches, just as a precaution against against bad referees, as we have experienced on 8 occasions this year!!! What is SARFU doing about it. I do not say we would have won all tests, but it does have an influence on the side should they be penalised every time they touch the ball or player.

With the tour now over, and hindsight being exact science, we can look forward to a positive attitude from the Boks next year, and mark my words: The Boks will be there in Aus come the world cup. I can't see us not reaching the semi's, with the other teams being Aus, NZ and France. From there anything can happen. I believe we will be in the final.

Season Greetings

Bren van Reenen

---------------------------------------------------------------

Geagte Redakteur

Wat sal ons sê? Drie toetse gespeel, drie rekord nederlae! Dit maak dat elke Springbokondersteuner se hart goed pomp wat nie gesond is vir die mens nie, in elk geval nie in jou bloedsomloop nie. Moet ons die snoeiskêr inlê? Moet ons van Dolfie ontslae raak? Moet Corné gefire word? Moet ons liewer Bokdrolspoeg ondersteun? Het TV werklik soveel sê in rugby dat ons as volk so verneder móét word? Om so 'n loesing deur die Skotte en Engelse op die lyf te loop is glad nie lekker nie, nie vir eningeen van ons nie. Maar daar moet iets aan gedoen word. Wat?

Kyk ons na die seisoen, moet mens saamstem dat dit verskriklik lank is vir 'n harde kontaksport soos rugby. Afgesien daarvan, moet mens ook erken dat die spelers van die hardste kompetisie denkbaar het. Super-12 - mense sê dis die toughste in die wêreld. Dan kom internasionale wedstryde tuis teen harde manne van Samoa en Wallis. Die 3-Nasies volg en daarna moet die Curriebeker afgehandel word. Klink na drie wêreldoorloë én 'n burgeroorlog in tien maande! Kan vlees en bloed dit hou? Onthou hulle is ook net mense. Stampe, stote, valle, trappe en soms skoppe en houe doen skade aan enige mens. Vir geld? Vir kyktyd op TV? Vir borge? Sal TV en borge, eendag, as hierdie jongmanne oud is, vir hul skete en kranklikhede betaal? Dink net wat het met oorlede Gawie Carelse gebeur toe hy oud en sieklik was! Bitter min van die mense wat hom destyds ondersteun het, het iets gedoen om sy lot te verlig. Jaarliks word 'n tydjie vir die Pedro-Jacksonfonds afgesonder. Hoeveel van die borge, wat die sport so gul borg om geld te maak uit pyn en lyding van spelers, dra dan by? Almal, ja, maar is dit dat voldoende?

Vandag se spelers sal eendag in baie erger situasies sit want die spel is beslis anders en harder. Ons het nie dertig jaar gelede soveel harde rugby gesien nie. Selfs die lang toere was maar bitter min. Na-oorlogs 1949, 1951-52, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1968-69, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1981,1985. In enige van daardie jare het die topspelers nie die kompetisie gehad, wat vandag van ons topspelers verwag word nie. 

Ja, die manne is professionele spelers en word baie betaal, maar kan enige professionele persoon soveel druk, liggaamlik én geestelik, in so 'n kort tydperk weerstaan? Vir ons wat onsself leunstoel-kritici noem, is dit lekker solank dit goed gaan, maar sodra ons begin slae op die lyf loop, wil ons moor onder die mense wat betrokke is by die sport. Dan wil ons fire en fax dat die kranse antwoord gee. Dan is niemand regdenkend nie, vol emosies en elkeen het sy eie siening en glo dit is die enigste en die beste. Dan word dinge gesê wat ons nooit sou waag, om van aangesig tot aangesig van mense te sê nie!

Klink of ek anti-rugby is? Nee, beslis nie. Inteendeel, ek is 'n groot leunstoel ondersteuner van die koning van alle sportsoorte, bloot omdat ek nie van skares om my hou as ek rugby kyk nie. Sekere verversings staan my ook nie aan nie. Daarom kyk ek TV-rugby. My hart bloei vir jongmanne wat hulle harte op die spel sit, lives on the line, en dan verguis word omdat hulle die papbroeke, "kenners", eenogige-, provinsialistiese ondersteuners nie kan tevrede stel nie. Hoeveel van die klaers het al gevoel hoe dit voel om met 'n drag slae van 'n veld af te stap en te weet, die volk gaan jou verguis? Niemand in SA loop heeldag en dink aan sy bankrekening nie, maar almal kyk iemand elke dag in die oë. Die persepsie dat spelers net aan die geld dink is beslis 'n teken van onkunde en ondeurdagte jaloesie.

Wat moet ons doen? Een van die volgende: 1)Skaf die November-toere af. 2)As dit dan onmootlik is die volgende: handel die Curriebeker, krag-teen-krag in 'n enkelronde in Augustus af. Kies dan 'n groep van, sê maar 40; stuur hulle na die sogenaamde Rugby-institute of -akademies vir drie weke en werk daar aan die dinge wat nodig is. Hou die voorspelers en agterlyn appart. Dril hulle die basiese beginsels van elke posisie in deur van eksperts gebruik te maak, werk aan vaardighede, verdediging, aanval, skoppe, hantering, skrums, lynstane, losgemale en -skrums, ens. Bring hulle na drie weke bymekaar vir 14 dae en bind dan die plan en span. Skaaf vir oulaas aan die kombinering tussen voor- en agterspelers. Kies die toergroep. Stuur almal dan huistoe vir 'n maand en vertrek dan op die toer. Professionele spelers wat gekies is sal self sorg dat hulle fiks bly.

Kys de Wet

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Ed,

Ek is 'n "passionate" Springbok man in die hartjie van NZ, maar na Saterdag se 53-3 begin ek baie moedeloos en moeg raak. Laat ek almal wat hierdie skrywe lees eending baie goed verstaan en dit is dat ek NOOIT soos in NOOIT 'n All Black sal ondersteun nie, nie hieroor of daaroor nie, maar omdat ek 'n Springbok is. Ek sal een bly en een sterf. As ek dan moet kant kies, kies ek die FRANSE, want hulle maak my tenminste opgewonde! Na Twickenham begin ek nou ernstig wonder of ons rugby administrateurs (SARFU) ooit weet hoe om die woord rugby te spel? Rugby is dan so 'n "simple game" 53-3 spreek boekdele.

Jy kan eenvoudig nie die ervare manne uit 'n toets span los nie nooit nie.. Ek wil dit onomwonde stel dat ons skrumskakels op die oomblik nie eers die NPC van NZ se spanne sal haal nie want hulle is eenvoudig nie goed genoeg nie en daarom is dit van uiterse belang om 'n man soos Joost terug te bring al is dit vir die laaste keer in hierdie kommende RWC. As "backup" ouens Alcock of selfs Jameson as dit moet maar Bolla en Deaon moet vir eers vir nog 'n RWC wag. Die RWC 2007 kan hulle inkom want dan sal hulle "rugby verstand" hê. Dit is nie eers te beredeneer nie. Joost is die beste en mees onvoorspelbaarste skrumskakel in wereld rugby vandag selfs al word hy deur mense in SA as "oud" beskou. Hy sal ook die kaptein moet wees, maar los vir Bob en Corne want hul rugby lei daaronder.

As dit politiek is wat ons rugby verniel na aanleiding van Mark Andrews se onderhoud, dan kan ek net my hoed afhaal en aan die Springbok se:"Dit was 'n eer om jou te geken het" 

Frans.

Nb:Kyk maar wat het van SA netbal geword en krieket sal binnekort volg met aanmerkings soos ene Balfour sin. ek weet nie meer so mooi nie, maar die toekoms lyk donker pikdonker.

------------------------------------------------------

Geagte Redakteur

Ten spyte van wat ons vriend Nick Mallett per geleentheid gesê het, is die Suid-Afrikaanse rugbypubliek nie onnosel nie. Verlede jaar was ons bitter omgekrap, want ons het 'n Springbokspan en -afrigter gesien wat agteruit boer. Vanjaar kyk ons verby die telborde en sien 'n Springbokspan en -afrigter wat bou aan die toekoms. Ja, ons kyk selfs verby Saterdag se telling op Twickenham en sien 14 manne wat heldhaftig en passievol teen 'n oormag gestry het, en 'n jong voorry, 'n enkele slot en 'n ewe jong lostrio wat wonderwerke verrig het. En ons weet mos 'n stuk of 10 van ons mees ervare spelers het by die huis gebly om te herstel van beserings.

So ons boodskap aan Rudolf Straeuli en Corné Krige is: Moenie oor die fêns worry nie, ons het lankal 'n verenigde front agter julle gevorm; konsentreer julle maar net op volgende jaar se Wêreldbeker.

'n Laaste gedagte: Ou Paddy O'Brien se oorreaksie Saterdag en ou Clive Woodward se geweeklaag het ons dalk 'n groot guns bewys... Ek dink die arme Martin Johnson (heel beskeie in al drie oorwinnings) en sy span gaan dit volgende jaar in Perth lelik ontgeld!

COLIN VAN RENSBURG

by

Let us know what you think!

a bit bloody late isn't it!?! That Jules guy is such a slack arse...
Supposedly this article has been viewed 2275 times since we bothered to start counting*.
(Although it could have just been on the Reload button doing some serious ego padding!)