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|Volume 3, Week 8|
|Brilliant! Writing a weekly column on your absolute favourite sport can be seen as a no-brainer, kind of similar to selecting your most desired supermodel, actress or high performance sport car! It is however a daunting task if you happen to be a South African supporter considering the woes of our sporting teams over the last few weeks. But with a full-blown war in Iraq only a few hours away, the defeats of the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks or whether Stuart Dickinson is a #$%&, pales in significance to the insidious looming world events and the effects they may have on many daily lives. I ask of you, spare a thought and preserve perspective.|
Well, on that serious note let’s try and discuss the weekly cocktail of Super 12 matches, the champion Crusaders defeated a game Chiefs side after their thumping of the week before. The unexpected defeat to the Blues seem to have lifted the other Kiwi team’s spirits and even though they lost, the Chiefs coach felt that the game was there for the taking and that the men from Canterbury has lost their aura of invincibility. This makes me very worried; against a provincial team elevated to national status the rest of the World Cup contenders had a more than fair chance of defeating the All Blacks. Against the best All Black XV chosen from the best players of ALL the teams, there can only be trouble ahead.
As expected the Brumbies were far better on their home paddock with a good win over the Stormers who were left with 14 men at a crucial stage when Greeff was sent off for a high tackle. (Readers will remember that this is the same player who committed the same act at Twickenham last year although he “only” escaped with a warning and a penalty try against his team) In the same match players from the other team were just cautioned and not carded for what looked like similar and possibly worse attempts of high tackling and professional fouls. The Rod Kafer quote springs to mind, “You would like to think that everyone would be treated equally, but in this farmyard some pigs are created more equal than others.” One wonders in this case who the pig in the story was?
The Sharks played some very good rugby to lead the Hurricanes by 17-0 at one stage yet lost the match after the Hurricanes backs turned on the brilliance they are renowned for. Cullen again looked like the fearsome opponent that caused so many Springbok heartaches a few years ago and as an admirer of his play it was good to see him back, could he not have waited for some Ausie team to shine against? Sharks, what more can be said?
The Waratahs beat the improved Bulls in Sydney and Bob Dwyer has seemingly sorted out his forward’s problems, as they were magnificent against a very strong visitor’s pack. With the kind of talent available in their backs and Matt Burke’s kicking and captaincy they look like shoo-ins for the semi-finals although beware the Crusaders!
The highlight of the week was a very good performance from a young Cats team to beat the strangely subdued Highlanders. Everyone in the team performed well and it was certainly a team effort, this viewer certainly watched with much trepidation, anticipating a blow out and a Highlander victory. The way the inexperienced players showed scant respect for conservative playing style almost led to an apoplexy or two! It was however sexy rugby and when it works it works, a word of caution to the young guns, the backflips and swallow dives will be noted by future opponents and they will not let them go by unpunished.
This coming weekend the exciting Blues team is back in the fray against the bottom logged Reds and somehow I think the Blues would have liked to continue playing after the brilliant victory over the Crusaders. Two weeks in rugby is a long time… The SA sides face their last test and the Bulls need to show character and grit against the Brumbies after the loss of Joost, who’s been playing inspired rugby. The Sharks face another uphill battle against the Highlanders and Putt will be extra sensitive about this one as he was an Otago stalwart in the old days, considering Laurie Main’s feelings after last week, good luck…
Finally the Six Nations is back on track and another full round of internationals await, Wales host the Irish and Scotland travel to Twickenham (imagine the upset if… nah what’s the chances?) and the Italians meet the French.
That’s it… my best wishes and sincere hope that all of you are safe.
|Visit http://www.rugbyforum.co.za/ for statistics, all the quotes and an archive of previous issues|
|Sydee! Sydee! by Tom Marcellus|
|During my recent much-anticipated visit to the SA Rugby Museum, I was rather disappointed to discover that, unlike the superb museum run by those infi-dels at Twickers, Sowf London, the current efforts of our own rugby administrators to preserve the heritage of the Green ‘n Gold can be labelled “motley” at best.|
Suitably, the Museum lurks in the shadow of Nuweland itself – the site of so many Bok triumphs over the generations. As one glances over the greying sepia photographs and moth-eaten tasselled “caps”, and with the steel-eyed gazes of “Fairy” Heatlies and Boy Morkels boring into one’s back, one can still get a sense of the history of the place. But, in truth, rather than being a veritable Mecca to a rugby pilgrim like this humble arm-chair correspondent, it resembled more a dusty garage sale than the supposed depository of all that is grand and good in Bok rugby.
There were the predictable collections of ties, coats-of-arms and provincial jerseys, but these lacked the personal touch that I was looking for. Where, I had to ask myself, was, say, a mud-splattered jersey worn by Polla Roos during his pioneering tour in ’06, or the tattered takkies worn by Okey Geffin and his team-mates when they took on New Zealand in the Gulag “test” in 1944, or the bloodied scrum-cap that Johan Claassen donned during the grim tour to New Zealand in ‘56, or, even better, the glass eye worn by Johan de Bruyn – and then so memorably lost in the grass – during the 3rd test against Willie-John’s pride of lions in ’74?
As I gazed over this rather hum-drum collection of rugger memorabilia, I couldn’t help but think that hawk-eyed scouts need to be forthwith dispatched to every section of the land, to rummage through dusty attics, up-end mouldy trommels, and to re-claim our nation’s rugby heritage.
But let me not be an out-and-out Grumbling Gavin. The Museum is evidently under renovation of sorts, and it did, at least provide one gem: at the push of a button, the wandering visitor is able to listen to live radio commentary provided by Gerhard Viviers, Charles Fortune & Co, in the days long before the joys and evils of television were let loose upon the unsuspecting, God-fearing South African public. And although the delights of a wide-vision plasma screen are all too apparent in these rather sanitised times, let us not forget the evocative thrill of listening to a crackling radio, especially if your team is battling away against foreign infi-dels far away over the seas.
And some of the greatest and most memorable moments over the last 50 years of SA rugby were all there for this misty-eyed pilgrim to re-live. From Jack van der Schyff’s tragic missed conversion against the 1955 Lions, to Mannetjies Roux’s glorious, swallow-dive try against the 1962 Lions, to Jannie Engelbrecht’s try against the 1968 Tricolores, broken collar-bone and all, to Syd Nomis’ intercept try against Lochore’s seemingly unbeatable All Blacks op Loftus – with Viviers’ famous cries of “Sydee! Sydee!” blaring over the speakers.
But pride of place has to go to the recording of Prof Johan Claassen’s change-room tribute to Hannes Marais and his victorious 1971 side, moments after they had beaten the Wallabies 18-6 in the final test in Sydney. All the games of the tour have been won, and the great Frik du Preez has played the last of his 38 tests. Prof Claassen praises his team for their victories and the manner in which they have added to the lustre of the Green ‘n Gold. And then he turns to the great lock and offers his own tribute – “Frik, ek ken jou al jare lank ….”
Aah, now that’s history.
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|Things Fall Apart by Desmond Organ|
|If Chinua Achebe had been an ardent rugby supporter he would have found a perfect opportunity to describe the sporting equivalent of the structured collapse of a respected and established team. Not only would he have had an example of how the psychological impact of defeat destroys the motivation of a team but he would also have a qualified example of a leader that is powerless to do anything about it.|
Friday’s charade of a performance from the Sharks had a sinister Scottish element to it; self destruction from a team that has the talent to succeed, familiarity amongst the players to overcome changes on the field of play and a fanatical support base to cheer them on. Sadly it was the lack of the ability to make decisions on the field at key points in the game that undermined them. In a week which has seen the latest bravado from an over confident coach, it is strangely ironic that the decision making that he promised to instill in the team is so sadly lacking.
The forwards are now clearly a shadow of their former years, directionless, headless and to be quite frank attempting to scrum the opposition off the ball when it is already in the hands of the opposing outside center. Young Luke Watson played so well in the opening twenty-five minutes that he surely had the man of the match award. What a tragedy that an exceptional break down the field in the early part of the second half led to a turn over and an opposition score simply because there was no support. With that his confidence slipped and he elected to join his team mates in an aimless exercise of scouting the various corners of the Kings Park turf at a leisurely pace.
I was fortunate to have the company of a respected sports journalist to share my views on the game. His were quite clear, “ The Sharks have no confidence, and once the opposition worked out that they had only one trick they were out of it.” My question is this: What is causing the stereotypical style of play and is the lack of confidence being instilled off the field of play?
Clearly it is the players that are responsible for their performances on the field of play, the patterns that they adhere too are the responsibility of the coaching staff. The ability to change tactics is dependant on the existence of alternative strategies. They appear to be something of a misnomer or perhaps they just do not work against an opposition determined to take the game to the opposition. The injuries are going to be thrown into the proverbial Pandora’s box as the reason for the demise, fact is that it was the lack of effective decision making on the field that cost them the game.
Some of the players who have returned from injury are clearly short of match practice or the game has simply passed them by of late. Several players look like they are living on the accolades of past seasons, as they missed enough tackles to earn a place in a high school netball team. The number of chest patting attempts from the forwards in the final quarter had me thinking that I was watching a well-drilled line dancing team from some musical guru in the hills of Tennessee.
The only players that emerged with their reputations intact were Luke Watson, Craig Davidson, Brent Russell and perhaps Gary Botha. Andre Snyman was unfortunately injured at a point in the game where he was about to make an impact. The rest of the team and the coaching staff, fraternity brothers included need to take a good look at their individual contributions. Such a performance is not only damning it is the worst possible tonic for a team that has a reputation of failing to take the opportunities that are presented to them.
The challenge associated with developing confidence is no simple matter; it might just be that the difficulty of adapting from a Straueli approach to a Putt style of play is not going to be as easy as moving from the Reece Edwards style. It is time for somebody at the executive level to earn his or her pound of flesh.
In a year that has finally seen some consensus on the national front as far as coaching and player development is concerned, it is amazing that an outfit as successful as the Sharks should find themselves with a coaching staff that is pubescent in it’s years of experience yet like a mature Bordeaux red in terms of it’s arrogance and ability to spread the blame on everyone but themselves.
The risk of embarking on a tour to the shores of New Zealand and Australia with such a “Band of Brothers” is quite frankly going to lead to further disappointment, frustration and the demise of what promised to be a successful season. I have attempted to avoid the reality of the losses to the Stormers, but they are starting to loom large. The possibility of a repeat of the season at the hands of Reece Edwards is there for all to savour.
Let’s hope that I have got it all horribly wrong and that I should be forced to conjure up more words of “wisdom” as the boat steadies and then potentially corrects itself, quite frankly I am getting all the more confident that the best thing to do is buy out a contract and buy a plane ticket to Ireland.
Rocket Scientists of the week:
New Inductee to the Mike Tyson Hall of Fame – Aisea Tuilevu of the Highlanders
I should have given Chester a chance – Laurie Mains after the Highlanders lost to the Cats
I think skew lineout throws are cool – Peter Dixon of the Stormers
I still have to play him at no 11, 12, 13 and 14 – Carel Du Plessis on Gaffie’s future
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|Super 12 Log & Weekly XV|
RF Super 12 XV:
15 Christian Cullen (Hurricanes), 14 Ashwin Willemse (Cats), 13 Stirling Mortlock (Brumbies), 12 Tana Umaga (Hurricane), 11 Mark Bartholomeusz (Brumbies), 10 Andre Pretorius (Cats), 9 Enrico Januarie (Cats), 8 David Lyons (Waratahs), 7 Phil Waugh (Waratahs), 6 Jerry Collins (Hurricanes), 5 Victor Matfield (Bulls), 4 Tom Bowman (Waratahs), 3 Baksteen Nel (Cats), 2 Brendan Cannon (Waratahs), 1 David Hewett (Crusaders)
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|We read too much into defeats. We must look at the manner of defeat. Rudolf Straeuli|
You must still have the right ingredients to bake the cake and that is respect for yourself, your teammate, your supporter and your country. Rudolf Straeuli
The weather in England is so bad that they (his family) can hardly go outside. Braam van Straaten
As he's always said to us, he's paid to play not train. He looks like death warmed up at the moment. Matt Burke on Matt Rogers who suffered a bad case of sinusitis.
I don't think there is the same aura of invincibility about the Crusaders in the Super 12 any more. Chiefs coach Kevin Greene
I think the way the whole thing (Tuilevu's case) was handled by the South African judiciary was a disgrace what it has done is cast a huge amount of doubt on the credibility and integrity of the South African judicial system. Taine Randell after wing Aisea Tuilevu's 6 weeks suspension.
|Super 12 Fixtures|
(Previous year's score in brackets)
|Letters to the Editor|
|Good Day to you Lucas,|
Thanks again for the great effort.
Last week I was on honeymoon in Durban and I managed to convince my new bride to go to Kings Park.
You have no idea how disappointed I was. After getting lost trying to get to the stadium, parking and buying tickets the level of rugby by The Sharks was dismal.
How do we allow our Super 12 teams to get this bad ? My wife could not understand why I was so upset. She said that its just a game. I said its a religion not just a game.
All I'm trying to say is " Do the players know that they disappoint a lot of fans when they play the way they do.?"
Maybe the fans should do the post match interviews.
Thanks again for your input.
Stuart the Dick
The most shocking thing currently in world rugby must be... Stuart Dickinson.
I've written about him often over the last three years, also in Rugby Forum. I can't say anything more about him that I haven't repeatedly said before, and his astonishing incompetence, prejudice against anything South African, inconsistency and (inexplicable, under the circumstances) blatant petulance are surely glaringly obvious to anyone except whoever rates referees.
Correction: Maybe I can say one more thing about him... I don't believe in reincarnation, but if it does actually exist, he must be the reincarnation of Breaker Morant, or maybe Lord Kitchener... another venomous Boer-hater.
World rugby HAS GOT to get rid of this imbecile!
COLIN VAN RENSBURG
I thought that this maybe appropriate before the next lot of Super 12 games takes place to include a comment after watching Saturdays game on television between the Cats and Highlanders to acknowledge Andy Capistano (excuse spelling of his name) for his commentary of Stuart Dickinson and how he did not blow the whistle.
Andy is one of the few commentators to speak his mind about the atrocious refereeing. Yes I did say the way the whistle is blown
this year will be different, what I forgot to add were the exceptions, these been Stuart Dickinson, Peter Marshall and Paddy O'Brien, from South Africa you could include Andy Turner.
Agreed the touch judges are there to assist the ref but there was some blatant 50/50 calls and everytime the Cats had a penalty near the Highlanders tryline he did not notify them of the advantage been over. With the reffing situation as it is maybe the rugby board should look to not allowing those refs to blow any matches against South Africa as is done in cricket with Darryl Hare who no longer umpires matches involving Sri Lanka, the same should apply to these three refs.
If nothing is done we may see the likes of what happened in Durban boil over into a bigger scale and find the crowd begin throwing projectiles at the ref as is done overseas in Italy and Spain with the soccer.
Stormers versus Brumbies -The e-mail between NZ and Aus refs: "Lets show these Japies" comes to mind again.
My blood boiled when the Australian touch-judge said so confidently that Werner Greef must definitely get a yellow card. The crowd went ooh and the tough-judge just knew that it had to be an illegal tackle because a South African was involved.
Against the Brumbies it is almost game set match, playing with 14 men. In contrast to the Kelvin Deakers, Scott Young went to other touch-judge as well to get a decision right on dirty play. Scott Young also got it wrong when a yellow was given instead of a red for the illegal use of the knee against Friederick Lombard, but at least he didn't punish an innocent man.
Kelvin Deaker also failed to card Pat Howard when he blatantly stopped the Stormers from scoring a try. His comment to Pat Howard that it was near to a yellow was laughable. Especially because by that time he had to know that he almost single-handedly handed the victory to the Brumbies on a plate by carding an innocent man. Paddy O' Brian in contrast to him carded a Hurricanes player for lazy running when the Sharks had a try scoring opportunity. Pat Howard's infringement was quite deliberate and could easily have been a penalty try.
I think that the decision to card a player can have such a big influence on a game that the tv-match referee should be asked to make a decision based on video evidence. This would remove a lot of the bad decisions that has been happening lately.
Anyway, a great team could still have won against the Brumbies but the Stormers with all the injuries they have had, the bad penalty kicking, and bad line-out throws is definitely not a great team. Peter Dixon, like last year can not find his jumpers and why Gert Smal retains him as hooker is a mystery. The Stormers lost 2 throw-ins on the Brumbie's goalline due to bad thows and missed to my opinion 2 tries due to that. A further 5 were lost on their own throw-in and 2 of those I think, led to Brumby tries. Come-on Braam van Straaten, the Stormers really need you.
The Bull played well again and Derek Hougaard looked a lot better that Louis Koen during the time that he was on. The Bulls never passed the ball to their wings and I wondered a few times what would happen if they were to pass the ball to a winger. I think that the opposition would have been so surprised that they would probably have scored if they did that. At least they looked like they tried their best and with Joost off so early it must have been quite a blow to them. I hope that the injury is not serious.
The Sharks spoiled my Friday night for me and left me in despair. They failed to score against 14 men and also gave off a few tries during that time. The Cats looked good and I have stopped saying; "Thanks Bobbie for leaving.", during the Cat games.
Ek sal probeer om my kleurryke taalgebruik glad nie te gebruik nie. Ek kan net my hande saamslaan en met 'n verslae uitdrukking ons "trots" van ons rugby geduldig en gedwee gade slaan. Daar is mos 4 redes vir al die probleme in die land nl, Apartheid, die NG Kerk, die Broederbond en Louis Luyt.
Al die redes word mos aangevoer wanneer iets verkeerd loop. Watter een wil die afrigters gebruik? Ek kan nie verstaan hoe onbeholpe, platvoetig en ongemotiveerd van ons spanne speel nie. Wat is verkeerd? Ek sien hoe speel die Nieu Seelandse spanne, met drif en passie. Dit lyk ook asof hulle dit geniet.
Is ons spelers onnosel? Hoekom kry hulle so baie strafskoppe teen hulle. Luister hulle nie, ken die afrigters nie die reels nie, verduidelik die skeidsregters nie die spelers die reels nie? Ek kan nie onthou wanneer laas ek 'n volle Super 12 wedstryd waarin 'n SA speel van die begin tot einde gekyk het nie. Die enigste span met sy "onbekende" spelers is die Bulle wat enigsins hond haaraf maak. Die rede daarvoor is dat hulle nog nie prima donna status bereik het nie.
Die Goue Katte het gister soos 'n span gespeel met 'n missie. Dit was nou ordentelik om te sien hoe die voorspelers die ander span sag maak en dan die agterspelers die openings/geleenthede gee om te kan speel. Jy kan onmoontlik met 'n klomp maargat slotte en draadkar stutte 'n rugbywedstryd aandurf. Die ander span sal later in die wedstryd nie meer wil skrum nie want jou "hamstrings" en kuite wil nie meer nie. Hulle brand soos vuur.
Ek hoop van harte dit is nie die voorspel wat later die jaar aan die kom is nie.