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|Volume 3, Week 9|
one World Cup is out of the way! Congratulations to our friends down under
who played magnificent cricket to successfully defend their title. Good
thing they won here in South Africa, the reverse is bound to happen in
November and I don’t know about you but I would rather have the William
Webb Ellis than the Duckworth Lewis or what is the trophy
The fifth round of the Super 12 kicked off with a stunning Blues victory, these guys have it sussed at the moment and although they have brilliant individual stars they are playing as a team. The poor Reds were helpless against superior strike power and will try and forget a sub par performance to gear themselves up for their big interstate rivalry match against the Waratahs. A quick fact, the Reds have never lost against the ‘Tahs in the Super 12!
The best result of the weekend, from a South African point of view was of course the Stormers who staged the best comeback since Lazarus to beat the Waratahs convincingly. Depleted by injuries the Stormers displayed magnificent guts to win a match all but lost AND after four weeks in Australasia. They now have a deserved rest before a very tough match against the Bulls in Pretoria.
The SA handicap of a longer away tour came to haunt the Bulls when George Gregan & co finally played the type of rugby we’ve come to expect from the Brumbies. The “scrumrun” style of play (with a few variations of course) is beautiful to watch when it is working and unfortunately here Rudi Joubert’s lack of Super 12 experience showed. The Bulls played into the hands of the Brumbies and with George Smith rampant they had no answers, added to that a questionable yellow card handed to their best forward Pedrie Wannenburg and it was tickets or good night koala.
The Sharks lost another match at the tank against a subdued Highlanders team; this was the first Highlanders victory in Durban ever. In 1996 the Sharks recorded a brilliant victory over the Highlanders in one of the best matches ever seen, sadly Sharks supporters are doomed to reminisce the “good old days” as the current crop struggles away.
The Cats continued their Bloemfontein bogy and lost a match against the Hurricanes they could have won. Hanyani Shimange was sent off for a spear tackle and with 14 men the Cats actually displayed a lot of fighting spirit to contain a magnificent Tana Umaga display, ably supported by that old nemesis of SA teams, Christian Cullen. The referee Stuart Dickinson was again heavily criticised for some of his decisions, what to make of this bloke? Is he biased, having a bad run or simply incompetent or are South African supporters all mentioned? One thing is clear, whatever the answer to these questions are, his impartiality must be questioned in any future matches involving a South African side. There is no way that all this drama has not influenced him, for rugby's sake and it is about rugby, officials should refrain from using him in any South African match.
This coming weekend we can look forward to some absolutely stunning rugby, the Brumbies travel to Aukland in what I predict will be the Blues' first defeat. The Crusaders, after a week’s rest is on the road and something they do very well is winning on the road, the Highlanders are returning from SA and with a few injury problems they will need to raise their game even at the indomitable House of Pain – Crusaders to win. The Reds need to rally behind provincial pride if they want to keep their amazing record against the Waratahs in check but it is probably too big an ask in Sydney. The Hurricanes and Chiefs clash will be an interesting match between two teams willing to run the ball, the “poor cousins” of NZ rugby always produce close games but with Mr.'s Umaga and Cullen on song the 'Canes should take it. Finally the Sharks travel to Ellis Park to face the “rainbow” Cats – it is easier to predict a winner for the Grand National next Saturday than for this match as both teams are struggling with form and injuries and they only play in "patches". Pray from a supporter's point of view these patches coincide to produce some good rugby.
England is marching on Dublin for the Six Nations decider and what a game this will be. The Irish have the opportunity to make famous history and with nothing to lose, home ground advantage and the Dublin weather they can upset Clive Woodward’s dream of a grand slam. The English, under Woodward has become one of the best sports teams out there, they have quality players and enormous depth but more important, like Ponting’s Australians, they are ultra-professional. However sport is one of those great activities where nothing is certain no matter how professional, good or experienced you are. It is called the human factor.
Greeting and enjoy what will be another fantastic weekend of rugby, see you live at the park!
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|March Madness by Desmond Organ|
|While the USA basks in the glory of its “unilateral” activity
of being the world’s only superpower the rest of us are left to gaze in
amazement at the irony of the month of March 2003. Australia wins the
cricket World Cup, England wins for the umpteenth time at Twickers and the
“world cup” of college basketball occupies the minds of most Americans.
These are the very nations carrying the brunt of the manpower efforts in
the Middle East. Not that politics is something that we are not used to
seeing on the playing fields around the world.|
From a South African perspective it has indeed been a month of madness. Calculator 101 has been introduced into the curriculum of the courses required for the captaincy of the national cricket team. Strategy 101 is the latest course for the Bulls coach and the Sharks have just laid out the contents of Survival 101. Alas the poor Cats have fallen foul of the “Japie 101” course most popular with referees and some captains from Australia and New Zealand. Butch of course has just graduated from the grab a platted hair course offered by the local Technikon.
Alas there is still some hope that the Stormers might just have emerged from down under and survived the graduates of several of these courses. A brave display indeed, reminds me of the do or die attitude of the Natal team in 1990 and the all for one attitude of the 74 Lions. What is it then that prevents us from being able to overcome the obvious imperfections of the Super 12 in its current format?
Quite simply it is unlikely that we will be able to escape the evils of the system. Combine this with the post apartheid euphoria of administrators and supporters and you are left with a potentially destructive self-confidence problem. In the last several years the fate of the South Africans has largely been quite clear by week 5 of the tournament. If you do not win at least one game, preferably two on tour then you are basically done. If you do not win your home games you are done and if you tour after a bad start at home you are helping the statisticians compile record losses.
I have somehow managed to savour whatever wins come our way, but then again I do not live in South Africa and I am not surrounded by too many doomsday theorists, only a few irritating expats that thrive on any loss from a South African side and invariably launch into a misinformed lecture on the need for South Africans living abroad to remember the evils of the past. In the meantime the Australians have rewritten the basic rules of rugby and are now in the process of turning out the worst group of referees that I have seen since the Lions tour to South Africa in 1974.
I am fearful of another bad series of results that will invariably put pressure on the Springboks and force the coach to produce miracles from a group of players that are psychologically drained. The administrators of the game have got to find a constructive way to deal with the challenges of our location and the extra drain that it puts on our players. Just look at the Brumbies who are now playing scintillating rugby once again. Without the fortitude of the Stormers playing with 14 men it is unlikely that it would have been quite so convincing. An additional two weeks away from home would certainly have killed off any potential revival.
Decision making as it relates to regional team composition and coaching needs to be improved even further. The Sharks are fitter than ever before and yet they are unable to put together more than two consecutive phases of play on a continuous basis. The Bulls abandon there proven method of attack against the best 15 man team in the competition and the poor Cats just seem unable to have more than a week of the fortunes of the Gods, combine that with playing in Bloemfontein and it is even more difficult.
Quite simply put the South Africans go through March madness year in and year out and the psychological impacts associated with this are brought home in the Tri Nations and solidified in the end of year tours. Add to this regionalism, coaching changes and the challenges of schedule and you are potentially on a hiding to nothing. I have deliberately not mentioned the gentleman’s agreement because I believe that it is an extremely positive component of unearthing the talent at our disposal and making it visible on the national stage.
Rocket Scientists of the Week:
I will enforce the regulations of Japie 101 to the best of my ability – Stuart Dickinson
We know how to play for 20 minutes in every segment of a rugby match – Kevin Putt
I thought I was at the Highland games – Hanyani Shimange
We wanted everybody to remember the Bulls of last year – Bulls coaching staff
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|Hands off from Gubbio RC's tables...and Italy too! by Giampaolo Tassinari|
|A well know rugby saying states that: ”Rugby is not an easy
game, so let’ try to make it easier”. A simple and direct thought,
something you don’t expect often to hear nowadays in the professional era
where only victory looks important. |
The French team remembering that saying made everything very easy in Rome on Saturday. And none can blame them or appeal against their game plan. The Italian players were too close to the pack in the mauls? Okay, let’s spin the ball immediately wide open and we shall have an extra-man, or still two, in the wing to run clear in the paddock and score. Not less than four times France did it in the first half so murdering at once the score and any residual hope of Italy to be in the match. Once the score was then put out of reach, the sleeping Bleus slowed down a bit dangerously without losing the control of operations.
After the interval the Azzurri of course had their cake’s slice with a mounting pressure that sent either Mirco Bergamasco or Aaron Persico over the line for tow deserved tries that gave much respectability to the home team’s result. And when all people were considering to leave their seats for we were in the injury time suddenly here is Matthew Phillips with a burst on the blind side to get a fourth and final try for Kirwan’s men. Before this match France had suffered only one try in this 2003 Six Nations and exactly against England in the opener with a Robinson’s invention. Italy scored no less than four tries and the one of Persico was very good indeed with the kiwi taking a scissors from Pez to score behind the posts.
The omens of course had already indicated that something was not going in Italy’s direction. Before the match people of a very little rugby club that is Gubbio Rugby Club (a small village near Assisi where St Francis’ rests are in the famous grave) had been stopped by two policewomen to offer meals and beers to the supporters who were approaching the stands. The two little tables had been put outside the stadium and suddenly a lot of people gathered to eat and drink. In the oldest and great way of our sport. After a while the two policewomen arrived and told them that they were risking a huge fine. “Illegal occupation of public soil, you would rather do better to leave” was the relentless words of the two handsome Roman women. Hands off from the Gubbio RC’s tables! This cry anyway did not get anything and the astonished Gubbio RC’s people had to go.
Over the years the Five (now Six) Nations has been famous for its unpredictable trend. Take the depleted Welshmen and the only thing you were thinking it’s a huge beating in sight by the Storming Irish. You have no chances seemed to be the leit-motiv of the week when talking about the Red Dragons match. Instead they grew in quality and stature and only by a whisker they were beaten. The much criticised Ronan O’Gara snatched the winning drop goal in injury time fifty seconds after another dropped kick by Stephen Jones had put in front the Welshmen for the delirious joy of the Millennium Stadium’s crowd. “Give the ball to me, quickly” told O’Gara to his forwards and in a second phase possession the kick sailed and arrived safe in the Promised Land.
With all the respect possible for my good Welshmen friends all people hoped for a Tournament’s climax in the last round in Dublin with Ireland and England with a hundred per cent record to dispute the rubber and the Grand Slam.
Woodward’s men won quite quietly the umpteenth Calcutta Cup challenge against the old enemies. Only in the second half the Scotsmen had to pay the bill and the darting white jerseys got the upper hand. And now we shall have the long awaited decider on Saturday at Lansdowne Road. Two years ago due to the infamous foot-and-mouth disease that match was postponed in October and won deservedly 20-14 by Ireland. This time however it will be a different matter at all. Woodward knows that. He has not won a single Grand Slam and with all the money invested by his backer, former England prop Fran Cotton, in the RFU dreams of greatness now it’s the time to deliver. If they do not win in Dublin on Saturday, England ought to face a mounting discontent of critics so undergoing a nasty pressure in sight of next RWC where they are among the five candidates for the final victory. Fingers crossed, let’s hope for an Irish success. Let’s go back to Wales for a while.
David Moffett had to turn down his head and accept, against his will, the Llanelli’s plan to field five and not four squads for next season’s Heineken Cup. “Don’t you agree with us?” thought people at Stradey Park headquarters. Okay, let’s give everything to the High Court and we shall see what happens. Recently Moffett was told in Dublin that for the April 2 deadline he had to decide for a four or five teams and as the judicial troubles threatened to last a lot, Welsh clubs faced an incredible expulsion from the Heineken Cup. And so the first round of the never-declared war between Llanelli and the WRU went overwhelmingly in the Scarlets’ bag.
And finally the European Nation Cup also known as Six Nations B. Once again the Portuguese miracle happened. This time it was in Coimbra and the “Lobos” (Wolves) won 35-16 against the strong Spaniards. Georgia won 30-15 in Prague against the Czech Republic and Romania only in the final stages mercy of a penalty try could win against Russia, 23-12. The sun still rises in the East.
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|Super 12 Log & Weekly XV|
RF Super 12 XV:
15 Joe Roff (Brumbies), 14 Lote Tuqiri (Waratah), 13 Tana Umaga (Hurricanes), 12 Matt Giteau (Brumbies), 11 Mark Gerrard (Waratahs), 10 Carlos Spencer (Blues), 9 Jason Spice (Hurricanes), 8 Adri Badenhorst (Stormers), 7 Juan Smith (Cats), 6 Corne Krige (Stormers), 5 Ali Williams (Blues), 4 Quinton Davids (Stormers), 3 Faan Rautenbach (Stormers), 2 Anton Oliver (Highlanders), 1 Carl Hoeft (Highlanders)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
|He's a great bloke. A very passive bloke. You can niggle him
on the field and he won't react. Off the field you can torment him and he
won't bite. David Croft, Reds flanker on George
Smith who is in trouble for alleged assault|
Auckland rugby hadn't been successful for some time, I think for a combination of reasons, and one reason for a change of fortune may have been my return. Graham Henry
Mate, they should follow my example, go stand on the wing and never tackle! David Campese when asked about all the shoulder injuries.
That was probably the gutsiest team effort I've had the privilege to be a part of. Corne Krige
I don't smoke weed, you don't have to to be a Rasta. I'm getting paid for what I love doing and rugby comes first. So my priority is playing within the laws of rugby, which means making sacrifices and being sincere and responsible. Gcobani Bobo
Stuart Dickenson lost control of this match the moment he blew the opening whistle. Liam Del Carme
How long will Rian Oberholzer put up with the reign of terror being conducted against South African rugby teams? It's high time the managing director of SA rugby puts a stop to it. Herbert Pretorius
We can understand that rugby supporters are unhappy with the performance of some referees in the Super 12 and we will look into it at the Sanzar meeting. Rian Oberholzer
I think it is a myth that England are not so good away. Clive Woodward
He is a fine referee, renowned for his impartiality. David Pembroke, team adviser to the Brumbies and former Wallabies communications manager on Stuart Dickinson
To see the number of black players that are coming up - even though the media has been hitting me left and right (on the quota question) - means that we are winning the damn battle, we are getting there. Ngconde Balfour
South Africa have a great chance of going all the way in the World Cup We have brilliant talent in this country and we have a great chance of turning things around. Francois Pienaar
(Previous year's score in brackets)
|Letters to the Editor|
SA Rugby in the pink?
Once again thank you for your column. Letters to you this week have again prompted me to drop you a line. Chrisjan X made an error in saying that there are "vier redes" there are actually five - professionalism is missing. As a nation it appears that we can not compete on the international circuits without looking for an excuse for our dismal performances. Please do not exclude our so called "administrators", because that is where it begins. It is another word that we do not understand, the SA interpretation is playing for money and that is where it ends. A couple of friends and I were contemplating the weekends matches on Thursday night when one made a remark and I quote " if you pick a Wallaby side now you would be 95% correct and 99% if you picked an All Black side. If you tried to pick a Springbok team now you would be 95% wrong". I think he is correct.
I am a Springbok and Stormers supported from the top of my bald pate to the soles of my feet, and reasonably versed with the rules etc., however, is there anybody out there that can tell me what Gaffie du Toit is doing in Cape Town, other than on a paid holiday? I fail to see what effect if any he has had on the team.
Finally, our rugby will improve if we teach the players the rules and they understand what the words "discipline and professionalism" means.
Thank you for a "brilliant" column
I think the difference between a mediocre Stormers backup-line and the one that we saw during the 2nd half of Friday's game was Bolla Conradie and the makeshift flyhalf. During the previous few games, Neil de Kock's passing was really bad. He messed up most of the try scoring opportunities by bad passes. Bolla Conradie's service to his half-back was also immaculate. De Kock's best position might still be on the wing. He outpaced the Nathan Grey to score his first Super12 try, and that with the ball inhand. As you know a person running with a ball is slower that the same person running without a ball. Van den Heever's performance at flyhalf was also fantastic and he didn't put a foot wrong. Maybe it is to quick to judge him just on half a game's performance, but he just might be what the Stormers need on flyhalf.
The Bulls made a mistake to try and play the Brumbies game against them. They should have played it tight and then tried to surprise the Brumbies a few times by taking it out wide a few times. I think they were hard done by during the beginning of the game when they played the ball out wide and the ref ruled that it was a forward pass, because the ball also pass momentum and will go forward after it was passed. The yellow card that Pedrie Wannenburg got was also unnecessary.
The Cats did well not to loose by a large margin. Jono Lomu should have received a red card as well for his tackle on one of the Cat players. Apparently none of the refs saw that incident. The tackle that Jomo made was worse than Shimangi's tackle. Shimungi dropped upended Cullen and allowed him to fall on his head, whereas Jomo upended Januarie and then used his considerable weight and momentum to drive him into the ground, head-first. The rules should be changed to allow the Tv-ref to stop the game and intervene when the ref and touchjudges does not see a incident of foul play.
The Sharks seems to have taken over from where the Bulls have left off last year and they still go and tour in Australasia!
Stormers and SA Rugby fan
Stuart the Di'ck
The issue surrounding Stuart Dickinson reminded me of an e-mail that did the rounds after England massacred the 14-man (already grossly depleted) Springboks last year. Even though The Di'ck was not in action that day, his legacy found its way into the situation (and I quote):
In the light of Clive Woodward's and the British press's outcries about the "brutal" Springboks - that, after thrashing them by 50 points! - the IRB has agreed to special rules for their rematch during the World Cup in Perth next year:
1. To prevent further "brutality" against England:
1.1 To prevent further brutality against England, agreement has been reached that should a Springbok player tap one of the England players on the arm, that player will be considered as having been tackled and will immediately have to release the ball;
1.2 Similarly, at a ruck or maul situation, if a Springbok player taps one of the England players on the arm, that player will be considered as having been cleaned out and will immediately have to disengage from said ruck or maul;
1.3 If it looks as if an England player is going to kick the ball, Springbok players must immediately stop in their tracks and the England player will then be forced to actually kick the ball and shall not be allowed to try and side-step the standing Boks;
1.4 In the case of a Springbok forward who weighs more than 120 kilograms and who may find it difficult to immediately stop in his tracks, he will be allowed to jump into the air in an attempt to somersault over the England player wanting to kick the ball;
1.5 In the latter instance it is provided, however, that should:
1.5.1 The Springbok land on the England player, the Springbok player will be immediately red-carded;
1.5.2 Any part of the Springbok player's body touch the England player above the shoulder-line, the Springbok player shall be yellow-carded and a penalty try awarded to England.
1.6 Should any Springbok player leave the field with concussion, it shall be deemed that such player was inflicted the injury by his fellow Springboks;
1.7 Should three or more Springboks need to leave the field with concussion, the Springbok captain shall be yellow-carded (however, if Stuart Dickinson is appointed the referee, he will also be given the option to rather yellow-card the whole Springbok team instead of the captain);
1.8 Should any England player sustain any kind of injury during the match, and video replays from at least 7 different angles still do not point to any Springbok player being involved, the Springbok player closest to the England player at the time shall be yellow-carded (however, if Stuart Dickinson is appointed the referee, he will also be given the option to yellow-card any Springbok player in sight);
1.9 If Stuart Dickinson is appointed as one of the touch judges, history will be made by issuing a touch judge with his own set of yellow cards with the numbers 1 to 15 printed in green thereon;
1.10 Clive Woodward shall be allowed front page coverage on every British and Australian newspaper as from 6 weeks prior to the match to ensure that every referee and touch judge in the world is aware of the "brutality" of the Springboks.
2. To ensure an even contest:
2.1 England will be allowed only 14 players on the park at any one time to compensate for the red card and 5 yellow cards the Springboks will be given;
2.2 Should Stuart Dickinson be the referee, England will be allowed only 12 players on the park to compensate for the 2 red cards and 13 yellow cards the Springboks will be given;
2.3 The match shall commence with a scoreline of 14-0 in favour of the Springboks to compensate for the 2 penalty tries which will be awarded to England for Springbok players tapping England players on the shoulder instead of on the arm.
2.4 A 5th match official shall be appointed and his only task will be to watch out for transgressions by England players and report these to the referee, to compensate for the referee, the two touch judges and the video referee being fully occupied by only watching for transgressions by the Springboks (the England camp was initially vehemently opposed to this, but finally agreed to it provided that Stuart Dickinson be appointed the 5th official).
COLIN VAN RENSBURG
Quote: "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."
One issue we will never agree on is RUGBY. We all saw this incident but all disagree about what actually happened? In my mind there is no doubt the Tuilevu came in with the intent to hurt the tackler. To me the video replay shows this beyond all doubt. I'm happy with the outcome of the punishment and it just makes me wonder
where the ex-captain of the All Blacks got his tertiary education from? Afterall, hear who's talking about credibility? "Lets teach the Japies a lesson?" Ja ou swaar dis maar swaar ne?