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Rugby Forum - Vol 3, Week 15
Rugby Forum - Vol 3, Week 15
(The week that was, a South African perspective.)
07 May 2003
[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 http://www.rugbyforum.co.za/

 
Volume 3, Week 15 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Welcome to the 100th edition of Rugby Forum! Forgive the exuberance at reaching this important milestone however in a country where rugby publications struggle to exist for longer than a couple of years before changing owners it is no small feat! First and foremost thank you to the loyal readers (and deleters!) and the great contributors Tom, Des, Vinesh and Giampaolo without which this would be the rant of an insane man. OK, that’s it for the niceties!

I am a very worried writer here behind my keyboard today the reason being a few of the week’s sport headlines, “Manchester United wins Premiership”, “Ferrari back on track”. Geee whiz, how do these guys do it? Both outfits are proven winners who do not stop at winning the first title or even the second for that matter; they continue their quest for domination. One can argue that it is down to money, Schumi is the best paid sportsman in the world and Becks the best paid footballer but they have such obscene amounts of money already that it is surely not the sole driving force. How about Tiger Woods? The point I’m trying to make and how we tie all of this to rugby is; are our professional rugby players professional enough? From the looks of every week’s blunders on the field the answer must be an emphatic NO!

Why not? Should be our next question. Are they not being paid enough? Are they being paid too much? Does money and the worth of it have any meaning to a 22 year old who’s only ever pay checks are six figure amounts, everything is covered by sponsorships (how many rugby pros have bought their own cars, ever?) clothes are kitted for him and if he has an inkling of a personality he can make a lot more money from endorsements. So dock him R 20,000 for dropping a ball – what is R 20,000 if you have never in your life really had to work for it and your bank balance is a 100 times that? The players who do know the value of money, funny enough are the married ones and they are the guys realising they need more of it. A lot more! 

Rugby is a job. Pure and simple. For the old-timers out there who broke legs and arms and wake up in the morning all crocked it is an unacceptable notion. They did something they loved for free and they cared how they did it. The current players and there are quite a few exceptions, just do not care. Think in most cases of your own job, you arrive at 9am leave at 5 pm, do you bother taking work home, go work on your typing speed to improve report generation for example? Hell no, there is another day. This seems to be the attitude of the professional rugby player. Why then in heavens name does Schumi and Becks still go out and win? Answer that question and SA will have a brilliant rugby team because the talent is there, look at the age group World Champions. 

The final week of Super 12 is panning out to be a thriller, semi-finalists are not yet determined and with a few scenarios possible there is a lot to play for, Kiwis and Ausies that is. The local derbies count for nought as Rudolf has withdrawn so-called World Cup contenders. The matches now hold about the attraction of a tortoise race in strip club and it will show in crowd attendances. Yes, it is a World Cup and that should be the focus, but how come every man and his dog feels they need more practice to catch and pass a ball rather than “rest” and this is “mental rest” nogal, as if the angst to tackle and kick to the touchline is that overwhelming!

I would like to declare intent here on RF that the namby pamby wishy washy gu gu choo choo approach will fall away and that matters and players who are not shaping be dealt with in an even more frank and forthright manner. Constructive criticism no doubt will be the watchword but the professionals are getting too easy a ride and SA rugby is spiralling deeper and deeper into an abyss where even a World Cup victory will struggle to arrest the fall. It is time for results, pressure create results, ask Kevin Putt.

Here is to another 100 issues.

Lucas

lucas@rugbyforum.co.za


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

"Ton-up" by Tom Marcellus
As our hard-pressed Editor has already pointed out, today celebrates the 100th edition of RF, which, like a humble garage sale with big dreams, opened its creaking doors for business at the start of the Super 12 season in 2001. So let us trawl through the mists of time, in celebration of more than 2 years of this glorious oval game, not to mention 100 editions of RF's unique, zesty style of journalism.

From early on, then, our Editor entertained high hopes for his embryonic creation, and he waxed lyrical in the welcoming paragraph of the first edition, even going so far as to quote the Abba song, "I have a Dream" (with due appreciation to Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, no doubt). But then he is a free-spirited child of the Seventies.

At the time (February 2001, that is), the hot topic of conversation at braais 'round the country, not to mention at the odd barbecue in some dingy London backyard, was the sudden spate of, shall we say, unconventional play in local rugger. Much like a bad-tempered old lion settling an old score with a threatening young cub, Japie Mulder had on the previous weekend embarked on a crash course in DIY panel-beating, and had rearranged the delicate features that had once been the pride and joy of De Wet Barry's mother. 

Similar spats reared up in local derbies in the weeks that followed, much to the consternation of clean-living fans who, being the products of our de-sanitised modern age, had no appreciation for or had been too young to know of the savage wars waged by Meads, Tremain, Pelser, Bekker & Co all those years ago.

But 2001 was also a time in which the SA franchises met with more than mere sporadic success in the Super 12, with the Sharks and the Lions eventually thrashing it out in an entertaining semi-final in which one AA "Butch" James played a stellar role. But back to that first week – how about some of these scores: Highlanders 23 Blues 8, Brumbies 51 Crusaders 16, and Sharks 30 Bulls 17. Those were the days. 

Of course, those were also the days when we were tormented by Harry Viljoen, that arch-fiend with his spiky hair and incessant mumbles about "Go-forward" and "Process" (nice jacket, though). Many a barbed comment was aimed in his direction, either from the pens of RF's own correspondents, or at the hands of its readers, who were never shy to vent their criticism of the besieged Bok coach. It is little wonder that he decided to stow away his coaching togs and to return to the more genteel pleasures of life on Millionaires' Row.

Of course, Viljoen's only rival for the title of "Most Newsworthy" was Bob Skinstad, he with the tongue like a swimming pool lie-lo. Not surprisingly, Skinstad's ongoing love affair with anything with a lens rankled with many of the more traditional fans, raised on gnarled forwards with faces like slabs of meat and all the bonhomie of an East Rand mine dump.

To make things even worse for the young Stormers eighthman, it was during that eventful 2001 season that he was selected by the Blond Bombshell to replace André Vos as the Bok skipper. This fresh outrage (as many saw it) prompted a new spate of vitriol towards Skinstad and his sponsor, as local rugby fans voiced their utter dismay at the treatment of so fine a player and so decent a person as Avos.

The 2002 rugby season kicked off with the sudden but unlamented departure of Viljoen and his endless band of physios, assistant ars*-scrubbers, deputy bodyguards, gaffers and key grips. Enter Rudolf Straeuli, whose belligerent name and threatening demeanour inspired great confidence amongst many Bok supporters, as they dreamt of the long gone days of oubaas Markõtter and the Doc. But, as with the previous season, the form of the Boks in 2002 was patchy at best, utterly hopeless at worst, and the last-gasp win over the Wallabies at Ellis Park proved to be one of the very few highlights of the season. 

In fact, that momentous win, with the sudden emergence of Derik Hougaard as a possible successor to "The Baas" and the fleeting but dazzling form of Joubert & Co against the Australians in the initial test, about covered all the highlights for the year.

Sadly, pitted against this motley collection of highlights is a whole host of low-points, each one of which (we assured ourselves at the time) just had to be the nadir of Bok fortunes. For hors d'oeuvre (or horses' ovaries, as we say in Suspension City), there was the appalling "Piet van Potch" incident at Kings Park.

Not only did oom Piet's unexpected and unwelcome social call hog-tie the Boks at the very moment that they had seemed to have gained a measure of ascendancy over their sworn enemies from the Land of the Long White Cloud, but it also confirmed the view (in the minds of many bleating Uitlanders) that South Africans are beer-swirling louts who simply cannot stand losing. The entire debacle was only made worse by the reff, who crumbled to his knees like a veritable Maradona on the edge of the penalty box. when oom Piet good-naturedly poked him in the ribs with a burly forefinger.

Of course, the occasional spasms of artistry shown by the Boks in some of the matches had lead many fans to conclude that this onward-'n-upward streak would continue on the Boks' end of season odyssey to Europe. But, plagued by injuries, lethargy and the inexplicable loss of form of key players, the Boks succumbed without raising even a whimper against the Gauls, the Scots and the resurgent, all-conquering Lillywhites (Jannes who?).

As the little leaping antelope succumbed to its worst-ever thrashing in that agonising final game at Fortress Twickers, one could not but agree with the verdict of RF's Desmond Organ that it had, indeed, been "an annus horriblis".

The 2003 season is already well underway, and what will it have in store for us? The signs, aaaish, she is not good. But let us worry about trifling issues – like those pesky Antipodeans, the Webb Ellis trophy and our national pride – next week. For now, let us look forward to another 100 editions of RF, and raise a beer-soaked cheer of "Bravo!".

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


A Century and Counting by Desmond Organ
It is befitting of a century of editions to focus on the positives of the game of rugby and particularly South African rugby. It is with a great deal of pride, no pun intended, that I can reflect on the development of the game in the years that Rugby Forum has been in existence. 

Were it not for the “Brilliant” minds of a few good men this publication might never have been. My own ventures into the world of sports journalism have also been accelerated as a result of the weekly contributions that I have had the opportunity to make. Not that it matters as the wise one would say, but in this case it clearly does matter.

The development of the game in South Africa over the last 100 publications has been quite remarkable. Despite the results that have not always gone in the right direction, there are always positives to be gleaned from the statistics. Statistics rule the ways of the world and no sports professional will be signing a contract in the future without an attachment outlining his attributes, fortunately for some this does not include the ability to be on the cover of Cosmopolitan or Vogue. 

That being said the statistics will reflect that in the years since Rugby From has been in circulation, the greatest achievement has been the unprecedented involvement in rugby by all communities in South Africa. This is something that continues to not only amaze me but provide one with the greatest deal of national pride. For whatever the occasion there is nothing better than the opportunity to watch 15 men clad in green and gold strut their stuff on the field. The results at the end of the day are therefore not the most important factor, the ability to compete and represent and support your country must always be the overriding determinant of what constitutes success.

South Africans around the globe have realised that the opportunity to watch the Springboks playing in all four corners of the world is something that should never again be relinquished. There is nothing greater than the ability to compete, compare and analyse a game that is played on the international stage. This fact is borne out not only in the game of rugby union but also in other sports. A year ago during the football world cup the USA national side progressed far beyond what was expected from the outset. I personally have not witnessed the same number of supporters in a sports bar for any of the so-called “World Championship” titles that are bestowed on the other sports players.

Rugby Union is fast becoming one of the most representative games played in the world, whilst it is unlikely to compete with football as the most representative of sports it is quite clearly becoming a contender as a truly global sport. The advancement of the sevens game has not just been enjoyed by the traditional countries but also by those that are still battling to come to terms with the fifteen man version of the game. The administrators of the game in South Africa have used sevens to great effect to not only develop players but also to fast track skilled coaches and administrators so that they too can have the opportunity to operate at the highest level.

What the future holds is not something that any writer spends the majority of their time on, rather it is the interpretation of the past and the impact that this has on the future that becomes a compelling activity. From a South African perspective the future is bright, not just because of the results that have plagued us in the last few years but because of the development of the game as a professional and representative activity. There is a great deal of talent at junior levels which if channelled correctly will lead to success at the senior level. I personally hope that Rugby Forum will be there for many more centuries to analyse, interpret and challenge the status quo.

Australians pick up the pace by Vinesh Naicker
Last weekend saw the best week for the Australian teams with all three winning their respective games.
The difference between the six games in the weekend was readily apparent. The two games involving the Waratahs and the Brumbies had a level of intensity the others couldn’t match. Both of these teams knew a semi-final spot was on the line and went for it. As a result they kept their chances alive.

Blues (33) vs. Cats (9)
After conceding an early penalty Rokocoko scored in the corner due to Fourie butchering a kick out from the Cats 22. Score 7-3. After scorning a penalty attempt the Blues drove Devine over from the ensuing 5 metre lineout. Score 14-6. Another penalty to the Cats and then a good break from Pretorius carried on by Willemse. Unfortunately, from the ensuing ruck, with the Blues defence on the rack, Muller took the wrong option and kicked a "one pointer" i.e. between the uprights but under the cross bar. From the ensuing 22 drop out Spencer broke through the defence to set up Mulaiana for the Blues 3rd try. Score 21-9. Giving up on his generally wayward up and under kicks Pretorius made two more breaks. Both were wasted. The first, by an attempted chip from Muller which failed to connect with his boot. The second, a pass by one of the forwards directly into touch. Halftime.

Seven minutes into the half and once again the Blues scorned a penalty attempt for a 5 metre scrum. This time they butchered it. This was followed by bumbling play from both sides. A lot of movement up and down the field, with bad handling from both sides ruining any scoring opportunities. Eventually, there was another 5 metre lineout for the Blues. From the ensuing ruck 1 metre out, Meeuws scored. 26-9. Pretorius and la Grange combined to make a break but once again, due some bad handling, it came to nothing. A few minutes later a low chip kick from Pretorius sat up beautifully for Fourie who somehow managed to knock it on. From a penalty on their 10 metre line Tuitupou broke out for Spencer’s replacement Ai'i to score. 33-9. 

In the final analysis the Blues form was pretty patchy and the only reason they managed to put on so many points was because they were playing the worst team in the competition.

Stormers (13) vs. Crusaders (51)
The Crusaders started very badly, failing to retain ball and with Mehrtens missing two out of three shots at goal.
Joubert just missed out on scoring a try in the corner. However, minutes later from a ruck in centre field Du Toit was able to make a break which Theron was able to dot down under the posts. 10-3. Mehrtens went off with an injury but Hamilton did well with his first few touches. A knock on from Erasmus on his 22 led to a turnover with Ralph scoring under the posts. 10-13. Mehrtens back on before the half ended and the teams scored a penalty apiece with the half ending at 13-16. 

From a lineout within the Stormers 22 Carter made a break to put Ralph in under the posts. The commentators had a bit of a moan as the pass to Carter, from the camera shot behind, looked forward but referee Cole was right in line with it. So fair try 13-23. Some appalling defence from Gerber at a ruck within the Stormers 22 and Vunibaka walked through his tackle to dot down under the posts. 13-30. The Stormers maintained possession for a long period of time, probably going through 10 phases on 2 occasions. When they did turn it over the Crusaders moved it 60 metres for MacDonald to score. Bonus point to the Crusaders 13-37. The game then lost a lot of shape mainly due to poor handling by both teams before MacDonald scored his second try. 13-44.
Despite the game not having much intensity both sets of forwards looked exhausted at the 70 minute mark. At the 76 minute mark Carter received the ball from a scrum and ran around Gerber to set up Hamilton for his try. 13-51. Final score.

Nice to see this growing ability for NZ teams to keep their opposition scoreless in the second half. The inability to shut down a game has been the biggest failing of the All Black since 1966 and the main reason the Bledisloe Cup has remained among the inf-idels.

Highlanders (23) vs. Waratahs (27)
The first scoring opportunity in the game was down to a bad pass from Brown in the Highlanders 22. Grey intercepted to dot down under the post. 0-7. In the first 19 minutes the Highlanders worst enemy was Danny Lee whose passing could have been excused only if he had been wearing boxing gloves. The first decent pass that Lee made resulted in Fleming scoring a try. 8-7. Lee and Brown with their abysmal play kept the Waratahs in the game. Eventually the Waratahs were able to engineer a try for Thaiday from a set piece lineout. 14-12. The try gave the Waratahs some confidence and from a very similar lineout Burke scored in the corner. Score 14-17 and halftime.

Marshall has been guilty of being slow to clear the ball because he tends to take a step before passing the ball. Lee was taking a step all game long. When he did pass, more often than not the receiver was collecting the ball at head height. After assuring himself that the Waratah lineout would not be a threat Mains felt it would be safe to put Oliver in. Wrong, the Waratahs immediately collected his first throw in, and from the ensuing play and resultant penalty the Waratahs drew the score at 20-20. (Oliver did get his next 3 throws right.) A tense 15 minute followed and then Lyons broke a couple of tries to release McRae who scored under the posts. 23-27. With 5 minutes left Oliver missed 2 lineout throws and with the Highlanders unable to exert any pressure as a result the Waratahs won. Now that's more like recent All Black play.

Hurricanes (27) vs. Brumbies (35)
This was a vital clash for the Brumbies especially after the Waratahs beat the Highlanders. The first try came from a steal by the Hurricanes. The forwards took it forward and the backs passed and ran, passed and ran, and Fa'atau scored the try. Textbook rugby. 10-0. The Brumbies replied with a try when Gerrard shrugged off No'nu's tackle to score in the corner. 10-7. From a lineout the Brumbies spread it wide and Larkham came back against the grain and passed to Gerrard who bumped off Spices pathetic tackle to score. 10-14. From the following kick off Ward collected the ball and sprinted for the line. Gregan, the last line of defence was too busy whinging to the ref to bother tackling him. 15-14. From the general play after the kick off No'nu made a break and then passed to Ward who passed to Cullen. Cullen scored in the corner in Gregans tackle. A dodgy TMO call but the score was 20-14. Halftime.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Smith walked over the try line unopposed from a ruck 5 metres out. The Hurricanes had no defenders between the sticks. 20-21. Two minute later Ward ran through Wilson and Roffs weak tackles to score his second try under the posts. 27-21. In reply, Walker scored in the corner after Gregan spurned the shot at goal in favour of a scrum. 27-28. The Brumbies then really took control. Unrelenting pressure from them helped by the consistent failure of the Hurricanes lineout resulted in a penalty try to the Brumbies. 27-35. Ten more minutes of frantic football followed but the Brumbies shut out the Hurricanes. George Smith had an incredible game both in defence turning over ball and in attack running through gaps.

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Super 12 Log & Weekly XV
Team Played Won Drawn Lost Points diff For Against Points
Blues 10 9 0 1 196 364 168 44
Crusaders 10 7 0 3 88 330 242 36
Hurricanes 10 7 0 3 52 307 255 35
Brumbies 10 6 0 4 52 337 285 30
Highlanders 10 6 0 4 46 264 218 28
Waratahs 10 5 0 5 -35 295 330 27
Bulls 10 5 0 5 -42 296 338 26
Reds 10 4 0 6 -42 253 295 21
Chiefs 10 2 0 8 -20 274 294 18
Stormers 10 4 0 6 -105 228 333 18
Sharks 10 3 0 7 -57 225 282 17
Cats 10 2 0 8 -133 238 371 12

RF Super 12 XV: 

15 Leon MacDonald (Crusaders), 14 Milton Thaiday (Waratahs), 13 Ryan Nicholas (Highlanders), 12 Tana Umaga (Hurricanes), 11 Mark Gerrard (Brumbies), 10 Carlos Spencer (Blues), 9 Justin Marshall (Crusaders), 8 Scott Fava (Brumbies), 7 George Smith (Brumbies), 6 Wikus van Heerden (Bulls), 5 Daniel Vickerman (Brumbies), 4 Bakkies Botha (Bulls), 3 Patricio Noriega (Waratahs), 2 Jeremy Paul (Brumbies), 1 Greg Feek (Crusaders)

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Top 10 Quotes from a 100 Issues
You've got to get your first tackle in early, even if it's late.     Ray Gravell 

Youngsters need heroes. They need figures like Batman, Tarzan and Naas Botha.    Abie Malan

After last game for his club - I'm just off for a quiet pint. Followed by fifteen noisy ones.      Gareth Chilcott

In my time, I've had my knee out, broken my collarbone, had my nose smashed, a rib broken, lost a few teeth, and ricked my back; but as soon as I get a bit of bad luck I'm going to quit the game.    J.W. Robinson

I think you enjoy the game more if you don't know the rules. Anyway, you're on the same wavelength as the referee.    Jonathan Davies

Rico Gear. What a great-sounding name. He sounds like a drug dealer from Brazil.    Murray Mexted 

On trying to stop Phil Horrocks-Taylor - Every time I went to tackle him, Horrocks went one way, Taylor went the other, and all I got was the bloody hyphen.      Nick England

In 1823, William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball in his arms and ran with it. And for the next 156 years forwards have been trying to work out why.      Sir Tasker Watkins

Colin Meads is the kind of player you expect to see emerging from a ruck with the remains of a jockstrap between his teeth.      Tony O'Reilly

It's hard to read the writing on the wall when your back is against it.     Phil Pretorius

Super 12 Fixtures
(Previous year's score in brackets)
Date Home Away Venue
Fri 9 May Blues (60) Hurricanes (7) Auckland
Fri 9 May Brumbies (32) Crusaders (33) Canberra
Sat 10 May Reds (26) Highlanders (40) Brisbane
Sat 10 May Waratahs (42) Chiefs (25) Sydney
Sat 10 May Sharks 23() Bulls (10) Durban
Sat 10 May Stormers (36) Cats (25) Cape Town

Letters to the Editor
Hi Ed

Confusion and Concern

I see you too, probably due to the Western Province osmosis, list Werner Greef as a flyhalf. I must confess I find Straueli's input or lack of it to Gert Smal amazing. Greef became a damn fine fullback at short notice last
year in the Tri-Nations and showed he has a rare quality amongst our players - the determination to win! The reward for his success in the position was being made to play flyhalf by his WP coach in the Currie Cup, while he should have been allowed to learn the nuances of the new position he'd admirably demonstrated an affinity for, in order that he could better perform for the national team. He was returned to fullback for the Boks frighteningly bad tour and suffered not only for the team's inadequacies but for his inexperience in the position. Holy Canoly, did our national coach step in and have a chat with the provincial coach? Nyet Boet! Now the Super 12 has found Werner's versatility pulling him away from fullback to play flyhalf for the Stormers. Surely Straeuli should have intervened and requested Smal to leave Greef at fullback so he can learn the demands of the position? Poor bugger will be probably be thrown in again at International level and all our 'knowledgeable' critics will pan him for any mistakes!

Talking of strange decisions, the Brent Russell issue at the also Sharks confounds me. My confusion arises as Putt doesn't really seem to know what position Russell should play. How come? Surely the Sharks brains trust and Putt knew how and where they'd use Russell before they entered the very expensive bidding war? So where did he start the Super 12 campaign, on the bench and you use the word Brilliant! Kind of demonstrates the deep thinking our rugby management gives to the sport of our passion.

The above leads me to reveal my major concern with Bok rugby at the moment - the coach conundrum. Is Straeuli actually a good coach or does that Mt. Rushmore expression hide total and utter confusion? I so desperately want to believe, but what has he actually done to fill us with hope for the future? He coached Bedford or Bolton or some bunch of British buggers before turning up at Border. The Sharks grabbed him when Reece-Edwards had a problem. He 'coached' the Natal side to losing finalists in the Currie Cup, but was it his coaching or the rebound pride of very expensive players realising that if they didn't deliver something they'd miss out on the lucrative Bok tour benefits? Then just prior to his accession to 'Harry Potter's' position he lead the Sharks to their worst start ever in the Super 12. Subsequently he did arrange trials and uncovered some players of potential and engendered hope in the breasts of supporters before the crushing us with the disaster of the yearend European tour.

I've seen him attending many of the current Super 12 games, sitting in the stands like a cigar store Indian while making copious notes. Unlike Darren Scott on Boots 'n All, Straeuli could die wondering whether he should have said more, so I have to optimistically assume he has the ability to mentally précis his volumes into his noted oral economy. Perhaps this may help Desmond Organ to understand why Straeuli may be leaning towards the verbal dexterity of Skinstad, even if Bob's play at flyhalf, centre, wing, Ref and linesman is in conflict with his position at No 8?

Yours in confusion.
Storm Ferguson

Hi Lucas,

Humble opinion

Bloodyhell! So it happened all over again and again and again. The humiliation, oh my! the pain, the pain, the PAI.....NNN. The Catastrophes, the Stammerers and the Shucks and almost, very nearly, the Bulls, but luckily not and I, yes me, the perennial WP & Stormers fan I am, was saved and salvaged from the very brim, the perimeter of despondency, utter disbelief, insanity, grieve and perplexity, by the efforts of the Bulls, but only just. 

Yes, all the S.A. Super 12 teams enjoys my full support though I don't enjoy supporting them anymore. Must seriously rethink and take stock. Although a whole lot of wrong is going on, I believe that we have the strength, immense talent and never say die attitude, to overcome and be where we should be, at the top. Everyone wants to play, but not everyone can play. Identify and select the ones that can and instill the desire to conquer and develop their skills to perfection, if possible. I know and accept that mistakes and fumbles is part and parcel of the game, given the pressure situations in the game and the mere mortals we are, but the atrocities that we are witnessing from so called professionals is totally unacceptable. Played the game myself (center) and nowadays, more often than not, feel like the walking wounded after 3 operations to the right knee, one to the left shoulder and lower back, not to mention a painful neck and elbow, scars, crooked fingers, and all of this just for the love of the game. Given the chance though, I'll do it again and there are many out there that fits this description and might identify, but not necessarily agree with me.

Now, They, and they know, and you know who they are, THEY have transformed the game we all love into an act of crime and the playing field into a crime scene. How dare I make such an accusation. Sure I can and I will and shall. BECAUSE!!! THEY DON'T DELIVER! And that's a FACT. Promised so much and delivered so little. We are witnessing it week in and week out. If only the basics was executed to some acceptable level of competency. 
Theyyyyy, yes, theyyyy DO NOT and CAN NOT TACKLE. Holding on to jerseys, legs and arms and dragging and helping opponents towards their own goal line is NOT TACKLE , nor defence, it's a shame, sorry, it's criminal. 
THEY CAN NOT PASS A BALL, theyyyy THROW a ball, more often than not, as hard as possible and as awkward and stupid as you can imagine. No subtle or swift flick of the wrist passing and offload of the ball. The ball, precious thing that it is, is seldom held in both hands in the execution of an attack in an attempt to confuse the opposition. It is held underarm, like deodorant, it stays stuck there and is mostly under the wrong arm with no possibility, no inclination or suggestion that it might be passed to a supporting player in a better position. POOR distribution and foolish decision making is the name of their game. 

Next, they CAN'T CATCH a ball, not to mention catching the opposition. A how to dispossess your team of hard earned ball is all too prevalent in their game. Throwing or flinging (not passing) the ball back or inside amidst the heavy traffic and crashball, they over indulge in to the point of insanity. Enough said on that one. No KICKING skills, just wayward kicks and hacks and you know what and let's 'hope for the best' kicks downfield and 'up and unders' and then pray for a fortunate bounce or merciful mistake by the opposition. Kick for position and possession is what should be the aim. I'm disillusioned by all the rocket scientist tactics and training (not coaching) that is going on. It obviously DOES NOT WORK. The sad, sad story starts and can be witnessed week after week from the U/6 pre-primary, through the primary, club and provincial level and manifests in what is dished up in the Super 12 and at International level. Why not try a simple 'play the situation' and support, support, support and aggressive ATTACKING defence, approach. Ja, tackle an opponent where it hurts, in the guts, 'laat die snot spat' and there he shall lie, eyes wide shut and the ball is at your mercy and disposal. It takes one decent tackle to nullify 20 phases of mauling and buildup. Remember the Joggie Jansen tackle? Keep it simple, don't force it, don't try too hard, don't try to change and mould players into ineffective pawns. Don't train them, coach them, lead them and refine their natural skills so that they can go into the battle, well equipped and
confident enough to express and enjoy themselves in their effort to conquer and be victorious and entertain their fans. On top of this we all would like to see THEM, players and coaches (I think of them as trainers until proven otherwise) go out and proof they are worthy of , and earn, our support and BULLION.

Just a few golden rules:- 
In any ball game, watch the ball 100% of the time. Be prepared, for the ball might come to you anytime, anywhere and in any manner and place. Good ball is ball in your possession. Bad ball is ball in opponents possession. There is only one ball, so that one ball is yours. Get it, keep it. Like ou Frik warned opponents in the first lineout of a game. "My ball is my ball and your ball is also my ball".

Koos Carelse

Hi Lucas 

Super 12

Is die Cats se probleem nie dalk die samestelling daarvan nie? Bloemfontein is ook te ver van Johannesburg af om dit as 'n tuiswedstryd te beskou. Kan ons nie maar al die Transvalers bymekaar gooi nie? Noem hulle dan die Transvaal Bulls en gebruik die vierkleur as 'n trui. Gebruik dan die Cats - met 'n wit trui en rooi kouse - om die opkomende spelers onder leiding van Kleynhans en Pienaar die basiese dinge van rugby te leer. Hulle weet hoe om elke jaar met 'n klomp nuwe spelers super 12 spanne van Suid-Afrika pak te gee ...
Met die skuif kan ons dalk 'n ware bulspan in die veld stoot waarop rugbyondersteuners trots kan wees. En wie weet, dalk kan die wit wa met die rooi wiele van Bloemfontein 'n verrassing of twee oplewer.

Bertie Liebenberg

Hi Lucas

Waarom my geld op die Springbokke is...

Ek skryf hierdie in Afrikaans, want dis nie iets wat ek wil hê ons rugbyvriende doer onder moet lees nie...

My uitgangspunt is dat ons nie te veel moet lees in die Super 12 t.o.v. toetsrugby nie. En my motivering is as volg:

Ek glo Suid-Afrika het sowat 35 wêreldklas spelers. Daarteenoor het Nieu-Seeland waarskynlik sowat 55 en Australië ongeveer 30. As jy NZ se klomp Polinesiërs bytel, speel hulle met sowat 65 internasionale spelers in die S12. Gelukkig is 'n groot klomp van laasgenoemde (soos Rupeni Caucaunibuca) nie eligible om vir die All Blacks te speel nie.

As jy nou sommetjies maak, speel SA met gemiddeld 8.75 topklas spelers per span, teenoor Australië se 10 en NZ se 13. Ek glo dit is die voordeel (of voorgee) wat hulle in die S12 het.

Maar wanneer dit by toetsrugby kom, maak dit nie saak of 'n land 25 of 125 topklas-spelers het nie... jy kan net 22 van hulle op 'n slag kies (beserings uitgesluit). Daarom is die playing field meer level sodra die toetsarena betree word. En daarom glo ek die Bokke kan op enige gegewe dag met enige ander span afreken.

Meer nog... ek glo dat dit in fact tot die Bokke se voordeel is dat SA spanne gemiddeld vaar in die S12. Aan die een kant laat dit ander spanne die Bokke onderskat, en aan die ander kant laat dit die ander lande hul eie nasionale spanne oorskat. Veral die All Blacks trap gereeld in die slaggat om te dink dat vanweë hul oorheersing in die S12, hulle ook op toetsvlak dit maklik behoort te vind. En dis net hier waar die pôpô die fên slaan.

Nee wat, ek geniet die S12 vir die skouspel wat dit is (candy floss rugby, soos die Engelse sê), maar wanneer die toetse (EN die Wêreldbeker) begin, sit ek my geld op die Bokke!

COLIN VAN RENSBURG
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