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Rugby Forum - Vol 3, Week 39
Rugby Forum - Vol 3, Week 39
(The week that was, a South African perspective.)
07 Nov 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 39 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!         Halle-bloody-lujah, what a thrilling weekend of rugby! The favoured teams managed to squeak past some spirited displays from the Gaelic nations and lucky for the All Blacks and the Wallabies they wear dark coloured lycra shorts… As for the Springboks, well they played like the Springboks we once knew.

It has been a long time since this part-time reporter was in the position to laugh and smile and giggle and high five with gay abandon while watching the Springboks play. To be honest, not even a trip with the SA Sports Illustrated swimsuit models in Malaysia could have provided more pleasure than watching the Samoan demolition – wait, on second thought let sense prevail here for a moment, scratch that analogy!

The Springboks stepped up to the plate when plenty of scribes (this one included) predicted a close and hard fought affair. The Samoans were given nothing in the first 40 minutes and the green blanket of forwards swept over them with clinical precision and awe inspiring power. Bakkies Botha, take a bow son. You are playing the best rugby of your career and you have chosen no better stage to do so.

Behind the excellent tight five, captain Corne Krige is starting to play the kind of rugby that led to his appointment in the first place. Big Joe, was huge and his loss might have cost the Springboks the one distinguishing factor between victory and defeat in the close match(es) to follow. Joost was better and seem to link well with his young general and as ‘bodyguard’ deemed it in order to subject Derick Hougaard to the sternest test of his test career, a flying missile tackle from Brian Lima after a ‘lovely’ lob pass, or better known as a Grootte Schuur special. And you know what? Hougaard passed the test with flying colours, hopefully he will be playing plenty of tests for his country.

In true Kiwi attitude, this was not the be all and end all, there is room for improvement; there was unnecessary dropkicking and not enough patience and confidence to run the ball to create try-scoring opportunities, they went to sleep for 20 minutes in the second half and the tackling and penalty count can still improve. The quest is for zero defect and with confidence and improvement this can be achieved when they face the old foe.

Talking of which, the All Blacks who are no longer the Springbok's nemesis but rather a dominant adversary got their wake up call two games earlier than in the last World Cup. Had they played a better and fitter team than Wales, they would have lost and played England a bit prematurely for the majority money. 

The All Blacks were not at their best. The forwards somehow lack the ferociousness of past packs and maybe the rucking thing has something to do with it, but en large, they are a team selected to play in a certain way, ‘to score more tries than the opposition’ rather than any trench warfare a la Delville Wood. It is a noble concept and will win you games after all it is the objective of the game of rugby however, World Cups are won on kicks and not tries, sorry to say and with the team selected for Saturday they seem to gear up for another pool game and bonus points. But then, against a team who has hardly threatened to beat them in 3 years and whom they put 50 points on the board - who can blame them? Almost 4 million Kiwis, that’s who!

Prediction time. Well South Africa is due a win and since I have solidly backed the green-and-gold through thick and thin and admittedly with lack of faith and much trepidation, the Springboks to win with a 10 point margin! Why? Because this All Black team, even though they have magnificent talent, lack the mongrel of previous years. They are ultra slick and teams tend to play to their strength of running the ball. The forwards need to be locked in, the backs forced to tackle and turn around with astute kicking, the kind Hougaard is capable of and running right at them, testing the midfield pairing who have exactly one test together. In other words, Springbok game plan A and B.

The Currie Cup went by almost unnoticed bar the capacity crowd at Loftus and the zillions of Shark supporters hanging their heads in shame. It was a weak display from a team who looked unmotivated, disinterested and unprofessional. Putt, our old friend spoke eloquently although I prefer to call it condescendingly, before the match of disciplinary records etc. however Butch James chose to blatantly ignore his coach’s ‘prophetic’ words. Sorry Andrew, you showed why you were left at home. Ditto Craig Davidson, never a fan of the scrumhalf, he was really bad especially compared to his opponent, the new Springbok scrumhalf for 2004 - Fourie du Preez. Watch this young man carefully he is everything a good scrumhalf should be and more importantly, he does the basics of passing, decision-making and kicking very well. The odd break led to tries – a dream final for the young man. 

Oops, humble pie for me, I touted a Sharks victory but the way the Bulls played, no worries to eat my words – they were brilliant and deserved of their second title. Whatever they are doing up north, hopefully it spreads to the rest of the country.

This weekend the Ausies take on the Scots, should be one-way traffic in a non World Cup world but they, the ' bare knees' might just come to the party like Ireland and Wales and go one further. In another tough match, the fantastic Irish take on the Frenchies and as this is a conflict in emotion for this supporter of both countries, the choice must be made on history and hopefully France can overcome the notorious Irish fighting spirit and Keith Wood. France to win but not easily. England will have to lift their game for a fierce encounter with the Welshmen who have their tails up and since the two rivals are 49 wins a piece this will be a historic clash in the long history of matches between them. England to win.

That is it, enjoy a brilliant weekend, next week’s edition will be in ordinary text format as yours truly will venture to Botswana to watch the Semi-finals with a friend who I happened to watch with, the day the Springboks beat France on the rain drenched Durban turf in 1995 – a good omen? You betcha!!

Lucas

lucas@rugbyforum.co.za

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

Final Tour Diary by Desmond Organ
Friday 30 October

On the road again and in this world of many I was again lucky to find myself in the company of three match officials for Saturdays crunch game against Samoa. They spent the greater part of the flight talking about the alleged transgressions being committed by one of the better-known teams in the tournament. It was no surprise when the opinions were that you must be correctly bound with the use of forearm or shoulder to avoid placing your co players in an offside position. 

The media in Australia made light work of the censures handed down to the English team and instead focused on a detailed analysis of the various final pool games. Strangely enough a majority of media analysts are favouring the Samoans in an upset victory over South Africa. This might be well deserved considering the performance against England but I get the feeling that the John Boe magic is having an impact on the press as well. Ireland is given slightly less than even odds to upset Australia and this might well be the game of the weekend.

Brisbane is a charming city and so much more pleasant than Sydney or Perth as far as spring temperatures are concerned. It really has an East Coast feeling to it, small wonder that many people compare it to Durban. There are a fair number of ex-pats from SA and Zimbabwe in this part of the world. 

Saturday 01 November

The press box was a hive of activity during the Scotland versus Fiji encounter with support going pretty much down the middle. I felt sorry for the Scottish press present as they were copping a lot of subtle abuse from their English counterparts who for my money are fast establishing themselves as the group that are most opinionated in their general interaction. I have been extremely fortunate to have a bird’s eye view into the world of sports journalism and it is not necessarily as glamorous as many readers might assume it to be.

Kick off time and the number of South Africans in the crowd is a shadow of the support that they received in both Sydney and Perth. Despite the limited number the chorus of Bokke; Bokke can be heard through the constant booing that seems to accompany every game in this World Cup. It seems as if the marketing machine associated with the World Cup has filled the stadiums with great success but not necessarily with the honest rugby supporter that many people are accustomed to. The support for the Samoans wanes quickly as it becomes increasingly apparent that the Boks are going to hand out a good hiding. This was probably the first occasion that I openly expressed my enjoyment of the way that the Boks were playing, much to the amusement of an Australian counterpart alongside who was enjoying every minute of it. 

The hit on Derek Hougaard could be heard 25 rows up in the stands and for quite a while I was convinced that he was not going to get up. He himself was able to sum it up in the press conference when he said.

“That is the hardest that I have ever been hit.”

Joost was asked why he had handed a hospital pass to the young Hougaard to which he replied.

“It is part of the initiation.”

The South African team in general looked the happiest that I have seen them in a long time and even Rudolf managed several chuckles during the press conference. Perhaps the moment that really broke the ice in what is normally a very somber South African press conference was Ashwin Willemse’s open thank you to a member of the press for finally asking him a question. He appears to be much more than just an electric winger; he brings a breath of fresh air to the team.

Perhaps the most sobering moment of what has been a fantastic experience for me was the ride down the elevator in the company of eight Springbok players. I headed into the elevator and the next moment it was full of some very large people. There I was all six foot 2 inches and I looked like a midget. It was quite an experience and if anybody tells you that Bakkies Botha is not big, forget it he is a mountain of a man.

Here is where it all ends for this part time scribe and rugby fanatic. I have had the experience of a life time and I can only look forward to the next World Cup and leave this one in the knowledge that the Springboks have done us proud no matter what happens next weekend.

Des Down Under
Rugby Forum WC 2003

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Quotes
Players having to back up for four games in 14 days is totally ludicrous.      Tongan coach Jim Love

The All Blacks look like Chairman Mao in their severe black numbers.       Georgia Lewis

Our baggage master does our analysis.        John Boe, Samoa Coach

We don't have an 'A' team or development tours so we have to look to give experience to some of the players who will come back next time.      Wales coach Steve Hansen on naming a "second" side against the All Blacks

One day I can see us having a meeting of all of the teams and because there are too many penalties deciding to scrap scrums altogether.     Bernard Laporte

I had doubts I'd ever say this, but the rugby produced by the Springboks yesterday had a smile on its face.    Nick Mallett

That's the hardest I've ever been hit. But I suppose the fact that I'm still breathing is a good sign.      Derick Hougaard

I am sure we will win the quarter-final. Our team is better than theirs.      John Drake, NZ journo.

This is what I have been aiming for and to get a start ahead of someone like Roffy is a great compliment and I have to repay that with a big performance this week.     Lote Tuqiri

This is a professional game, players are highly paid, they're trained as well as we can possibly provide for them, George Gregan's said it, Eddie Jones is saying it and now as CEO I'm reinforcing it: it's time to actually put it together.     John O'Neill

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Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

The Quarters

It has been a very long wait to finally see a worthy Springbok performance, as evidenced by the World Cup game against Samoa.

A pulverizing pack, deadly quick backs and a clinical flyhalf are hallmarks of the South African style one never expected to see again after years of mediocre rubbish. 

They should keep the Boks away from South Africa as a matter of routine: -once they leave the poisonous racial, political, media and provincial garbage they are exposed to at home, the team really beings to jell and play for each other.

Now as witnessed in the game against New Zealand and Wales, there is real hope for Saturday's semi-final. The All-Blacks rely on playing the Auckland Blues game - off the scrum it's always to Collins to suck in defenders and then spin the ball to Rockocoko - from the line-out, leave the "loosies" lurking midfield for ditto - and over reliance on individual skills. Yet when Wales ran at them, they were vulnerable and error prone for long periods, without even the benefit of a dominant pack.

There must be real hope SA can make the semis and the team can certainly for once do it.

Sincerely

Peter Giraudo
Nairobi, Kenya

Hi Lucas

Demolition men

It is interesting to note that many rugby commentators now report that the Samoans could not repeat their performance against England a week later against the Boks, as they had been played out in that encounter. I hold a somewhat opposing view... I rather believe that England had been played out a week earlier against South Africa and that they had not recovered by the time they met the Samoans.

Similarly, as Vinesh Naicker observed in last week's issue of RF, "It was a week where Georgia gave it their all in a game against the Springboks, only to find they had nothing left in the tank for their game against Uruguay".

Now, something that has been bothering me for a long time: Doug Howlett of New Zealand has this nasty habit of crashing into a try-scoring opponent's head and neck from side-on, sometimes with the shoulder, sometimes knees-first and sometimes even leading with the boots, pretending to go for the ball planted under the try-scorer's torso. Referees up until now have seemed to be oblivious of this. The management of Auckland, the Blues and/or the All Blacks need to address this before someone incurs a serious injury.

COLIN VAN RENSBURG

Hi Lucas

Reg of weg

Briljant, nie sonder foute nie, maar baie goed gedaan deur die Bokke. Jammer ons kan nie die All Blacks aanvat met al ons gamebreakers wat by die huis sit nie, maar nogtans dink ek ons gaan hulle klop, "skuinsregter" , ekskuus, skeidsregter en al. Hierdie is 'n reg of weg, "do or die" storie en slegs die taaiste, hardste en plainweg manne met guts, gaan oorleef. Die manne moet maar hulle bruin broeke in die kleedkamer los, toeskouers ook, want dit is "Big time" mense, tyd vir staalsenuwees.

Sterkte vir almal van ons wat die voorreg het om dit te aanskou.

Koos Carelse
by

Let us know what you think!

So you beat the Samoans, big deal. Young Hougaard better get used to the sort of treatment that nice Mr Lima dealt out to him because he is going to cop even more of that this weekend!
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