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Rugby Forum - Vol 4, Week 3
Rugby Forum - Vol 4, Week 3
(The week that was, a South African perspective.)
20 Feb 2004
[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 4, Week 3 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!      Another week another coach, Springbok rugby’s new ‘messiah’ was appointed last week. The lucky winner is Jake White, South African under 21 coach and everybody’s favourite technical adviser. Jake, has apparently not discussed terms or contracts or any of those ‘trivia’ things yet but RF wishes him all the best. The following bit of advice to Jake; before you set foot in the quagmire of SA rugby learn one important thing from big Rudi – the name of the lawyers who drafted his employment contract!

The Six Nations’ opening weekend was quite enjoyable and for this self confessed fan of the tournament there are few fonder memories of rugby than Jean-Pierre Reeves’ bleeding head, Blanco’s scintillating running, Wales beating England… and Bill McLaren’s rich voice commentating from muddied fields afar. Alas, things have changed but the history is evident and don’t those anthems choke your throat and make your toes curl?

France outgunned the Irish in Paris but it was a bit of a lackluster display from Laporte’s men and was it not for a few tries of high quality, the match could have been dismissed as a bit boring. The young debutante scrumhalf, Jean-Baptiste Elissalde was a more than competent replacement for Galthie and being a third generation French international, rich in pedigree. The poor Irish were valiant as always but the absence of two world-class players was always going to tell. How do you replace the Keith Woods’ of this world? A difficult question indeed, but players need to be a new Paddy O’Shea or whatever and not try and imitate a living legend, be the next superstar with your own qualities. Easier said than done.

The most enjoyable performance was that of Wales, the poor Scots were a bit hapless but Wales turned in a sparkling display of ingenuity and total rugby football. Every time the ball was spun out to the wings, they threatened to score and with Stephen Jones playing a very controlled game at flyhalf this Welsh team can mature into something great over the next three years. That is if they get their next coaching appointment right.

England flogged the Italians as expected but not without some controversy, there was a dubious penalty against Italy for obstructing the scrumhalf from placing pressure on the flyhalf from a scrum… and Robinson, who scored a couple of tries left the field and returned in what seemed a mockery of the bloodbin rule. The England team will be placed under a microscope every time they play and it will be interesting to note how their status of world champions will reflect in the treatment they receive from referees.

This weekend, France should pummel the Italians at home, Scotland will be dead in the water against the English and they will need more than William Wallace and his hordes to send the world champs back ‘to think again’. Pick of the week is the Ireland/Wales clash at Landsdowne Road, the old stadium is a special place and one where the Irish crowd is worth a few points on the board and a lot of pints of Guinness afterwards! Wales to win their first match on Irish soil since April fools day in 2000 when a young Rhys Williams made his debut.

The not so insignificant Super 12 competition will be kicking off this weekend and upon reading my own words of making a prediction last week realized, belatedly that it was a rather foolish statement to make without seeing the wares on sale, so to speak. So, next week my predictions for the whole competition after sampling the weekend’s delights. 

The all South African clashes are always good entertainment although not necessarily relevant for predicting form during the rest of the competition. The Stormers against Cats could produce a wonderful running match with both teams consisting of exciting backlines and mobile forwards. For this armchair critic, the fervent hope will be the return to world-class form of one Os Du Randt, remember him? Stormers to win a high scoring match.

The Bulls host the Sharks at Loftus and expect a huge crowd to support the Currie Cup champions. The big Hatfield stadium is a very intimidating place for visiting teams especially with a fanatic crowd and Steve Hofmeyer’s singing… there is some exciting youngsters in the Bulls squad and cast your eye over the likes of Derick Hougaard, Fourie Du Preez and Gary Botha to light up the match. The Bulls must be the favourites at home especially with the Sharks still smarting from their poor Currie Cup final showing.

In other matches, the Highlanders host the Reds in Invercargill, this could help the Ausies as the House of Pain is exactly that although a defeat at home will be a disastrous start for one of the stronger teams in the competition. The Brumbies take on the champions Blues in Canberra and many (this writer included) predict a rare defeat at home for a new look Brumbies side. The Chiefs/Hurricanes clash will be interesting; historically two of the under-performing sides in NZ it is difficult to predict who will get it ‘right’ this season. Finally the Crusaders, multi-winners host the Waratahs and that embarrassing defeat of a couple of seasons ago will be difficult to erase, Crusaders to win at Jade Stadium especially after their cricket triumph earlier in the week.

A full weekend of rugby lies ahead, enjoy watching the best players in the world in action and hopefully Jake White has his video recorder on so he can start what is sure to be an exhaustive analysis before the Tri Nations. Thank you for the kind letters, keep them coming.

Lucas


lucas@rugbyforum.co.za

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

Transformation by Desmond Organ
The latest buzzword on the lips of anything rugby in South Africa has been propelled to a new level of significance with the refusal of Chester Williams to serve as an assistant; and the announcement from Jake White that he could field up to 5 black players in a Springbok team. The significance of Chester’s decision could be felt more directly in the months to come and you can rest assured that the media will remind Jake White of his promises.

Of far more significance is the fact that every man and his dog in rugby circles in South Africa has spoken to Chester about his decision. Even the Minister of Sport interrupted his usual feasting activities to spend some time bending his ear, or was it more of a case of convincing him that he would be coach in the long run and to hell with all those prejudiced people that are running or undermining the game at present. Personally I have had just about as much of the debate around transformation as I can stand for. I am sure that I am not alone in saying that people are sick and tired of tokenism, affirmative action and the lip service that has been put to changing the game in South Africa for the better.

Most journalists in South Africa manage the transformation/affirmative action issue by rambling on about the need for such things in South Africa and how it is an unavoidable part of the landscape. Few will actually confront the issue head on. The fears of losing your current job or the opportunity to some day join the gravy train that is South African rugby rule the day. It is easier for those of us that do not rely on the pen for an income to express exactly how we feel. The sad upside of this is that if you are not paid to write you are more often than not written off as ill informed or unqualified.

There are even those that have moved in and out of the halls of SA Rugby only to claim their complete objectivity once they have filled their coffers with facts, speculations and sensationalism. The truth of the matter is that there are far more qualified rugby writers in places like England and the rest of the Six Nations. Their advantage is that they do not have to write only about sensationalist events to attract their readers and are more often than not more interested in the tactical components of the game.

At the heart of all things in South Africa is the need to ensure that there is a definitive element of black control at the centre of all organizations, this can come in many shapes and forms. The level of competence is not always the most important and it is with this in mind that one has to commend Chester Williams for his decision. There will be those detractors out there who will say that he is doing it for his own ego, but his successes at Sevens must surely point in the opposite direction. His decision to want the job because he is the most qualified is an extremely mature position. 

The fact that he is not the most experienced man for the job in the first place has more to do with the incompetence of those running rugby than anything else. There are a number of qualified coaches who are currently overseas that have demonstrated the ability to coach at the highest level and yet they were never considered from the beginning. The whole process of selection now looks like an exercise of finding somebody competent who can get on with players of colour and who is not afraid to have a token assistant to represent the numbers. This is indeed a sorry state and reminds me of the days in South Africa when blacks were promoted alongside other professionals to ensure that the numbers were correct. 

There are several professionals in South Africa, who by the way just happen to be black, who have demonstrated that they are in fact brilliant businessmen who understand the dynamics and the unique demographics of South African society. South Africa is quite unlike many other African countries and it is this that should be at the heart of the minds of the decision makers. Unless the game itself is transformed, the process of appointing token coaches and administrators will continue.

Professionals are needed to maintain the success of the Springboks whilst the groundwork for transforming the game into a truly representative sport is undertaken. This process should start at the lowest level and then be implemented upwards. The process of managing top down in a losing culture is not going to bring about success, it will bring about chaos.

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Quotes
It is certainly not a case of my being a prima donna. Morally I did not feel right about it. I have been through this kind of thing as a player. I don't want people thinking I am there because I am black.       Chester Williams

I would like to have my own team as a head coach - be it in the Currie Cup or Super 12, and get that experience. My dignity is important in making decisions. It's not about money. It's about me as a person.  Chester Williams (Why not withdraw before the selection based on a lack of experience?? Ed )

There is a need for focus to return to the playing of rugby. We want a winning national team and competitive rugby in the Super 12 and Currie Cup. South Africans deserve nothing less and I am confident that SARFU will do everything possible to ensure this.    Ngconde Balfour

I don't think I hate him (Mitchell), I don't quite share Christian's (Cullen) feelings of being really aggrieved and all the rest of it, but I don't hold a lot of respect for the guy.         Anton Oliver on John Mitchell

I haven't had fun the last couple of seasons really. That's a large part of being under Mains, in his teams fun was frowned upon.        Anton Oliver on Laurie Mains

I love this game and have an incredible passion for it and I would like to remain involved and play a positive role. Rudolf Straeuli

'Sir Clive wanted Bok job'       Yeah right! - Ed

Controversy is not good for a brand and certainly not for the Springbok brand. Sponsors must have confidence in the team they sponsor and the administration of those codes, be it rugby, cricket or soccer. That would be a point of departure for any sponsor.     SAB's head of communications, Michael Farr

Personally, all I would like to see is fair and consistent selections - based on nothing but play - clarity and honesty when speaking to the media and, please, no glowing references to "systems and processes". And, yes, winning would be good, too. That could also happen. We have enough talent in the country - let's just hope Jake White can harness it properly.       Howard Kahn, www.planet-rugby.com

The players were humiliated because they were shown naked on television and in newspapers. We want to tell an exclusive crowd the truth.        Joost, trying to make some $$$ out of ' Kamp Staaldraad' 

Join the SARUGBY news and discussion group for the fastest sarugby news and the most intense debates around the South African game. Send a blank email to sarugby-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


Letters to the Editor
Hi Lucas

La Malaise

The tragedy of South African rugby for me is not the apathetic performance of our national team, or the fact that no individual has appeared in any of the 'Oh-God-its-the same-crap' Super 12 teams to provide us with any hope
for the coming season; no for me it's the very simple fact that SARFU continues to be a vehicle for self-aggrandisement and seeming incestuous benevolence between administration members.

Rugby to me, from my days as a Frik Du Preez hero worshipping schoolboy to the old toss I am now, has always epitomised a manly game. Rugby players accepted criticism and questions between the eyes and replied without fear because they had balls! There have always been political agendas; shoot, the esteemed Doc Craven was probably the most polished practitioner of the art but he had the welfare of rugby at heart. Why are there no others with the same commitment? Why are you all bemoaning Morne Du Plessis' resignation? If he really had the cajonnes to handle the job he'd have been out there garnering the forces in the Clubs and provinces necessary to call an Extraordinary General Meeting and elect administrators without egos to serve, but an overwhelming desire and passion for the future of the game. Sorry Morne but your resignation is a cut and run! Something about 'heat and kitchens' comes to mind!

Perhaps there are still some Springboks out there who look back on their days with pride and have the passion to effect the changes necessary for our rugby to at least stop sliding downhill? Would they call a Bosberaad
amongst themselves and honestly assess the current situation in South African rugby, examine those with the potential to resurrect our game and its administration, even if they are foreigners, approach them cap in hand to take over and then ensure they are fully supported? I hope so, but is there enough pride left?

I long for the days to return when nothing, but nothing, distracted me from attending a game live or getting together with my mates to scream obscenities at the TV during away games. I wonder what the viewership ratings will be this season?

Regards,
Storm Ferguson

Hi Lucas

Thanks for reminding why I feel depressed about Rugby. Instead of predicting failure again I remember a song from a few years back that had this line in it. .....( ....the angels sing the young girls cry tears run rings around my eyes.......etc ..)... I hope you have some good news to write about some day soon. Don't hold your breath. 

Sorry for dragging my bottom lip 

George

Oh yes its time for everyone to meet at your place for beers again ...!

Hi Lucas

The Super 12 has not yet began and everyone is moaning about SA team's performance. It is sad to watch my prediction regarding rugby and team events in South Africa become true but as they say "I told you so". Last year everyone complained because they all predicted when the Springbok team exit from the World Cup was going to be. 

For this years Super 12 I have two suggestions, watch the games for the entertainment sake, like watching WWF/E you know who is going to win, you just do not know by how much. Secondly when the SA teams play against our International counterparts, dig in your pockets and put money on them to lose. Trust me you will become less frustrated, less aggravated and more appreciative of how poorly they play, plus a few rand richer. Why must SA administrators be the only ones to get rich.( Again Remember you heard it first from me). Lastly I would like to see Chester as coach, my reason for this would be that the World would want to prove to us South Africans that affirmative action works, so Stu and the boys will be blowing more 50/50 decisions our way and a Tri-Nations trophy plus few tests will be passed our way to keep this nation positive, just like the 1995 World Cup we won (that I still have misgivings over). 

Kind regards

Wayne
(The stranded Shark supporter in Gauteng)

Hi Lucas

Interesting reading on RF week 1 from the rugby public and may I add not much "hope" I read? Do you blame them? How can one still support a team that has all the making to become a world Champion but due to "political interference" not is but already became the joke of the rugby world? Like everything else rugby is now
also governed into the ground. I said it all along but the once Mighty Springbok is bleeding to death very slowly but surely and there is nobody to save her from death! New coach? Still wonder? Damn guys wake up! I know exactly who it will be, I know exactly how, when and why this appointment. Honestly, ' is julle ouens nou regtig so onoplettend?' I promise that if I'm wrong I will return to this forum and apologise I was wrong and I will also name the guy I thought was going to be appointed and also say why I thought so? ' Hoes daai vir durf
en daad?'

FRANS

Hi Lucas

May be the timing is good, may be our rugby guys, meaning the players, who after all are the guys who do the job, will go out there, do what they must do, as professionals, at schools, clubs, national and international, bring home the trophies, and say, 'we did it', South Africa! We support our national sport, Rugby. We have had enough of 'mud slinging'. What is passed, is history, mistakes we have made. Surely the game is bigger than all this political and childish behaviour we are continually being bombarded with! 

Enid Pennel

Hi Lucas

Man dis lekker om jou weer terug te hê! Die paar weke wat ek nie 'n RF ontvang het nie, het ek soos 'n zombie in 'n hok hier in die huis rond gedwaal. Nee, regtig. Dit was hel. Weet jy hoekom? Omdat ek die oor en oor gesanik van al die ouens oor dieselfde ou storietjie vreeslik gemis het.

Sedertdien het die rewolusie plaasgevind en Brian van Rooyen sit in die stoel. Iewers uit die Franse Rewolusie se geskiedenis onthou ek, iemand het gesê, "Na die rewolusie sal dinge anders wees - nie beter nie, maar anders." Nou lyk dit my dit is min of meer wat ons ook hier in die rugby-rewolusie verwag. Almal wil vir Brian aanvat. In 2003 wou hulle vir Silas en Riaan en Dolfie ook aanvat. Met wie gaan ons mense tevrede wees? Volgens die BOOTS & ALL program van Dinsdag 10 Februarie 2004, het Brian opgetree volgens die grondwet van SARVU. As dit nie reg is nie, mense, wat is dan? Soos ek die dinge sien het Riaan as baas van SA Rugby (Edms) Bpk die pligte van die SARVU-bestuur so stil-stil oorgeneem en Silas eenkant toe geskuif om net die trofeë te oorhandig en verder nie juis iets met rugby as sulks te doen te hê nie. Noudat Brian die dinge weer volgens die grondwet en 2001 ooreenkomste regstel, is hy die vark in die verhaal. Ek ken nie die grondwet nie. Ek dink ook nie baie van die klaers in RF ken dit juis goed nie. Kan ons nie op 'n manier die stuk in die hande kry sodat ons almal kan weet wat presies daarin staan en dan uitsprake en lawaaie maak nie? Ek hou nogal van 'n bekgeveg as ek weet ek ken my feite, maar dit is uiters vervelig as almal lawaai en niemand weet werklik waar die klok se bel hang nie.

Verder is dit beslis demoraliserend vir al wat rugbyspeler in die land is, as die hele klomp van ons nou al reeds besluit hoe ver ons in elke kompetisie en toets gaan verloor. Waar is die Patriotte van Suid-Afrika? Ons is mos nie 'n volkie wat uit mooiweersvriende bestaan nie, of is ons? As dit so is, sorrie, count me out.

Kys.

Hi Lucas

Dankie tog dat daar weer 'n nuwe uitgawe die lig gesien het. Ek het begin wonder of jy nie ook verdwyn het nie. Voorspoed aan almal vir die nuwe jaar, die rukkie wat nog oor is. Ons het mos deesdae net twee siesoene in die land, nl die rugby en krieket seisoen. 

Ek lê nagte wakker oor die stand van ons sport, en meer in besonder oor Springbokrugby. Ek het verlede jaar gesê die stand van ons rugby gaan van swak na swakker gaan. Wat kwalifiseer van Rooyen om die pos as SARVU president te beklee? Sy velkleur? Almal is te bang om te sê wat die eintlike probleem is. Ek het hom op Superrugby en Boots and All gesien. Hy praat verskriklik baie maar sê eintlik niks. Sy aanstelling is polities, want hy is geskool deur sy meesters en hy praat ook soos hulle. Ek is bereid om te herhaal wat ek verelede jaar gesê het maar daar is ook die volgende redes.

1. Brian van Rooyen en sy SARVU "trawante".
2. Brian van Rooyen en sy "meesters" nl die geagte mister van sport, NOKSA en wie weet nog.
3. Brian van Rooyen en sy onderliggende verskuilde agende, ware kleure? (onbekend)

Wat kan ons as publiek daaromtrent doen? 

1. Boikot alle rugby wedstryde.
2. Borge ontrek 
3. Publiek weier om borge se produkte te koop.

Drastiese stappe moet geneem word anders gaan ons die "laughing stock"van die rugbywêreld bly. Ons is in elk geval die sirkus van die wêreld met die hansworse wat in bewind is. 

As jy nie aan wonderwerke glo nie, dan is jy nie 'n realis nie. (dr Anton Rupert)

Groete en "may the force be with us"
Chris Erasmus.
by

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