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Rugby Forum - Vol 4, Week 7
Rugby Forum - Vol 4, Week 7
(The week that was, a South African perspective.)
20 Mar 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 7 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!        Bruce Springsteen, also known as ‘the Boss’ had a hit single in the eighties called ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and before you think of any analogy regarding ‘boss’ and ‘dancing in the dark’, to current SA rugby politics - you are wrong. What the song so memorably refrained was, ‘you can’t start a fire without a spark’ and in fear of putting every known curse on SA’s rugby teams – there is a spark igniting and it is a whole lot stronger than we have seen for the past few seasons!

In a remarkable Super 12 weekend, the two frontrunners were defeated, the defending champions copped  another hiding and the Dunedin hoodoo was finally broken for visiting South African sides. The results after week 4 confirmed the fact that the 2004 edition is more open than drug abuse in men’s tennis! For the first time in years, certain teams are not assured of collecting 5 points by just pitching up and a lot of credit must go to the players and their enhanced professionalism. Certainly cap off to the South African sides bar the Cats.

What a difference a few weeks make on the national psychic… listening to Kevin Putt’s views after being interviewed from New Zealand it is not surprising to hear that there is a lot of unhappiness on the little island. With all their teams languishing in the bottom half it is not quite reason for national outcry however for the fiercely competitive nation it is unheard of. The status quo will not remain for much longer but as long suffering souls it is good to see the shoe on the other foot! Again though caution must be advocated, a few good wins do not make a season, in fact it only makes for a brilliant weekend but then no Super 12 crown was ever won in March.

A few observations regarding the weekend, the Reds with Chris Latham in excellent form subdued the champions who were clearly missing their captain Rush and talismanic flyhalf Spencer. The foundations as always was laid in the forwards and here the Reds shone and with enough committed players to the ball ensured that the dangerous Blue backs did not receive enough ball on the front foot to weave their magic. Heck, even Latham hauled Rupeni in and that is like my little Golf chasing a Porsche and keeping up!

The Cats lost again. The coach is winging, precious little is coming from the assistant coach Chester Williams… still the players cannot tackle and despite leading the possession stakes cannot score more tries than the opposition. Ashwin Willemse, to his credit continues to perform and that is the mark of a true Springbok, good performances in a team devoid of any form or luster.

The Sharks came they saw and the conquered at a crawl… yes, Davidson’s try should not have been but if this is not confirmation that rugby is the game played up there then nothing will as Durban shouts JUSTICE for the previous week. Young Brent’s try was a real gem but strange enough the fullback was struggling all night with his hands and to the commentator’s great surprise caught the ball and well, the rest was vintage Russell magic.

The Bulls, what an awe inspiring sight that maul was late in the second half? Some Brumbies will wake in a cold sweat for months to come with the bearded face of Geo boring down on them with seven other snorting, huffing and puffing Bulls. The turnaround this team has made from laughing stock to thoroughbred stock is amazing and whoever needs the credit, Heynecke Meyer, Rudi Joubert et al, gentlemen take a bow! The Bulls might want to give young Willem De Waal a go at no 10… the man has lots of talent and one of those rare commodities inherent in great sportsmen - time. As for this humble scribe's player of the round, Fourie Du Preez – a classic scrumhalf display from the next Springbok halfback.

Finally, the ‘schizophrenic’ Stormers as they were described by one of the journalists reporting on the match, recorded a very good victory against a very professional team. The Waratah’s impressed by their general demeanour, suavely attired suits and ties and their work ethic on the field. Had Matt Rogers played, one venture to say, his average of over 20 points per match would have decided the game in no uncertain terms. As these things go, he was not available and in this competition luck, bounce of the ball and referee’s decision play a crucial role. It was the men in blacks role of the dice.

Expect another fantastic round of rugby this coming weekend, with the Six Nations also far more interesting it is nothing but reasonable to expect a true rugby supporter on his couch in front of the telly or even better out there at the park! 

Enjoy!

Lucas


lucas@rugbyforum.co.za

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

Keo Gate by Desmond Organ
The South African Rugby Football Unions handling of the events prior to the World Cup has for all intensive purposes been swept under the table. If it were not for the efforts of many independent journalists, we might not have got as much information as currently exists. With this thought in mind I have decided to turn my attention to what I would like to call Keo Gate.

Mark Keohane, former Communications Manager of the Springboks has for all intensive purposes been at the forefront of the allegations about racism in South African rugby. This has resulted in him being labeled disruptive and in some quarters as the most disruptive thing to happen to South African rugby. The reality is that Keohane, unlike many other journalists, has made the effort to openly criticize the establishment. He is one of the first to have done so and is unlikely to be the last. It is precisely this type of person that is necessary in the current environment. The last thing that South African rugby needs is to rush through the process of transformation and avoid restructuring the game to its core.

There are many people currently in the employ of SARFU and SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd who have enjoyed the benefits of being part of the inner circle. It is indeed true that Keohane was responsible for many media spins in his time with the Springboks, but that in effect is what the person in charge of the media is more often than not expected to do. I do admire his ability to work with people like Rudolf Straeuli, who if the record is straight is one of the most stubborn players in the business. Anybody doubting this just has to glimpse back a season or two to view his “professional” handling of a Sharks team that was losing down under.

The other key piece of factual information is that Keohane had the wherewithal to resign from his position when he felt that he could no longer tolerate the mismanagement of the Springbok team. Whilst several ex players and administrators are bemoaning the fact that there over inflated salaries have been made general public knowledge, Keohane has publicly confirmed the make up of his remuneration package on his own website. The point is not to debate whether people are overpaid or not, it is to debate if they are doing their jobs properly. I am not sure that too many people will doubt Keohane’s ability to spin media stories; he at least performed as far as I can gather to the utmost of his ability.

I am the last person to agree with everything that he says and also the last person to disagree with the way in which he is challenging the status quo, for in many ways from an amateur perspective that is exactly what I do on a weekly basis for Rugby Forum. Even in my part time role as rugby writer I have been told that I am far too analytical and that I should resist from trashing the unprofessional manner in which the game is administered in South Africa. One thing is for certain, I will continue to do exactly this until such time as there is a valid reason not to. For the game in South Africa belongs to the players, supporters and administrators and not to any one group alone. 

It amuses me no end that the fat cats of SARFU justify their spending on overseas trips as justified because they were approved by the Board of Directors. It is no wonder that Brian van Rooyen is adopting a very dictatorial approach, failure to do so in the midst of that group is likely to have you labeled a wimp. Why it is then that people in the press who have the guts to challenge the status quo are dismissed as disruptive? It is simply because there is more often than not an element of truth in what they are saying. 

That is not to say that the leadership of the SA Rugby should adopt such an approach in everything that they do. For one; the current treatment of the players is about as diabolical as it can get. No player is going to speak out or refuse lavish payments in the current environment, doing so is in fact akin to firing yourself. I for one do not appreciate the fact that several players earned large sums of money last year without even playing a single game. If you run the game unprofessionally you get unprofessional behaviour. It is indeed in the interests of the game to have people like Mark Keohane and others challenging the status quo in South African rugby.

Challenge your mates in sarugby.com's brand new fantasy league, which starts in round 4 of the 
Super 12 - register now at www.sarugby.com


 The Super 12 is wide open after round 4! by Dave 'Dingo' Marshall
Loads of action to conclude round 4 of the Super 12 competition. Wins by the Stormers, Reds, Hurricanes and Bulls at home and an away win by the Sharks at the House of Pain has really opened up this year’s competition. 

The Cats continued to be pumped on their away trip by losing comprehensively to the Hurricanes. The Sharks had a nail biting win at the death at the death at the House of Pain that could be the turning point for their season. 

The Reds had a brilliant win against last year’s premiers, the Blues, when they defeated them by 20-3. This is the lowest ever points tally by the Blues whose previous low was 8 points against the Sharks in 1998 and also against the Highlanders in 2001. The Reds needed this win to put their campaign back on track.

Tim Walsh has been recalled from his English club side, Leeds, for the rest of the Super 12 tournament as backup for injured fly halves Julian Huxley and Todd Feather. The Reds have a bye this weekend and they are heading into the rural areas of Queensland to visit rugby clubs and schools to conduct coaching clinics and as a way of meeting fans.

The Bulls showed that they revel in wet weather when their forwards dictated the terms to the Brumbies pack to the score line of 32-21. The Brumbies made a second half comeback to get within 4 points, including a magnificent try by Matt Giteau that was set up by SA export, Clyde Rathbone, who showed all the skills available at his disposal.

The Brumbies tried to beat convention by training the whole week at altitude but it appeared to have little impact during the match. George Smith will become the youngest Australian player in history to play 50 Super 12 matches when he lines up against the Stormers this Saturday at Newlands. Smith is only 23. The Brumbies arrived in Cape Town on Sunday and the locals will be hoping that they are on their best behaviour. Memories of them getting out of hand a few years ago are still fresh in some peoples minds.

The Waratahs headed to Newlands trying to extend their lead at the top of the table and ended up losing a thrilling encounter 27-23. A game that had more suspense than a Robert Ludlum novel. Full credit to both sides for the entertaining (and very clean) spirit that the game was played in.

The Waratahs headed to Gans Baai for some shark diving on Monday. When I asked captain Chris Whittaker about this at the press conference after Saturday’s loss, he replied ‘I spend a great deal of time in the water surfing so I’m not going! I am trying to pretend that they don’t even exist!’ Now we understand where his peroxide hair colour comes from.

The Waratahs are trying to beat the ‘altitude factor’ by staying in Cape Town until Thursday and then heading up to Pretoria. I caught up with my mate and former Wallaby media liaison, Djuro ‘Bronco’ Sen, on Saturday and it was great to shoot the breeze with him. Those grey hairs are spreading mate! Rugby Forum wishes him an enjoyable rest of his South African trip.

Until next week.

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Quotes
It looks like a bloody strong side to me! Reds coach     Jeff Miller comments on the Blues

At long last I am involved with a side that actually enjoys what they are doing and this team of ours really enjoys putting the work in, enjoys training together, enjoys every moment of a day and most importantly of all enjoy each other on and off the field.       John Smit

Pain is weakness leaving the body. So if we are at the 'House of Pain' ... Let the healing begin!       Sharks prop, BJ Botha

Our aim is just to play better each week, I've got no convoluted goals or mathematical scenarios.     Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie

Speak to the players. Pain is minimal when you win - people only hurt when they have a heavy heart.    Kevin Putt

In terms of what the team wears on the field and promotion of rugby, if they want to retain the springbok, that's their decision.       Sports commission chief executive Dr Joe Phaahla 

It's different for them now. They're in another realm as World Cup champions. Other teams go up a gear. And by their own comments, the English have put themselves on a pedestal.      Eddie Jones

There's been no control. SARFU is rotten to the core, When I looked at the financial statements, I saw that people were all money-driven. Some very strange things went on previously.      Brian van Rooyen 

I've often said that you can't win the Super 12 by playing (only) ten-man rugby. But you must also be able to adapt to specific circumstances.     Rudi Joubert

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


Team of the Week
Week 4 2003 Week 4 2004
Position Name Team Position Name Team
15 Christian Cullen Hurricanes 15 Chris Latham Reds
14 Ashwin Willemse Cats 14 Breyton Paulse Stormers
13 Tana Umaga Hurricanes 13 Stirling Mortlock Brumbies
12 Jorrie Muller Cats 12 Seru Rabeni Highlanders
11 Friedrich Lombard Cats 11 Lote Tuqiri Waratahs
10 Andre Pretorius Cats 10 David Howell Hurricanes
9 Enrico Januarie Cats 9 Craig Davidson Sharks
8 Bob Skinstad Cats 8 Jerry Collins Hurricanes
7 Phil Waugh Waratahs 7 Phil Waugh Waratahs
6 Jerry Collins Hurricanes 6 Piet Krause Bulls
5 Victor Matfield Bulls 5 Daniel Vickerman Waratahs
4 Tom Bowman Waratahs 4 Bakkies Botha Bulls
3 Baksteen Nel Cats 3 Brendon Botha Sharks
2 Brendan Cannon Waratahs 2 Andrew Hore Hurricanes
1 Matt Dunning Waratahs 1 Wessel Roux Bulls
 

Letters to the Editor
Dear Lucas

As much as I would like to support your rugby e-newsletter, I feel the time has come to ask you to please unsubscribe me.

And a word of unsolicited advice: For the past how many years you have started each newsletter with the word 'brilliant!'. Although I admire your enthusiasm for the game, I do believe that there has been nothing 'brilliant!' about most aspects of the South African game for however many seasons. How about using some other adjective? (Surely we all have to do our bit when it comes to change?)

Kind regards
Dion Viljoen 
-----------------------------
Hi Dion,

I was thinking long and hard if I should reply to your mail and 'unsolicited' advice or just take you off the list but alas I cannot help myself... RF may be written by a South African and it contains a lot of SA rugby but I would like to think that it is not a xenophobic view of rugby. Quite the contrary, I am open and enjoy ANY good rugby regardless of who plays it and therefore retain my enthusiasm and my adjective. I also am very positive at heart and feel in a way obligated by the history of my column to remain in similar vein regardless of the 'crumbling of the walls' so many believe and predict for SA rugby. I actually am of the belief that there is hope, admittedly a glimmer at this stage but without that and without our support, rugby as a sport in SA will die - I believe I'm doing my bit, how about you?

Good luck and some unsolicited advice: try and regain your enthusiasm.

Lucas (Friday, March 12, 2004 10:54 AM)

Hi Lucas

Did you see what I had to read in the sunday newspapers. This weekly Bok Barometer (based on the Super 12) is enjoyable to read, but why choose a Bok team out of Super 12 performance. I know current form should also count, but, hey, we do have a national side that played at last years World Cup. Everyone talked about the young developing guys with a great future. They talked of a team that could develop into the best team in the world in time for the next World Cup. Why chop and change again? Pleazzzze. Why are there talks of new Springboks Jacques Cronje, Ettiene Botha, Johan Roets, Chris Rossouw, Luke Watson etc? I know they are good but choosing a Bok team is not like the Oscar nominations. The same guys from last year are still there you know. Don't write off the Staaldraad crew. And to change the logo again. Now we have to pull the bloody protea out of the rugbyball again? Why put it there in the first place a year ago? Does SARFU officials get incentives when they change the logo? Just remember, SARFU, with all due respect, in the professional world, it's difficult to keep you customers if you keep on changing the brand logo, name, and more importantly, the product (players). Take the same product and add the quality, your inventions don't work!!!! 

PS. Everybody's complaining about the logo with a little protea around the ball, but I don't see any proteas on the Bafana Bafana logo.....

Regards
Herman, Pretoria

Hi Lucas

Briljant! en verrassing op verassing. Die een week goed, dan sleg, en dan weer goed. M-net bring dit "blow by blow", een vir my en een vir jou. Dit kannie goed wees vir 'n ou se gestel of kan dit? Dink net, hoë bloeddruk, lae bloeddruk, ekstase, vernedering, 'n geniale drie deur Russell en drie sorry pogings deur Jorrie, al die emosies wat jy op een stormagtige naweek kan beleef. Heng, 'n man weet nie wat om te verwag nie, want dis ons S12 spanne aan die werk. Of sal ons liewers sê dankie, ons vat dit veel eerder as 'n lang rits nederlae. Persoonlik verkies ek meer konsekwentheid en waarneembare opwaartse neigings in ons S12 spanne se pogings. Sal dit ook innig waardeer indien my bankbalans 'n soortgelyke opwaartse kurwetjie wil toon, maar nou ja, ons los dit liewer daar. Miskien is dit te veel gevra en miskien is daar soveel ooreenkomste tussen dié twee belangrike sake, dat ek "geldige" redes het om in sak en as te gaan sit en myself met 'n potskerf te gaan krap sodat die sportverslaafde gif, wat dik in my are loop, kan uitsweer en ek weer 'n normale lewe kan lei. Aan die anderkant, wat is normaal nou weer?

Vir die eerste keer stem ek toe gisteraand saam met onse Naas, oor die massa-obstruksie wat hulle, wies HULLE, 'n dryfmaalbeweging noem. Hoe op dees aarde stop jy nou so 'n gedoente. My voorstel, stop dit met 'n rëel, en die kern kan so lui; die speler met die bal moet te alle tye reg voor in so 'n dryf-formasie wees en die bal moet altyd sigbaar wees vir die verdedigende span. Soos dit nou gaan weet net die baldraer waar die bal is.

Terwyl ek nou besig is om nuwe rugbyrëels uit te dink wil ek sommer die vinnige tikskop met die toekenning van 'n straf, 'n meer regverdige toegewing sien. Indien so 'n vinnige tikskop geneem word sodra 'n straf toegeken is, moet die verdedigend span toegelaat word om onmiddelik aan die spel deel te neem. Die rede hiervoor is dat die onus en keuse (verrassing) lê by die span/speler om dit uit te oefen al dan nie en hulle moet die gevolge dra. Dit is menslik onmoontlik vir enige verdediger om onmiddelik en teen die spoed van lig, vyf tot tien meter terug te val.

Wat is julle ander manne se mening van die twee rëels?

Koos Carelse

Hi Lucas

Re: Oom Neels

Jy is 100% korrek in jou opsomming oor die ref storie. Ek weet ook nou al by die tyd dat ons as SA ondersteuners as swak verloorders gebrandmerk word elkekeer as ons verloor, maar dat daar soveel "inconsistancy" is betreffende skeidsregters waarin SA spanne betrokke is verbaas my lankal nie meer nie vir die eenvoudige rede dat ek sedert 1996 statistieke het oor die Super 12 en van hoe ons as SA'kaners al sedert daai tyd bedonnerd word. Ek het hierdie stats aan SARFU, Freek Burger en 100de mense in SA gestuur en weet jy wat, tot vandag het ek nog nie 'n "boo" of "baa" daaroor gehoor nie, nie eers 'n e-mail oor "erkenning van ontvangs" nie? 

Laat ek jou dan ook Oom Neels in geen onduideklike terme vertel dat daai stats van my dag, datum, tyd, plek, name ens bevat so ek praat nie deur my nek nie en ek is net so gatvol vir hierdie refs wat my blou moord wegkom en vet salarisse bly verdien. Rugby Union soos ons dit noem is ligjare agter by sokker en rugby liga en hiermee bedoel ek die manier van reels toepas ens. Ek stem saam met jou oor die Sharks se game. Ek wil jou nou vinnig een of twee issues uitlig oor laas week se games - Auckland Blues vs Chiefs - Doug Howlett vleuel druk 'n drie wat hy toeval in die doelgebied vanaf 'n skop van Spencer, maar Howlett was nie minder as 3 meter voor die skopper nie my maat, maar die drie word toegeken. Goed toegegee die ref het hom nie gesien nie, maar waar is daai sogenaamde kantmanne, wat eerstens ook die reels BEHOORT te ken, wat veronderstel is om die ref van hulp by te staan, wat so vinnig is om uit te wys wanneer 'n SA'kaner iemand slaan. Kan Andre Watson ons hiereen asb verduidelik? Dan noem ek hiereen tog so graag want lyk my dit maak monde tjoepstil? 

Jy weet van Maart 1999 se e-mail vanaf NZ rugby Unie na Australie Rugby Unie waarin 'n beampte van NZ rugby die aussies meedeel "We will not tell the South Africans about the changes so to teach the Japies a lesson" Die e-mail is per ongeluk ook na SA Rugby Unie gestuur omdat die NZ rugby Unie beampte vergeet het om de SA Rugby Unie adres te verwyder? Soos gewoonlik kom Riaan Oreborsel se reaksie as "Jammer ons haal asem manne. Dankie dat ons nogtans saam en teen jullle mag rugby speel" Nie regtig so nie, maar in daardie tipe van jammerlike, hoed in die hand, soort van papbroekige slapgat houding - so tipes van SA'kaners instede daarvan dat hulle 'n IRB hofsaak beveel om ondersoek in te stel na "ongeruimdhede" in die lig van die e-mail? Ek bedoel word die Springbok tot vandag toe nog nie van voedsel vergiftiging gebrandmerk nie en glo jy my maar vry die kiwis glo dit met hart en siel. 

Sedert Maart 1999 na daai e-mail het die SA spanne in die Super 12 se wen persentasie met 33% gestyg, selfs games begin wen met refs van Aust en NZ by hulle NOOIT games kon wen nie? Wil jy my stats he? Stuur my 'n e-mail na trichardt@xtra.co.nz en ek sal dit met die grootste graagte jou aanstuur. Nadat die Bokke toe die All Blacks uit die daarop volgende Wereld Beker uithaal in die QF, was ons "back to square one" in die Super 12 tot vandag toe? Daar is mos net een stel reels dan nie? Wat praat ek tog alles. Ek is maar net 'n rugby kyker, dis al!

Frans
by

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About time the SA clubs turned up to a Super 12, it was getting a bit dull without you!
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