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|Volume 2, Week 7
Brilliant! And before another reader lays the boot in for my use of this adjective, let me explain; no matter how bad our rugby perceive to be the game remains a wonderful spectacle that I as a supporter enjoy immensely. I think it is bloody brilliant to be able to watch this game we love and every time I watch a moment of sheer genius – and there is one in every match from tests to the Koekenaab under 9’s, I think it is brilliant!
South African rugby is becoming like the old joke about the boy who never spoke about his brother and after some prompting he admitted that his brother was in jail, saying, “we love him but don’t really want to talk about him!” It is becoming more and more painful to talk or write about the South African effort in the Super 12 especially since every other frigging country’s experts are having a field day!
Yes, it is not moonshine and roses at the moment with all the Super 12 losses and I wont insult any of you by saying, it’s just a game but there are a host of positives as described by Mark Foster in his column today. It only takes one performance to catalyze a major swing in fortune; the Bulls almost accomplished the impossible and even though they failed showed the Stormers how to breach the Brumbies’ defence.
The new Sharks coach is Kevin Putt and he will take over his duties on April 1, and let’s all hope he is no April Fool. There are many doubts over his experience as a coach especially at the Super 12 level, an international competition. Laurie Mains, the straight talking ex-Cats and Highlanders coach reiterated the need for experience in the competition, both in playing personnel and in the coaching structures. The wily old Kiwi’s been there done that, lost a World Cup and as far as experience go has plenty, and is not shy of parting with his thoughts and beliefs. Roped in by the Otago Rugby Union after semi retirement, the New Zealanders use of their experienced coaches to part knowledge on the young is both commendable and makes a lot of sense. South African administrators, take notice and oh yes look at the results!
The Six Nations continue and France need to conquer Scotland at Murrayfield to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive, England play the Welsh while Ireland take on the Italians. The competition is one of the best in ages and the kind of rugby produced by France, England and Ireland is serious food for thought. The northern hemisphere is craving a first win in the World Cup and maybe just maybe a win is within their grasp. Blasphemy I hear you say?
The whole argument about the Super 14/Super 12 and the bad performances by many of the teams (mostly ours) have sparked an interesting debate about promotion and relegation. Since it’s all about money - TV revenues, sponsorship etc. teams are incentivised to play in the Super 12 competition. A concept where by the bottom two teams on the league “lose” their franchise or something similar has been thrown around. Firstly, the Super 14 wont work, the competition will be devalued and the players cannot handle all the rugby. A promotion/relegation system does wonders for standards but all it will entail is a change of guise and the same players will be chosen by different coaches and once again from a South African point of view we lose all continuity.
One last thought, rugby has changed in many ways over the years but it is strange to see so many old ideas reappear. Playing from deep behind the advantage line was seen as a sure way to lose field position especially against strong tackling backlines. Watch the Brumbies play from miles behind the advantage line, their backs are well disciplined in delaying their runs and they attack the ball, not the advantage line at speed and with great hands and innovative play create space with pace and passing élan. The Waratahs – same thing, when last did you see a player (Matt Rogers) beat his man (Danie van Schalkwyk) with pure speed in a one on one situation? The counter for this rugby was Pieter Muller and Japie Mulder style of defence, there are few Pieter Muller’s around hence the success of this tactic – can we revive the crash tackling Springbok please?
The weekend promises excellent matches and none more than the clash at Newlands, the Stormers need all the luck they can get and with their best game and the TV ref may just spring a surprise. The Bulls took one little step in the right direction, they now need two or three more.
Enjoy all the rugby on offer!
|"Lessons from the Louisville Lip" by Tom Marcellus
|With all the death and destruction going on in our rugby, I
have had to find solace in other sports of late. It may well be a bit like
Hugh Grant having to resort to a 10-dollar wh*re for his kicks (not that I
know much about such things), but motor racing has provided some stirring
moments, and the curling at the Winter Olympics was a real treat. Cricket,
however, remains about as enticing as an Ebola-infested swamp.
I must admit that the highlight of my sporting month was my viewing a week ago of Will Smith's tour de force in "Ali". The movie was like a cup of cool spring water after a long trek across the Kalahari, and I (and millions of moviegoers around the world) were treated to scenes of Ali in his sporting and verbal-jousting prime. For the record, let me say that I am no ra-ra-ranting fan of Smith, whose smarmy, "Fresh Prince" mouth and beanpole frame seemed inappropriate for the portrayal of a superman like Ali. But I was pleasantly surprised by the final product: it is no lie that Smith moves like Ali, looks like Ali, and (perhaps hardest of all) talks like Ali. Whether he was portraying the young, over-excited Cassius Marcellus Clay at the weigh-in before the first Liston bout, or Ali sauntering down downtown Kinshasa 10 years later, Smith managed a more than passable impersonation of the great man.
With the benefit of hindsight, how splendid it would have been if Ali had hung up his gloves immediately after his eighth-round KO of the lumbering, seemingly dull-witted Foreman. He was 32 by then, and it was already apparent to boxing aficionados that he would never again display the sublime form that he had shown before the Vietnam War debacle. Enoch Powell once wrote that "All political lives, unless they are cut off in mid-stream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs". The same is true of sporting careers, none more so than that of Ali.
He continued to box for another 7 years after his African odyssey. In fact, as he went down in defeat to Larry Holmes, Ali cut such a wretched figure by the end that many fans in the audience were in tears. Even his hardened opponent, who had once been his junior sparring partner, did not want to hit him any more. As one commentator said at the time: "This fight was billed as 'The Last Hurrah', but it should have been called 'Death of a Salesman'".
Of course it does not always have to end that way. Although his last test series in the All Black no 5 jumper ended in disappointment, as he was the losing skipper against the all-conquering '71 Lions, the great Pine Tree Meads was at the height of his playing powers when he retired from test rugger at the ripe old age of 35. Similarly, our own great Frik du Preez, despite having played countless seasons of top-flight rugby, ended off his career in triumph, with an away series victory against the '71 Wallabies.
Kim Shippey relates the story of Frik's farewell gathering in the change-room after the last test. His Springbok team-mates gathered 'round the old war-horse in tribute, after he had donned the Green 'n Gold in anger for the 38th and final time. Speeches were made in his honour, and his fellow Boks awaited his response with suitable reverence. Beloved throughout the rugby-playing world for his wit and flair, the giant lock, for once, was silent. And so he remained, sitting on a bench in the corner of the change-room, twirling a can of Castle in his banana-like fingers. Returning his silence with their own, his team-mates paid mute tribute to arguably the greatest Springbok of all time. As Shippey later recalled, "It was the most eloquent non-speech I have ever heard".
Some great sportsmen, the golfer, Bobby Jones, Bjorn Borg, and the Welsh wizard, Barry John, all spring immediately to mind, end their careers at the height of their powers. Sadly, those 3 luminaries are the exception rather than the norm, and many great sportsmen, from Ali to the more recent examples of Sampras, Gascoigne and Jordan, linger on in the spotlight long after their glory days have passed them by. As Winston Churchill once wrote of one of his own political contemporaries: "The morning was golden; the noon brass; and the evening lead". A last hurrah, indeed.
With a new coach now in charge and bearing in mind the pitiful Super 12 performances of some of our leading players, it doesn't take an Edwil van Aarde to realise that there is going to be blood on the streets of down-town Doornfontein after the first Bok selection meeting in a few months' time. Perhaps some of our trusted old war-horses had better do that DIY course that they had always wanted to do, but had put-off till later. "Later" may be upon them, and they may soon find themselves with a little more time on their hands than ever before.
If so, they can at least take solace in the plight of the man from Louisville, Kentucky; the man they still call "The Greatest".
|Six Nations by Desmond Organ
Following another predictable weekend of Super 12 rugby, it
will be refreshing to watch some action from the Northern Hemisphere. The
Six Nations has been anything but boring this year and this Saturday
should provide us with some interesting post match debate.
|The Power of Positive Thinking by Mark Foster
Positive, think positive – this was my thought before
writing this weekly column. Of course it is easier said than done and the
famous quote from Boy Louw “looks at the scoreboard” is a chilling
reminder of another result less weekend for SA rugby. Yes for those of you
in Outer Mongolia - no victories for the second time in four weeks and the
nightmare that is Super 12, 2002, continues…
|Super 12 Log
Rugby Forum Super 12 XV
|After 4 weeks in the
competition there has been some stand out performances by various
individuals however, consistency in selection is a sure way to success!
1. Bill Young (Brumbies)
|What has happened to the South African sides? It was
suggested to me by someone who knows the South African rugby situation
well that many of the front-line players have accepted contracts to play
in Europe and that other Test players find the Super12 so tough they go on
the "injured" list until the end of the tournament. Spiro Zavos, Sydney
Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising each and
every time we fail. Confucious
I think I've always had the shots. But in the past, I've suffered too many mental lapses. Now, I'm starting to get away from that and my mental discipline and commitment to the game are much better. I think I'm really taking a good luck at the big picture. That's the difference between being around for the final or watching the final from my sofa at home. Andre Agassi
|Letters to the Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I was just thinking the transformation process is working and that we
should include more players of colour in our national teams. Look at
Ashwell Prince in the first test, Paul Adams and Makaya Ntini (again) in
the second test. Then we can take it further to Bobo, Jacobs, Conradie and
Davids. These guys perform under the cloud of quota players. They have a
point to prove.
I am a great believer in the p's of rugby....pace, power, position and possession and the rugby played in South Africa has all of these in abundance, however none of them are any good without the most important one of the lot...passion.
The passion in our rugby has been replaced with pay, the more pro we have become the less passion we have to the detriment of rugby, the only passion left in rugby is in the stands and that is starting to wear thin, Shark fans are tired of seeing all that talent on the field coming to naught and the only Red that they are seeing now is in their hearts, these guys are not having any fun they are just doing there jobs so they can get there pay and get free drinks and meals and strut their stuff off the field rather than on it.
Pro sport is full of examples of pro's who lost it and refound there passion to rise up again, Ernie Els being a resent one. For years the southern hemisphere talked about how bad the northern hemisphere played rugby and guess what they did? They used that to ignite the passion in their game, all they really want to do is kick sh*t out of us from the south.
I had a chat to Garth Giles, the director of coaching for the NRU the
other day, a man who coached me in a small country town and it is still
spoken about to this day how with limited resources achieved so much
through passion for the game and was shocked that a man of such passion
said to me that we must realize that the game is now pro, this from a man
who we would have crawled a mile over broken glass to win. South African
rugby has too many Bob Skinstad's, guys with great talent but no heart and
who's love for rugby is as deep as the cheque they
Andre, my guess is you played for Ixopo? I remember Garth Giles from my school boy rugby days, he was a legend as you said and it is indeed sad to hear how "things have changed". Ed
Graag spreek ek my uit teen mnr. Mbeki se verloor taktiek vir Suid-Afrika:
Tegnies en sielkundig gaan ek nie raak nie. Selfs 'n laerskool kind sal nie met so 'n toekomsplan tevrede
Die fout vir transformasie moet verder as net by ontwikkeling gesoek word. Ek glo dat krieket en rugby nou genoeg geld daarop gemors het.
Alles begin by geleenthede. Geleenthede wat sekere mense konsuis nooit gehad het nie. Vergeet asseblief nou die politiek, want dit het niks met my skrywe en standpunt te doen nie.
Het witmense al die geleenthede gehad? Ek glo dit sluit fasiliteite in. In Stampriet, Namibie, is 'n skool met 'n gruisbaan vandag nog waarop skool- en klubrugby gespeel is. Ek self het gedurende 1974 in Bloemfontein op 'n geploegde land rugby geoefen.
Het dit my en ander daarvan weerhou om te speel ? Nee, ons het dit geniet en daarom volg ons die sport vandag nog geesdriftig.
Wat is die rede vir my en ander se entoesiasme ? AFRIGTERS. By blanke skole het onderwysers sport afgerig met of sonder kennis. Hulle het gelees en hulp gevra by kenners.
Vandag nog by veral swart skole doen die onderwysers niks. Nie eens sokker word afgerig nie. Die wat dit wel doen, weet nie wat hulle doen nie. Kyk na ons sokker in S.A..
Kinders het op skoolvlak nie ordentlike afrigting gekry nie, daarom is die gehalte van ons sokker swak. Dit is waar die probleem by ons sport le. Nie by rugby wat te wit is nie.
Die probleem le by lui onderwysers in sekere groepe wat nie die kinders in enige sport afrig nie. Dit is nie fasiliteite en te wit spanne se skuld nie. Wanneer almal begin gee en ophou om net te wil ontvang, sal ons sport en aansien in die wereld verbeter.
Verder moet feite erken word. Ek het by 'n ou blanke skool gewerk waar rugby die sport was. As gevolg van veranderinge en die feit dat die skool later nog net 'n 1/4 van sy ou blanke leerlinge oorgehad het, het rugby gesterf.
Nie omdat daar nie fasiliteite of afrigters was nie, maar omdat die swart kinders en ouers gevra het vir sokker. Die chaos by wedstryde en die organisasie sal ek nie beskryf nie. Net dat op aandrang van die ouers is dit gestop. Nou speel die kinders wedstryde teen mekaar by die skool.
Ek doen dus 'n beroep op almal en die regering om op te hou diskrimineer en kla. Leer darem een positiewe ding by Zimbabwe. Laat sport sy gang gaan. Moenie kla oor wit of swart nie. Wees trots op jou ambassadeurs.
Kies ook asseblief administrateurs wat wil werk en nie net vet word nie. Hulle verswak ons aansien in die wereld. Ek glo dat na 8 jaar, almal genoeg tyd gegun is om aan te pas en te verbeter. Net die wat wil en dit verdien moet ons op alle vlakke verteenwoordig.
Kry die wortels van ons sport reg en ons sal nie meer kleur sien nie, maar sportmanne en -vroue wat ons land trots maak al is die span te wit of swart.
Ek hoop die land lees my skrywe en dat iemand dit sal publiseer. Ek wil net he ons moet vorentoe gaan en sal graag met mnr. Mbeki wil gesels.
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