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|Volume 2, Week 12|
|Brilliant! How many Cats and
Bulls players does it take to screw in a light bulb? Correct, you’ve
guessed it, none, they remain in the dark and there is no hope of
light out there! The usual three losses and a defeat over the weekend left
me in wonderful spirit, SA rugby has managed to achieve the one lacking
ingredient ever since our readmission into world rugby in 1992,
This is not another whining session as a matter of fact I thoroughly enjoyed the Sharks and Stormers matches, both teams played with confidence and abundance and yes there were mistakes, in the Sharks case match-losing mistakes but the men were out there playing their hearts out and proving some much needed points.
1. There are players with skill and vision in SA.
2. We have forwards strong enough to compete.
3. We can score tries.
The “cheating” referee debate continues but an interesting letter from a referee (see letters to the editor) might not alter opinions but definitely provide another, first hand, point of view. At the end of the day, we need these officials and very few critiques will come close to making the correct decisions every time baring in mind the myriad of interpretations and the minefield that rugby rules have become.
One positive thought is, with all the attention focused on the performance of the men in the middle they are acutely aware of the necessity to remain neutral at all times. The result may be a more damning attitude towards South African teams because face it the quantity of elementary errors are ridiculous, SA players do not listen to the referees and warning calls are not headed - guaranteed the referees will have justification for every penalty awarded, it is up to our players and teams to change this scenario. Or the poor referees will leave our teams alone and look at the opposition only; a resurrection of the Titanic is more likely.
The new book Nick and I by Rob van der Valk and Andy Colquhoun is a very interesting story and analysis of the South African rugby scenario. At a breakfast launch of the book, Nick Mallett was the guest speaker and he regaled the 400 strong audience with a typical charismatic, forthright speech and answering session. The book is excellent and well worth the read especially since the author was in a position to evaluate all the happenings from varied angles, players, manager and coach.
A few of the points Mallett made and present in the book is worth noting and they follow randomly:
The breakfast was an eye opener and Mallett’s remark made in New
Zealand a few year ago that the South African rugby public knows very
little about professional, modern rugby is certainly a fair assessment.
How to improve this and many of the points above are thrown squarely in
front of the administrator’s door.
|"More turgid ramblings from an armchair cynic" by Tom Marcellus|
Being an avowed fan of the grizzled, school master-type rugger coach, not to mention a country bumpkin fresh from the rolling hills of the Natal Midlands, it was not difficult for me to find favour with the appointment of Herr Straeuli as the new Bok supremo. I have often, in these hallowed pages, waxed lyrical about the virtues as I see them of this meaty fellow, in whose outwardly grim bearing we can all recognise the qualities that made some coaches, from the fierce Oubaas Markőtter in the early years of the last century to the late Kitch Christie in more recent times, such outstanding personalities in Bok folklore.
But allow me to play devil's advocate for a while, if you please. By the same token, I must admit that I recognise very similar qualities in one G. Smal, whose similarly robust attitude towards the coaching of his highly-paid but often surprisingly delicate charges is well known. Of course, the person most qualified to pass judgment on the more vigorous qualities that the Stormers' coach possesses is Gary "Cessna" Knight, he of All Blacks fame and Cavaliers infamy. After all, it was the aforementioned Mr. Knight who ended up hyperventilating on the lush Ellis Park pitch one winter's day in 1986, courtesy of his making unexpected contact with Mr. Smal's oversized fist. Good Knight, nurse – I think he preferred the flour bomb, thanks very much.
Indeed, in playing terms, it does not seem unfair to say that Smal was many times the player that Straeuli was, despite the latter's obvious success as a member of the World Cup-winning team of 1995. But afore ye cry foul for this blasphemy, at least allow me to rely on none other than Doc Craven for reinforcement. The Good Doctor sang the praises of Smal – and it wasn't just because he was a fellow Matie either. Sadly, the Province flanker, like so many of the abundantly-talented players of his generation, remains all-but forgotten when the names of the all-time great players are mentioned.
But I digress – let's get back to the debate, cunningly disguised as a can of worms, that I referred to earlier, i.e. that between the relative virtues of coach Straeuli and coach Smal. The popular view is that the key issue in the minds of the deciding panel was the former's successes in the Super 12 of 2001, when he miraculously managed to turn around Reece-Edwards' dismal Shark Attack (Nibble, more likely) of 2000 into subsequent Currie Cup contenders and Super 12 runners-up. Smal, on the other hand, despite enjoying success over his east coast rival in successive Currie Cup finals, had not enjoyed such success on the international stage.
Being a suspicious fellow, and bearing this apparent emphasis on international laurels in mind, I wonder whether the esteemed judging panel would have re-considered their selection, had they had the benefit of being able to consider the opening games of this year's Super 12? After the 2002 Super 12 pipe-openers, the change in the fortunes of the two coaches was one of the talking points where-ever Japie rugby fans met. Whereas Smal somehow managed to galvanise his squad of perennial under-achievers into (initially, at least) the standard bearers of the SA provincial game, the new Bok coach was forced to endure one drubbing after another.
In fact, to this humble scribe it seemed as if much, if not all, of the advantage derived by Straeuli over his rival by his successes in last year's Super 12 (naturally, his stint of village rugger in Bedford didn't count) had been rubbed out by the string of defeats of 2002. With the 2001 successors thus cancelled out, all that separated the two protagonists was their relative successes in the domestic game. Here, Smal, with his successive Currie Cup championship victories, was unmatched.
To the armchair cynic, it may appear that the current Bok coach has managed to secure his position by what seems to have been an unjustified emphasis by the panel on his initial, fleeting international successes. The self-same cynic would probably then conclude that Straeuli has ridden his luck as far as it will go and that his true colours as a coach of international stature (or otherwise) are only now becoming evident. The selectors' haste to rid themselves of the spiky-haired Leatherman has led them to plump for Straeuli before they were able to assess him properly, our sedentary mate mutters to himself, as he adds another dollop of cream to his gooseberry tart.
Time, i.e. the next few months of international preparation and battle, will only tell whether the selectors' choice of opting for the grizzle-eared ex-flanker was the correct one. Being an avowed fan of the granite-faced new coach, however, I am confident that Straeuli will, at the very least, make the best of a potentially diabolical situation.
In the meantime, Mr. Smal, as he waits in the wings, will have more reason then most to occasionally check the back pages of the Sunday Times over his morning croissants. In the merry-go-round of Springbok coaching, his day of glory will surely come.
Of course, Andrė Watson's favourite parrot-on-his-back, the excitable Mr. Putt, will also no doubt have good reason to keep abreast with developments on the back page of that noble publication. He may check out the odd rugger score, too. Given his not unremarkable turn-around of the fortunes of the Sharks in recent weeks, could it not be argued that we have the wrong man in the job? After all, a 67% win record in the Super 12 is not to be sneezed at (he said ever-so tongue in cheek). But I think not. After all, the mere physical dimensions of Straeuli, with his meaty frame and stern countenance, inspire confidence in us huddled, tremulous masses.
Putt, whose Guinness-guzzling buddies at London Irish won the English Cup in style on the weekend, will soon no doubt learn the harsh realities of being a provincial rugby coach in SA. In the meantime, let him savour the joys of sporadic triumph, self-assured for the time being that he has opted for the right career.
Messrs Frans Ludeke and Heynecke Meyer, I suspect, have little or none of this cockiness. Fish-packing in Iceland, anyone?
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|Towards the Final Countdown by Desmond Organ|
|As we approach
the final few matches of the Super 12, South Africans can be forgiven for
looking forward to the test series against Wales and the Tri Nations
competition. This is not a case of sour grapes; rather a desperate desire
to erase the memories of what has been a miserable last two
The perennial evils of South African sport have raised their ugly presence and to elaborate here is stating the obvious, instead I will attempt to outline some of the positive developments of the last few weeks in the hope that a small miracle occurs in the next couple of months.
The appointment of Rudolf Straeuli as national coach has given us the hope that there will at least be some sober discipline and a return to several of the traditional strengths of Springbok rugby. Nick Mallet may have shot himself in the foot when he stated that South Africa will battle to make the semi-finals of the World Cup. I say this because there is absolutely no doubt that the national team will again bring a level of fear to their opponents, especially in the forwards.
I was surprised to learn of the decision to retain Tim Lane as part of the coaching core. This may have a lot to do with the fact that the Springbok business unit has paid a lot of money for this resource and he was really not in a professional environment under Harry. The time has come for him to show us that he has the ability and the knowledge required to unleash a competitive backline. I know that he should look beyond Straeuli for expertise in this area.
The performances of both the Sharks and the Stormers over the last weekend led me to believe that we may just have enough talent to provide Mr. Straeuli with the 22 players for the series against Wales. It is extremely disappointing to see the Bulls and the Cats dish up their weekly trash, a better word is hard to come by. So much of this has to do with the regional structures put together by SARFU and this has simply got to change next year.
The Sharks management has found a potential jewel in Kevin Putt and the players that he chooses to represent the Sharks in the Currie Cup may include a few surprises. Several of the old guard may well find themselves playing even more golf than is the case at present, maybe that was the problem in the first place. This might just be what is needed for some of the players at the Bulls and the Cats.
The proposed trial match for the national team is not a bad idea if one considers that we will probably not be in the semi finals of the Super 12. One thing is for sure, it will give some of the injured players a chance to prove their ability. It may also be an opportunity for us to watch some of the glamour boys to be brought down to earth. Playing the game at altitude and in the mid afternoon may be just what the doctor ordered. We need players that can play for 80 minutes.
Prepare for a few surprises when the final group of players is announced. Several of the more familiar faces of Springbok rugby last year may well find themselves in the dark. Bob Skinstad has got to play out of his skin if he is to deny several players the chance to wear the no 8 jersey, the same can be said for Conrad Jantjes in the no 15 jersey and for Dean Hall in the no 11 jersey. Corné Krige and A.J Venter are the only current loose forwards likely to be retained. Johan Conradie has just about claimed the no 9 jersey and the person to join him at no 10 is the most uncertain of all the selections.
The tight five could also see a few new faces and the retirement of the old. Mark Andrews is not a certainty and the coach must find an enforcer to replace him. Albert van den Bergh and Hottie Louw have given us a lot to feel good about and so has Quinton Davids. Victor Matfield will need to visit Bobby and company to discuss their plans for playing exceptional rugby in the next few weeks. Ollie Le Roux has been given a life line with the arrival of Kevin Putt at the Sharks and should focus on getting even fitter. John Smit is almost a certainty at no 2 as Tjoepie van den Heever cannot throw the ball in with any consistency.
The back three of the Purse, Slap Chips and Paulse looks set to return, with a strong challenge from Terblanché. In the midfield we may have a combination of surprises. The only certainty at this point is De Wet Barry. The no 13 jersey could go to one of Ettienne Botha or Clyde Rathbone.
For what it is worth here is an early prediction of the final 22 for Wales.
15. The Purse
13. Botha or Rathbone
6. Krige (capt)
5. Louw or Matfield
4. van den Bergh
1. Le Roux
Van Biljon (depends on injury)
|“What are the Cats and Bulls good for?” by Mark Foster|
Ah, yet another week of Super 12 rugby and again a sad
report of South African results however two sides are displaying the kind
of guts and determination SA supporters demand, the Sharks and the
Stormers. The competition is now in the final quarter and with three
matches remaining a post mortem may be premature but for the Cats and the
Bulls the fat lady has sung, where did it all go wrong for these two
|Super 12 Log|
Rugby Forum Super 12 XV
Rugby Forum Springbok XV
1. Bill Young (Brumbies)
|1. Daan Human
2. John Smit (Sharks)
3. Faan Rautenbach (Stormers)
4. Albert van den Bergh (Sharks)
5. Hottie Louw (Stormers)
6. Corné Krige (Stormers)
7. A.J. Venter (Sharks)
8. Sean Sowerby (Sharks)
9. Johannes Conradie (Stormers)
10. Andre Pretorius (Cats)
11. Pieter Rossouw (Stormers)
12. De Wet Barry (Stormers)
13. Ettienne Botha (Bulls)
14. Breyten Paulse (Stormers)
15. Percy Montgomery (Stormers)
|After a brain scan - It went well. There are no
problems, and, as a bonus, it showed that I have a
brain! Corne Krige
On SA rugby administrators - It's like turkeys voting for
Christmas. Alan Solomons
|Letters to the Editor (firstname.lastname@example.org)|
It is with some trepidation that I write this e-mail. You see, I am one of the “enemies”, i.e. a referee. I am still in the lower ranks at club rugby level and in my fourth season. I have in other words been on the receiving end of a fair amount of abuse.
What a bunch of moaners we are. We have exhausted all possible avenues to justify our poor performance and have now settled on a new culprit, the referee. Much easier than sweeping in front of your own door, or as they say in Afrikaans “hand in eie boesem steek”.
I doubt that many people are aware of the fact that in any given match a referee has to make on average 400 decisions. Take for example the kick-off, “Is the correct kick being taken? Are there any players in front of the kicker? Is it taken on the correct spot? Has the ball traveled 10 meters?” And once the ball alights, believe me, all hell breaks loose!
Players make mistakes, referees make mistakes. Every international, provincial and first league referee gets assessed in the finest detail. I doubt any one of them enjoys having all his ” transgressions” pointed out to him on a regular basis. We all aspire to the impossible perfect game. I have heard the argument that they are professionals. Yes they are, so are doctors, lawyers, sportsmen and women. And yes, they also make mistakes. It is just such a pathetic whining attitude to assume that South Africa is being targeted.
And next time the likes of Mr. Colin van Rensburg is at a club or school game, spare a thought for the referee (who is not being paid), and tone down the abuse. But then referee bashing is a sport in itself. Like professional armchair sportsmen, they are the real experts!
|Thank you for your input Jenny! You mention
that referees are evaluated on a per match basis, is it possible to give
the readers any insight into:
a. What do assessors look at in every match, are there
Maybe it will help to clear up a lot of misunderstanding as you can
see, the supporters are "slightly" unhappy!
Regarding Tom's column and reminiscing over the past, I would like to
add that during the so called 70's while you were watching the Currie Cup
final, the Durbanites were not all choosing between Blou Bulles and
Province whom to support, as during those years football and cricket was
so well supported by us English folk that we were more concerned about our
own Currie Cup, the likes of Durban United, Durban City and the once great
football stadium of Kingsmead was filled to capacity, not Kingspark. I was
part of that past Tom is talking about and due to it my family and other
family( such as Butch James) were forced to change and follow rugby but
the past is history and from it we have become smarter and learnt our
mistakes from it. Yet I see the same thing happening, years ago I
predicted to an Afrikaans rugby supporting colleague that what happened to
football in South Africa will happen to rugby, this I predicted right
after South Africa won the world cup. He denied this said I was crazy, he
is/was a staunch Transvaal/Lions/Cats yet two weeks ago on a Saturday
afternoon when I phoned him while the Cats were playing the Chiefs in
Bloemfontein, he was outside gardening.
|Greetings Mr Editor|
Thanks for a great publication, it's great to read and hear what other fans think about SA Rugby.
On to that most feared of subjects: Biased Referee's. Reading through the last few issues it is plain to see that
many SA fans fell that we are being 'done in' by the Az and NZ referee's. Chaps let us look no further than our own Tappe Henning and Andre' Watson for biased whistle blowing. I would far rather have a 'foreign' ref that one of the two stalwarts mentioned above in charge of a rugby game.
As for TV refs lets look no further than the dodgy try awarded to Bolla Conradie by a SA ref, in SA, at Newlands.
So lets remove the SA blinkers/bias and look at ALL refs, not only the foreign contingent before we start crying and throwing the dummy out of the cot!!
Three cheers to Tom Marcellus.
His deep love and knowledge of this most sacred of games and its rich traditions is self-evident. In an age where it is so easy to be caught up in the fast paced excitement of overdone sponsor-dictated tournaments and quickly forgotten arbitrary games, it is easy to lose sight of the game's humble origins and the humility of its pathfinders.
Mr Marcellus' well-written weekly excursions into the game's heritage is a surreptitious reminder that while the present over-paid yet under-performing crop of rugby "rock-stars" enjoy the substantial financial rewards of the game, there are those long forgotten greats that expected nothing but the privilege and honour of being part of a proud tradition and a wonderful game. Even though they were only amateurs, they managed to play week-in and week-out as if their very lives depended on it.
Fortunately players of the caliber of Honiball and Kruger in the recent past and presently Krige, Visagie and Van Biljon are keeping the heritage alive. Sadly though this list of current players is far too short.
That aside, I can't wait for Mr Marcellus to recount the tale of Colin Meads and Kel Tremain's attempts to keep the one-eyed Springbok flanker Martin Pelser away from all black scrumhalf, Kevin Briscoe, in the 1960 test series. Is Krige the Pelser of the class of 2002? I think he is.
Keep up the good work.
Is it not amazing that it takes a foreign coach to come and teach use skills, look at the cats under mains and the huge difference in the sharks this last weekend under putt.
Just goes to show the mindset of coaches of this country and it seems to be that because we have big men here we must bash our way through any team in our way...what a silly outlook and in the long run leads to players crying off injured and complaining about the number of games they are playing and all the other complaints that you hear from the players and there union.
I would like to suggest that these guys are covering up the real problem and that is that they are not having fun anymore, would you be? running into the opposition all year round is not where the fun is in this game but wrong footing him, seeing in his eyes the realization that you have him by the short and curies or putting that last pass in, now that's fun. I just wish that SA coaches could see the advantage that they have, you see size is something that this country is blessed with, we are born that way BUT SKILL IS NOT INHERITED, IT IS TAUGHT so if they want to improve the rugby in SA don't think that a guy who is chosen does not need to keep on practicing skills, these are his bread and butter and he must keep them fresh.
The other big difference in the sharks first half was that they stayed on there feet, you see if the ball is in the hands it will be (80% of the time) going forward and leaving defenders behind it, put it on the ground and it stops and allows the defense to reform and the bashing has to start all over again were as with a bit of skill and staying on your feet you get your man behind the defence and going forward with runners up his behind ready to continue the momentum.
Hoping to see more this weekend
Yes I did go to Ixopo and my playing days their were the best of my rugby, thanks largely to Giles and the manner he made us play the game, both at school and club level.
Now to more current matters and the disaster we call SA rugby were we saw yet again SA teams playing rugby to structures, which our coaches don't seem to realize are readable like a Hustler mag, so's week in and week out) and when you can read your opponents game you can plan your defense, because if you know that the ball will go to him and he will do this that is easy to stop and the modus operandus of SA teams is hit, go to ground, drive over so to defend this let him through the first line and he will isolate himself, let him hit and go to ground and then slow his ball down, at this point he will either hold on for a penalty to you or lose the ball to you as a turn over offering you a counter attack option that has his players all out of shape with no real defense in place.
To fix this is so easy, STAY ON YOUR FEET AND WAIT FOR SUPPORT RUNNERS, lay off and continue to drive a wedge into there defenses this will do two things for you 1,leave defenders behind the ball where YOU WANT THEM.2,the defenders that are still in front of the ball will now have to DEFEND TO THE BALL AND IN DOING THAT LEAVE THERE CHANNELS EXPOSED.
THIS IS JUST A SMALL TWEAK AND THE COACHES IN SA SHOULD BE SEEING THIS.
Until we speak again
My mondvol oor refs soos ook gestuur aan Naas en Arnie
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