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Rugby Forum - Vol 3, Week 1
Rugby Forum - Vol 3, Week 1
(The week that was, a South African perspective)
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 1 Rugby Forum

Editors Note

Brilliant!     Welcome to RF 2003, in what promises to be the biggest year in international rugby this century! Yes, it is the World Cup year and this event will dominate most thoughts, selections, outcomes and arguments. In deference to the past this year will define most nations’ success and standing in the game we love so dearly. Before we wax too much lyrical about the big event, there is the not so trivial matter of the Six Nations and the Super 12 to deal with! 

The calamitous year of 2002 ended in very sad fashion with the passing of one of the true greats of rugby, Donald Barry Clarke or simply “The Boot”. His exploits on the field were legendary and on the occasions his expert commentary was used on South African television his understanding and love of the game was evident. As a Kiwi known as Winger wrote, “They say Rugby is the game they play in heaven, well there’s one of the all time great fullbacks about to enter the game.”

The Six Nations return for their annual competition and with their magnificent end of year results against the Southern Hemisphere “giants” there are a few teams vying with added confidence. Most will say it’s a two-horse race between France and England however this humble observer begs to differ. The greatness of the competition and the longevity there of was built on surprises and the ability of “smaller” nations to beat their more fancied opponents. The divides at the top of the pile has shrunk and there are a few nations capable of winning against any team in the world given home ground advantage and the bounce of the ball. The likes of Ireland and Scotland pose a big enough threat to two teams who may be too assured that the competition will be decided on the first weekend.

The Super 12 is not far off and there has already been one warm up match between two South African sides, the Bulls and the Stormers. The “trial” match attracted a magnificent crowd of over 40,000 people and with a price tag of R 5 or 30p!!! the Capetonians arrived in full force. The marketing men hopefully learnt a valuable lesson here regarding the economy of ticket prices and crowd attendances. From a rugby perspective it was quite a spectacle and there was some good early season form from Robbie Fleck, who captained the Stormers for a large part of the match, Pieter Rossouw, yes old “Slap Tjips” was cooking!, Jaco Gouws, a new eightman prospect from the Eagles and solid displays from Chris Rossouw, Pat Barnard and Lean van Dyk. 

The Bulls were not great and even though they kept the scoreboard busy by capitalising on Stormers’ mistakes they found it difficult to craft tries through phases or individual brilliance. One player did stand out and he is continuing his excellent form from last year and that is Pedrie Wannenburg. Fourie Du Preez was impressive at scrumhalf when he came on for a short while and the wings John Daniels and Eddie Fredericks displayed great pace out wide. Rudi Joubert has a lot of work to do and if he wants to succeed at this level will need the experience of Joost (yes, can you believe it!) and better options at flyhalf i.e. Hougaard or Francois Swart.

RF welcomes Giampaolo Tassinari to the regular contributors this year, from Italy he will provide us with a European perspective on SA players in Italy and how the Six Nations is progressing. All the other regulars are back and once again my heartfelt thanks for their magnificent articles week in and out! Go have a squiz at the website, it looks a bit different but all the old issues can be found there as well as stats and quotes from the years gone by. This is RF’s third year by the way!!

Looking forward to a great rugby year and in reading your letters.



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

New Beginnings by Tom Marcellus
After a festive season spent forcing down substantial chunks of red meat and copious amounts of amber liquids, much to the ongoing distress of my coronary arteries, I am feeling rather pleased with myself. Or chuffed, as they say down in the Cape. Like a well-fed farmer, as he contemplates an afternoon to be spent idly on the porch, overlooking the back forty, with an air of self-satisfied tranquillity.

But what’s this? Despite my feeling of general contentment, there’s something that’s not quite right. A feeling of unease. A stirring. A slight gnawing in the pit of my over-worked stomach. The rhythms are not quite right, not quite what they should be.

A frown crosses my brow. Muddy black figures emerge suddenly from the deep recesses of my mind. Their faces are twisted in rage. I shudder - the long-awaited swart gevaar is surely upon us, and intent on our destruction. Isandhlawana et al. But wait, these fellows speak in mysterious nasal accents, and talk about “dunnys” and “tinnys”, mate. They are from distant lands – dangers that lurk across the seas. Battle looms. Wild-eyed Antipodeans, fleshy-faced Poms, scowling Frenchies, they all threaten the comforts of my languid thoughts.

A mighty year awaits our heroes, as they try and restore some respect for the little leaping Springbok. We find our rugby at an all-time low and our fans (and possibly our players, too) more wracked with self-doubt than ever before. Even when the Boks were being mismanaged by the Tinted One, this humble arm-chair correspondent was not unduly concerned. After-all, big, mean Rudolf, with his grim face and gnarled ears, was waiting in the wings, and all would be well. 

But that was then and, thanks to that diabolical end-of-season tour, Big Rudi has now lost much of his shine. 

The Super 12 is, of course, the first hurdle that our players have to get over in the rehabilitation of our rugby, and it will provide us with a barometer of sorts for the long season to come. My big worry is that, if our teams lose consistently, as they did last year, how will this effect our players, especially in a World Cup season? The tour last year confirmed to me that many of our players’ minds are not quite up to it and, whatever might have been written about the Boks showing some mongrel in the England game, and there was a bit of it, it still was a ghastly drubbing. Looks to the score-board, old chum.

Big Rudi has some job, me thinks.

But that’s enough grumbling from Anxious Annabel. Sit back and enjoy the finest provincial rugger in the world. Let battle commence!

Join the OFFICIAL SPRINGBOK SUPPORTERS CLUB by contacting 021-438-8185 during office hours or mail http://www.planetnz.com//rugbyheads/admin/restricted/info@springboksupporters.co.za and take advantage of special offers, members discounts and great competitions and prizes!!

Politically Incorrect by Desmond Organ
At last! the end of January has arrived and a new season of rugby around the world. Let’s hope that it is rounded off with a fantastic celebration of the game at the World Cup. So many scores remain to be settled and we may have a Northern Hemisphere winner by the years end. We have had our usual post-season drivel from several commentators the most vocal of which have been the rants from the former Springbok coach, which brings me to the status of the game in South Africa.

Several months ago, I found myself at the forefront of the refusal of the powers that be in South African rugby to allow over zealous criticism of their actions. Let me say from the outset that the nature of a successful journalist is to report the truth, challenge the accepted and raise questions as to the validity of the actions of those in charge. It was thus with a little less trepidation that I embarked on the end of year tour visit to Edinburgh and London. What I found was a receptive community of journalists who were just as eager as I, although somewhat more politically correct in their comments, to ensure that rugby in South Africa was radically re-engineered. I was thus not surprised when I read that the latest issue of SA Rugby was raising a warning flag about the “gagging” of the media by SA Rugby Pty Ltd.

I happened to have the opportunity to talk to a media representative in London about possible connections with Rugby Forum, no surprises then when I was immediately asked as to my relationship with SA Rugby Pty Ltd. I had been warned that there were risks associated with criticising the organization, to the extent that you would be denied all access to any of their contacted partners. I resisted the temptation to push the discussion any further, choosing rather to continue to investigate the allegations and the apparent dictatorial practices of rugby administrators in the halls of South African rugby.

One of the greatest challenges that a writer faces is representing the opinions of the payroll. So many of the opinions that we read are representative of the organization that pays for them, a pity then that this has to be the case with a game like rugby. Let’s face it; it would be naďve to expect anything less as the game is no longer played under the amateur rules of yester years. We have commercialised the game and can thus expect nothing more than the stereotypical behaviour that comes with it. What we can also expect though is a performance-reporting standard that meets basic business requirements and included in that is an ethical approach to dealing with criticism. 

So the majority of rugby supporters in South Africa should be looking for significant improvements in the management of the game at all levels. The financial success of the income statement is not enough as there is any number of ways to manipulate the exchange rate ridden success story. What we are looking for is a professional management of the game along the lines of some of the Provincial organizations that serve as a role model.

The post 1995 euphoria has seen a rapid commercialisation of the game without the development of professional structures to sustain the success of the brand of rugby that South Africa plays. The success of the U21 team last year and the processes that accompanied this are a great motivator to a strategic and managed approach to the game. The pre-season preparations of the regional teams and the so-called co-operation that is reported to exist are a good indicator, what we need now is to continue to do this at all levels. 

What you can be assured of is that there will always be those that do not feed from the trough of the media moguls, who will be “politically incorrect” in their desire to spread the news about the great game of rugby.

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

The Year of the Cup by Vinesh Naicker
The rugby year is about to start and we have the Super 12, Tri-Nations, NPC, Currie Cup and the World Cup to look forward to.

Although we have some great rugby to look forward to, it’s a sad fact of the modern era that it’s almost as if the three years between World Cups do not matter any more. That makes the actual cup year so much more special from that regard.

This year will probably be the last time we see many of the senior players in the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies. A great number will be heading off after the World Cup for the greener pastures of Japan or England to increase their retirement funds.

I suspect that it may be the last year that we see players such as Justin Marshall, Andrew Mehrtens, Jonah Lomu, Tana Umaga and Christian Cullen in the All Black jersey.

Some players have only remained with their national team so that they could have one more crack at being a World Champion. Aside from the prestige it will also substantially increase the salaries they will be able to command in England or Japan. Their motivation to succeed will be the greater for it.

All of this means that there will be a definite edge to the Super 12 this year. I know that the All Black selectors have said that it is a clean slate for everyone and if they want to go to the World Cup they need to prove themselves in the Super 12.

I also expect this will put some added venom into the games between the South African Super 12 teams. It has always been interesting to note that the South African teams seem to pick themselves up more for the local derbies than they do for games against the Kiwis or Aussies. To an outsider this seems to be either because of traditional rivalries or because of perceived competition for Springbok jerseys. If the latter is the case then there could well be a number of walking wounded after the South African local derbies are over.

The South African teams seem to have made wholesale changes to their personnel with a great emphasis on youth. There are not too many players who can find their feet and make a great impact in their first year in the cauldron that is Super 12. With non-stop pressure for 11 weeks how these player react under pressure will be interesting to observe.

Out of the Aussie teams, NSW looks to me to be the most on the rise. Although the Brumbies have been superb in the last three years I think their star is no longer ascendant and they won’t win the final. They’ll still be there or thereabouts. All three Aussie teams should be competitive.

I think the Kiwi teams to reach the finals this year will be the Blues and the Crusaders with the Highlanders finishing just outside the top four and the Chiefs and Hurricanes propping up the table as usual.

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The Great Gert Peens by Giampaolo Tassinari

When just a year ago the then Italy’s coach, former All Black Brad Johnstone, confirmed the inclusion for the forthcoming Six Nations of the first ever foreigner to play in the history of Azzurri, many people thought he was speaking about Gert Peens. 

Instead the player considered was another New Zealander, Matt Phillips who filled in the No.8 position. But after the loss in Rome against Scotland, Johnstone changed his mind and in Cardiff for Italy’s third match also Gert Peens was included in the squad. And although Gert is a natural pivot who has worn the losskakel jersey almost ever, he was lined up in the fullback spot. From that match onwards Gert Peens proved to be one of the most competitive and strongest player who has ever donned the Italian National jersey. 

Peens, after a good debut in Cardiff, played a very solid match at Lansdowne Road against Ireland kicking an amazing drop goal from the 40 meters line in the first quarter as to say: “I am here. I would die for the Italian cause”. And so another great player was definitely accepted in the Italian squad. 

Peens and Italian rugby have a long story to share. Born in Germiston near Johannesburg, Peens got to Italy at the tender age of twenty exactly near Rome in a famous rugby place as Frascati playing for two seasons in that club in the Italian second division championship. Then in 1996 he transferred to Segni, another place not far from Rome, in which had a very good season. In these three years in Italy, Peens had regularly passed the mark of 260 points scored every year. 

His skills didn’t go unnoticed and Rugby Roma signed him for a couple of seasons. The white and black hooped men were having a magic time at the end of last century being continuously in contention for the National club championship’s title. Peens became immediately their place kicker scoring in both seasons more than 300 points but the coveted final triumph did not come. 

The 1999 summer for Italian rugby was a tragedy: two humiliations in two tests in Port Elizabeth and Durban against Mallet’s Boks and the awareness to have a very weak team to play in the forthcoming Rugby World Cup. Among all the above troubles one news made many of us raising our eyebrows when we knew Peens had not signed a new agreement with Rugby Roma instead deciding to switch to Calvisano Rugby a strong club in a very little village close to Brescia in Northern Italy. Needless to say our hero had a very telling season scoring seven tries in 20 league’s appearances and putting in the bag 253 points. 

From 2000 to 2002 Peens decided to play in Piacenza with Piacenza RC but after the first season the club was relegated to the second division where Peens however scored no less than 385 points in the same season where firstly he was called for Italy “A” and then for Italy to debut in the Six Nations. His effectiveness and cleverness could not be ignored once again and Parma FC, one of the most famous Italian clubs, signed Gert for this season. In Parma Gert found former Boks star, Dawie Snyman, as the coach and also former Mpumalanga lock, Marius Bosman as a teammate. 

This season Parma FC is not playing to its potential due to many injuries who have kept out of action many key players. But Peens is always present: injury-free Gert every Saturday give 101% of him to help the squad. At the end of last September he has become father for the first time of a baby boy. He feels a lot proud of him for Peens is a very sound man well aware of what really counts in life. Italy has fascinated him and he has married an Italian woman. And it remains the country where he will remain to live. 

Some years ago under Nelie Smith’s guide Peens played a very positive Currie Cup with Eastern Province but Italy was still in his heart and he came back “home”. Today’s Italian coach, John Kirwan, is facing a dilemma about the best playmaker to use at number ten. Dominguez plays when he wants and after next RWC should finally quit. Another Argentinean born, Ramiro Pez, could wear this jersey but he is not a tackler and only sometimes he makes the difference either by kicking goals or by becoming unpredictable in open play. 

When I met Peens last time in Genoa I told him that in my opinion he was the best weapon for Italy at outside-half. Peens as modest as ever smiled and didn’t say anything. Good luck dear Gert or better Buona Fortuna as we say here in Italy.

I won't not take calls from Eddie Jones. If there is something to discuss, we'll discuss it. We might have the odd disagreement.     Andrew Slack on cooperation within Australia to win the RWC

I don't want to make the same mistakes of coming into the tournament slowly and not quite ready. I am determined the team will all be fully fit, injury free and ready to hit the Super 12 running.     Rudi Joubert, Bulls coach

We won the world cup in 1999 & we're still playing the same style, thinking its going to work. Obviously the Rod McQueen era was successful at the time, but long term, its been very damaging because you lose Larkham & you really haven't got anybody.    David Campese

We've become a bit of a joke following our recent results. They (New Zealand 7 Australia) don't see us as a threat.    Ray Mordt

Speak to the like of Naas Botha and Danie Gerber, both of whom were world-beaters in their position, and they will tell you that what coaches did for their careers was maybe 20% compared to the work they put in themselves.     Ray Mordt

He deserved it!       Brad Johnstone, Italian coach on why Irish scrum-half Peter Stringer was headbutted by his prop Salvatore Perugini. 

In the previous two games we had a very good car but not enough petrol. Today we had a very good car and plenty of petrol.       Bernard Laporte after the 20-15 win over England in the Six Nations tournament.

He holds the thing together for England; he's the glue in their back-line. He would be a big chunk to take out, so England need him to stay fit.    Tim Horan on Jonny Wilkinson

The award is a huge honour - hopefully I will get some respect from the grandchildren now!    Bill McLaren on being awarded an OBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire).

I have seen so many Afrikaner coaches turn to aggression and brutality to make up for their lack 
of technical skills.     Nick Mallett

We had the arrogance of people like the former SA rugby boss Louis Luyt who told the world that they missed South Africa more than we missed them during the apartheid years. Absolute rubbish! Now we are losing matches, but we are never humble about it and we refuse to learn the lessons from it. We are letting our players down because they are coached poorly and they don't know why their opponents run them ragged.    Nick Mallett

I'm negative at the moment, very disappointed and it looks like unless there is a miracle improvement 
my Test career is over.    Johan (Rassie) Erasmus

It is not the end of the world. I fear Iraq more than England.      Bernard Laporte on the upcoming match against England

There are lots more examples, and I don't want this to be seen to be as a finger-pointing exercise, but when you're expected to put your whole life and heart into playing for Scotland, and others appear to be taking the p*** it's hard to cope with.      Budge Pountney on announcing his retirement from test rugby.

Dear Santa

Is B.O.D (Brian O'Driscoll) related to you? It's just that some of his showings have been
nothing short of miraculous.

Many thanks
Paddy, Ireland's No.1 fan
Dear Father Christmas

Thanks again for the bottle blonde hair, shapely upperbody and long-term contract in Wales. How about some sun now? A sunbed can do only so much.


www.planetrugby.com's tongue in cheek Xmas wishes.

Find out how SARFU controls the rugby media in the bumper January/February issue of SA Rugby Magazine, on sale now. For more info visit www.sarugby.com

Letters to the Editor
Dear Ed,

The new season is already upon us and I can’t wait for February and the Super 12, the SA sides will be much better prepared this year with their warm up games in England and against each other. But then we say this every year! A quick observation after watching the Bulls and Stormers at a packed Newlands, why not make the ticket prices half the asking price of over R 60 and then see a full-house every match!


Peter Higgins

Geagte Redakteur

Ek het RF44 met intense aandag gelees. Om die jaar 2002 se SA rugby met ''n lekker hart te wil beskryf, moet mens beslis 'n Engelsman in die hartjie van Londen wees. As 'n Bok-ondersteuner saal jy dit waaragtig nie kan doen nie. Ek was een van die wat aan die begin van die seisoen gesę het Dolfie is op die regte pad. Met die aankondiging van die toerspan na die noorde het ek geglo die ouens sal goed doen.

My ontnugtering was nie net 'n kultuurskok nie, dit was baie na aan hartversaking, trombose, hartaanval of noem dit net wat jy wil. Wat my opgeval het was dat selfs die Curriebeker-finaal reeds snaaks verloop het. Soos jy tereg opmerk, daar was 'n les in te leer, maar is nie geleer nie. Ons moet terug na vories wat die basiese voorspelerwerk reg doen. Net dit, kan al 'n reuse verskil maak. Dit sal beteken dat ons ten minste ons balle by die vaste-fasette terug kan wen. Die volgende punt is die ondersteuning van die baldraer. Dit verseker die vinnige besit by die afbreekpunt. Ons het die manne, hulle moet net die paar basiese beginsels van die spel weer onder die knie kry. As 'n aanvallende agterlyn dit op die voorvoet kan kry, is dit donkernag vir die teenstanders.

Het ons 'n aanvallende agterlyn? In die 3-Nasies het dit tog so gelyk. Die ouens is lus om met die bal te hardloop. Al die spanne teen wie die Bokke gespeel het, het gewag gemaak van die grote, krag en spoed van die Bokagterlyn. (Hulle het russel nie gesien nie want hy was of op die bank versteek of op die vleuel.) Of die vlugvoetige mannetjie tot sy reg sal kom in die 15-manspel, betwyfel ek. (As hy net 10cm langer en 10kg swaarder was.) By sewes het ek hom gesien. Fantasties! Maar daar is darem hektare meer spasie as in die 15-mankode. Selfs Lombaard was nie vir my 'n faktor nie. Kom tentatief voor, lyk ook broos. Ek weet nie. Wonder al die heel jaar of Anton Pitout nie 'n kans moes gekry het nie. Vinnig, stuit vir g'n duiwel nie, groter, altyd betrokke, verdedig dodelik, aanval op volevaart, wat moet 'n vleuel nog doen?

Iets wat ek opgemerk het in die toets teen die Franse: Na 'n skrum breek hulle voorspelers op 'n besliste manier op. Die No 1, 2, 6 en 4 dek die linker helfte van die veld terwyl No 3, 5, 7 en 8 na die regterkant van die veld oorskuif, om te ondersteun. Op verdediging val die No 6 en 8 terug na die linkerhelfte van die veld of No 7 en 8 na die regterhelfte van die veld. dws daar is altyd genoeg voorspelers om die agterlyn te help aan albei kante van die veld. Hoe het ons manne gespeel? Trek jou kop uit die skrum en kom staan in die agterlyn se pad. Die Franse het net die bal hanteer as die agterspeler nie anders kon nie. Ons manne het selfs probeer om tussen die senters 'n oorslaanaangee te gryp! Planloos?

My hartjie bloei! Dis seer, vreeslik seer! Maar ek vertrou Dolfie en sy kollegas het geleer en sal sorg dat ons in 2003 verrassing op verrassing kry. Dit sal darem lekker wees!

Kannie wag nie!

Kys de Wet



Let us know what you think!

Great to see Rugby Forum back for 2003 Lucas! In the fine traditions of SA rugby I presume you will be sacking all your regular contributors from last year and signing up a bunch of new boys with no clues whatsoever? Not that any journalistic talent is required to write on Rugbyheads!
Supposedly this article has been viewed times since we bothered to start counting*.
(Although it could have just been on the Reload button doing some serious ego padding!)