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|Volume 4, Week 8
|Brilliant! In the mailbox this week amongst the many dodgy offers for ‘enlargements’, ‘degrees’ for sale, ‘lottery winnings’ and ‘poor’ Nigerians queuing to part with 25 million dollars there was a mail with a quote attached from one of the world’s most renowned and famous men, Albert Einstein. The quote, all be it a bit corrupted is… 'If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called “practice” (research), would it?'
Now there is no known record of Herr Einstein ever being a rugby man (according to Google and my Aunt Bertha) or that he had any clue about the game itself, which is no sin and elevates him to the rarified atmosphere of Springbok coach selector if the ex captain is to be believed… but his sage words certainly made this writer think, that the father of relativity have inadvertently explained why the Stormers’ continued their struggle in the lineouts! So, please forgive them father, as they do not know what they are doing; now hopefully the other million Stormers’ supporters can do the same!
In what was ultimately a great weekend of rugby one individual managed to irk a great deal of people (including this one) with absolute tasteless comments that to his perceived (and totally incorrect) opinion was designed to make ‘his’ team win. The public announcer at Loftus, managed to desecrate a stadium and team, which has gone through considerable effort to turn around its performance on and off the field. Only last week, this armchair critic gave credit where hard deserved credit was due for their awesome display on the field and the wonderful feats were repeated by the players however said announcer managed to spoil the shine on a very good victory.
A bit of background, two weeks ago when the Waratahs were visiting Cape Town, their media liaison Djuro Sen remarked how different the game was presented in Sydney. Looking very suave and professional in a well cut suit and tie in the Cape summer heat as did the rest of the Waratahs he opinioned that the New South Wales Rugby Union is a very conservative union, where loud music and pre-match performances like dancing girls etc. will not be permitted by the members. Rugby is treated as very much a traditional sport where sportsmanship is shown towards the opposition and hence in this writer’s opinion, a complaint was lodged. Mutual respect on and off the field is usually hard earned in a game like rugby; this was breached by the antics of a cheap Springer imitator on the day. His type is not required in our game and his firing is good riddance.
The coming weekend one of the biggest rivalries in not only rugby but all sport continues when England travel to Paris for the decider of the Six Nation’s competition. France has in their grasp a remarkable opportunity to win another Grand Slam this century and prove to the rest of the world, like Ireland did, that the England team is not completely invincible. For sheer passion and atmosphere very few events can compare to this fixture and it will be vital to England’s chances that the young flyhalf, Olly Barkley will rise to the occasion. It is a big ask especially with Betsen and Magne breathing down his neck. France to win a thrilling encounter and the old friends up north, Ireland to capture a Triple Crown.
The big game in SA this weekend is the Stormers playing host to the Bulls and a very important match for both sides. Neither has been overseas and they desperately need the points to see them through 4 matches in Australasia. Who will win an epic battle? The Stormers have never lost against the Bulls in the Super 12, a remarkable record, similar to the Reds/ Waratahs however with the injury problems and the presence of Victor Matfield the archpoacher, the Stormers will struggle to maintain this proud record. At least Rian van Heerden will not be at Newlands to ‘motivate’ ‘his’ team.
Enjoy yet another monster weekend of top rugby and with the other two South African teams resting the Cats is spared another defeat… maybe they should stop their ‘research’ and just play the game.
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|Selection Dilemma by Desmond Organ
|What a weekend we have all just experienced, two South African sides manage to secure back to back wins and one of them was playing overseas. Excuse me for the temporary celebration but it does not happen that often. True to form the other team playing overseas has succeeded in maintaining our poor travel record and I am not talking about cricket. So where does this leave us when it comes to selecting a national team?
There is inevitably going to be a hundred different permutations concerning the national team, especially when the debate is opened up to the general public, one thing is for certain though, Springbok selections will always be surrounded by controversy. The new national coach has yet to put his pen to paper and he is already being challenged for not wanting to play Luke Watson and Schalk Burger in the same team. This has had the Durbanites up in arms and the people that live in the shadow of mountain mania are hardly commenting considering the inconsistent nature of their Stormers.
The reality though is that it is still too early to start pinning one’s hopes on any one selection, the preferred option is to look for consistency of performance from leading contenders. Up until this last weekend even that was not possible, thanks in no small part to the Cats, Stormers and the Bulls. Even the Sharks could be considered lucky to have come away with two wins. The reality though is that they did and this is the stuff that winners are made of, tuning the close games into results. The rest of the South African teams, except for the Bulls have flattered to deceive and they and the Stormers still face the arduous task of traveling down under. The Sharks look pretty good at the moment, but a glance at their home record in recent years leaves one distinctly under the impression that they are also not a definite for the semi final mix.
Should the Bulls beat the Stormers this weekend in Cape Town, there will be an uphill battle for the men in black if they hope to qualify for the final rounds. I am tempted to hope for a Bulls victory because they have at least shown the ability to win two games in a row and they have the bulk of a possible Springbok pack in their midst. The Stormers on the other hand have continued their previous pattern of being brilliant one week and appalling the next, injuries are always used as an excuse, but if this is the so-called home of great Springbok players of the 21st century, then we had all better get a lot more concerned than we are at the moment, if that in itself is possible. The temporary euphoria sweeping the nation has a lot to do with home wins and if the Sharks back to back victories are the basis of euphoria then we really do have a problem.
South African need to learn to be patient and especially this year with the so-called favourites playing their home games first, I am not so sure we will still be euphoric in several weeks time. One can only hope that the Stormers re-discover the resolve that has served them so well in the past. The Bulls remain a completely different kettle of fish and they will not have the benefit of lunatic announcers on their side down under. The one thing that the Bulls do have is a fairly consistent selection policy, excluding injuries and this might bode well for them, this and the apparent uncharacteristic ability of their three quarters to play an expansive game. I personally will wait for back to back three quarter performances before I am quite as euphoric as the Springbok backline coach.
The next month or so is going to be a period in which players are able to stake their claims for selection, let’s face it, the new coach has had a lot to say about conditioning and preparation and this is before he has even had a training session with any of the potential national players. The players have to prove some consistency going into May and then it will be up to the coach to prove that all his opinions do in fact carry some weight.
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|The Cats combinations and personnel fluctuate wildly from one year to the next, they have players who are up against each other in the Currie Cup rather than fighting side by side in that competition. This to me is the reason why they invariably don't produce results that match the talent that they boast on paper. Corne Krige
Thus it pains me to say that I am not all that positive about the state of South African rugby because there are just too many things wrong, too many egos to please, too little focus on the real goals of sport and too little genuine talent to smooth over the cracks. Dan Retief on www.superrugby.co.za
'Go back to Australia you Aussie sheep-rooters' Rian Van Heeerden, public announcer at Loftus
It's not that we are bad losers. I just think those kind of comments are totally unnecessary. We will be taking this further. The players and management think it's totally unacceptable. NSW team manager Dave Gibson
When I'm at Loftus, my work is to drum up support for the Bulls. It's all about psychological warfare, because every visiting team is our enemy. My work is to make sure the Bulls win. Rian van Heerden
I'm glad that they are complaining about the announcer and not about our rugby. Stephan Pretorius, CEO of the Blue Bulls company
In spite of the people at home refusing to believe that the team can still perform, I and the team believe that we can still come in through the back door. Tim Lane
They are lacking leadership, they are living in the past and also trying to play a game they can't play. Sean Fitzpatrick's take on England
Every player needs to know they can make a team on merit and that is why SA Rugby has decided to demolish it (the quota system). Brian van Rooyen
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|Letters to the Editor
In contrast to Dion Viljoen I really enjoy your forum. This year it seems like we have crossed the Rubicon and if not winning can compete with all the better Super12 teams. I hope that my words don't come back to haunt me, because the Stormers and the Bulls are yet played in Australasia, but sofar sogood.
I just hope that the Stormers can play for 80 minutes against the Brumbies this saturday, like they played against the Waratha's for the first 20 minutes. Marius Joubert and Pat Barnard, die bal is kosbaar, moet dit asseblief nie laat val voor die doellyn nie! Dawid Brits mooi gedoen, ek was baie vies dat die Stormers jou nie in die vorige wedstryde gebruik het nie. Kry net jou springers die hele wedstryd!
Bulls ploeg die Warathas die veld in, Sharks doen julle ding weer en Cats miskien, grootmiskien kan julle van die Highlanders, Lowlanders maak.
Stormers SA Rugby Ondersteuner
Oor losgemale en tikskoppie
Na aanleiding van Koos Carelse se versoek in verlede week se uitgawe oor lesers se menings oor die twee reëls, hier is myne:
1. Ek stem aan die een kant saam met hom oor die vinnige tikskoppie-reël. Indien die aanvallende span die opsie neem om 'n vinnige tikskoppie te neem, behoort dit eintlik die verdedigers wat nog nie 10m teruggeval het nie, aan kant te plaas. In die praktyk voorsien ek egter probleme hiermee: indien die reël so verander sou word, sal die verdedigende span se spelers mos geen poging aanwend om te retireer nie, wat negatief is en die vloei van die spel sal belemmer, asook die hele doel van die straf negeer. Een moontlike oplossing is dalk dat wanneer die aanvallende span binne die sogenaamde "red zone" is (10 meter of nader aan die opponente se doellyn) die verdedigende span die kans gegun behoort te word om stelling agter die doellyn in te neem voordat die tikskoppie geneem mag word.
2. Ek verskil egter oor die losgemaal. Die losgemaal (saam met die skrum en lynstaan) is een van die besondere eienskappe van ons geliefde rugby "union" wat dit van "league" onderskei. Dit is juis wat spelers van alle liggaamsbou geskik maak vir die wonderlike spel... van dun langerate tot kort dikketjies. Dis juis laasgenoemdes wat handig is in 'n rolmaal-beweging. Verder is dit 'n nuttige wapen in die arsenaal van 'n span met 'n goeie pak voorspelers wanneer hulle te staan kom teen 'n span met uitsonderlike agterspelers. En dit is juis wat rugby interessant hou, soos 'n skaakspel. Laastens is 'n rolmaal- of dryfbeweging wat goed uitgevoer word net so skouspelagtig soos 'n volle-agterlyn-vleuel-drie. Die dryfbeweging wat tot die Bulle se laaste drie teen die Brumbies gelei het, was "poetry in motion"! Volspoed, die hele pak onder een kombers, seker goed 25m ver. Pragtig om te sien. Net so het ek die afgelope jare geniet om Engeland se rolmaal- en dryfbewegings te aanskou, alhoewel hulle dit soms amper in "slow motion" gedoen het. (Terloops, verbeel ek my of het Engeland - sonder Martin Johnson en Neil Back - nie meer dieselfde tande in hierdie aspek van die spel nie?)
Geniet die rugby!
COLIN VAN RENSBURG