The iPod. This small device has changed the entire landscape of the music industry and was the beginning of Apple’s world domination with the now ever-present iPhone and iPad.
So what has this got to do with this weekend’s Currie Cup final in Durban? Well not much, other then the fact that the last time that WP won the competition was so long ago that this little piece of technology had not even hit the shelves and we were still bopping and jiving to the latest Will Smith hit on our chunky Discman’s.
That last triumph took place against the very same Sharks in 2001 when Slaptjips junior Chris Rossouw (remember him) inspired a second half comeback to give Corne Krige’s team their 32nd domestic title. Since that day the team has slipped to new depths of despair throughout most of the 21st century, until the coaching combo of Rassie Erasmus and Allister Coetzee brought some pride back to the Streeptruie.
Whilst the team has managed several playoff appearances in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup over the last few years, Coetzee has so far been unable to get his side over the mental hump of ultimate victory. They have another chance this weekend in Durban when the 2012 addition of the Currie Cup reaches its conclusion.
On Thursday night, Gold Reef City hosted the 2011 SA Rugby Awards and here are some of the winners of the night.
Springbok flank and Western Province captain Schalk Burger won the award for SA Player of the Year for the second time, going up against fellow Springbok and Shark’s player Pat Lambie who did not walk away empty handed. The 21-year-old was named the Absa Young Player of the Year.
A historical Currie Cup victory for the Golden Lions saw them unsurprisingly winning three titles during the ceremony that included Absa Team of the Year for the squad, Absa Coach of the Year for John Mitchell and Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year for their captain Josh Strauss.
Other winners included Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis for The SARPA Players’ Player of the Year Award and Springbok Sevens flyer Sibusiso Sithole for The Supersport Try of the Year for his tournament-winning score in the final of the Edinburgh Sevens against Australia. Cecil Afrika, who was recently named the World Sevens Player of the Year walked away with the award for Springbok Sevens Player of the Year.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) also paid tribute to two recently retired Springbok legends. Both John Smit, who has already left the country to take up a contract with English club Saracens, and Victor Matfield played their last Test for the national team in the quarter-finals at the Rugby World Cup.
Commenting on the past year of rugby, Oregan Hoskins, President of SARU said “Onfield success of our national and provincial teams will always be of paramount importance, but I believe we have enjoyed a special year in the history of our rugby – perhaps a watershed year.”
source: SA Rugby
The Golden Lions beat the Sharks emphatically by 42 – 16 at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday in the final of the 2011 Currie Cup competition. An enormous performance (including a drop goal) by Elton Jantjies saw him walk away with a points tally of 24 points and the man-of-the-match award. The Lions scored three tries to the Sharks’ one.
Lions - Tries: Michael Killian, Patric Cilliers, Jaco Taute. Conversions: Elton Jantjies(3). Penalties: Jantjies (5), Jaco Taute. Drop goal: Jantjies. (more…)
And here it is, after about 3 months of intense and competitive provincial rugby, it all boils down to the 80 minutes of finals rugby on Saturday from 5.30pm at Coca-Cola Park in Joburg, where the Lions host the Sharks for the overall spoils in the 2011 Kerrie Beker final.
And what a final it should be, with two very different teams built around two very different team perspectives, each attempting to impose their brand of rugby on the other. The Lions have played this entire competition – along with the Super Rugby competition that preceded it – with basically the same group of players, whereas the Sharks offered up a number of players in key positions to the national cause at the World Cup. Those players are now obviously back in the mix and Sharks coach John Plumtree will be hoping that they have all been blended seamlessly into their provincial unit.
This all sets us up nicely for a bit of a group-of-stars versus overachieving team-of-nobodies match-up, and to be honest, that’s the type of contest I really like – on paper an apparent mismatch as the Sharks seem to have the quality players in at least 10 of the 15 positions, whereas the Lions have arguably moulded together into a much better functioning unit than any other team in the competition this year, to the credit of their coach John Mitchell. It’ll be a disservice to the Lions to call this a David-and-Goliath match-up, since they very deservedly ended on top of the Currie Cup log after the pool stages, but the fact that they head into this final with very few players with any type of finals experience versus a group of Sharks players used to playing in finals along with the mental rigors of full-blown international rugby, makes for an interesting dynamic on Saturday.
Ah, here we go then: 14 long weeks of tough, top-shelf provincial rugby have passed us by in a flash as the 2011 edition of the Kerrie Beker enters its final stages with this weekend’s semi-finals and next weekend’s final now upon us.
8 teams have slugged it out to get us to this: the Lions against Western Province and the Sharks against the Cheetahs for the right to contest the Currie Cup final next weekend.
What a season it’s been too, with a high quality of rugby played virtually week in and week out. In a lot of ways at least 7 of the premiership teams (minus whipping boys the Leppids, of course) have contributed towards a season of first class rugby that has lent itself to a good measure of each province’s strength and depth. No team was ever afforded the ability to coast through a game, and even contests between the top of the log teams and so-called minnows didn’t always go the way of the favourites: 7th placed Pumas were desperately unlucky not to have a few more results end in their favour, and 6th placed Griquas were always a very serious challenge – just ask the Sharks about their last visit to Kimberley and they’ll tell you all about it!
It’s fair to say that the best 4 teams throughout the year have deservedly progressed to the play-offs, and there can be few complaints from anybody who didn’t qualify for this weekend’s semis. Even our famously biased friends up North in Pretoria can only look at the Bulls’ performance early on in the season and recognize that they just didn’t perform well enough at the beginning of the competition to justify a play-off spot.
On current form, both home teams – the Lions and the Sharks – should be favourites to win their respective games against WP and the Cheetahs, but as anybody who has kept an eye on France in the World Cup will tell you, in a play-off game anybody can beat anybody on any given day and find themselves in a final.
This weekend plays host to the final round robin games of this year’s Kerrie Beker, and as always when we approach the final bend of the domestic rugby season the maths is long and complicated as the various teams still in with a sniff of the play-offs or in contention for home semi-final berths, keep an eye on each other’s results in order to be able to determine their own minimum requirements to get their desired log positions.
Given the state of my matric mathematics results, I’m woefully under-qualified to be presenting this information to you, so I’ll gloss over the minutiae and focus rather on the permutations that really matter, primarily the 3 teams in the race for 4th spot on the log.
Basically, it looks like this: only Western Province have their destiny in their own hands, and a 5 point win against the Pumas will end anybody else’s claim for a semi no matter what result they achieve. The Bulls need to win with 5 log points against the Leppids (no biggie there) and then hope WP at best wins without the 4 try bonus point. Even then, they’ll need to really wallop the Leppids in order to make up ground against WP’s superior points aggregate. Griquas are distant dark horses for a semi-final spot, and they’ll need to beat the Cheetahs with a bonus point for 4 tries and win by about 40-odd points while they’re at it, and then still hope that both WP and the Bulls lose badly, which I don’t see happening.
I’m not a huge fan of these long drawn out competitions we seem to be increasingly subject to as rugby viewers. In my opinion, the New-And-Improved™ Four Nations and the New-And-Improved™ Super XV serve only to enrich the relevant rugby unions at the expense of player welfare (notice how many injuries there are, particularly amongst the Tri-Nations & Six Nations sides?) and serve also to illustrate (to me at any rate) that too much of a good thing is as boring as hell.
I’m all for the old school approach – let’s get back to touring New Zealand for 2 months at a stretch every second year, playing mid-week games against the provinces and 5 test matches spread over 7 weeks, just like they did before the advent of professionalism. A mate of mine – the Pie Muncher – made a very astute observation this morning: the World Cup quarter-finals are full of match-ups we’ve seen a thousand times over in the past 2 years. Sunday morning will be the third time this year we’ve played Aus, and England vs France or Ireland vs Wales is actually old news for anybody with a DSTV decoder. Imagine the hype around (hopefully) next week’s semi-final match-up between the All Blacks and the Springboks if the teams hadn’t faced each other at all for 2 years, when the Springboks narrowly lost an away tour to New Zealand by 2 tests to 3? I’d be absolutely moist.