Thanks to James Horwill and his fellow Wallabies, Divvy and his mighty men have a decent idea of what it takes to counter and comprehensively outplay the All Blacks. The answer was no secret as it still boils down to fronting up amongst the heavies. Taking the physical battle to the NZ forwards and keeping their set pieces under immense pressure has once again provided the platform to orchestrate the Kiwi demise. But before Bakkies and Bismarck start grinning uncontrollably in anticipation of the battle of the brutes, another twist needs to be made to the battle plan. The brutal Aussie onslaught was made all the more potent and effective by players adhering to strict discipline and cleverly avoiding being drawn into the negativity and niggles that characterise All Black rugger.
How often has Richie and the lads made Bissie and Bakkies’ life hell with tugging at their shirts, pushing them down on the pitch or my personal favourite, running obstructive lines on scramble defence? The answer is, too often to remember and possibly too painful as well. Horwill and company was having none of it and remained calm and focussed throughout the game. Sure Quade Cooper and Richie threw their handbags at each other, but that was more a case of McCaw getting frustrated because things weren’t going his way. Speaking of things for once NOT going old Richie’s way – a special mention also has to be made of the referee, who had a solid performance and was consistent all around.
My wife and I acquired a slightly unfortunate label from almost everyone that knows us. We belong to a distinguished group commonly referred to as the “unfashionably late”. This (to my utter disgust) transcends everyday meetings, business lunches, parties and in fact most gatherings (social and otherwise). Nobody enjoys missing a kick-off, first pitch or the first ball bowled and I’m certainly no exception, but I have also found myself on the business end of a ticking clock come game day. Mostly because of last minute logistical nightmares that include forgetting to buy alcoholic beverages before hand, finding your proposed attire (read Province, Stormers or Bok jersey) for the outing amongst the dirty washing and my all time favourite – not being able to find the keys, which you know for a fact you saw not five minutes earlier.
It would be the understatement of the century to say that these things annoy me, but I’ve learnt to deal with them in my own way. During such times of mad rushing to avoid missing the start of a game, I do find it extremely interesting to look at the people that we pass on the way to our destination. These individuals who are clearly as late for the game as I am, but who do not seem to be in any hurry. Morne Steyn can have the ball in his hands and be signaling his forwards for the kick-off and these okes could not be less fazed. (more…)
Last night the Springbok squad to carry the nation’s hopes across to New Zealand in an unprecedented bid to defend the Rugby World Cup was announced, and to be honest there were no big surprises, save for one or two fringe players.
As far back as 2009 it has been SA Rugby’s very clear intention to defend the RWC with more or less the same personnel that originally won the Webb Ellis trophy in 2007, and the make-up of this squad represents this ambition: 18 veterans of the 2007 campaign have been selected again in a team that averages about 40 test caps with no uncapped players making the trip.
In all probability coach Peter de Villiers has probably known which players he would be making use of for the knockout stages of the RWC for at least the last 2 years, and apart from the very recent withdrawal of Juan Smithdue to an Achilles injury and concerns that after a long injury layoff key players in Fourie du Preez and Heinrich Brüssouw might not be able to reach the heights they attained as players in 2009, this plan still stands.
NELSON MANDELA BAY STADIUM, PORT ELIZABETH
Not even the fact that I’m still stranded at the airport here in Port Elizabeth on a Monday afternoon can dilute the happy vibe I’ve woken up with for the past 2 days following a Springbok win over the All Blacks on Saturday evening – in fact I could probably sit here at Primi Piatti waiting for my flight back to Cape Town for at least another day until my impatience at waiting starts wearing through the afterglow of a Springbok win. I’ve said on these web pages since the start of the Tri-Nations competition that the results are essentially meaningless in the context of this year’s Rugby World Cup, and just so that you know that I’m consistent and unbiased (pfft!) I’ll stick to that story, even though the Springboks emerged fairly comfortable victors in this latest instalment of the Tri-Nations roadshow.
Admittedly, we beat their B team. Much in the way that they beat ours when we sent them over there a month or so back, you can only show up and play against whatever is put in front you, and attempt to draw your conclusions as a coach and management team based on that.
Morne Steyn definitely had his kicking boots on on Saturday when he helped the Springboks to a convincing 18 – 5 victory over the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. I’m sure if there were any doubt about who the first choice flyhalf would be, they have been eradicated after this game.
So if you perhaps missed the game live, here are the highlights of the points scored:
20 August – NELSON MANDELA BAY STADIUM, PORT ELIZABETH. 5PM Kick-off (SA Time)
After 41 years, the Springboks and New Zealand come down to the Eastern Cape to face off against each other in what is South Africa’s last opportunity to test their combinations in proper test match conditions before the Rugby World Cup kicks off on the 9th of September (only 21 days 1 hour 19 minutes and 15seconds to go, kids – but who’s counting…)
My bags are packed and my flight is warming up as I write this, and I’m pumped! 70 000 people are descending on the windy city over the next 24 hours for what should be a cracking encounter, even though the Springboks are facing – to paraphrase All Black coach Graham Henry – a “very talented B team”. (Notice how when South Africa select a B-side the rest of our playmates in the Tri-Nations sandpit lose their minds, start crying about disrespect, cease sending aid to the continent and point their nuclear arsenals in the general direction of Johannesburg; when they do it virtually not a word is said or printed?)
She knows this, and she’s cool with it, as long as I don’t let it interfere with my duties here at home and my commitment to our daughter as a parent and a provider.
My mistress is South African rugby, and I love her unconditionally. No matter what she does, no matter how badly she screws up, I love her all the same. I might be a bit pissed off with her for a while on a Saturday night, but I’m guaranteed to still love her come Sunday morning because a bad day with her is still better than a good day without her.
Some days all I’ll need is a quickie with the Sevens team, and other days there’s nothing better than an extended holiday for two to a faraway destination like the United Kingdom on a year-end tour or to the Antipodes for a World Cup. As long as she continues to promise to do her best to make me happy, I’ll keep on loving her, and keep on wanting to go overseas on holiday with her. I know that she might not always be able to live up to my expectations (and those expectations are high – make no mistake, when you love her like I do, nothing short of the highest expectation is acceptable) but as long as she keeps trying her best, I’ll be there for her. Yes, sometimes I’ll be disappointed, and yes, sometimes I’ll say things about her that I might regret later, but at the same time I’ll defend her to the death. Because that’s what unconditional love is all about.