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Springboks

How I do love thee

Published on Aug 17th, 2011, 2 Comments

I’m cheating on my wife.

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.

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Is Peter de Villiers Kaiser Soze?

Published on Aug 15th, 2011, 2 Comments

Let’s be honest – what’s really in it for Peter de Villiers?

If the Springboks don’t manage to win the Rugby World Cup, P.Divvy is going to end up shouldering most of the blame and cueing the greater majority of the rugby supporting public to start beating on that most irritating “I told you so” drum. On the other hand, should the Springboks return to South Africa with the  RWC, I’m fairly confident that credit will be spread around between the players, coaching specialists, SARFU, baggage masters, sponsors, bus drivers, and, well, you get the idea – but no mention of P.Divvy. The more cynical amongst us (and I’ve heard this one already, by the way) will say that the Springboks won the RWC despite the coach’s influence.
Shane Warne, in reaction to a question regarding the coach’s role in helping to achieve the dominance that Australian cricket enjoyed in the nineties and early 2000’s, once commented that in a team loaded with iconic players (amongst them you’ll remember was Warne, Steve Waugh and Glen McGrath to name but a few), the coach was the thing that they drove in to get to the ground from the hotel before the start of the day’s play. (more…)

Two weeks to forget

Published on Aug 13th, 2011, No Comments

In a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s movie Pulp Fiction, Ving Rhames tells Bruce Willis’ character that he should “throw” a boxing match or face serious consequences. He tells him that he might feel like getting up after being knocked-down, but that it’s merely pride f***ing with him, and he would do well to ignore pride. You might ask yourself why this scene from the classic cult-movie forms part of my post and what it has to do with sport. We are an extremely proud nation and pride is relevant and at the same time detrimental to Springbok rugby fans everywhere.

How quickly have we put the record loss to the Kiwis and the thumping by the Wombats behind us? How swiftly have we consoled ourselves with the explination that we were only comprehensively beaten because we sent a “B-team” to Australasia? How blindly do we stare into the the Durban night sky and await an unrealistic miracle-victory from a vastly experienced, yet untested side? Why do we put ourselves through this anguish every time? The answer is simple, a combination of pride and a national obsession to win. (more…)

Tri-Nations Springbok away leg review

Published on Aug 2nd, 2011, No Comments

Alright, so there it is: the away leg of the Tri-Nations, contested by our Springbok B-team-that’s-not-a-B-team is over, and no, no miracles occurred. We got beaten by better sides carrying a higher calibre of international player with more experience, both individually and as combinations, and the heavy losses we sustained against both Australia 2 weeks back, and 3 days ago against the All Blacks are a result of this.

The All Blacks on Saturday were a much more “game-plan orientated” team than the Australian side we faced the week before, and the Springbok side that pitched up was a lot more organized in defence, a product of an extra week of practice and cohesion. The communication seemed a lot more organized, and as any coach worth his salt will tell you, good defence is a product of good communication as much as what it is of physical commitment. (more…)

Tri-Nations: SA vs NZ preview

Published on Jul 29th, 2011, No Comments

South Africa vs New Zealand

Kick Off 09h35 (SA time) West Pac Stadium, Wellington.

The All Blacks enter the Tri-Nations fray this week in Wellington against a Springbok side already smarting from a bit of hammer from the Wallabies last weekend, although to be fair I should think that of the 2 respective coaches, Aussie coach Robbie Deans may have more to consider after that game than Pieter de Villiers would.

The All Blacks on the other hand come off an efficient display in subduing a Fijian side packed with commitment, but not much else. And herein lies the true danger of the All Blacks, and the reason why I think the Boks are going to take a couple of big lumps this week: in a performance described by AB coach Graham Henry as being at “about 50%”, the All Blacks never really veered away from their game plan. They continued to execute accurately and efficiently, without letting the game degenerate into an error-strewn exhibition game, as mismatched rugby matches often do. Contrast that with an Australian performance that (to my mind) never really produced any moments where I felt that they had a superior game plan to our B-team-that’s-not-a-B-team; instead they lived off the errors and lack of cohesion that plagued an inexperience Springbok team full of debutantes and untested combinations.

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Match review: Tri-Nations Week 1

Published on Jul 25th, 2011, No Comments

T minus 2 minutes to kick-off: Game 1 of the 2011 edition of Tri Nations is about to kick off with South Africa’s B-team-that’s-not-a-B-team taking on a pretty much full strength Aussie team, possessing – to  my mind anyway – probably the most potent backline on the planet, all of whom are in attendance: Genia, Cooper, Beale and O’Connor are collectively more slippery than a bag of lubricated eels, and as elusive as an SA cricket administrator from a KPMG forensic audit.I think we’re in for a beating, so I’m trying to focus on my gourmet French Toast that I’ve got in front of me, rather than pre-empt disaster. There’s just enough time for me before the start of the game to contemplate why the numbers on the Boks’ jerseys are smaller than normal. I reckon it’s a ploy to make the players’ backs look broader and consequently fool the Aussies into believing our players are bigger than they are; my boy Earl Soulzinger is convinced it’s so that we can’t see from afar which of the forwards are hanging around in the backline. He may have a point there.

9 mins: breakaway 80 meter try started by Quade Cooper (who else?) stepping off his right foot and slipping through Morne Steyn’s channel, culminating in Ben Alexander collapsing over the line at the other end of the park. O’Connor converts: AUS 7 – SA 0

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Tri-Nations Round 1 preview

Published on Jul 23rd, 2011, No Comments

The Tri-Nations tournament starts today, which to my mind means winter has officially begun: Fiji are leaving their suntan oil and coconut milk behind to fly into Dunedin where the mercury is bravely hovering just above the zero mark to face the All Blacks, and SA are preparing themselves to take on an Australian side smarting from being rubbished last week by a less-than-fashionable Samoan team at a wet and rainy Olympic Stadium in Sydney. The attractive try-fest bonus point-orientated rugby of the Super XV will be forgotten a bit over the next month or two as international teams prepare themselves to focus on the style of play that wins you test matches and ultimately World Cups (RWC) and the decidedly unpretty activities of asserting physical dominance up front and producing rock solid, unbreachable defences out back, coupled with a reliable kicker to convert oppositions mistakes into points become key.

It is in this that Australia failed miserably last week against a fired up Samoan side, which showed up at the ANZ Stadium intent on tackling the mate out of the inmate and ferociously contesting the breakdowns like ex-pat South Africans over green cards back in the 90’s. Admittedly that result gave me a huge amount of childish pleasure this whole week, so much so that it took me right up until yesterday morning, while breezily humming the Samoan national anthem, to realize that they’re actually in our RWC pool, along with that other team of amateur chiropractors and widow-makers, the bone-jarring Fijians. Oops, mood lost.

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