I’d like to give a big shout out to DSTV / SuperSport for the gargantuan cock-up of their Saturday night coverage of (possibly) the biggest game of the Six Nations this year.
France vs England at Twickenham. Both competing for the Grand Slam. England apparently playing “total rugby” and the French admitting that they don’t like them. “Le Crunch”, if you will.
It was all perfectly set up for a great evenings’ rugby entertainment and I was ready. I even had my favourite drinking pants on.
So when the 19:00pm kick-off came and went and I still had some cliff jumper from Columbia on my screen I started to get a little edgy. What made matters so much worse was the complete lack of communication from their side. One would think that a simple message informing viewers that “there’s an issue” would be the standard practice here, but the fact that this only occurred deep into the first half makes me think that:
a) they weren’t aware of the issue, or
b) the production team were having a few beers getting ready for the
Stormers / Lions game and just couldn’t be assed.
Either way it was really unimpressive stuff.
Is it too much to ask from the “premium” sports channel in South Africa to actually attempt to offer a first class service? Lord knows we pay enough for it.
It’s not hard guys, if you have a technical issue keep your viewers informed, and do it early. Don’t wait until 10 minutes before half time to give some feeble excuse as to why you’re showing re-runs of “Transworld Sport” and not the scheduled event.
That only makes you seem like a bunch of amateurs and a lot of your subscribers very angry.
This is not 6 Nations rugby
After shredding the Melbourne Rebels last week for their inept display against the Waratahs it’s only fair that I give them a “virtual pat on the bum” after they sneaked a win against the Brumbies this morning.
They tackled their hearts out and played with much more organisation and passion than in their first game, and although they were a distant second in terms of territory and possession they fully deserved their victory.
party boy flyhalf Danny Cipriani had a pretty solid game and showed “grande cojones” in landing a tricky penalty kick in the last minute of the game to give the Rebels a surprise 25-24 win.
I think a lot of people were predicting that they would finish the season winless, so for them to turn themselves around in the space of a week is a pretty damn fine effort.
Well played the Melbourne Rebels.
Rebels fans rejoice at the sound of the final hooter.
Post by our new contributor Ron Burgundy (technology issues aside)
I recently attended a comedy gig in town.
It should have been, in my eyes anyway, a fun date out with a lass who I was keen to impress with my ability to tap into the underground comedy scene in South Africa
It backfired – horribly. The young comedian was a poor version of Seth Rogen; no, in fact he was a pauper when it came to the material he had on him.
There I was, a deflated man, slumped in the theatre chair as we endured 70 minutes of hell (thank the Pope and his trusty band of Cardinals that the comedian didn’t see out the extra time).
Thereafter it was a case of damage control as I tried to claw my way back into contention for the rest of the evening.
I have a trump card though, and I feel obligated to share it so that if anyone has one of those moments/days when you just know, straight up from the kick off, that you’re up against it for the full 80.
The trump card is an interview from a few years back conducted by a Sky Sports Vulture commentator, with his prey being the massive ripe carcass of WC2003 winning captain Martin Johnson, after a particularly poor performance at the Fortress.
I reckon this is also an appropriate clip to ramp up excitement levels for Saturday’s “Le Crunch” .
(See also: https://bigdaddyrugby.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/french-get-the-mind-games-rolling/)
Now we’re cooking on gas, someone just turned up the heat….enjoy!
The return this week of former Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant from Japan may have left tighthead prop Brok Harris’ dream of filling the number 10 jersey in tatters.
Tighthead prop Brok Harris regathering one of his fumbled "chipkicks"
The Stormers had been working hard in the pre-season on perfecting their trademark backline “strategy” of ignoring the fact that they have the best centres in the country and instead ensuring that all quality backline ball is given immediately to one of their props standing in the first receiver position whose task it is then to do one of the following:
a) take it on the crash before needlessly coughing up the pill,
b) do the “hard yards” by immediately falling to their knees, or
c) impersonate a “deer in the headlights”.
Word from the training ground is that Brok had spent most of his 2010 salary on a collection of Johnny Wilkinson “the art of flyhalf play” DVDs. News that pending his fitness, Peter Grant will be ushered straight into the starting line up must come as a disappointment to the big fellow Brok who was looking to make the no 10 jersey all his own. Rest assured though, whenever the big men are needed at the breakdown, Brok will be found popping up in the backline to “show those backs a thing or two.”
Here’s a nice shot of Frederic Michalak (ex France flyhalf) giving us a good example as to why backline players are often labelled as “pretty boys” who like to avoid the hard, dirty work out on the pitch.
I’m all for self-expression and feeling free to “be yourself” , but for the sake of his team mates I hope that this shot was not taken in the dressing room during the half time team talk.
Fred. Just chillin'.
Things are heating up quite nicely in the 6 Nations with the defending champs France taking on England’s fatties at Twickenham this weekend. With both teams still in the hunt for the all-conquering Grand Slam title it hasn’t taken long for the old mind games to begin.
French coach Marc Lièvremont set the tone yesterday by stating that they don’t like the English, and labelling them “an insular country who always drape themselves in the national flag, their hymns, their chants, their traditions”.
To further twist the knife he goes on to say “We appreciate our Italian cousins, with whom we share the same quality of life, we appreciate the Celts and their conviviality … among all these nations we have one huge thing in common: we don’t like the English.”
So, there you have it, the French don’t like the English. That’s hardly ground breaking news but I must admit it’s still pretty dam funny. It’s also refreshing to hear a coach / sportsperson break away from the tired old clichés that pass for interviews these days.
It’s certainly got the English press all flustered and one would imagine that Martin Johnson won’t really have to work too hard on his pre-match motivational speech now.
The thing is though if you’re going to “talk the talk” you better be able to “walk the walk” and if France lose on Saturday Lièvremont is going to take a pasting in the press, both at home and abroad.
Whilst I am enjoying watching this all unfold I must say I’m not convinced that it’s the best approach to take in the build up to a big game. It smacks of insecurity and of a worried coach resorting to trickery in the hope that it will give his team the edge. It’s a risky tactic to employ with a strong possibility that you’re motivating the opposition team more than your own.
One thing for certain though is that the French are now going to face an even more hostile Twickenham crowd than originally expected. Whether that fires them up or assists in cutting them down, we’ll have to wait until Saturday to see which French team pitches up.
Either way it should be a cracker of a game.
The French should brace themselves for at least 257 renditions of "Swing low sweet chariot'" on Saturday
If there are any French-leaning readers on this site in need of a pick-me-up, just tune into this jewel from 1994.
France took a one-nil lead going into the deciding second match and were trailing with seconds on the clock. Let the magic begin…
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies indicates how many crucial kicks at goal he missed.
The Lions lost narrowly to the Bulls on Saturday, going down 24-20 but they showed enough promise to give hope to the long-suffering Lions’ fans that this season might just be different.
They started too slowly and
Webster Elton Jantjies missed too many crucial kicks at goal, but they completely outplayed the Bulls in the second half after being down 24-5 at the break. Elton ‘Webster’ Jantjies can’t be blamed for the loss, as although he missed several vital shots at goal, he was also the spark that ignited their backline.
It was a far cry from the days of Jorrie Muller’s chip and chase – this Lions backline looked electric with the ball in hand. Webster delivered crisp flat passes that his backs were able to take at speed and with space to move. The Kiwi influence, from Mitchell to Spencer was evident in the Lions’ play, especially in the speed and threat of the latest Kiwi import, James Kamana.
It will be disappointing for the Lions to start off the season with a loss, especially in a match where they played so well. But there is a lot to take heart from here. With the change in the fixture list this season meaning that South African teams will play more games in the Republic than previously, the Lions can certainly target mid-table or higher this season.
Now if only Webster can rediscover his kicking form.
Lions and Cheetahs supporters let out a collective sigh on Friday morning when the news came in that the latest Super 15 franchise, the Rebels, had lost 43-0 at home to the Waratahs. The balance of power at the bottom of the Super Rugby table has now shifted dramatically towards Australia.
For many seasons the Lions and Cheetahs proudly propped up the bottom of the log – including a few spectacular “clean sheet” records. Remember the Lion’s 2010 achievement of a 13 match, 100% loss record? The Lions and the Cheetahs can move over, there is a new whipping boy in town and this time the team hails from Melbourne.
I know it is trendy to bemoan the lack of depth in Australian rugby, but the administrators have to start somewhere to grow the Union game in that part of the world. Having a team that gets caned in its first few seasons unfortunately is often a part of that growth. South Africans will do well to remember that the King’s debut season is still ahead of them. I just hope the weekly shellacking these teams are going to take won’t mean that fan disillusionment takes rugby backwards in those parts of the world.
It’s a bold call to predict the wooden spooners after one round of the Super 15, but this is going to be a long cold winter of discontent for the Rebels. The indicator was not so much the scoreline as it was the fact that they got absolutely smashed in the scrums. Even worse – it was another Australian team doing the monstering. Some brutal first phase massacres lie ahead for the Rebels when they square up against the Bulls and the Crusaders. If they cannot fix the scrum, the Rebels won’t be able to even keep the score down.
Bring out the clubs, here come the baby seals.
Tough call as to whom I’d rather have playing at centre for the Boks…
So the new team to Super Rugby got absolutely spanked this morning. I suppose that’s not a major surprise seeing as they had the Waratahs first up, but it kind of makes me wonder why they even bothered with the additional team. Anyone else see the game? I drifted in and out of consciousness so only caught parts of it but a 43-0 score line pretty much tells you everything you need to know – the Rebels were crap.
They have managed to sign a couple of big names (Mortlock, Sommerville) and a bunch of experienced “journeymen” players, so hopefully they’ll start to gel together as a team sooner rather than later and not become “The Western Force II”.
As for the Waratahs, well they were pretty efficient, but it’s hard to read too much into this game seeing as the opposition was so poor. A bonus point and a clean sheet start to their campaign so they’ll be pretty happy.
I did however notice that Mark Lawrence was looking very slick, a few new highlights in the hair and with that tailored 5 o’clock shadow he’s by far the most metrosexual ref in the business. Good start to the tournament Mark, we look forward to watching you develop as the season unfolds.
Looking this good isn't easy.
I’m ready for the Super 15. And by that, I mean I am ready for Ozzie commentary. The Ozzies know how to make a broadcast entertaining, from Phil Kearns’ gems in the commentary box down to Rod Kafer’s banter from the sidelines. The Bladen/Skinstad/Stransky debacle that is SA commentary can learn a lot from these guys.
Here are a few Phil Kearns/Rod Kafer gems from the past to get you ready for today’s big kickoff:
- Now THAT’s a meat pie!
- But gee, ref… he’s Richie McCaw. He can’t do anything wrong!
- He’s just standing in the back line like a bit of feta cheese
- Just what the Highlanders need – another mullet
- Shut up Clarkie – no one is interested in your comments
- He was like a blind man in a brothel, just left groping
- I’ve seen salsa dancing more aggressive than that
In continuing with the themes of our last two posts here’s a classic video clip which combines the two together rather nicely.
Major Fail + Try Celebrations.
The video quality is not the best but it’s a great little clip.
Okay, so who is the “genius” in the Vodacom marketing department who came up with the Player 23 idea?
It is possibly one of the worst conceived ad campaigns targeting rugby fans – notwithstanding the seriously steep competition.
Like many SA rugby fans I am trying to do the work of angels convincing people that rugby has a place in the new South Africa – that it is a sport that can be enjoyed by male and female, across the colour spectrum. And what does Vodacom do to help the cause?
Vodacom throw in a character who bears a creepy resemblance to Piet “darkest day in SA rugby” Van Zyl, with throwbacks to the lowest common denominator – the stereotypical, cliched brute chauvinist fan. Who is this aimed at? SA rugby fans from 1991 who are watching the game 20 light years away?
For a sport that is exploding on campuses around the country from the suburbs of Cape Town to the Transkei, from Bloemfontein to Gauteng, a game finally starting to be supported by all of South Africa, and one about to become an Olympic event – this is a step back into the dark ages.
Oh and Vodacom, the little “let’s add in Elton” afterthought you threw in only makes me angrier. That kind of ridiculous pandering is best left for (and better done by) local politicians. Why not tap into something more in tune with younger people? For example – the gorilla playing drums bit never loses its charm…
Because of the shame associated with Player 23, I’m only linking the drum playing Gorilla ad here. Vodacom doesn’t deserve the traffic, only my scorn.
Major FAIL Vodacom.
(If the video is blocked in your region, thank EMI for being old media and then click through to YouTube to watch).
English wing Chris Ashton is causing a bit of a fuss over in the UK. His 4 try performance against Italy at the weekend, taking his try tally to 9 in 9 games, is seeing him being heralded as the “best wing on the planet” at the moment.
He also cracked the nod for the IRB’s best try in 2010 award for that try against the Aussies at Twickenham.
Not a bad start to an international career at all.
On the flip side he’s also being labelled as a bit of a show pony, or more simply a prick for his try celebrations. Maybe that should be called his “pre try celebrations” because it’s the massive “hero dive” for the line before touching down that seems to be rubbing some people the wrong way.
Too flashy for the English?
Apparently it’s too flashy for rugby, disrespectful to the opposition and too early in Ashtons’ career for him to be acting like he’s God’s gift to the game. Personally I think it’s all just another storm in a tea cup. It seems to be quite fashionable these days for wings to burst onto the scene, scoring tries at ease, before they lose form and drift off into obscurity. I say let Chris have his fun right now, plus it’s going to be quite outstanding when he eventually drops the ball in mid flight.
I’m all for individual try celebration routines and think that rugby players could learn a thing or two from their football brothers.
I’m thinking “The Beast” doing “the worm”, Pedrie snorting the try line (ala Robbie Fowler in his Liverpool days), Bekker could do some pelvic thrusts at the corner flag and Bakkies could just headbutt the post. If Januarie ever scores for the Boks again I think it would be quite appropriate for Peter de Villiers to do a little moonwalk along the touchline. Now that would be “total rugby”.
Anyone else remember fondly the respective number 10s of the Reds and the Sharks battling it out during last year’s Super 14?
Which provided the more memorable cautionary tale - Quade Cooper’s mullet or Andy Goode’s skull comb-over?
Paul Treu’s team at last delivered on the promise they have shown in flashes throughout the season, with a 24-14 win over Fiji to take the USA sevens title. In Vegas the Blitzbokke demonstrated an ability to play the game not only with physical power and speed, but also with mental sharpness.
In the semi-final against England, the Blitzbokke, 17-10 up, chose to go for posts with 40 seconds on the clock, snuffing out any remaining hope that England might have had of sneaking back into the game. It was significant, because it showed the Blitzbokke have started to learn from the painful losses of the earlier defeats this season. Fiji and New Zealand are formidable sevens opponents and the Blitzbokke have left it too late in the season to be able to win the series, but the squad is starting to look more like the 2008-2009 champion unit.
But more significant than Paul Treu’s team finding their feet is the emergence of a new star for the Blitzbokke. Cecil Afrika, the young Bob Marley look-alike and team’s self appointed warrior-poet is already the series’ lead try scorer, despite missing some games with injury.
If it were up to me, I’d bring Afrika right into the 15 man Bok squad. Aside from seriously upping the coolness factor of the hairstyles in the squad and having a fantastic name, he is a complete package for a wing. He has speed, strength and a great ability to read the game. Usually newcomers to test rugby struggle with defense, but Gio Aplon has proved that sevens players will put fifteens players to shame when it comes to tackling.
Besides, the Bok squad’s hairstyle factor took a serious dent when they let Francois Hougaard in.
For followers of South African rugby looking for an excuse to combine pub drinking with the usual Saturday viewing – take a swig every time one of the following happens during a broadcast:
- Hugh Bladen or Andy Capastagno mentions the high school of the player who just scored a try (double down if the school is NOT in the Boland)
- There is a “family inappropriate” close up of a Stormers girl/woman in the crowd
- Deon “walking yellow” Stegman gets sin-binned
- Bobby Skinstad mispronounces “Bokke” or says “paddock” (double down)
- A knock on is attributed to “taking one’s eyes off the ball”
- Jean De Villiers cramps up in the 70th minute (double down if it’s an injury preventing him from being able to compete at the World Cup)
- Mark Lawrence is sporting a new 3 day stubble look
- Naas Botha hedges his bets in studio before the big game by saying that the Boks could win, but also could lose – depending on how they play
- The entire Supersport pre-test match analysis consists of talking about “who wants it more”
- Kobus Wiese impersonates a bobble-head action figure during the “let’s cross over to the field” pre-kickoff segment
- In the Lions/Cheetahs post game interview after another big loss, the phrases “on the right track” or “the hard work on the training ground will pay off soon” are used
- Man of the Match thanks Jesus (double down if the same player got a yellow during the game for dirty play)
- Bismark throws handbags
- Hugh Bladen refers to the Loftus crowd as “knowledgable” (double down if this is during the crowd booing a test match legend)