Things you didn’t know about Nick Mallett: Purple Rain

In honour of Nick Mallett’s glorious performances as a studio guest for Supersport this test season, we’ve decided to run a few articles letting our readers know some obscure things about South Africa’s golden manchild.  We begin with his under appreciated role in shaping American pop music.

In 1983 Nick was languishing in obscurity after a less than stellar season as a loose-forward with Western Province.  Having taken a break from rugby, he was working on a concept album that he described to friends at the time as “a new kind of sound – the sound of electric postmodern lightning”.   Most studios were not ready for Mallett’s revolutionary sound and he did not find a willing audience or lucrative record deal.  A trip to the United States in late 1983 changed all that.

Maybe I’m just too demanding? Why do we scream at each other?

After finding himself watching a game of street basketball in Minnesota and as is customary whenever Nick Mallett is in the vicinity of a sports contest, he was unable to stop himself from screaming obscenities at the participants. Nick accused the basketball of lacking heart and not trying hard enough.  Unknown to him, he had interrupted a game involving musicians from the Revolution, Prince’s support group at the time.  Few would know it at the time but this chance encounter between Nick Mallett and the Revolution would change American musical history.  They were able to resolve their differences when Nick Mallett showed the Revolution the correct way to pump fake and alley-oop and all involved soon formed a bond that would lead to musical partnership.

Within days Prince had joined the team and together with Nick Mallett they collaborated on early recordings of what would later become Prince’s seminal album Purple Rain.

For those collectors lucky enough to have the original vinyl 1984 print, Nick Mallett has partial writing credits for a number of songs including “Let’s Go Crazy“.  Arguably his most famous contribution to the Purple Rain album is his line:

“This is what feels like when doves cry”.

When Nick isn’t found at primary schools yelling at under 10 age group rugby kids playing rugby who happen to be unrelated to him, he can be found in Supersport adding insight, pathos and tragedy to South African rugby broadcasts.

Things you didn’t know about Wycliff Palu

Tough NSW backrower Wycliff Palu is more often known for putting in gritty performances at the base of the scrum for Super Rugby outfit the Waratahs, but not many rugby fans know that Palu once had a promising career in the music industry.

When he first debuted on the Super Rugby rugby field in the 2005 season his hard running impressed Wallaby selectors enough to give him his first test cap in the 2006 season. Not shy for a bit of a controversy, he has spent some time in the can after an assault charge and has been known to irritate his team mates with his highly offensive opinions about the critical quality of the HBO show, The Sopranos.

But back in the 1990s it looked like lil’ Wycliff (as he was known back then) was far away from the lure of a rugby field. Along with Lauren Hill and rapper Pras Michell, Palu made up part of the highly successful hip hop trio the Fugees. The bands explosive mix of personalities soon led to their breakup and lil’ Wycliff went on to launch an unsuccessful solo career. His first album, Songs for an S&M Evening, was a commercial and critical failure and he moved to Sydney to try to rebuild his career.

Wycliff Palu (pictured far right) feeling sinister in his younger more musical days.

His quest for “a new sound” led him to a Sydney night club where he met Waratahs coach Ewen Mackenzie. While Palu’s innovative drumming style that evening failed to land him a new recording contract with the suits from Sony, he was drafted in by Ewen to bring on the kicking tee for the Waratahs. A few open trial sessions later and Palu found himself trading in his gold pleather jacket for the faded blue NSW Waratahs jersey. 50 test caps says he made the right career switch.

Jonny Wilkinson hangs up his kicking boots

It’s hard not to like Jonny Wilkinson.

A man more humble than the Dalai Lama, but far better looking and with a precision kicking game that took England to World Cup victory in 2003.

I hate him.

But that’s besides the point, and probably more to do with the fact that I secretely want to be him.

Wilko really was an asset to the sport and played rugby in the true spirit of the game…whatever that means.

He was arguably the best fly-half in the world a few years ago until he got more injuries than Wile E Coyote after a particualry bad run-in with the Road Runner.

Go forth and prosper Jonny! I look forward to getting the autobiography for Xmas and not reading it.

I bet the pictures will be great though.

Like a true gentleman, Jonny always took his shoes off before making love to you with his eyes.

Gavin Henson saves the day yet again!

Post World Cup blues? Nothing on tele worth rolling out of bed and finding the remote for?

Well the fun’s not over yet (at least for those of us in the UK),  as tonight is the finale of The Bachelor – the Channel 5 ‘reality’ show in which Gav, the host with the most, is on a quest to find his dream woman.

While his erstwhile Welsh team-mates have been putting their bodies on the line down in a cold, windswept New Zealand, Gav has had more important things on his hands – such as sunning himself in a luxury love-nest on the island of St Lucia.

Following a succession of romantic dates, he has now whittled a bevy of 25 beauties down to the final 2. But in the immortal words of the highlander ‘there can be only one’.

His most recent date with one of the two finalists ended with them both sipping champagne in a hot tub and her commenting that ‘I didn’t realise it would pop so quick!’….Oh dear, not what you want to hear at the end of a romantic evening! Let’s just blame the pressure of being on camera, hey Gav!?

If this still doesn’t wet your whistle, then there’s always a repeat of Weekend at Bernies over on the BBC.

Animals were harmed in the taking of this photo.

Mark “Lone Wolf” Lawrence: A Farewell Tribute

Mark Lawrence, South African referee and ladies man, announced his retirement from the game last month in order to focus on coaching new emerging referees.   In our Big Daddy Rugby tribute to Mark Lawrence, we thought we’d take  a trip down memory lane in our Moments with Mark photo gallery:
Mark’s first season of refereeing was tough going as he found that his questionable peroxide highlights  and lack of facial hair held him back in Super Rugby.  International rugby players were far more aesthetically demanding than the college crowd he was used to.
A complete rework of his 5 o’clock shadow and a careful styling job rescued his career in 1999 after Naas Botha had criticized his looks as “made for SABC radio”.  He took the criticism to heart and emerged with a new flair that won over many housewives and even a few Player 23s.  An edition of Huisgenoot featuring a Mark Lawrence spread notched record sales and he was known as “the man who could do no wrong”.
In 2000, Mark re-invented his look and his star was on the rise as he became known for his trademark ‘Blue Steel’ pose during test matches.  He became a popular guest judge on Project Runway and had to turn down SA Pop Idols due to “creative differences”.
Last season, just as he had perfected his beard and the world was at his feet, a scandal after a Tri-Nations test match involving a hotel jacuzzi, three Victoria Secret models and a litre of Ultra Mel custard almost meant early retirement for our dapper whistle blower. He emerged from his dark night of the soul stronger, quieter and with a steely resolve.
So here’s to you Mark.  Enjoy retirement.
And as scooped by Silas’ earlier in the year, here are five facts you probably didn’t know about Mark Lawrence:
  • Mark Lawrence has never eaten at the Spur
  • Mark Lawrence’s favourite album is “If you can’t stand the heat” by Status Quo
  • Mark Lawrence auditioned for the role of Dr Gregory House for the hit TV show “House”
  • Mark Lawrence had his heart broken by a girl named “Florine” in Brussels back in ’93
  • Mark Lawrence has the phrase “Courage doesn’t always roar” tattooed on his left shoulder

Francois Hougaard: How it all began

As a young boy Francois had very little interest in rugby. In fact one could go as far as to say that he actually hated the game.

Growing up on a small holding just outside of Paarl Francois’ interests were heavily influenced by his four older sisters and it didn’t take long for him to find his true passion in life…cheerleading.

Soon Francois was dedicating all of his free time to learning everything he could about this much under appreciated art form. He spent ages studying the techniques of the past greats, focusing on champion cheerleaders such as “Kurt McCurdy”, “Leroy De Kous-kous” and “Little Jonny Johnson”. His hunger for knowledge was matched only by his ambition to succeed.

All of his hard work soon paid off and it came as no surprise when Francois was named as Captain of his schools’ elite cheerleading squad at the tender age of just 15. Further success followed in the form of an invitation to try out for the U17 “Wynland Regions”  squad, an opportunity he made full use of by being named “Most Flexible Newcomer” that year.

After completing Matric Francois knew that the only way he could do justice to his burgeoning cheerleading talents would be by joining up with a professional cheerleading outfit, so when he heard that the “Bulls Babes” were auditioning he packed up his Mazda 323 and made a bee-line north for Pretoria.

Unfortunately Francois hadn’t realised that he lacked the essential “physical attributes” necessary to become a successful “Bulls Babe” and the audition was a complete disaster.

Thankfully though, fate had other plans for him and it surely wasn’t just a coincidence that both Victor Matfield and Frans Ludeke were in attendance that day, checking out the quality of the new talent on offer. His energetic and abrasive audition routine so impressed the two men that they offered him a trial run with the Bulls that very same day. Having no other viable options available to him Francois accepted and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rugby has been kind to Francois and although he’s risen to the top of the game it’s a poorly kept secret that his heart still belongs to cheerleading.                    Keep an eye on him the next time he plays and you’ll more than likely notice him lustily staring at the cheerleaders as they go about their business…

Longing…wanting…sometimes even softly weeping…

Francois' favourite cheer: 1,2,3,4...Let me hear you scream some more...GO BULLE!!!

Interview with ‘Grizzly’ Adam Kleeberger

In keeping with our (un)healthy obsession with facial hair, Big Daddy Rugby decided it was time to put a few questions to Canada’s Adam Kleeberger.

The first thing you notice about Kleeberger is the size of the man’s hands. My gosh they’re huge – like giant paddles. I was fortunate enough to track him down at the team’s hotel in Napier ahead of their big match against France.

Kleeberger has caused quite a stir at the tournament, with his ‘wild-man’ beard trending almost as much as Jay-Z’s love-child. The big man also had a massive game against the Tongans, with the Canucks having edged the Pacific Islanders by a whisker.

On entering the hotel lobby, Kleeberger was immediately noticeable by being shoe-less and sitting in the double lotus position. This was going to be interesting…

Big Daddy Rugby: Hi Adam, thanks for taking the time to meet with BDR today.

Adam Kleeberger: Don’t mention it. By the way, you made a lot of noise on your approach. I could hear you a mile off.

BDR: Oh right….is that a bad thing?

AK: If you want to last one night in the Canadian wilds it is. Your smell gives you away too.

BDR: Thanks, I guess…if I could ask you about the Tongan match. Was that more of a scare than you were hoping for?

AK: I don’t believe in fear. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

BDR: That’s interesting. Didn’t Yoda say that?

AK: No.

BDR: Okay.

At this point in the interview Kleeberger closed his eyes and took a number of deep breaths

AK: Okay, I’m back!

BDR: Great. Will the team be trying a different approach in the match against the French?

AK: As a team we don’t believe in trying. Do or do not, there is no try.

BDR: Err..Isn’t that something else that….never mind. So the ‘growth’ is getting quite a bit of coverage at the moment? Do you…

AK: Don’t move! Stay perfectly still! A wasp has just landed on your shoulder and if you move he will strike you dead compadre!

BDR: I’m not so sure they’re THAT lethal…

AK: You weren’t THERE man!

BDR: Vietnam??

AK: British Columbia…1998. Swarm of wasps as thick as mud. I had to go to ground for three days straight.

Kleeberger springs from his seated position and swipes the wasp with one of  his mighty paws

BDR: Geez..thanks Adam! Close shave huh?!

AK: (Chuckles) I wouldn’t know my friend. I wouldn’t know.

BDR: Well anyway, enjoy the rest of the tournament and may the force be with you!

Swift exit BDR

'Grizzly' Adam Kleeberger....he knows what you did last summer!

An interview with Josh Strauss’ beard

The beard of Joshua Strauss will be providing in-house guidance and opinions for the World Cup.

Supersport has Naas Botha, Keo has Scott Gibbs (or at least pictures of Scott Gibbs) and now Big Daddy Rugby has been fortunate enough to hire as its World Cup in-house expert… the beard of Joshua Strauss!

Due to financial cutbacks as a result of the global recession, we were unable to afford the cash required for Josh himself, so only his facial hair will be providing us unique insights this  World Cup.

Our shady overseas investors who put in the initial twenty rand funding into Big Daddy Rugby have asked us to start Josh’s beard off with a few “soft-balls” as he hasn’t had any interview experience prior to signing this lucrative deal with us.  We caught up with the beard for a brief chat before he headed back to the Lion’s hotel.

BDR: Josh’s beard – firstly, let me just say it is great to have you on board for the World Cup. We’re sorry about not being able to afford Josh himself, but hopefully this will be an opportunity to step out of his shadow so to speak and to make a name for yourself.  I mean, some at Ellis Park have been saying that Josh himself has actually been holding you back and that you need to be given more creative freedom.  Is it true you’ve been carrying him… and have been for years?

Josh’s beard: Very kind words, Big Daddy.  I must say, I was very relieved when Josh finally relented and agreed not to grow a handlebar moustache this season.  I was worried when he showed up at pre-season sporting a Salvador Dali. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been carrying Josh completely… but it is fair to say that he owes a lot of his success to me.

BDR: Right.  Rumour has it that Scott Gibbs has been heard loudly declaring that Wales are not afraid of the Springboks and that they fancy themselves going into the September 11th clash.  Is an upset on the cards?

Josh’s beard: An upset?  You mean can the Boks pull this one out of the bag?

BDR: Oh I see what you did there – very clever.

Josh’s beard: I think given the way the Boks have been playing all season any result is possible. The Boks will need to come out firing on all cylinders.  It’s a tough group with the potential for big upsets.

BDR: I know you turned down an opportunity to present on Supersport so that you could “do your thing” on our site – do you have any regrets about turning down the opportunity to be amongst the likes of Darren Scott and Hugh Bladen?

*crickets chirp*

BDR: Well, you can rest assured that you’ll be given full creative freedom on our website. We look forward to your insights this World Cup.

Josh’s beard: Thanks Big Daddy.  It’s going to be a cracker. Josh is planning on being seen in public a few hours from now, so I’d better head back to the Lions training camp…

BDR: We look forward to your contributions.  Say hello to Josh for us.

Tendai “the Beast” Mtawarira: From Hegelian to Existentialist

Tendai Mtawarira

Tendai "the Beast" Mtwarira brought a strong Hegelian influence to the Sharks scrumming technique. Image via Wikipedia

On the eve of the World Cup, Tendai Mtawarira gave Big Daddy Rugby an exclusive interview covering his rise in test match rugby, the challenges of adapting to the Sharks culture and the influences of Hegelianism and Kierkegaardian Existentialism on his playing style.

Nicknamed ‘the Beast’ by his family for his precocious ability to finish off four Big Macs in one sitting as a toddler – Tendai has made a name for himself in South African rugby with his signature run down the side lines: tree trunk legs pumping, ball in hand, a lock of Wynand Olivier’s hair in his mouth and the crowd bellowing: “Beeeaaaassssst!’

Big Daddy Rugby  caught up with him before the squad left for New Zealand to gauge his mood before the big tournament.

BDR: Tendai, how does it feel to be a part of the squad going to New Zealand?

TM: It’s a great honour, not only to represent South Africa, but to also to be able to take on the New Zealanders in their back yard. There’s no bigger challenge for a rugby player.

BDR: Other than having to navigate the bizarre inefficient bureaucracy of our Home Affairs Department, what has been the biggest challenge you have had in adapting to South Africa?

TM: Well to be honest, I found the Sharks playing culture radically different from what I was used to. Growing up in Zimbabwe, I had been enormously influenced by Joey Muwadzuri – who  as a coach had strongly Hegelian leanings.

BDR: I’m not familiar with Hegelian rugby philosophies. Can you elaborate?

TM: I’d love to.  You see, Hegel wrote that history has a direction. We are going somewhere. For example, there is a trend to be more and more liberated as a people. We have liberated ourselves from slavery, from apartheid. Women’s rights and gay rights are advancing across the world.  Look at the Arab Spring for example – history is going somewhere. It has an ultimate purpose.

BDR: I’m still not sure how this relates to rugby.

TM:  Well when you draw on this strong continental tradition as a front-rower – you tend to play a certain way. You are more comfortable scrumming in, keeping your back straight and making sure that your fly-half gets good front foot ball from a solid right shoulder.

BDR: So how was playing at the Sharks any different? Those qualities you mentioned seem like the kind of thing that any squad would want in their front rowers.

TM: I know, right? That’s why you can just imagine my surprise when in my first training camp Dick Muir and John Plumtree pulled me aside and started telling me about this crazy Danish cat from the 19th century named Soren Kierkegaard. In some ways Kierkegaard was the total negation of everything that Hegel taught. Kierkegaard was about radical freedom, about the accountability of the individual to make free choices in the face an uncaring universe.  I was completely blown away.  And for a while, I questioned everything I had been taught about how to scrum as a front rower.

It seemed like all the other Sharks players like Keegan , Stefan and Kankowski were all existentialists too.  There was little support for the ideas of Georg Hegel in the Sharks camp.  The players seemed a little crazy if you came into the squad with a strong continental philosophy.  For example, in my early days with the Sharks, I was often called into team meetings to describe a plausible theory of free will in a post-scientific world.  Once, when we trailing Griquas in Kimberly at half time, John Plumtree made me give a pep talk in the locker room where I had to describe what it would be like if we woke up to find ourselves transformed into giant insects.  What would this do for our strategy at ruck and maul time, would we have to change the structure of our drift defence into something more like an umbrella defence?  I managed to give the team, especially Freddie Michalak a lot to chew on during that talk.  It was then that I knew I was going to fit in with the Sharks culture.

BDR: Well, Tendai, you’ve given us lots to think about today. We wish you all the best for your trip to New Zealand. We know that the whole country is behind you.  Except of course for Buthana Komphela – chairperson of the political sports committee who wanted to deport you last year- but politicians are knobs anyway.  So good luck!

Player Profile: Bakkies Botha – Method Actor

We’ve all seen the glorious sight of Bakkies Botha’s fury unleashed on a rugby pitch as he rains blows down upon a helpless opponent trapped at the bottom of the ruck, but not many know that this man of steel had humble origins as a fine arts graduate.

The younger Bakkies graduated with a masters degree in Fine Arts from the University of Pofadder with stars in his eyes and a burning passion to reinvent the rules of stage theatre – he wanted to see his name in the lights on Broadway. Bakkies’ masters thesis was entitled “the Story of Winter – as told through the medium of interpretative dance” and his one man show was hailed by all who saw it as “a new direction for drama” (quote from the Pofadder Daily Post).

Bakkies performs his masters thesis - through the medium of interpretive dance. Picture courtesy of ESPN Scrum.

A short stint in Romanian cinema saw him take the role of the Little Shepherd Boy in the cult indie classic film “Pablo Finds a Pebble” and the future looked bright for our young actor who had left Pofadder armed only with the ambition in his heart, his faded Andy Warhol t shirt and a pair of really short shorts.

Soon Bakkies would be involved in avant-gard theatre performances throughout Eastern Europe as the former Soviet Union collapsed around him.  It was there, in a little dusky Warsaw theatre where Heyneke Meyer spotted Bakkies Botha and immediately recognized that he could solve Meyer’s problems at the Bulls.  Heyneke was looking to bolster his weak Bulls squad by adding the kind of man who rips faces off of Antipodeans for the sheer enjoyment of it.  Fortunately for South African rugby Bakkies just happened to be giving a particularly intense performance in the role of Hannibal Lecter that evening.  Heyneke offered him a Bulls contract on the spot after the show… and the rest is Springbok rugby history.

Bakkies went on to win Super rugby winners medals with the Bulls, Tri Nations gold, a World Cup winners medal and a win over the British Lions.   Along the way, he also managed to earn a bit of infamy for the odd eye gouge, a Jimmy Cowan headbutt (hey, who wouldn’t want to headbutt Jimmy Cowan?) and earned the respect of his peers by returning to the locker room at half time with a lock of George Smith’s hair.

You’ve still got a few years left in you Bakkies and place in your cabinet for one more Rugby World Cup medal.  Make little Makkies proud.

Where are they now? (Part 3) – Michael ‘wild man’ Brial

If you don’t remember Michael Brial, your life is better off for it and you can go on with your life thinking all is well and good in the world. But if you do…it’s most likely as a result of the Aussie back row’s outrageous assault on Frank Bunce during the 1996 Bledisloe Cup match. The fact that the phrase ‘I’ll Brial you!’ has entered into common parlance says it all really – that his rugby playing career will be singularly remembered for an on-field act putting him proudly in the Rugby Hall of ball sacks.

What was so surprising about his actions that day was the seemingly unprovoked nature of them. It was like Brial suddenly decided that Bunce was the cause of all the world’s ills – so laid into him to teach him a lesson on behalf of all humanity. In Brial’s defence – his wild swings were about as effective as Col Gaddafi’s publicist, with Bunce looking about as troubled as a walrus on a sinking ship.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a51-vckZrIE]

What is particularly amusing about the whole debacle is seeing the Aussie pleading his innocence to the ref (who subsequently lets him off with a slap on the bum and a stern word of warning!), then running back to his team mates with his thumbs up and grinning like a hyena that’s just stumbled in to a chicken coop.

So where is the Wallaby ‘wild man’ now? It’s been surprisingly tricky to track him down, and though we may be lacking a few things here at Big Daddy HQ (journalistic integrity, acceptable levels of body hygiene?) perseverance in the line of duty is not one of them! It turns out he has put his fighting days behind him and swapped his togs for a suit and tie – moving into the world of corporate finance. He’s obviously doing quite well for himself too – getting out most weekends for a spot of line-fishing. Let’s hope Frank Bunce isn’t thinking of taking any swims anytime soon…

Who's your daddy - Brial that's who.

Like a kid in a candy store

Oh dear…our friend (and he really is one of Big Daddy’s favourites!) Gavin Henson has slipped under the radar a bit hasn’t he? Oh well…there’s no use crying over spilt fake tan, so chin up and chest out…as this old dog has few more tricks up his extra tight sleeve! The Gavster has been branching out from the ‘day job’ quite a bit recently. There was his appearance in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing last year – great for the ratings, but not so good for dance appreciators – with Gav displaying about as much grace and poise as Stephen Hawking on a half-pipe. This year he also took part in an Arctic survival show in which he had to go without a face mask for a full two weeks and in his words, ‘risked my life seven or maybe eight times’.

Your place or mine? (Gavin Henson set to appear in The Bachelor)

The good news for fans such as me is that Gav is now set to appear in the UK version of the hit US show The Bachelor – in which 25 models compete for the Welsh crumpet’s affections. This is a whole new ball game for Gav, who has been on the single scene for over a year now and is apparently looking forward to ‘getting to know the girls before taking them home’ for a change. It’s bound to be classy stuff!

I’m pretty darn sure he’s particularly looking forward to having a household of (let’s face it!) call girls to compare grooming techniques with. I can’t wait for the episode with the full back, sack and crack.

The future’s bright, the future’s orange…

Where are they now: Cabous van der Westhuizen.

Oh Cabous, Cabous, where art thou Cabous?! How could we forget (even if we wanted to) the flowing mane and Impala-like stride of the former Natal Sharks and Springbok speedster? Cabous played the game back in a time when it was still okay to ruck a man’s face and shake his hand after the match, a time when the word ‘flamboyant’ in SA rugby was defined by having all your own teeth or ordering a salad with the rack ‘o’ ribs at the local streak-ranch.

Cabous certainly stood out from the rest of the pack, even if that did mean looking like a Thundercat. No disrespect intended – the man could play rugby and the stats back that up. He holds the record as being the most capped player for the Sharks in his stint there between 1992 and 1998, as well as scoring the most tries in one season. Go you good thing!

So where the hell is he now? A recent survey revealed that 60% of people believe that he went on to establish a successful hair salon and brand of ‘wet look’ hair products. The remaining 40%  think he is soon to be making an appearance on the big screen in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie – as a rum smuggler with an eye for the ladies.

Nick Slaughter from Tropical Heat

It turns out Cabous has in fact relocated to the tropical isle of Mauritius, where, in addition to perfecting his all-over tan, he has opened and runs a popular beach bar. Oh yes, you read that right my friend – and I know what you’re thinking…..why does this sound so familiar? Maybe because we knew all along he would eventually become Nick Slaughter from Tropical Heat.

Cabous with 'lady friend'

Francois Steyn: the ‘Existentialist” interview

Many South Africans may be wondering what happened to Francois Steyn since he left Durban to head for France to ply his trade with Racing Metro.  Big Daddy Rugby caught up with Francois Steyn outside a Paris theatre and managed to get in a quick Q & A with one of the heroes of the 2007 world cup campaign. Our impression?  Paris has done wonders for his maturity.

Francois Steyn "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."

Big Daddy Rugby (BDR): Francois, first of all thank you for taking the time to chat to one of the blogosphere. We appreciate you showing faith in our fledgling website.  So how different is the style of  rugby in France from what you experienced playing with the Sharks back in South Africa?

Francois Steyn (FS): Very different. At my first training session, the coach gathered us all together and presented a brief summary of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Using that as a starting point, he unpicked all of the closely held beliefs I had clung to as boy growing up. We moved quickly through logical positivism before one of the members the front row shouted him down when coach rejected the idea that nihilism was not a coherent world view.

BDR: Err… right. So how do you spend your time in Paris now that you are away from old friends and family?

FS: Well, when I first arrived in Paris I focussed exclusively on my kicking as I wanted to establish myself as a first choice flyhalf. But I was soon drawn in by the bright lights of Paris, and become involved with parts of the Paris nightlife one doesn’t usually write about in newspapers.

BDR: You mean the night club scene?

FS: No, I got in with a group of street thinkers who introduced me to existentialism.  I can’t wait to share the ideas of Camus and Sartre with Keegan and the boys back in the Shark Tank.

BDR: How has your game changed since you moved up north? Do you still try those outrageous drop goals from inside your own half?

FS: You see Big Daddy, I realised that as a flyhalf I am condemned to be free.  As existence precedes essence I am thus fully responsible for my actions as a free individuals facing the void of eternity. We are all left alone, without excuse. There is no exit.

BDR: What’s it like playing at Stade Yves-du-Manoir?  Is the vibe similar to Durbs?

FS: What is happiness except the simple harmony between a backline player and the life he leads?  It is the void, the void is me.

BDR: How do you prepare for a match?

FS: By reminding myself that the concepts of authenticity and individuality have to be earned not learned. I try to experience death consciousness so as to wake up as to what is really important – namely the authentic in my life. Thus my pre-match preparation consists of contemplating the abyss in the changing room before I put on my jersey.

BDR: I was going to ask you how you celebrate your win, but I am not sure that I should.

FS: (blows smoke in my face)

BDR: Do you miss playing in South Africa?

FS: As Camus would say: Beauty is unbearable, it drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.

BDR: Well. I can see where this is going Francois.  Good luck with the rest of your time at Racing Metro, we hope to see you back in the green and gold soon.

FS: (exits left, hops on his moped and careers recklessly into oncoming traffic)

Wynand Olivier – don’t hate him because he’s beautiful

Wynand Olivier burst onto the Super rugby scene in 2005 amidst a storm of controversy about his hair.  Certain sections of the Blue Bulls fan base were in awe of his long flowing locks – while the more conservative sections of Loftus were deeply troubled at the prospect of a walking Pantene commercial putting on the faded blue jersey.  He quickly earned the nickname of “Prince Charming from Shrek”.

Early on in his career, his defensive woes relegated him to the category of “strictly eye candy only”, but 2006 saw an improved Olivier.  He sorted out his tackling and started to get the backs away with good distribution skills. This saw a call up to Jake White’s Bok team where he put in a solid, if unspectacular, season in the green and gold.  Since 2006 he has struggled to break back into the Bok line up amidst rumours that his modelling career is starting to impact on his time on the training field.

Olivier has had a stormy start to 2011.  Earlier in the year he was spotted in a trendy New York night club in some compromising photos with Kate Moss.  His much awaited album “Waiting for the Rain”  tanked on released, shattering his dream of doing the the trifecta of Bok, supermodel and pop star.

Rumours continue to abound that Wynand will have a starring role in the next Bond film.  Let’s hope he concentrates on his rugby first.

Wynand Olivier warming up in the dressing room before the Bok test at the House of Pain in Carisbrook..

Player Profile: Joshua Strauss

Joshua was discovered by a Lions scout whilst performing with his electro-folk band “Steak Machines” at an open mic night somewhere in Randburg back in 2009.

Rumour has it that it was the intensity of his performance coupled with the ruggedness of his look that convinced the scout to sign him right then and there on the spot.

Being a sensitive artistic soul with a preference for whispering lyrics about lost faith, Josh was put through a demanding conditioning program in an attempt to bring out his mongrel side, the side of him the Lions believed could make an impact for them at Super Rugby level.

The exact details of this conditioning program are sketchy at best, and with the Lions management refusing to comment it’s probably best to look to Steak Machines’ second album, “Apocalypse Strauss” for a small idea of what Josh had to go through to become the trojan we see on the field today.

Here’s the opening verse from the first single “Pissing in the Jukskei”…

The look of death in my eye
Surely no-one will survive
Just a pile of mush
Left to dry in the sun

As is the case with much of Steak Machines music this verse is very much open to interpretation (a popular theory swirling around the net is that it was written before the Lions v Bulls derby earlier this season) , but regardless of how you read into it I think it’s fair to say that Steak Machines have a long and fruitfull career ahead of themselves.

Go Josh, Go…

Josh - pleading for forgiveness

Player Profile: Brok “Twinkletoes” Harris

With a name that evokes images of metrosexual male models or WWE superstars, you might expect to find WP and Stormers rugby player, Brok Harris in the back line rather than in the tight five up with the grunts. And you’d be right. Despite the fact that Brok is selected to play in the tight five, the backline is exactly where you will find this burly fellow showcasing his sensational silky skills.

 

Brok Harris demonstrating his patented reverse spin torpedo pass. His slippery skills are usually on display in the backs when he is most needed up front at ruck time.

In his mind his selection as part of the tight five is nominal or “symbolic” only – his true calling is to run with the show ponies in the back line.

Wherever there is a ruck that needs a forward to clear it, or wherever a loose maul needs some muscle to be added it to it, Brok can be found far away from where he needs to be, instead preferring to spend his time at “first receiver” in the key playmaker position for the Stormers.

Usually this requires Brok to insert himself between scrumhalf and flyhalf (no small feat when the scrummie in picture is Ricky Januarie) and to take possession of the pill squandering a three man overlap on his outside.

Never one to be discouraged by repeated failure, when the next ruck is formed, he quickly finds his place out where he imagines he is most needed – in space with room to burn.

As to his abilities as a scrummager and at ruck and maul, Stormers fans will never know how he stacks up as a tight forward.   But as to his true calling, he yearns, nay aches to hear Hugh Bladen calling his name as “the big fella crossing the whitewash”.