Reasons I am struggling to get into Super 15 rugby this year

  • The Stormers suck (yes, tough start to the year, tough break on injuries, but still…)
  • The Bulls just quite aren’t that menacing bully team you love to hate (have you seen their flyhalf?)
  • The Sharks are South Africa’s best hope (yes… playing that sort of flat passing thing they started in the 90s under Macintosh)
  • I cancelled my DSTV account (this feels great whenever your team loses)
  • Schalk Burger is a shadow of his former self
  • I discovered Coursera
  • Still feeling depressed about losing that third test match to Australia (why does Morne Morkel insist on bothering to walk to the pitch to bat?)
  • I’m not doing well in my office Superbru pool
  • I watched a game at a friend’s house and Hugh Bladen was still commentating
  • Those Vodacom ads
  • Walking Dead Season 4 (plus I finally got into Mad Men… about time!)
  • I have that disturbing feeling that if I go to Newlands I will see those “kiwi” supporters in the railway stand
  • My course on postmodernism (see Coursera point) has left me with a vague unsettled feeling that my beliefs don’t really have a firm foundation
  • I am getting old, and many of my mates live overseas now.  That makes it harder to drink beer in the morning for an Australasian kickoff time.
  • Those cheerleaders aren’t really doing it for me.

Yeah… not really feelin’ it.

Blue Bulls camo jersey – the ultimate in self parody?

One tries really hard to make fun of the Bulls.  But then they do such a good job it for themselves, I sometimes wonder, why bother parodying them at all?  Aren’t they just the biggest parody themselves?

It’s like a 1986 apartheid meets 21st century Super Rugby!

I’m still basking in the glory of last year’s post about their pink jersey.  I mean how are you going to top top that pink monstrosity?  Oh but wait… you ain’t see nothin’ yet.

It’s like this photo almost shows the Bulls exec management thinking out loud:

So… ummm… I think last year’s pink jersey was a bit… you know… gay. Can we fix that?

Ya, how about we go for a manly “army camo”? I mean there’s nothing gay about men all wearing army gear and hanging out together away from their wives and girlfriends, is there?

Ya, that’s it! That will shut those Stormers and Sharks supporters. We’ll go really masculine with army outfits. Like “real” men!

Oh f&$k! You honestly can’t make this sh@t up. So nobody on the approval committee thought this is just utterly ridiculous? Nobody thinks this kind reminds everyone of apartheid era bullsh@t. I mean this team plays in Pretoria! They basically look like the guys from District 9 clearing prawns from a squatter camp mixed with apartheid era “enforcers”.  It’s not like they need to shake off the stigma of a racist past now is it?

This is why Australia hates us.

Jeeez. Clearly we don’t need to make fun of the Bulls anymore. They do a good job of that themselves without our help!

Shock as Jake White quits Brumbies coaching role after taking Intro to Philosophy course

News of Jake White’s resignation from coaching the Brumbies has hit Australian papers and blogs today. What could possess a man who was poised to inherit the Wallaby coaching position to burn his bridges down under?

He issued a strange pronouncement about no longer “having the desire” to coach the team that he so recently took to the Super 15 final. Some took this as a reaction to being snubbed for the Wallaby position when Deans was forced to step down. Or perhaps it was because he finally got the courage to watch George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels and this was the only suitable protest he could muster?

But the reasons have little to do with rugby really.

After taking an online “Philosophy 101” class on the Coursera website he has reached the conclusion that the Enlightenment – far from ushering in a new era of moral and ethical certainty – has in fact removed any objective grounding for a basis for determining right from wrong. Cut adrift from an appeal to a divine authority, man is left to fend for himself in this moral landscape, unable to tell arbitrary whim from platonic good.

And as such… No longer able to coach the Brumbies.

20130925-230536.jpg

Habana charge-down

When was the last time you saw a conversion charged-down?!

Most likely the 20th, possibly even 19th century…when a rugby ball was basically an animal’s lower intestine filled with porridge, which then conveniently doubled-up as a post-match haggis.

That’s unless you happened to catch the Hurricanes vs Stormers match yesterday in which Habana chased-down a 40th minute conversion, like a hungry beast released from a cage and eager for his half-time slice of orange.

Habana has come in for a lot of stick here on Big Daddy Rugby…but there’ll be a lot more carrot dangling (and NO, that’s not a euphemism!) if he continues show moments of genius like this…

[youtube=http://youtu.be/e8GplTzIPao]

 

 

Waratahs’ hooker Polota-Nau releases his electro-pop EP on Soundcloud

TATAFU POLOTA-NAU

TATAFU POLOTA-NAU (Photo credit: paddynapper)

NSW front rower Polota-Nau has released his new single “Nightcall” under the stage name of “Kavinsky”.  Rolling Stone magazine has hailed it as a tour de force of new wave electro-pop and our first listen gives it an enthusiastic double thumbs up.  Apparently most of the album was written during the Waratah’s tour of South Africa and in particular this track, Nightcall, was penned after a grueling scrumming session followed by ten laps around the field and a set of crunchies.

The track is available for a listen here:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/1137057″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Cheetah’s hooker defies modern science

Springbok and Cheetah’s hooker Adriaan Strauss continues to defy the laws of physics by consistently running faster than should be possible for a man of his weight and girth.

His bursts of pace show particular disregard for Newton’s 2nd Law of Motion, namely:

The acceleration of a body…is inversely proportional to the mass m of the body.

Or in layman’s terms:

A fat blonde guy should not be able to move much faster than the rate of continental drift.

Despite this, week in and week out, opponents of the Cheetah’s are left scratching their heads as Strauss whizzes past them in a blonde streak of lightning.

Adriaan Strauss sets a new land speed record.

Adriaan Strauss sets a new land speed record.

 

 

Stormers fans to pretend they’re “not that into rugby” this week

What part of Christchurch are you from, son?

What part of Christchurch are you from, son?

After talking a good game in the office last week, Stormers fans will be pretending they’re “not that into” Super Rugby this week as they return to face their coworkers. It’s a time honored tradition in the Cape. All of a sudden there are lot more important things in life than rugby.

When faced with one of those irritating “kiwi” supporters here are a few lines to help you get through the week at office.

  • Oh, did the Stormers lose? Oh… That must be nice for you, seeing as you follow rugby and all that. Yeah… I don’t really get to make time for rugby. Are the Crusaders a good team? Where are they from?
  • Is your family from the North Island or the South Island?
  • I don’t get to watch games as I spend every weekend volunteering at a soup kitchen for orphans. It’s important to get my priorities in life right.
  • What part of Christchurch are you from, son? [then mutter in a soft whisper…. “C@ck!” as your coworker walks away.]. Note: if this coworker is in any way connected to paying your salary you should definitely say “Nothing” if they suddenly spin around and ask you to repeat what you just said.

If you are in a position of authority you don’t need any witty one liners at work this week. Just remember to put an incriminating note in the offending employee’s permanent HR file.

Allister Coetzee has a message for Jake White

Seen in the Brumbies changing room after full time at Newlands on Saturday night….  Allister Coetzee confronting his former mentor Jake White:

Allister "I'm much stronger now" Coetzee

Allister “I’m much stronger now” Coetzee

Other comments heard from behind the scenes:

  • What part of Canberra are you from?
  • There are no rules!  It’s the Thunderdome baby!
  • “We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got, cause it doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not, we’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love” (quoting the Bon Jovi albums they used to listen to during Rugby World Cup 2007)
  • “But quite frankly Jake your attitude appalls me. It’s not what you’re saying. It’s all this stuff you’re not saying. Insinnuendos” (having just watched Sexy Beast yet again).

What the hell happened to the Cheetahs?

Huh? Two consecutive wins in Australasia on tour.  The Cheetahs?  When did they become a team that wins comfortably on tour?

I knew they were onto a good thing when they hired Tony Soprano to be their coach.  But even the most optimistic Cheetahs fan wouldn’t have predicted that they’d be destroying office betting pools everywhere by winning in New Zealand and Australia.  They even stand a decent chance of coming back from Australasia with a 75% win record.

They’ve got some electric backs in Raymond Rhule and Sarel Pretorius, the child of promise at flyhalf in Johan Goosen. Adriaan Strauss is in the form of his life at the moment, and any squad that has Heinrich Brussouw in it… say no more.

Things are looking up for the men from Bloemfontein.

Now the last thing they need to fix is those cheerleaders… and after this weekend’s performance there is a rumour doing the rounds on the interwebs that Heidi Klum has put in an application for the Cheetahs cheerleaders.  They’re almost a complete team now.

Tony Soprano

Naka Drotske discussing tactics over a glass of wine with the Cheetahs “Brains Trust” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things I forgot about Super Rugby during the off-season

With Round 2 of the 2013 Super 15 recently behind us, last weekend was when most of us got round to actually watching a game with a pint in hand. During the off-season, I forgot a few things that just one weekend of rugby brought back freshly to my mind. Here is my list:

  • just how little Pierre Spies does in a rugby game, besides doing his impersonation of the movie poster “This is Sparta!”
  • just how much I hate Hugh Bladen’s commentary
  • that watching the Stormers play is like getting into an Ingmar Bergman existentialist 4 hour movie
  • that Joel Stansky’s voice sounds like a camel being put through a woodchipper
  • In office pools, always bet on the home team unless the Crusaders or the Lions (ooo too soon?) are involved
  • Bryan Habana tends to go entire seasons without being able to catch a rugby ball
  • Wynand Olivier’s hair never ceases to amaze me
  • One can never overstate just how depressing and uninspiring the Cheetahs cheerleaders are
  • Who the hell is doing the Vodacom advertising and what are they smoking?!
  • My Nick Mallet man-crush (who else speaks truth to power?).
    2012 Super Rugby season

    2012 Super Rugby season (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

Blue Bulls release musical crime against nature: Stand by Me

In what critics are calling “a crime against nature” the Bulls have released a version of themselves singing “Stand by Me”.  See the video below:

After viewing this, I can only say…

What the fuck?

In an attempt to restore some musical dignity to South African rugby franchises, the Southern Kings have released their own music video in response.  Most fans prefer the Kings’ track by a large margin.

S15 preview: Get ready for the Southern Kings screwjob

Southern Kings

Southern Kings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Southern Kings unfortunately decided to switch their logo at their last minute before the 2013 season kicked off.  The more fitting image of a baby seal being clubbed to death was replaced with something resembling 4 Bic pens randomly sprouting towards the sky.

2013 is not going to pretty for this franchise.  You’ve got to feel for them.  Consider how the  South African rugby administration has set them up to fail.

  • SARU dicking around for most 2011 and 2012 and not making it clear which teams would be participating (how do you recruit when you don’t know which teams will be in or out?)
  • The Lions refusing to loan any players to the Kings, despite the fact that they were offered to all the other South African franchises.
  • Only giving the Kings one season to stay afloat in the S15 (who wants to sign for a team that will finish last and be relegated?)
  • SARU refusing to relax the foreign quota limit for the Kings in light of the above (it was waived for the Melbourne Rebels by the ARU).  Would have been great to see a few more Kenyans in this squad.

Yip, it’s pretty much a certainty they are going to be on the receiving end of some massive hidings.  Away from home, you’d be brave to bet against them conceding 100 points somewhere along the way.  The really irritating thing here, is that would have been great to see a good side playing out of P.E.

Players to watch this season: Luke Watson and … um… I am pretty sure there are one or two other decent players, aren’t there?

If they had a theme song by Leonard Cohen it would be: “Never Any Good”.

Prospects for 2013: Nuclear holocaust.

The Lions 2013: a game of thrones

 

 

After finding themselves on the wrong end of SARFU backroom dealings, the Lions will not be participating in this year’s Super 15.    This weekend saw them taking on the less fancied Russian national team at Ellis Park as part of a completely rejigged schedule for 2013.   Johan Ackermann  and management have had to scramble to organise “decent” opponents to keep the squad sharp for the promotion-relegation layoffs later this year.

They have cobbled together a tournament of sorts now being referred to as “the Game of Thrones”.

 

 

 

Here are the fixtures and opponents as far as we can tell:

 

 

 

  • February 2, 2013:  Lions v Sweet Valley Primary School under 13B rugby team (“C” team not available that weekend)
  • February 15, 2013: Lions v Meadowridge Baptist Youth Group (game moved to Friday to accommodate “lift” arrangements with parents)
  • March 8, 2013:  Lions v USA invitational (away game).
  • March 15, 2013:  Lions v North America invitational (away game)
  • April 13, 2013: Lions v car guards at Shoprite-Checkers (match to be played under “Southern Suburbs rules”)
  • April 20, 2013: Lions v Peoples Republic of Korea followed by Lions v Peoples Republic of Hout Bay (a despot double header!)
  • April 27, 2013: Lions v Wales.

 

Shooo… if you’re a season ticket holder best sell them now, before your potential buyers get a look at this fixture list.

 

Lions (rugby union)

Lions (rugby union) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Hail to the Chiefs: 2012 Super 15 Awards

Here’s to the Chiefs for pulling off an emphatic victory over the weekend.   Far more impressive than clubbing to death the baby seals that arrived from Durban was their semi-final win over Grim Reapers of Super Rugby.   In BDR fashion we present the annual Single Malt and Pink Smirnoff 2012 season recap.

Hold me close don’t ever let me go Sonny.

A single malt: for most intimidating semi-final opponents to the Crusaders.  What would a Super Rugby tournament be without a trip to Christchurch for your annual ass-whooping?

A pink Smirnoff: to Hugh Bladen – for once again being the tournaments worst commentator, despite a strong challenge from newcomer Victor Matfield.  Hugh… where did that drink go?  It was here just a second go?

A single malt: The biggest upset?  Most definitely the Rebels tipping over the Crusaders.

A pink Smirnoff: to the ass who designed the Bulls away strip.  You might think you’re very clever sitting in your marketing studio, but you’re not.

A single malt: to Bryan Habana for having a pretty good comeback season despite being bagged non-stop by this website.

A pink Smirnoff: to Bobby Skinstad.  For being Bobby Skinstad.

A single malt: to Nick Mallet – the first Supersport analyst to actually contribute something to the viewing experience since the days of Jake White’s tenure.  Someone please tell Arnold Geerdts to stop using the phrase “it was a game of two halves”.

A pink Smirnoff: to John Mitchell for resurrecting the Rudolf Straeuli man management method.

A single malt: to the Stormers who despite their annual silverware choke pulled off a top of the table league finish despite having a non-existent pack and Brok Harris at flyhalf.

A single malt: to the Western Force for hiring the drummer from Def Leppard to play in their backline.  Nice!

A pink Smirnoff: to the Rebels franchise for continuing the Aussie tradition of naming their teams after George Lucas movie themes.

A single malt: to Dr Jannie du Plessis for managing to pull off the greasy hair look all season long of a roadie at a Metallica concert.  You make it look so easy and classy at the same time good doctor.

A pink Smirnoff: for Pierre Spies for show ponying it up all season long.

A single malt: Best commentator?  Phil “the mighty eagle” Kearnes.

A pink Smirnoff:  to the South African rugby administrators who managed to screw both the Lions and the Kings by acting like typical Saffer politicians.

A single malt: to the Chiefs for having a prop as their leading try scorer.  And for hiring him after completing his role as Odd Job in the Connery Bond movies.

Stormers re-enact the annual traditional choke

Against all odds, the Stormers managed to pull off a fantastic 26-19 choke against the Sharks at home.  Amazingly, this choke came after finishing first on the log, breaking the record for regular season wins and after a bye week.   The Stormers really had to dig deep to find a way to restore the faith that their fans have in them, namely that they can choke a season from any position of strength.

Alistair Coetzee revealed how much work went into this game in the post match interview:

“I’m really proud of the boys today.  I know a lot of people in the media had written us off and said we weren’t capable of a choke again, but I knew all week long we could do it.  The boys put in a lot of work in the training ground making sure that Brok Harris would be first receiver in any situation where we get good quick ruck ball.  It was also drilled into the half backs that they need to kick possession aimlessly away whenever we get forward momentum.  I’m just so proud of those efforts”

The Stormer’s have a long history of choking in the Super Rugby tournament stretching back to the first famous choke against the Highlanders in their home semi-final back in 1999.   Concern mounted this year ahead of the playoffs that since getting rid of players generally concerned pivotal to the choking game, such as Nakalavuki and Naas Olivier (remember those days?) the Stormers might not be able to produce that all important choke when it was needed.  With Peter Grant in superb kicking form and even Bryan Habana looking good this season the odds were piling up against the Stormers.

A  relieved Newlands witnessed the cold fact that their beloved team still has the magic touch in the big games.

Vital to any choking strategy is the need to get Brok Harris good quality second phase ball to put him in the decision maker role in the backline.

Why the Bulls don’t have an effing prayer

During play off time it is the same story every year.  Teams travelling across the Indian Ocean to play in an away knock out game talk a good game.  You’ll heard the words “quietly confident”, “happy to be underdogs”, and “this time it feels different”.  In the words of the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman: “Bullshit”.

There are several reasons why Bulls fans shouldn’t allow themselves to get their hopes up for this weekend’s knockout clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch:

  • They are playing the Crusaders.  In Christchurch.
  • Dan.  Fuckin’.  Carter.
  • They are playing the Crusaders.  In Christchurch.
  • Richie.  Fuckin’.  McCaw.
  • Zane “The Crazy Train” Kirchner will be wearing a Blue Bulls jersey.
  • History, science and the basic laws of physics.
  • Bjorn Basson’s evil wizard goatee hasn’t actually given him any supernatural powers at all or even a casting role in the new Harry Potter movie.
  • They are playing the Crusaders.  In Christchurch.

It can’t be done fellows.   Listening to Bulls fans talk optimistically is a little like hearing your best friend talk about how he thinks he can patch things up with his recently broken up girlfriend.  The writing is on the wall, and though it pains you  to see a fellow fan in a state of self-delusion, you haven’t the heart to quite give them the brutal bad news.  It’s why you never became a surgeon.   “But this time is different” they protest.   Soon enough, the argument starts to begin sounding like a creationist debating with an evolutionary biologist. Your heart goes out for the desparate clutching for hope, anything that will say things will be ok.

Zane “the Crazy Train” Kirchner. Is he the kakkest player to ever wear the Bulls 15 jersey?

Remember fans – if you aim low… you’ll never be disappointed.

The drinks are on the city of Cape Town Dane Coles…

Hurricane hooker Dane Coles’ match winning try against the Chiefs  has set-up a potential Super 15 home final for the Stormers.

This is assuming the Stormers can avoid choking in front of their home fans by defeating the Rebels, something that Stirling ‘Hurt Locker’ Mortlock will be trying his very best to avoid in his last match before retiring and having himself  cryogenically frozen.

Following the match, Coles is said to have received news that he is to be presented with the ‘Keys to the City’ by the Mayor of Cape Town, though it was later confirmed by the Mayor’s Office that it is in fact the keys to his daughter’s Citi Golf, who recently had her licence suspended for driving through a shopping mall at over 30mph.

In addition to this, the Hurricane player has apparently been gifted an open bar tab at pubs across the city as well as an offer of a home cooked sit-down meal at Stormer’s coach Allister Coetzee’s house.

Coles commented:  “I’m stoked with the news…Citi Golf’s are solid pieces of machinery and I look forward to taking the boys out for a free round next time we’re in Cape Town…though I may pass on the dinner offer!”

Dane Coles waves goodbye to his Ford sponsorship deal following his open praise of the Citi Golf range.

Cheetahs best season ever: the heartbreak kids come good

If this were any normal Super Rugby season when the Cheetahs go down by 14 points in the first half, you expect them to fight back only to cough it up in the last two minutes. Your pick of Coenie “sex on legs” Oosthuizen swan diving onto a ruck to give a penalty away in front of the posts or Hennie “I left my common sense with my fashion sense” Daniller with  a wild speculative pass inside his own in goal area to allow the visiting team to break Free State hearts once more.  Ear-splitting screams of “Vry-staaaat!” notwithstanding.

Not this season though.  In Saturday night’s come from behind miracle on ice last minute nail baiter the Bloemfontein boys held their nerve and clung to a desperate against the odds win over the Waratahs.  Willie Le Roux might have a name more suited to a career in the adult entertainment industry, but his ability to cross the try line this weekend meant that Cheetahs fans had something to celebrate on the drive home from the stadium this weekend.  With the win came confirmation that 2012 is the best Super Rugby season the franchise has had in its history.  Best at least in terms of wins and results – after all a few former Cheetahs front rowers will still tell you that 1999 edged this one in terms of ability to pull girls on tour…

Coenie “sex on legs” Oosthuizen set the ladies pulses racing this weekend with another sensual performance in the front row.

So tip of the hat to Cheetah’s coach Tony Soprano Naka Drotske.  The Cheetahs used to be everyone’s second favourite team simply because while they played a romantic idealist’s form of the game, they were never actually going to beat your number one team.   The Cheetahs now inspire genuine hate from anyone in a Lion’s supporters jersey and have strung together a record 5 wins against decent opponents making a trip to Bloemfontein far more nervous than it used to be.

Add to that, prospects for 2013 look even better.  While their season was ignited by uncovering wonderkid/boy genius/future flyhalf maestro/gift to mankind/anti-apartheid activist and former Robben Island struggle veteran Johan Goosen, some of these wins have been pulled off with Goosen still on the injury list.   Rumour has it he is the next Johnnie Wilkinson and not just in the looks department.   Not even the most one-eyed Lions fan could deny that the Cheetahs deserve their spot in the competition next year.

Hell… even their cheerleaders get the most improved badge of the year.

The boy wonder Patrick Lambie vs Old Man Stirling Mortlock

The Super 15 delivered yet again this weekend with a healthy dose of high-five moments.

One that stood-out for me personally was seeing old man Stirling Mortlock score his 50th try in Super Rugby in a surprising win for the Rebels over the Crusaders.

It was one of the those moments in sport when it felt like everyone was rooting  for the same guy…willing his tired legs over the line and allowing some of us to feel that 35 is not too old to get the boots out from under the bed and try out for selection in next year’s tournament.

The same match also saw Kurtley Beale getting flattened by a massive hit that temporarily wiped the smirk from under that ridiculous crumb-catcher of his. The guy’s a great player…but let’s face it – that tash makes him look like a someone who’s not allowed within 50 yards of a children’s playground.

Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale before and after his stint on ‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’

 

At the other end of the age spectrum from ‘The Mortlocker’ is the cherub-faced boy wonder Pat Lambie…can this kid do no wrong?! He’s like Justin Bieber, but WITH talent!

Yet again he played a pivotal role in his team’s victory, but this time he graciously let some of his team mates get-in on the action – unlike last weekend where he scored all of the Sharks’ 28 points.

Just in case you missed that…here’s one that he finished-off in style with a little help from his friend Hosea Gear.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAyfJkFmZuM]

Auckland Blues and Pat Lam: Once were warriors

Remember the mid-nineties when Graham Henry coached the Auckland Blues?  Heck at Super 12 fixture against those bad boys was as a big as a Test Match and if you consider the state of Northern Hemisphere rugby back then, playing Auckland in Auckland was probably tougher than most test matches.

Those were the days if you were an Aucklander.   Seinfeld was still on tv, Biebermania hadn’t yet swept the nation and you could satisfy yourself that come Saturday whichever hapless baby seals were going to be offered up as opposition to the Blues would be clubbed to death mercilessly in front of a rabid crowd at Auckland Park.  There was even talk of visiting coaches deliberating picking understrength sides to face Auckland simply to avoid injuring key players in a game that was going to be a loss anyway.

Fast forward to 2012.  Pat Lam has already broken the franchise record for most defeats in a season and the season isn’t even half way.   Nine losses in a season?  I suspect my views will be unpopular here, but I have to say, I’ve never digged Pat Lam.  His post-match interview in the 95 World Cup after Samoa got spanked by the Boks was the stuff of complete knobs.

Pat has gone on record complaining about people criticising him on the “interwebs” and “the twitter”.   Sure, it’s over the top Pat.  Is that a surprise?  You’re the coach of a legendary franchise and during your tenure their name is being humiliated.  Didn’t you lose to the Melbourne Rebels?   You deserve to cop a lot of flack if you coach a top team and have a miserable record with them.  Just ask Harry Viljoen.   Don’t take the social media stuff personally.  You should see what they say about Barack Obama on there… dude, you’re not special in copping a bit of abuse.

p.s. Where is all the support from the railway stand at Newlands now for Auckland?

Bulls rip out Reds’ hearts, destroy their season and date their girlfriends

Wow.  61-8.  Eight tries to one.   The Reds just got spanked.   It doesn’t matter how you try to spin that one in the post match interview but for the defending champions to get theirs a$$es handed to them to like that has got to permanently scar a team.  Sure they had injuries, sure they were thousands of miles away from the nearest XXXX or Bundies, but if you are the defending champions you simply just can’t let a team put 60 plus on you.

Ouch.   Reds coach, Knuckles, (who for the record is one of the nicest blokes you’ll meet on the Twittersphere) must be wondering how to pick up the pieces up this weekend.  At the half time mark a 16-3 lead looked comfortable enough and you’d expect Ludeke to be giving the Bulls the standard “let’s rest on our laurels boys” talk in the changing room.  But Steyn came out on fire with another 100%’er with the kicking boots and the back line seemed to grow in confidence with every passing minute.  That’s what you have to love about this Bulls side.  They bullies and they are excellent bullies. They sensed weakness and then didn’t just finish them.  They smashed them, humiliated them and dragged the Reds’ carcass all over Loftus for the second half.

Hell apparently with ten minutes to go, the Bulls front row demanded that their Reds counterparts immediately hand over the phone numbers of the Reds’ girlfriends.  Pierre Spies was heard to be dialling the phone numbers of each of the Reds forwards’ girlfriends during those last ten minutes, and after pointing out their score to the Brisbane lasses, recommending that they “hook up” on the Bulls overseas tour.

According to my sources things got really awkward after the final whistle, is all I am saying…

It’s all looking a bit familiar

Expect Naka to go all Tony "dead eyes" Soprano around week 5 of the competition...

We’re only two weeks into this season’s Super 15 and it’s already starting to take on a familiar ring.

The Lions are as brittle as ever and are willing to hand over rugby games to any opposition team that asks in a rather stern voice if the Lions wouldn’t mind rolling over for them.   The Shark’s look unimaginative (cheerleaders aside) with loads of potential that they somehow never live up to.   And where the Stormers should have a quality flyhalf, they have Brock “Twinkle Toes” Harris at first receiver.   Jeez, if I was inside centre for the Stormers I would have knee-capped Harris a long time ago if I wanted to have any expectation of getting the ball in open play. Things looked better for the Stormers on Saturday when Grant came on, but you suspect until that they settle their flyhalf question they’re not going to put away quality opposition in tight games.

The Bulls are throwing their weight around like a 300 pound wrestler taking on a bunch of kindergarteners armed only with popsicles, but their true mettle will only be tested on the road.  It still remains to see whether they’ll be able to step up to the legacy left by Meyer’s later squads, or if they will be one of those squads that are unbeatable at home but totally sh$t on the road in New Zealand and the land of Oz.

We’ve been here before, right?  If you’re a Lion’s or Cheetah’s supporter you’ve got that feeling that opposition cricket teams used to have when they toured Australia.  First morning of the series, first session of the day and Hayden and Langer are already carting you all over the park.  Hell… you’re not even 120 minutes into a long series and you’re hoping like hell that you can somehow ride this out and come out on the other side still looking like some sort of half decent sports outfit.  Pre-season boasts about Jantjies and Brussouw are proving very regrettable.

Until the Saffer teams cross the Atlantic we won’t really know if Bulls, Stormers and Sharks have realistic knockout hopes (because the Cheetahs and the Lions sure as hell don’t).  As someone who grew up watching rugby in the ’90s I’m a firm believer, that what you do at Newlands or Loftus doesn’t count for much until you’ve been tested on the turf in Auckland, Christchurch and Sydney.  The Cheetahs are first up for tour and it’s a formality that they will be getting their asses handed to them.  For me, I’m reserving all judgement until the top three South African teams go on tour.

Super 15 preview: SA conference

It’s that time of the year again.  Time to start skipping varsity lectures, updating your Superbru during work hours, and generally losing every bet you can because of your unreasonable faith in South African teams somehow being able to “pull of a surprise playing in Christchurch”.

STORMERS

Coach: Super Rugby’s cuddliest coach, Allister Coetzee, has a lot to prove after being passed over for the Bok coach.  His biggest problem?  A trophy cabinet as empty and hollow as the latest Maroon Five album.  If the cuddle monster can’t win trophy’s he won’t be putting on that Bok coaching jersey any time soon.

Captain: The man. The legend.  Terror of all you can eat buffet bars everywhere. Schalk Burger. Beautiful freak.

Man to watch: Andries Bekker. An 8 foot tall freak of a man, capable of two carrying basket balls in one hand (try that) while simultaneously running like a winger and calling in his stock market trades from his Bluetooth headset.  New Zealanders are in awe of him, girls love him, and fashionistas everywhere are horrified by his mullet.  With Big Vic finally leaving the Bok scene, this is Bekker’s year to shine.

Summary: Every year it is the same old story.  The Stormers look good in pre-season.  The local Cape Times and Argus report that Habana is “back to his best form” in the training facilities.  Unfortunately by that they mean his table tennis skills because they can’t possibly be referring to his rugby form can they?  Round about midway through the season the Stormers put on a display of rugby that is everything you ever want in a team.  They whip the Blues 65 to 0 in New Zealand.  People start fantasizing about a Newlands final.  Then they cock it up somehow when it really matters.  Everybody gets wasted at that really disgusting bar in the Grand Stand.  Don’t put me through that again, I just don’t think I can handle it.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune:  Your Own Worst Enemy.

BULLS

Coach: Frans Ludeke. What a career plan, follow on the coat tails of Heyneke Meyer.  Don’t change anything. Use the structures and players your predecessor put in place. Watch the trophies come rolling in.

Captain: Pierre Spies.  Underwear model.  Former hurdles champion.  The man your girlfriend really wants to have sex with when she pretends she’s into you.  But he hasn’t actually done anything remotely resembling a rugby play in the last 3 years.  But he does look good in a tight shirt. So there’s that.

Man to watch: Johann Sadie.  As is usually the case with players who transfer to the Bulls something about the setup brings out the best in them.  This promising backline player will be sorely missed by the Stormers.  Especially when they check Jean de Villiers ID document and discover that Jean is actually 82 years old.

Summary:  There’s one slight problem with Ludeke’s grand plan of not changing anything that Heyneke Meyer put in place, including allowing Victor Matfield to coach himself and be in charge of his own disciplinary hearings.  Eventually people get old and leave.  Then you’re royally screwed.  The Bulls starting line up this weekend is missing a host of the regulars.  No Bakkies, Du Preez or Matfield.   It doesn’t bode well for the season ahead.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: Wages of Sin.  You just know big ol’ Vic gave them a talking to about getting right with the Right.

CHEETAHS

Coach: Naka Drotske has been honing his Tony Soprano impersonation all summer long.  A grizzled veteran with a face straight out of New Jersey and a trophy cabinet as empty as ….

Captain: Adrian Strauss– has more syllables in his name than caps…experience isn’t everything, is it?

Man to watch: Heinrich  Brussouw.  Big Daddy Rugby’s personal hero.  The Lobster Boy is everything you want in a loose forward. Intelligent, scrappy with an unbelievable ability to sneak turnovers out of nowhere.  If you were stuck in a Shawshank Redemption prison and badly needed a nail file, a box of playing cards and two nylon guitar strings for your escape, Heinrich “Scrounger” Brussouw would be your man.

Summary: The Cheetah’s are well and truly screwed this year as they are every year.  They are a talent farm for the rest of the country with the Sharks in particular waving big coastal money in the bright eyes of promising farm boys while Cheetah’s talent scouts look on helplessly.  They can’t retain the depth needed to be an effective team, so despite the flashiness of the odd upset, they are on their way out.  They’re not politically connected enough either to keep themselves from being replaced by the Kings next season.  Enjoy it while it lasts fellows.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: I’m Goin’ Down

SHARKS

Coach: John Plumtree.  What is up with those ears John?  I can’t stop staring at them.

Captain: Keegan Daniel.  I got nothing here.  There’s not much to say about a captain who allows his coach to recruit Marius Joubert.   Marius Joubert.  Wasn’t he in his glory days before they invented the internet?

Player to watch:  Pat Lambie.  The man most rugby fans south of Pretoria want to dislodge Morne Steyn from the Green and Gold number 10 jersey.  If only he didn’t look like he just got done playing soccer for the Sweet Valley under 10s.  Maybe it’s the band-aid on his knee, or the fluffy do on his head.  He doesn’t exactly instil fear with his looks.  But he’s the closest thing South Africa have had to a complete flyhalf since the days I hacked by my Playstation and built that fake player on EA Sports Rugby.

Summary: The team known more for its cheerleaders and its slavish devotion to John Smit than for its trophy winning ability will again put out the best squad this year out of the Saffer franchises.  Oh, you meant the rugby team not the cheerleaders?  In that case, don’t get your hopes up just yet.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: My Best Was Never Good Enough.  (That one’s for you Bismarck.)

LIONS

Coach: John Mitchell.  He is scary enough that you’d probably want to play your best so that he doesn’t give you “that look” in the dressing room after the game.

Captain: Josh Strauss.  Will he? Won’t he?  Shave his beard?  Release a new four track indie-folk record?  Lions management must love having this hippie folk rocker on their payroll.  He is Google gold-dust.

Player to watch: Elton Jantjies.  Webster himself.  Mini Carlos Spencer.  Except he can kick.

Summary:  For some reason it takes years between a South African rugby team winning the Currie Cup and becoming a decent Super Rugby team.  I’ve never quite figured that out.  Like the Cheetahs, depth is a problem.  It’s all very well winning domestic trophies while the Boks are away, but you get exposed at Super Rugby level if you don’t have enough quality players to call on.  Luckily for Lions there is far too much money sloshing around Ellis Park for them to ever be allowed to be relegated.

If they had a Bruce Springsteen theme tune: Don’t Look Back.  (Best sung as you’re bulletting straight out of Ellis Park.  Whatever you do.  Don’t. Look. Back.)

The cuddle monster wants a trophy so bad he can almost taste it.

Stefan Terblanche fined for having an opinion

Stefan Terblanche: Fined for daring to be interesting - Image by Ryk Neethling via Flickr

Will Carling once famously called the administrators of the English Rugby Union, “old farts”.  Well the old farts in tweed jackets smoking pipes at Twickenham can move over: there are new “old farts” in town – SANZAR who recently showed their savvy by fining Stefan Terblanche $2000 Aussie dollars for “abuse of social media”.

Terblanche’s shocking tweet that got him in all this trouble?

SANZAR again being very impartial. The Sharks not even allowed to take who we want on tour. Pathetic!!”

“Not allowed to take Swanepoel who has been part of squad all year and toured with us for 4 weeks. He didn’t play 4 games. Caleb Ralph, Reds?”

What a load of asses. Terblanche actually said something interesting for a change unlike 99.99% of rugby players who inanely tweet that the guys are looking forward to Saturday and that Habana has been looking good in training. The useless knobs at SANZAR have made it clear that social media and interacting with fans is all great as long as you don’t actually reveal your opinion or personality.

What’s next? All postcards from the Rugby World Cup to be edited and reviewed by the thought police?  Hey SANZAR, wake up and smell the coffee – you can’t treat your fans with contempt in an age where you’re competing with the internet, videos, entertainment systems and iPods for the time and attention of your target market.

Let our sportsmen have personalities please – they’re competing with the Double Rainbow guy on YouTube for our attention after all.

Super 15: BDR Awards ceremony

Bryan Habana, South African rugby union player.

Bryan - why do you continue to snub us? Image via Wikipedia

Well the inaugural Super 15 season is done and dusted and we’re all twiddling our fingers waiting for the Tri Nations.  In a somewhat muted ceremony under a streetlamp in the car park behind Checkers, Big Daddy Rugby, had their first Super 15 awards ceremony. It seems once again SARU has the rub on us, preventing the players from showing up to this unsanctioned media event.
  • Worst commentator of the tournament-  Hugh Bladen (lifetime achievement award)
  • Best commentators chirp – Phil Kearns – as camera pans over the Waratahs’ coaching staff who happen to be former front rowers “you can see worried looks on the faces of the Waratahs’ brains trust” to which Rod Kafer replies “Brains trust Phil? I bet they’ve never been called that before”
  • Shortest shorts – Reds
  • Most overhyped players
  • Biggest gaffe – PdV’s comment that Sonny Bill Williams will be exposed at a higher level
  • Finest cheerleaders – Sharks (again)
  • Most approachable rugby celeb on Twitter – Ewen Mckenzie
  • Weirdest tweets from a rugby celeb – Luke Watson
  • Stadium with the biggest assholes in the stands – Newlands
  • Stadium with the worst “ambience” music – Loftus
  • Moment of the season – Reds winning the season of years of copping abuse from every team on the planet
  • Lazarus award – Andre Pretorius (was that really him emerging from the crypt to play for the Lions?)
  • Player most frequently spotted out of position – Brok Harris
  • Lamest SANZAR move – awarding 4 points for a bye (WTF?)
  • Most out of shape player – Ricky Januarie
  • Best studio guest – Ashwin Willemse (representin’!)
  • Studio presenter’s face least suited to being shown on High-Definition TV – Darren Scott
  • Moment when you knew the Stormers were going to cock up the season again – Earl Rose drafted in to the squad for the overseas tour
  • Player most frequently described as “due for a turnaround in form given all the hard work he’s been putting in at the training ground” – Bryan Habana

Well done Reds

Hats off to the team, coach and management of the Reds. After being annihilated by the Bulls a mere 4 years ago and finishing bottom of the log, they’ve turned it around to finish top of the log anmakeld their nerve to take the Final too.

Coach Ewan seems like a good bloke and the players have a real joy for the way the way they play (think of Digby’s celebrations this season).

It’s not easy turning rabble around, just ask Heyneke. These guys deserve the night on the town that is being unleashed on Brisbane tonight. Having visited there myself I am sure the Bundies is flowing copiously. Lock up the women and children, it’s going to be a booze up like no other.

Stormers Front Row: Harden the Hell Up

Geez… Saturday was the gut-wrenching stuff up that you have nightmares about when you decide to wear your Stormers jersey to work on a Friday. It’s a good thing I watched this game on the telly and started downing my drinks quickly in the first half so that my memory of the second half of the Stormers Crusaders match was merely a haze of alchohol and regret rather than the cold stark lonely reality faced by those who stayed sober enough at the game to be able to pass the breathalyser test from the coppers on Main Road.

Stormers front rowers at midweek practice prior to the Crusaders game.

The Stormers front row were atrociously poor, and it was all too predictable in that My Little Pony kind of way. Bloody hell Rassie – everybody knows that the Stormers haven’t had a decent front row since the early nineties. Why didn’t you just bring out the rolls of cash and buy some animal from the Northern Hemisphere if the Western Cape is only good for producing wine snobs?  Please, no more props who look like they just came from under 10s practice and are more concerned about being in the back line than about doing the hard work up front. If I see another front rower making a “cover tackle” or standing at first receiver I’m personally going to start stocking up on naartjies for 2012.

We don’t want some flash prop with pink boots making good runs. We want some crazy hardened psychopath that is on multiple restraining orders and makes Hannibal Lecter take a backward step. I’m talking Pollsmoor prison “Crazy Eights” style, not this “Bishops Boy who has got a bit of pace” rubbish we’ve been subjected to for the last decade.  Let’s get us some man eating front rowers who have bits of loose-forward’s scrum caps between their teeth.  The kind of guy who was rejected for the part of Friday the 13th part X for being too disturbing.

And Stormers front row: we’re not done with you yet, there’s a message from Chopper Reid for you (may be NSFW depending on your office politics):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unkIVvjZc9Y?rel=0]

Oy – and if on the odd chance there is a Stormers player reading this blog who’d like to point out the irony of a blogger telling a rugby player to harden up, just remember I chose to work in an office cubicle all day – you chose to mix it with the All Black front rowers on a weekly basis. I’ve hardened up to the reality of having to file my TPS reports on a weekly basis with the cover sheets on.  Have you hardened up to what it takes to play rugby?