World Cup 2011 off with a bang…sort of

Well the opening match between the hosts and Tonga went pretty much as expected, but it was not the pasting that most were expecting and All Black’s coach Graham Henry rated his team’s performance a disappointing 5 out of 10 and only marginally better than Sex and the City 2.

Henry has a few selection quandaries for upcoming matches with ‘hot off the bench-press’ Sonny Bill Williams dazzling the Tongans with his complicated tattoos and single-handed layoffs….in fact I lost count of how many times the commentator used the words ‘layoff’ and Sonny Bill Williams in the same sentence and I started to suspect him of merely enjoying saying the Inside centre’s catchy name.

Let’s be honest, it is pretty fun to say….Sonny Bill Williams….give it go and tell me it doesn’t instantly make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Call me cynic,  but I found the opening ceremony pretty underwhelming. Seeing Jonah Lomu gyrating to the ‘World in Union’ anthem (in what I can only imagine to be an attempt at dancing) was up there with ‘walking in on your parents’ on the awkwardness scale. I bet Sonny Bill Williams could show him a thing or two.

If you missed the  ceremony and match…no need to fret…as BDR has compiled a special highlights package that can be seen below. And before you ask…yes, it’s mostly clips of Sonny Bill Williams.



World Cup preview: The rarely seen double haka!

The World Cup is an opportunity to see that rare treasure in rugby union – the double haka.  Here’s a clip of Tonga facing off against New Zealand with both teams performing simultaneous hakas.  If this is a sneak peek of what we’re going to be able to witness tomorrow, then I’m officially ready for the World Cup!



Elma Smit ‘Lady Rugga’: A message from the rugby blogosphere

picture from Lady Rugga's twitter account at @elmakapelma

DSTV’s questionable talent contest to find a female rugby presenter has been finalized and the easy on the eye Elma Smit will be traveling to New Zealand to cover the World Cup as DSTV’s “Lady Rugga”. Initially we were against the idea of the competition – it seemed a bit chauvinistic. After all none of the other Supersport presenters would survive a talent show that actually required being liked by viewers…

But you seem like a nice person and you’ve got your own blog going which is a great start, so we thought we’d give you a message of support and advice from the rugby blogging community.

Elma, or should I say Lady Rugga:

Please don’t drop the ball… we want you to succeed. It would be great to have more female representation in a male dominated sports setup. We’d love it if you embarrassed the chauvinists DSTV who simply wanted someone for their looks by showing them that you have a greater level knowledge of the game than Darren Scott and Hugh Bladen.  It’s really not that hard.

You’ve simply actually got to watch the games being discussed and occasionally watch a few replays.  Showing up the foolishness of what passes for analysis on DSTV is best done best done by watching the replay moments before a try is scored and pointing out either a) that Habana was off his wing or b) which player was guilty of the aimless kick down field which set up the counter attack.  If you can do that, you already know more than Hugh Bladen.

Please also avoid falling into often repeated blunders that your fellow Supersport commentators make.  Avoid the use of the following:

  • Referring to a match as a “game of two halves” (please also punch any fellow presenter who tries this)
  • shout-outs to the school that a try scorer graduated from
  • asking a captain who just lost a match if he is disappointed with the result
  • reveal a lack of vocabulory by simply repeating a players name in increasing levels of loudness as he charges towards the line
  • implying that the referee is a biased against the Boks (that’s so 1994)
  • repeating any phrases that Bobby Skinstad uses or his strange pronounciation of “bokke”

Avoid those and you should be well received by true fans everywhere.  There is one thing we’d like to point out though that we are very worried about though…

Hmm... that's a bit disturbing.

Elma’s blog can be found here.

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!

Celtic tiger caged by dominant English

Well it seems the Celtic tiger has lost some of its roar, with Ireland whimpering to their 4th straight defeat in a row… AND to add insult to injury (literally in the case of flanker David Wallace who sustained a blow to the knee) it was by losing to England for the first time since 2003.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney looked like he was about to pass a stone as he watched his teams ineffectual performance. While Wilkinson kept the scoreboard ticking over with his usual clockwork-like precision, the highlight of the match for the home crowd was watching full-back Murphy’s try saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi, after the Anglo-Samoan made a 70m run from his own twenty-two. It was like watching a greyhound tracking down a rampaging rhino.

The Irish seemed genuinely lost at sea without General Maximus O’Driscoll to call the shots and rally the team spirit with one of his rousing ‘I have a dream’ speeches. From an English fan’s point of view, things are looking promising leading up to the World Cup. In fact, at one point something resembling a smile (though it’s hard to tell when someone’s had that much reconstructive surgery) appeared to cross Martin Johnson’s face. And yes…it was a faintly disturbing sight.

Ireland's World Cup mascot 'Punch-drunk the Tiger'

Springbok World Cup squad announcement – are we Canada now?

No Lwazi Mvovi…  that’s about as shocking as PdV’s World Cup selections went last night.  Quite a change for South African sports politics.  For a country that is used to ridiculous displays of self-sabotage before a World Cup, you’d have to say – this was mild, tame and grown up.

In 2007 we had the Luke Watson drama.  We had the ANCYL and politicians climbing in left, right and centre.  In 2003, we had Fisbo the Clown a.k.a. Rudolf Straeuli with his distasteful and disturbing pre-World Cup preparations.  In 1999, Nick Mallet sacked Gary ‘Steady Eddy’ Teichman and even 1995 saw Kitch Christie selecting his favourite Gauteng players ahead of Tiaan Strauss.  But PdV has kept it pretty sane.

Where’s the drama?  After the Boks finally win a game, all of sudden we move from banana republic to boring old Canada? Are the front pages of our newspapers and magazines set to be dominated by scandals involving disaffected youths stealing flowers from national monuments and hard-hitting exposes about proposed reforms to import tariff regulations?

I have to say, I watched the first twenty minutes of the Supersport squad announcement half expecting to see Oregon Hoskins wheeling out Gadaffi as the new answer to the Bok’s flyhalf dilemna or PdV announcing with a cheeky grin that the ANCYL would be in charge of redesigning the team logo with an anti-Botswana mural to replace it.

The most scandalous part of the team announcement was having to endure close-ups of Darren Scott’s new “Art Deco” look that seems to have been inspired by some sort of unearthly fusion of General Kurtz from Apocalypse Now and the stone carvings from Easter Island.

So where to from here South Africa?  A normal quiet democracy – where we all move out of the crazy rag-tag inner city and head off for quieter suburbs, just like real grown ups?

The real reason Matt Giteau got sacked

Robbie Deans had to make a choice. Either Matt Giteau was going to the World Cup or James Horwill was. They may play in different positions… but think about it.  Have you ever seen them in a photograph together?   If they didn’t wear different scrum caps could you tell them apart on the extremely unlikely event you ever saw them in the same room together?

Giteau and Horwill doing their best impersonations of each other. Or is it?

Boks too busy playing Farmville to practice for Aussie test

That was bitterly disappointing. While Rassie’s tactic of giving all the Boks iPads to play Farmville at the Rustenburg training camp may have made the boys from Pretoria bond with the boys from Cape Town by trading tractors, it seems to have completely screwed up their ability to play rugby. The Springboks have gone backwards since they lifted the World Cup trophy four years ago – and all signs point to the coaching staff.  PdV will rightly try to point to a British Lions series win, a Tri-Nations title and two away wins in New Zealand as achievements. He’s right, but the problem is – that’s not enough.

The Boks racked up an impressive Farmville score at the Rustenburg camp but clearly didn't put in any time doing actual rugby training.

When the Boksburg stood at the tippy top of the rugby world in 2007, an era of Bok dominance should have started. The Kiwis were rebuilding, the English were battered into submission and the Aussies were trying to pick up the fragments of the post John Eales era. The rugby world was ours for the taking – and we cocked it up with the usual “new expansive rugby”, political interference and stupid selections.

So on the eve of the World Cup we are back to square one. Pick what’s left of World Cup final team, those who haven’t retired and aren’t injured. That’s all we can offer after 4 years.

In the Boks’ defence they can make the arguments about rustiness and the returns from injury. That’s all we have fellas… the hope that a few more weeks will solve their “rustiness”.

Two players stood out as playing well. The man-crush Heinrich Brussow and the brother of contributor here Dr Jannie – the more ambitiously named Bismarck. But as for the rest of them, the sight of our scrum going backward with John Smit at tight head was all you needed to see.  That single scrum must now settle once and for all that John is not a prop.

let’s not forgot that the team that just killed us twice in a row lost to Samoa before they beat us. Samoa! If we don’t seriously pick up our game we are at risk for our worst World Cup ever, not even making it out of the group stages. If the same players who won you a World Cup are delivering trash when it matters, then one can only point to the coaches and administrators as the difference makers.

It’s very flash to have Rassie arrive at the training camp with his new iPad and for him to show how to master Angry Birds and Farmville while he waits on the bench behind Smit and Bismarck, but now we need some real coaching. PdV, Dick Muir and Gary Gold had better stop spending their evenings watching box sets of Richard Pryor and Monty Python for inspiration for their “performance art” media conferences and need to start doing some real coaching.

The knives are sharpening gentlemen… can you hear them?

Henson given life-line….whereas O’Driscoll needs more time

Gavin Henson has decided to take a well deserved (and encouraged!) break from his busy reality tv schedule by returning to the rugby field on Saturday when the Welsh host the English at the Millennium Stadium. The men in red will be hoping to exact revenge on their neighbours for last weeks defeat and for blatantly stealing the format of a typical night-out in Swansea and re-enacting it on the streets of London and other English cities earlier this week. As always, Henson will be out to dazzle the English with his bright orange glow and fancy footwork (mostly learnt from his recent stint in ballroom dancing). missed a spot or two!

Across the English channel the Irish will be visiting the South of France, though they won’t be packing their sun-cream and novelty Guinness hats, as they can expect a bruising encounter with Mark Lievremont’s team in a part of the country in which they actually enjoy rugby more than lovemaking and Jean-Luc Godard re-runs. Unfortunately for the Irish, they are still lacking their playmaker and all-round wunderkind Brian O’Driscoll, who is yet to return while working on the final draft of his autobiography ‘On the seventh day God created me’.

Brian O'Driscoll with his 'ride'

Peter de Villiers 90% sure that Boks will win World Cup – that’s comforting…

Yes! Big Daddy Rugby always enjoys it when Peter de Villiers gives an interview. These posts just write themselves. So big ol’ PdV went on record yesterday stating that he was “90% sure that the Boks will win the World Cup”.  That’s comforting…

I guess we can just ignore the really bad 2010 season and the start to the 2011 campaign.  We’ve got an assurance from the man himself.  Just to make really, really sure that we can relax ahead of the big trip down under, I thought I’d do a little research (thank you Google search bar) on previous predictions Peter de Villiers has made to the media.

So according to my very reliable research Peter de Villiers has gone on record with some famous predictions before:

  • PdV was 90% sure that when George Lucas made Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace in 1999 that it was going to be “way better than the first Star Wars films”
  • PdV was 90% sure that Buster Douglas didn’t stand a chance against Mike Tyson
  • PdV was 90% sure that South Africa didn’t stand a chance in the 438 Wanderers game, so much so that he switched off the tv after Ponting’s knock, proclaiming the Proteas performance to be “bullsh@t”.
  • PdV was 90% sure that Ricky Januarie was telling the truth about that new Atkins diet he was on
  • PdV also took out a massive subprime mortgage investment at the start of 2008 – proclaiming the American real estate market to be “as safe as houses”.
Alrighty PdV, thanks for making my day. I’m going to miss you after you’re sacked after the World Cup – just like all Bok coaches.
Peter de Villiers

England v Wales: World Cup warm-up preview

So what can we expect from Saturday’s clash between these two great Northern Hemisphere rivals? Well, the pundits will certainly be backing the men in white (black?) with their home ground advantage and recent resurgence in form. England have been on a steady upward climb, having triumphed in the 6 nations earlier this year and only narrowly losing out on the Grand Slam with a defeat at the hands of the Irish. Oh yes…the black stuff flowed freely on the streets of Dublin that day! Looking at the England line-up you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the Barbarians taking to the field, with the likes of Manusamoa Tuilagi set to make his debut.

Define 'regulation tackle'

Warren Gatland’s Welsh team have not been at their best of late, but they hate the English as much as everyone else so will be trying their darndest to cause an upset. The team has also struggled with their off-field discipline, with the likes of Gavin Henson focusing on his career in reality tv (not having to do his own make up makes a nice change) and scrum-half Mike ‘Burger Boy’ Phillips having been suspended indefinitely for a late-night fracas outside a McDonalds in Cardiff. Phillips’ happy-meal soon turned sad when a bouncer refused him entry and he was forced to eat the pavement instead. I know what you’re thinking…bouncers at McDonalds? How bloody ‘hard’ is Cardiff??

There’s also more at stake than mere pride, with both nations making their final RWC team selections later this month, there are a number of players who will be out to impress the selectors. In particular Charlie Hodgson at No.10 (or the guy least likely to be the new face of Wilkinson Sword) will be hoping to book a place in the first class lounge with Wilkinson and Toby Flood. England find themselves in a relatively easy RWC group, with potentially only Argentina or Scotland set to give them a hard time. Whereas, Wales have the likes of the Boks, Samoa and Fiji to look forward to….happy daze!

The other Northern Hemisphere clash this weekend will be the Scots hosting the Irish…well that one’s a no brainer really.

Mike Phillips gets a taste of late-night Cardiff.

Smokey pencils in his Bok A and Bok B teams

So with the world cup less than 100 days away, I thought it time to get that pencilled in Bok line up started.  I find it hard to believe that the rugby administrators have scheduled between now and the world cup, not only regular season Super 15 games, but also Super 15 plays and 4 Bok test matches.  Hell… I hope they are picking a B team to play in that TriNations.

Here’s my stab at it… to be honest, that looks like an impressive B team.

First Team                              TriNations B-Team

15. Cecil Afrika                                 15. Francois Steyn

14. JP Pieterson                               14. L. Mvovo

13. Jacque Fourie                           13. Ryan Lambie

12. Jean de Villiers                        12. Juan de Jongh

11. Gio Aplon                                    11. Bjorn Basson (Bryan Habana)

10. Morne Steyn                             10. Butch James (Ryan Lambie)

9.  Fourie du Preez                          9. Francois Hougaard

8.  Schalk Burger                             8. Duane Vermeulen

7.  Juan Smith                                  7. Willem Alberts

6.   Heinrich Brussouw                 6. Ashley Johnson

5.  Bakkies Botha                             5. Danie Roussow

4. Victor Matfield                           4. Andries Bekker

3. CJ Van de Linde                          3. Jannie du Plessis

2. Bismark du Plessis                     2. John Smit (Tiaan Liebenberg)

1. Tendai Mtawarira                       1. Coenie Oosthuizen

Why Ricky Januarie needs to be picked for the World Cup

After a tough round of International Monetary Fund negotiations followed almost immediately by intense behind the scenes lobbying at the recent G-20 meeting in Geneva an agreement was hammered out by all of the G-20 finance ministers that South Africa should pick Ricky Januarie to go to the World Cup in New Zealand.

“Since the start of the economic crisis in the summer of 2008, all of our economies have taken severe shocks to our aggregate demand for not only food sector, but also all products and inputs related to the production of beer.  We believe that should Ricky January not be selected to go to the World Cup, the New Zealand agricultural sector will not be able to sustain the shock.

McDonalds and other fast food restaurants have already stocked up in anticipation of Ricky “Aggregate Food Demand” Januarie arriving on New Zealand shores.  Farmers began planting barley and wheat long ago, expecting the bump to our economy that would coincide with the arrival of the man known to his team mates as “4 Big Macs and a 2 pints” for his exploits at half time at Dunedin.  On behalf of all New Zealand food workers and bartenders we urge the South African government to send him to this World Cup.”

~ Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of IMF speaking from his apartment on Rikers Island.

Apparently Pete Seeger, the folk musician and champion of low-wage workers rights everywhere has also penned a single and is currently in post-production to ensure that the single is available for release around the time that PdV will be making his Bok squad announcement.  The song is heavily influenced by Woodie Guthrie’s early folk recordings and will be known under its current working title “Bartender Blues – Ricky Glassed Me with a Pint”.

Pete Seeger - in the possible devastation that may hit the NZ food and beverage industry should Ricky Januarie not make the world cup squad, Pete stands ready to champion the causes of blue collar workers.

Pete has threatened to release his single by August if the cries of food and beverage workers in New Zealand are not heard by the Bok selectors.

Cecil Afrika – pick him for the World Cup

Cecil Afrika. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Someone this talented just has got to be picked up the “ace up the sleeve” for PdV’s world cup squad.

He is the leading 7’s try scorer, a proficient tackler and has more talent in his left fingernail than any 15s Bok player (Gio excepted of course).

Come on PdV, what do you have to lose? Start him in the pool games… he could be our Jonah.

What to do with old man John Smit?

A photo of John Smit taken during his more youthful days as a Bok captain.

With Pieter De Villiers announcing today that John Smit would be the captain of the Bok team that heads to New Zealand one question more than any other is on supporters’ minds:

How exactly will John Smit be used in New Zealand?

Sure, we all know he is the greatest leader of rugby players this country has ever produced (hat tip to Francois Pienaar) and an all around nice guy (hat tip to you John Smit), but the impressive performance of both Bismarck Du Plessis and Deon Fourie have made many question whether Smit would make it as first choice hooker on playing ability alone.

I think we can agree, probably not.  He is being picked because he is to the Bok team what Yoda was to Luke Skywalker. Bloody important. The Bok team just isn’t the same without him. They crumble into jelly legged Straeuli-era shadows of themselves without the ice-cool leadership of Barney.

So here are some options for PdV when it comes to finding a spot for our Yoda:

  • Start with Smit at hooker and move him to prop for the 2nd half when Bismarck Du Plessis is brought on.
  • Start with Bismarck and bring on John with ten minutes to go – or at any hint of a choke.
  • Waterboy and kicking tee bringer-onner.  He could always whisper his magic words into the Bok huddle at that point (“Afraid of yourselves, do not be” or words to that effect)
  • Team Mascot – Victor could bring him out out of the team tunnel during the run-on and John could sit at the half way flag giving icey-stares to opposition players and performing secret hand-gestures to Victor Matfield throughout the game.
Well… I hope Rassie and PdV are working on some combination of the above.  Any other ideas?

Julius Malema – a contender for Bok coach?

With the news that Nick Mallet’s contract to coach Italy will not be renewed after the World Cup, it is only natural to begin the piñata bashing festival known as the debate over and selection process of picking the new Bok coach.

So here are some early thoughts on names that are sure to be thrown into the hat for speculation:

Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke is certainly due his turn. After starting with a Bulls team that began as the laughing stock of the Super rugby tournament (they went winless for an entire season) he turned the franchise’s fortunes around to the point of becoming the first Saffer coach to lift the Super Rugby trophy. In 2007 under his guidance the Bulls played a brand of rugby more akin to the kind of force of nature you see in movies about Mayan apocalypses. His reward? In true SA rugby style the man with buckets of coaching talent got shafted and left for colder shores up north. Despite his credentials I fear if he does get picked we may see a return of Liefling and a strategy built on two principles – eff em up front and non-stop drop kicks.

Allister Coetzee

Certainly the cuddliest coaching option out there. I can see a whole range of stuffed toys made in Coetzee’s likeness selling like hot-cakes at the local Engen. A solid candidate but until his WP/Stormers team actually lift silverware questions around delivery in big games will remain. Unfortunately winning a world cup as an assistant coach doesn’t get you over the finish line.

John Mitchell

With possibly the angriest looking face he is certainly physically qualified to be a test rugby coach. Although he started off well with coaching the Lions, the Ellis Park shambles that has been the Lions 2011 Super 15 season so far must have seriously dented his chances. SA Rugby’s love affair with anything Ozzie or Kiwi since Eddie Jones’ stint with the Boks might count in his favour.

Jake White

Impressive coaching record (who among us can wear a World Cup winner’s medal out on a first date?), but famously burned some bridges with top brass at SA Rugby. Taking up a position at the Brumbies most likely puts him out of the running. Those Aussie dollars have strengthened mightily since the financial crisis began.

Nick Mallett

Given that Nick will be out of a job post-World Cup he could be in theory be in the running. I suspect neither party will be keen on renewing the tortured marriage given that he has given the middle finger to South African rugby administrators not once, but twice – first as a player during the bad old days than as a coach by criticizing the ticketing prices for games.

Julius Malema

With South African politicians penchant for turning the bok team into a way of dividing rather than uniting the nation what better way for the clowns who call themselves administrators to upset the conservatives? Hell, they could really score some points here with a “political appointment”. After he succeeds in shutting down Twitter he can always move on to trying to shut down those pesky Aussie rugby blogs.

Gavin Henson: How not to make a World Cup Squad

Anyone remember Gavin Henson? You know, the great perma-tanned hope of Welsh rugby who’s dined out on one big tackle and a long-range penalty for pretty much his entire career?

You know, the guy who dated Charlotte Church for a while and the guy who took a break from rugby to take part in the Reality TV show “Strictly come dancing”?

Yeah, that’s the Gavin Henson I’m talking about.

Now Gav has had a number of well documented run ins with team mates and coaching staff and my sources in the Welsh camp tell me that “he’s a bit of a knob”, so when I read the news that Gav had decided to bless us once more with his God-given rugby gift and joined up with French team Toulon, I knew that trouble was not far around the corner.

With this gig at Toulon being seen as his last opportunity to snake his way back into the Welsh squad one would have expected him to knuckle down and to just focus on getting some game time under his belt, but alas, Gav marches to a very different drum.

Whilst out celebrating a victory with his team mates Gav decided that the natural progression of events for the evening should go something like this:

    Get pissed
    Mock Johnny Wilkinson
    Mock the Captain Joe Van Niekerk
    Get into a fight with scrum half Matt Henjak
    Go home and weep in the dark


The club are expected to announce later today that his contract has been “terminated” and with that his chances of playing in the World Cup later this year.

I can’t help but feel that this is good news for the Welsh, but bad news for the Boks.

Lay off the “Brutal Fruit” Gav, it’s not helping.

Gav Henson - Young, Dumb and full of...Rum?

PdV announces preliminary RWC squad – Bheki Cele shock omission

Pieter de Villiers announced his preliminary squad of 51 (yes, you read that correctly: fifty-one) players for the World Cup Springbok team.  Touted as a “planning session” he pretty much included every single player who has ever sniffed a rugby ball and a few who had merely been acquainted with a rugby ball by virtue of seeking out a boerie roll on a Saturday afternoon.

One shock omission was notable in PdV’s announcement: no Bheki Cele.  Better known for his day job work as the National Commissioner of the South African Police, Bheki Cele was widely touted by knowledgeable media types as a possible solution to the Bok’s problems in the tight five.

Bheki Cele was widely tipped to fill in the gap in the Bok squad that had been left in the wake of Bakkie Botha's new softer style of play.

With a face that would scare small children (and by logical extension Australian front rowers), Cele was a hot tip to be selected for his physical presence.  The thinking being that this burly fellow walking out of the tunnel at Loftus might cause a few opponents to wet their pants on the ten metre line.

He had also been putting in the hard publicity yards with the press too with a few brash statements.  With quotable quotes like “shoot to kill” and “scrumming is the new rolling maul” he was making a name for himself both in the media and in pubs around the republic.

PdV has selected pretty much the entire country in his training squad. But in leaving Cele out, he has missed a trick in being able to call on a Chabal-like who figure, who could be the team’s show pony and a child scarer combined.

On a slightly more serious note – there is absolutely nothing to say about PdV’s “Bok squad” despite what you may read on other sites. When you pick fifty-one players you haven’t picked a squad – you’ve just sent a message to the one guy who wasn’t included.  In this case – the South African police commissioner.

What, William has a Nymph on him?

During the on-field build up for the Lions & Stormers game between Joel Stransky and Pommie’s brother, there was a mention and camera shot of the William Webb Ellis Cup.

I was surprised they let that kind of hardware into Doornfontein on a Saturday evening – I was concerned for it’s safe passage from there down to New Zealand. I’m sure it must have been a replica.

Joel’s eyes light up too, in a scary Gollum kind of way too, “My preeecioussssssss…..” who can really blame him, imagine the feeling of nostalgia you’d have with the Cup at arm’s length at the venue of arguably South Africa’s greatest sporting moment, knowing you boxed the winning drop?

My Precious

It also got me thinking on factoids on the much sought after Cup. Thanks to Wiki-Wiki I can now provide these and you’ll probably lose 2 minutes of your life (if you are a slow reader).

The Cup is named after the Anglican clergyman or that oke who supposedly invented the game out on a field somewhere in Rugby, Warwickshire, by picking up and then running with the ball in his paws.

Not so! Wiki’s reliable sources has it down that the players, of what could be best be described as a primitive form of gaining grounds, were allowed to catch the pigs bladder – so that whole spiel about Bill causing a ruckus by picking up the ball is cods wallop.

The burning issue was with him going on a Va’aiga Tuigamala-esque run toward s the opposition in goal area which confused his Bigside opponent, and his cronies.

After this moment in the sun, or more likely grey blanket sky in the UK, Bill ended up living in France, and he never married,(has something to do with that clergyman job description I guess).

He is buried in a little town on the French Riviera, named Menton, la perle de la France (the Pearl of France). If you are ever out that way look it up – the IFR have renovated the grave. Not sure how impressed the missus would be that idea on your honey-moon though.

Some other useless facts: The cup is 38 cm in height, and is made of gilded silver.

Now here is the kicker.

The two supporting scrolls or handles, have something funky going on which I never knew.

On one there is the head of a Satyr – the Greek character which is half man, half goat, lover of woman and wine, seeker of every physical pleasure and on the other handle is a head of a Nymph, a young nubile female deity, who loves to dance and sing and do other things..,

Bloody fantastic! I wonder what the clergyman would think of this whole setup under his name!

The WWC is a relatively young Cup, commissioned in ’87 and handed over to Captain Kirk,leader of the first side to win the inaugural Rugby World Cup, not the USS Enterprise

But I’m hoping that quaint stories and tales will be added to the history of this Cup: perhaps starting this last weekend in Doornfontein where a police dog called Bliksem saved the day by sniffing out 1 times authentic 38cm gilded silver trophy hidden under a heap of old newspapers on a park bench somewhere in the Vaal Triangle.

Mark Lawrence left out in the cold

I know I’m a little late out of the blocks with this post but regardless Big Daddy Rugby would like to express their complete disgust at the recent announcement that Mark Lawrence will not be refereeing at the World Cup later this year.

The “Leading Man” of rugby referees is being left at home. “Crouch, touch, pause, engage” will never sound the same again.

What makes the IRB’s decision even more galling is that they have decided to up the ante when it comes to pure comedy by giving Steve “make mine a double” Walsh the nod. Yep, Steve’s going to be there, but Mark’s not.

Not only is Lawrence a good ref, but his rapport with the players on the field is second to none. You never see him getting flustered or speaking to the players like they’re children (ala Johnny Kaplan). He’s cool, calm and collected, something the IRB reckons isn’t necessary for this World Cup.

This is a massive loss for the tournament and rugby lovers in general, so as a tribute to Mark, here are 5 facts about the man that you probably didn’t know:

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 shoulderYou’ll be sorely missed Mark, but you’ll always be in our hearts, World Cup 2011 ref or not.

Mark Lawrence. Admit it, you probably would...

So when can we raid the 7s cookie jar?

After watching the carthorses Habana and Pieterson during the Stormers-Sharks derby, the worrying thought occurred to me that come the world cup one of these circus donkeys are most likely going to be wearing the Bok jersey.  That frightens me.  Despite all the PR coming out of training camps (Bryan is back to best did 100m in 7 seconds and ate Jannie Du Plessis for breakfast) every time we watch these two in the Bok jersey they look like speedboats trailing a cement anchor along False Bay. In other words… slow.

Watch the Blitzbokke 7s teams and one of the many things that you will notice is that they are all without exception fast. Very fast. In the kind of way that Habana was in 2004.  These guys would put the 15 man carthorses to shame.

Cecil Afrika is so ridiculously talented that the entire Bok backline could only get down on their knees and pray that one day they could be as talented as this guy. And the ridiculous thing about this 7s teams is that unlike ponies like Quade Cooper, they can all, to a man, tackle the hell out anything that moves.

Cecil Afrika. Warrior. Poet. Bob Marley inspiration. Destroyer of defenses. Lover of film noir.

Just look at Big Daddy’s man crush, Gio Aplon. That guy can tackle a wildebeest despite being the smallest lightie on the field. He literally looks like he was drafted in from the Sweet Valley under 10s, but he can smash back the big boys in the tackle.

So here’s Big Daddy’s request to the Bok selectors.  Oh please, please, please sneak a fast one on the rest of the world and usher in guys like Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez into the Bok squad. Start them against the minnows, when no-one is watching, and Afrika will leave Habana and Pieterson in his wake.

Besides, look at Afrika, who wouldn’t want a warrior-poet Bob Marley in your starting 15?  As for the Blitzbokke themselves, the 15 man side can look to them. They have set the standard for the rainbow nation. It looks like a banking commercial watching all these smiling faces at the prematch huddle.  Let’s hope some of the wisdom and talent in that Blitzbokke team makes it way to the fifteen man game.

I fear however, we might have to wait until the Blitzbokke have taken their shot at the Olympic gold medal in 2012 to see these bad boys in Bok 15 jerseys, but we can always dream.

We Need A Hero

Fans of oval balls,
The past few days have been ever eventful, with two main highlights/lowlights:
1. Super Rugby continues to show why it is the leading rugby competition in the World, and I’m sure you will agree that the Sharks vs Crusaders game was a shining example of how modern-day Rugby should be played. The ‘old farts’ of the Northern Hemisphere may have even sat up in their wheelchairs to take notice.
2. The World Cup Bok jersey has been unveiled, and as predicted, the Bok emblem is on the left sleeve rather than on the chest – besides the jersey looking cheap, even more disturbing is that Canterbury won’t move their logo to the sleeve to accommodate a 105 year-old Bok logo! Sponsorship and money care nothing for tradition it seems.
Anyhow, to the topic of the day: We need a Hero. Desperately. And more specifically, I refer to a Hero Bok Captain.
Yes, I know Super Rugby is the current order and topic of the day, and that there is much rugby ahead of us to focus on before the Tri-Nations and World Cup kick off; but I have this constant niggle as I watch the weekends games unfold, and how key players form is on the wane. I cannot help but think that we may be all at sea in terms of Bok Leadership once the World Cup rolls around come September. You’re familiar with the old saying: “Prevention is better than cure”. We need to start addressing now who the contenders will be leading us in NZ in September.
At this point, I am not confident that either John Smit or Victor Matfield are the guys for the job. A big call you might say? I am a loyal fan of both. Both are icons of the game, that is undisputed. But let’s analyze the two players more closely, and maybe that will give you a view as to the scale of my concern.
In any team, your captain needs to be written down first on the team sheet. John Smit is not the number one hooker in the country. The student has surpassed the master. In fact, Bismarck has surpassed all no. 2’s and can be counted as the World’s premier hooker at the moment. Smit is not a prop, and never will be – that experiment failed for the Boks, and will fail for the Sharks during Super Rugby. Both John Plumtree and Peter De Villiers know Smit cannot honestly make the Bok or Shark starting XV at hooker, so need to accommodate him somewhere. Sadly, this is short-sighted and harmful to both the Sharks and Boks. The Crusaders game saw the Sharks scrum embarrassed. Once Beast came on, there was some form of solidity. Smit’s time has passed. He was won it all (bar a Super Rugby title), and let’s be fair, is potentially the best captain the game has seen. But he is past his best and I am worried he will be a weakness rather than the cut and thrust belligerence that Bismarck brings to the party. Bismarck is feared and respected. Smit is purely respected (sadly, only now for past achievements).
Matfield pleasantly surprised me on last years end of year tour when he took the Bok reins. 3 wins out of 4 (excl the BaaBaa’s game) is not a poor result bearing in mind the Boks were in disarray earlier in the year in the Tri-Nations. But once again, Matfield’s temperament weakness reared its head in the losing effort against the Scottish – he has a habit of becoming like a petulant child when a refereeing decision goes against the team – this is where Smit is head and shoulders above him and why Bok Management want to keep Smit around – his calm demeanor and diplomacy in tense situations is unmatched. Yes, Matfield has won it all with the Bulls, but this weakness can bring the Boks to their knees. If Matfield was the captain at WC 2007, I have no doubt we would not have won. Recall the Fiji game when Smit kept the team calm and focused when the Boks were looking down the barrel? Those crucial moments require poise and a clear head, both of which Matfield suffers with. That negativity then starts to ripple through the team.
So, my solution for Bok captain? I don’t have one unfortunately. Schalk, I believe is not a Bok captain – he even struggles at Super Rugby and Currie Cup level – a full-blooded, ‘lead-from-the-front’ captain he is, a strategically strong captain, he is not. Jean de Villiers? Maybe, but am still not convinced, and he is prone to injury during World Cups! That doesn’t leave many other contenders.
One can only hope that a Hero emerges over the next few weeks.

Give Spies and the Hoff the boot

It’s getting to be about that time of the year when the pundits start talking about possible Bok combinations for the Test season. So it’s only fitting that the Big Daddy Rugby site sours the whole vibe by offering up its opinion. I have seen enough of the Super 15 to start penciling in my new Bok loose forward trio for the World Cup.  And two of the incumbents have got to go.

This Sharks eighthman was last seen in a starring role in any form in the late '90s.

I am tired of watching Pierre Spies look impressive in the prematch build up only to fade away the moment the whistle blows for kick off. Yes, I acknowledge Spies could probably get into the team on looks alone – he has the body of a marble statue, but unfortunately for him, he  also has the same work rate.  I think the eye-candy for the ladies needs to take a break from the Bok team until he increases his work rate.  As for Ryan Kankowski, while it was memorable having David Hasselhoff in the team in order to win that “ironic 80s” credibility battle with our Aussie friends from across the Indian Ocean, he too has a tendency to disappear as soon as the game turns into a good old fashioned slugfest.

As for the last position in the trio, Schalk “Krazy Eyez Killa” Burger is untouchable. Burger was penned in many years ago on my secretly immortal list, meaning he is immune from all criticism.  I simply will not suffer criticism of him. So who to replace the Hoff and Spies?

How about the multi-ton Mack Truck from the Sharks known to his parents as Willem Alberts? This guy was a virtual one man recking ball on the northern hemisphere tour last year.  Unlike Spies this guy still has a few indentations on him from where he trampled over would be tacklers.  Put a starting Bok jersey on this  fellow and watch the Kiwis bounce off him come the World Cup.

With Burger and Alberts to inflict the physical damage, Heinrich “Lobster Boy” Brussow would be my perfect foil to round out this “world of pain” combination. Last weekend against the Waratahs saw Lobster Boy back in top form after a long injury layoff. It was poetry watching him poaching possession and making steals with Richie McCaw-like awesomeness.

I am calling it early: a loose forward trio of Burger, Brussow and Alberts is the stuff of Bok fantasies.

Willem Alberts

Put a Bok jersey on this fellow, call him "Willem Alberts" and smash him into the watermelon stand known as the Wallaby pack.