The South African Rugby Union is contractually obliged to send its *cough* strongest team to New Zealand and Australia for the away leg of the Tri-Nations. Of course, only a lunatic would risk playing valuable assets like Schalk Burger and Fourie du Preez with the World Cup a matter of weeks away. So what to do to get out this pickle?
You wily fox you.
PdV’s solution? A creative injury list that would do the folks at Enron and Goldman Sachs proud. Here’s the list of players who are on the *cough* injury list and their respective reasons for non-availability:
- Duane Vermeulen – Knee injury
- Schalk Burger – Just received a complete box set of the Wire on DVD and needs time to “get into it”.
- Victor Matfield – new hairdo needs time to settle before it can be seen in public
- Frans Steyn – existential crisis
- Jacque Fourie – recovering from a bad breakup and not feeling “up” to seeing people
- Jean de Villiers – cramp (is there any other reason?)
- Juan Smith – shoulder is a “bit sore” of playing cricket in the nets
- Willem Alberts – depressed
- Bismarck du Plessis – working on his book deal with Jannie in attempt to steal his brother’s limelight
- Andries Bekker – pants were too short during last game, hurting “a bit”
- Jannie du Plessis – answering Agony Aunt letters
- Francois Louw – had a night out on the tiles, feeling a bit “poorly”
- Gurthro Steenkamp – can’t miss season finale of Dexter
- Francois Hougaard – needs to look for new pink boots in Benoni
- Butch James – Mom expects him to come over for a braai on the day of the first test
- JP Pieterson – Not in a “good place” mentally
- Tendai ‘The Beast” Mtawarira – Still queueing at the Department of Home Affairs
- Bryan Habana – still feeling a bit hurt after he copped abuse during ‘open question’ time at Sweet Valley Primary School’s “Meet the Boks” day
- Bakkies Botha – celebrating his five year anniversary with Victor Matfield with a bottle of bubbly and the first season of “Frasier”
Hats off to Pieter de Villiers for managing the injury list creatively, while still managing to fulfil the letter of the law. You wily fox you, Pieter, you’ve got a career at Goldman Sachs just waiting for you. Just make sure you don’t put any money on the Boks this Tri-Nations.
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?
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.