Don’t panic just yet: Zane is only in the squad not the starting line up

Okay, new coaches get to pick players with whom they are comfortable.  I get that.  But come on… Zane Kirchner?   When PdV picked Sideshow Bob Kirchner for the British Lions series in 2009 I was willing to put it down to the mad ramblings of an insane man – after all it was a dead rubber.

  • No Heinrich “God’s gift to rugby” Brussouw?
  • Wynand Olivier and JJ Engelbrecht (WTF is all I will say to this)
  • No Gio Aplon
  • Jano Vermaak

If we end up coughing up this series to the English there are going to be some seriously pissed off Stormers and Sharks fans in this country.  He could make this all okay by admitting he did it just to upset the Cape Town media cartel and that he will actually be picking Lambo at full back and that JJ Engelbrecht is nothing more than an alternative spelling for Heinrich Brussouw.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCCyvAwbbso?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Heyneke.  I wanted you to be Bok coach, but not like this…

PdV announces he will reapply for Bok job: bloggers and comedians announce they are out of PdV jokes

It was inevitable.  Peter de Villiers just couldn’t leave his Bok position with even a little scrap of dignity.  After the Boks exited the World Cup at the quarter final stage, he realised that the right thing to do was to step down. A quarter final exit is unacceptable in any Bok era.  But of course, a man known for acting like a clown throughout his reign as a coach couldn’t go on to leave with a bit of a class.   He had to go and announce last week that he “has unfinished business” and will be re-applying for the Bok position.

Sure, he won twice in New Zealand, beat the British Lions and won a Tri-Nations title.  All good things compared to Straeuli.  But seriously… you are judged by your World Cup performance and by those standards his era was a failure. It is not as though he lost a World Cup final when his flyhalf sliced a drop goal in the dying seconds of a close fought final.  This is the guy who was “90% sure the Boks would win the World Cup”.

Seriously… it is time to wonder off into the wilderness and make the occasional appearance at the pub where locals will by you a round when you remind them that you were coach when Ricky Januarie scored “that try” in New Zealand to win the game.

In related news, SA comedians, bloggers and satirists announced a joint statement that they are “out of Peter de Villiers” materials.   There’s nothing more to said, according to Mark Lottering, Trevor Noah and five rugby bloggers who were polled after Peter de Villiers announced his comeback.

“We were already working on our Alistair Coetzee material… this just sends us back into the past”, Big Daddy Rugby has gone on record to say.

Sigh... this is like a bad dream.

The Crazy Man’s strategy will be tested – SA vs Aus QF preview

Peter de Villiers’ big gamble will be finally tested this weekend.   Upon being selected as Bok coach four years ago, Peter adopted a pretty bold strategy.  Go and find all the old timers who won the World Cup, convince them to play for you, and pretty much ride the coat tails of Jake White’s 2007 team for as long as humanly possible.

This is the Bok team PdV announced and you can see the marks of Jake White all over it.

15. Pat Lambie, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Fourie du Preez, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Heinrich Brüssow, 5. Victor Matfield, 4. Danie Rossouw, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. John Smit (c), 1. Gurthrö Steenkamp.

This is exactly the team Jake White had going into the World Cup final in 2007 with only enforced changes for injuries and retirements. At 15 Percy Montgomery is now retired, enter Pat Lambie.  At 12 Jean de Villiers was unavailable in the World Cup final due to injury, but was in fact Jake’s first choice centre at the start of the World Cup.  At 8 Spies was in fact Jake’s first choice, but was also unavailable due to injury in the final.   In fact, all of the other changes to the team that ran on in the final follow the same pattern, with one exception.  PdV has switched Butch James for the kicking machine autobot 3000 nicknamed Morne Steyn.

That’s it.

Pretty genius.  I could have come up with same strategy after 6 pints at Rafiki’s with Silas Voon.  The only actual change is a conservative one – get the Braam Van Straaten of our day to bang over the kicks from anywhere inside our own half.

Well, PdV, your pub strategy comes to a head this weekend.  If you lose to the Wallabies – the jig is up.  You will go down in the annals of Bok coaching history with the palookas and clowns of the early 2000s.   With the Harry Viljoens and Rudolf Straeuli’s.  But if your strategy pays off… and this team squeaks into the semis, you’ll have qualified as a somewhat passable coach who earned themselves a Mallet-like decent return.

The Crazy Man has locked and secured his laptop and is ready for anything Quade Cooper can bring on Sunday.

For the Wallabies on the other side of the equation, Robbie Deans, a proven coach and a damn good one at that has had a an absolutely miserable time coaching the Wallabies and has one of the lowest win-ratios of a Wallaby coach in recent times.  But something changed this year for Deans – namely young talent. Brand o’Connor, Will Genia and Digby Ioane have all shone as bright talents and even Pocock has emerged as a world-class scavenger. Dean has got a talented squad, but there are massive egos in that squad and they don’t look like the closest knit bunch.  That’s tough for any coach to manage.  They’ve got talent, but there is also that uncomfortable matter of someone not yet having the courage to tell Kurtley Beale to his face that his moustache is quite unseemly and that his ‘tache distracts from team morale as a whole.

Geez… it’s too close too call.  An ageing, one last rage-against-the-dying-of-the-light squad versus an insane-young-laptop-stealing-talented-but-shaky squad.  50/50.  I can’t call it.

15 reasons to feel positive about the Boks

For those of us who are tired of all the negativity surrounding the Springboks at the moment, I thought I’d put on my limited edition SuperSport presenters shirt and give us fans a list of the positives that can be taken from Saturdays game.

I’ll approach this from a player level and hopefully show that it’s not all doom and gloom for the Boks at the World Cup just yet.

– 15 France Steyn – (see what I did there?) Sporting his fabulous new avant-garde cinema nouveau look, we’re at least guaranteed not to be the ugliest team in the competition. It’s edgy and mysterious and I like it! Fingers crossed Dick pulls him aside and mentions the “weight” issue though. Fattie and Arty may rhyme but that doesn’t mean it’s a good combo looks-wise for a Springbok.

– 14 JP – I’m pretty sure he played. In my Corenza C / Black Label induced haze I remember him being pinged for holding on, but other than that he was a ghost. If you’re not involved it’s hard to be penalised right? Good thinking by the coaching staff…next up the “stealth try!”

– 13 Jaque – Looked like he was actually trying. Good use of hand signals and shouting instructions at team mates. Attempted the “Element of Surprise” move fairly well by running from his own in-goal area in the first half, which almost had Dick choking on his boerie roll.

– 12 JDV – Great display of passion when singing the National Anthem. He’s also taller than Pat McCabe.

– 11 Habana – Good tackle on the little Aussie number 9 in the 2nd half. Also managed to break one himself in the first 40, something he hasn’t done in the last 8 tests. Looks better with a little stubble too. It almost makes the opposition take him seriously.

– 10 Butch – Only missed one kick AND managed not to get a yellow card. Bonus! Also managed to keep things predictably simple for his fellow back line players by doing pretty much the same thing whenever he got the ball.

– 9  FdP – Picked up from where he left off by being more interested in talking to the ref than actually playing the game. Continued in conversation with Bryce on Twitter afterwards too. All part of the bigger picture and the Boks “Ref Management” strategy for the World Cup.

-8  Spies – Was an animal out there! A medium-sized domesticated animal sure, but still! Had a couple of good runs whilst we had a scrum. Get ready for those energy drink ads again.

– 7  Danie – Helped a lot of the guys carry their kit bags from the bus to the changing rooms. No one does donkey work quite like our Danie.

– 6  Heinrich – Made a turnover, didn’t get injured and scared the crap out of the Aussies with his best Tasmanian Devil impression.

– 5  Big Vic – Clearly all the hard work done on his kicking has paid off! Slotted into the backline seamlessly. Also managed to sound marginally better than Stransky in the post match interview.

– 4  Bakkies – Didn’t get carded or cited after the game. Responded to being spear tackled early on with great restraint and only the use of his elbow.

– 3  The Good Doctor – Looked WAAAAY better than John at prop when he came back on late in the 2nd half. And people say he can’t really scrum?! Kept Bryce guessing as to who was going to ground first in the early engagements. Job done.

– 2  Gaddafi – Smit – line-out throwing was good. selflessly allowed the team to almost get going again by going off injured towards the end of the game.

– 1   The Beast – Kept the crowd interested, made a few tackles, made a few runs, looked the best in the new BMW shorts.

Add to that the fact that we “only lost on the scoreboard” and, well, we’re surely on the right track folks. Glory is just around the corner.

A glimpse into the future: John Smit at the 2015 World Cup

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?

The Dumb and Dumber Bok kicking strategy

Oy vey… 40-7. A drubbing in any language. We’ve already skewered and quartered the squad last week – so what’s left for this week?

Hmm… oh yeah. Dick Muir and Gary Gold escaped a mention last week. So here goes.

I know very little about rugby – hence the reason I blog, instead of play or coach. But something stuck out to the untrained eye on Saturday. Almost every try scored by the All Blacks was preceded by a really awful Springbok kick. I really can’t understand the thinking. The Bok coaching staff have to realise that a new squad are going to struggle to form a cohesive defensive structure. So why the instruction to hoist the ball upfield aimlessly, right down the All Black back three’s throats and then dare them to run at you while your defensive structure is out of alignment? And if that wasn’t the instruction, if Morne Steyn just decided to wing it and ignore the coaching strategy, then why didn’t you send on the waterboy to bean him in the face for ignoring you?

What the hell? We at least expected some coaching from all of the staff SARFU have hired.  Really Dick Muir? 33 missed tackles?  Guess that’s your influence on the strategy of downplaying defense.

I’m not even angry at Deon Stegmann anymore – after all he isn’t picking himself to play. But how do the three coaches justify selecting a player whose understanding of the rules of rugby is like an 8-year old’s grasp on the plot of Inception after wandering in halfway through the movie? How do you select a player whose defence resembles the turnstiles at Ratanga Junction on the first day of summer holidays?

I’m a big boy now, I can handle loss. But it really gets up my nose when the coaching staff and players don’t seem to understand WHY they lost. I’ve gotten zero comfort from the fact that the three coaches seem to think that the reason for the scoreline was that they made too many turnovers. It’s not that simple guys.  Your problems run much deeper.

Things are not looking great. Sure Jake White took 47 against the Aussies and went on to win the World Cup. But I’m not feeling that good about this time around. I’ve always been highly annoyed by coaches who trundle out the “judge me on my World Cup performance” line. It is so Rudolf Straeuli 2003. I’m still waiting to shove my lemon pie in Straeuli’s face – and I suspect I won’t get my turn. It’s not just that they lost.   It’s how they lost. They played like they weren’t Boks.  And I find it hard to believe that the players are solely to blame for that.

Dick Muir and Gary Gold discussing their genius plan to take down the All Blacks with an aimless pointless kicking game..

The Bok C’s – Let’s take out the knives

There was some insane drooling coming from the Supersport presentators on Saturday which I suspect was trying to pass itself off as post match commentary. The gist was that post the Wallaby test we need to take it easy on this Bok team since they aren’t the first choice.  Oh no, we disagree here at BDR.  That, my friends, is BS. I refuse to take it easy on them as though they somehow aren’t a professional rugby team representing their country. This team wore the green and gold on Saturday, and for the rubbish they dished up they deserve to dragged out of their hotels and forced to watch 18 hours straight of Darren Scott and Arnie Geerdts, in high definition, on zoom mode.

First off, well done to the Wallabies for bouncing back after a difficult week.  They were clearly the better team.  Now onto the main course, let’s take the C team apart.

Villains:

  • Wynand Olivier signing autographs for Bok fans before the match on Saturday - Image via Wikipedia

    Morne Steyn – Shocker of a performance. He showed he is only good for two things, banging kicks over from anywhere and escorting opposition flyhalf and centres into the Springbok in goal area. The amount of room he gave to anything wearing yellow was frightening.  This guy could get a job of JFK international directing planes into their gates, because it is not as if he does any tackling.

  • Wynand Keeley Hazell Olivier – please, please, please. No more. No more wavy blonde hair in the back line “taking it up on the crash ball” when there are three unmarked players on the outside. He was second only to Morne in simply watching Ozzie runners drift past him.  I could have sworn I heard him shout “Go Quade – you good thing!” as Quade ran past him.
  • Both props.  A Bok prop should never be pushed around by anything in a canary yellow jersey. Ever.
  • Deon Stegman – Just stop. He doesn’t deserve a Bok jersey.
  • the rest of the loose forwards  were non-existent.  There was absolutely no mongrel whatsoever, it’s as though they spent teh week watching political documentaries about passive resistance Gandhi-style and decided that the best way to stop Australia would be to simply allow canary yellow jumpers to trample all over them. The defence around the rucks was putrid. I’ve seen better cover tackling at a My Little Pony tea party.  Was that a hooker ghosting through tackles near a ruck?  A hooker for Pete’s sake!

Those who actually took some pride in their performance:

  • Lambo – hell, when he was on the backline even resembled a group of players who vaguely knew each other he actually forced some tackles out of the Australians.
  • Ruan Pienaar – Did the most that could be asked of him given that the forwards did not bother to show up.
  • Mvovo – looked for work and was threatening when given opportunities.

Can they bounce back? There’s the little matter of playing New Zealand in New Zealand next week.  So no.  That horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach that started last week has now blown to all out nausea.  Or put another way, the distaste I know feel has grown from ‘I shouldn’t have had that second Big Mac’ level to full blown “morning after the bachelor’s party and I’ve just realised my wallet and car keys are missing” disgust with myself.

Any talk of defending this performance by saying how inexperienced certain players are merely demeans the Springbok jersey.  It would be one thing if they lost and showed a lot of heart. These guys lost while showing a level of commitment you’d expect from Charlie Sheen.   They let the country down.

On the road with Chilli Boy

Greetings all from a cold and wet Sydney!

It’s a great feeling to be part of the Bok set up again and the boys are all really excited about Saturdays game. Although there’s a number of new faces in the squad everyone is getting on just fine, with tempers flaring only when a decision had to be made about who would share a room with Ashley. He’s a nice enough guy and all, but there’s something very upsetting about his hair. Plus, he doesn’t shut up about it either!
It’s a pity Kirchner’s not on tour as he could have made himself useful for once by bunking up with him and taking one for the team. Oh well…

We had a great practice session yesterday with a lot of intensity on display. Us forwards finished up a little earlier but I stayed on behind to watch the backs go through some of their training drills.
Dick really is an amazing backline coach. He’s come up with this crazy, fresh new move where the guys run forward in a straight line whilst passing the ball. It was pretty amazing to watch and there were a lot of high fives when they eventually pulled it off. Needless to say we were all on a massive high after that!

Everyone knows that one of the key elements of a successful tour is for the players to bond together as a group, so after dinner we usually have a team building excercise. Last night Gary suggested that we watch “Braveheart” in the hope that seeing each other weep would bind us together like nothing else. A couple of the guys weren’t so keen and suggested the Bruce Willis film “Armageddon” instead, but John refused as it was the film the team watched just before the World Cup final, and he likes to save it for “special occasions”.

Well, I think I better leave it at that for the moment. I’ve just heard that Wynand and Danie are having a game of Twister up in their room. Those guys rock!

Until next week!

Chilli Boy.

The Beast still at Home Affairs – Bok “B” Team to tour

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.

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.

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.

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.

Os “Keg Master” Du Randt given the boot

This week SA Rugby took the unpopular step of sacking scrum coach and “official beer keg bringer” to the afterparty, Os Du Randt. Rumours doing the rounds are that they are saving up serious cash to be able to drop big dollars on “advisors” in the run up to the World Cup this year. I would have thought winning two world cup medals would put Os in the pound seats as an expert for the World Cup campaign, but once again SA Rugby baffle the mind.

Os du Randt – Beer keg master and wingman to Ricky Januarie

So this leaves them with two options:

  • Take the money saved from sacking Os Du Randt, replace him with the Sweet Valley Primary School under 11s assistant coach, and line the pocket of SA Rugby administers (a tempting option), or
  • Go for the foreign option and hire one of rotating Kiwi/Oz “pros”. Eddie Jones anyone?

A bigger problem for the squad than who will be bringing the kegs is that on big nights out after test matches Ricky Januarie used to be able to rely on standing next Os in order to look slim. Who will be wingman to Ricky now?

Supersport hoses social media: Tank Lanning sacked

Supersport revealed a) a dirty secret about this year’s TriNations and b) its complete lack of understanding of social media on Friday when it sacked Tank Lanning for an “inappropriate tweet”.  The horrific tweet at the centre of the controversy?

“SA Rugby to ‘manage’ the Springboks during the Tri-Nations. I think it’s a good thing”

@TankLanning

Supersport encourage their commentators and analysts to get on Twitter and Facebook to increase their presence online. They are hired to have opinions.  Tank tweeted an opinion that slightly treads on the toes of SA Rugby – and got the old Andre Venter “stiff arm to face” treatment.

It’s the equivalent of hiring a radio DJ to be “edgy” on the morning drive show and then sacking him when he makes an offensive comment on air.  Moronic. Is it any wonder that we all wait until 1 minute before kick off before we tune into the Supersport broadcast? The Supersport on-air build up is complete drivel, lacks any insight, and usually consists of a discussion of “who wants it more”. Planet Earth to Supersport: “We’d like some interesting insights and banter please, that’s why we all prefer the Aussie commentary”.

It also shows just how in bed Supersport are with SA Rugby. The message is clear for all presenters and journalists who want to be given access to SA rugby players and coaches.  Write positive articles and you’ll be given access. Write a negative review of someone high up in SA Rugby and you’ll be discarded as quickly as Earl Rose at an Oranje rugby pre-season team trial.

Supersport forget that their core fans and spenders are those in the 18-40 age group who have largely embraced social media and “get it”, unlike the old farts sitting up at DSTV headquarters.

The dirty secret Supersport revealed? The real story that Tank was getting at is that a number of key Boks will be “rested” during the 2011 Tri-Nations campaign.  Hope you’re not planning on forking out buckets of cash to watch the Bulls B team wearing Springbok jerseys in this year’s Tri-Nations. You heard it here first.