RUGBY FORTUNES CAN TURN ON A TICKY …… or RUSTENBURG REVISITED!

This is one of the great rugby reads of all time ..

I was at the game with Mike Greenaway and got so smashed after the game .

I was given a 500m coke bottle filled with Jack Daniels and stumbled out the stadium and then we went to Traders …..You had to be at Traders to see the party afterwards .

It was a sight to behold .Never to be repeated ever .I have been friends with Mike for over 22 years ..We met at record co BMG (when the record industry worked ) and we have seen some classic matches but this was off the chart …

I saw Mike last week in Durban and we had a catch up ..All that has happened is we have gone more grey ,but the laughs are still the same ..If only Mike would write a book about the oval ball and his travels .He is by far one of the best rugby writers in SA

Mike Greenaway Column

Who remembers Andre Pretorius, the former Lions and occasional Springbok flyhalf? You can be forgiven if the memory banks need a bit of a jolt to recall the gifted but terribly injury-prone pivot.

It should not be that way given that Pretorius played a hugely significant role in the Springboks winning the 2007 World Cup, even though it was Butch James that ended up usurping the No 10 jersey from him at that World Cup.

It goes back to an almost forgotten Springbok match against the All Blacks in the less than alluring surrounds of the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in dusty Rustenburg. The context of the match was hugely significant because John Smit’s Boks had lost five matches in a row, including copping 45 points from the same New Zealand side a week before in Pretoria. The public mood was ugly, and it was the same in the boardroom of the South African Rugby Union, which was itching to fire coach Jake White.

Smit knew that a sixth consecutive defeat would mean the end of White, and most likely himself, as a new coach came in and gave the team a spring clean. Everything the Boks had worked for from 2004 towards the World Cup would go out the window.

After the heavy Loftus defeat, White changed plans and took the Boks out of Pretoria, away from the discontented public and put them in a resort near Sun City.

Smit later reflected that his players were absolutely “gatvol” of losing and “didn’t give a damn anymore. Before kick-off there was something of a declaration of war in the change room, and the Boks ran out and played like frenzied animals. The All Blacks, who had won 15 in a row, responded in kind and the match turned into a throwback to the amateur era when it was case of “anything goes,” especially in the set scrums.

A vivid memory I have of that game was a crazed Carl Hayman rising from a scrum in which he had obviously been given a ‘Welcome to Rustenburg’ from a tight forward and chasing Os du Randt to a ruck where he split his head open with a punch.

This ferocious but fascinating struggle built up to an almighty climax when All Black No 8 Rodney So’oialo had a moment of madness in the 79th minute and dived into a ruck, palpably from the side, with his team 20-18 ahead.

That was when Smit tossed the ball to Pretorius, famously saying “rather you than me”, and then went into earnest prayer, the captain later admitted.

The kick sailed through the uprights, the All Blacks had been beaten 21-20, White was saved from the coaching gallows and a year later the Springboks had won the World Cup.

The moral of the story is that a rugby team’s fortunes can turn on a ticky. Zeroes one day, heroes the next, and that goes for the Springboks under Rassie Erasmus as well as Eddie Jones’ England, again with the World Cup about a year away and both teams on losing streaks as they enter this intriguing three-Test series.

Finally, a postscript to that Battle of Rustenburg. The relief among the Boks was reflected in madcap celebrations at Sun City. The spanner in the works was that the All Blacks were also in the building, so to speak (where else do you go out in that neck of the woods?) and both teams ended up in the Traders bar where a distinctly combustible atmosphere prevailed. The All Blacks did not like losing and the Boks were happy to rub their victory in the Kiwis’ faces. An injudicious remark by Butch James to assistant coach Steve Hansen almost caused a fracas and Smit decided that discretion would be the better part of valour and escorted his team to pastures new in the complex.

The battle-lust waned as the night wore on and there was reconciliation in the wee hours when Smit encountered an All Black sitting in a bush, looking rather ruffled. “Dan, do you need a hand?” Smit asked, and Mr Carter replied: “Thanks Smitty, that would be nice,” and off the pair went to the casino.

ENDS

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In the Line of Fire: The Inside Story from the Lions Head Coach

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World Rugby awards Rugby World Cup 2023 to France

The World Rugby Council today awarded Rugby World Cup 2023 to France, which was selected following two rounds of voting during its interim meeting in London.

France received 24 votes to South Africa’s 15 in the final round of voting. In the first round, France received 18 votes to South Africa’s 13 and Ireland’s eight.

Following today’s vote, France will be hosting rugby’s showcase men’s event for the second time and hosting the 10th edition of the event 200 years after William Webb Ellis gave birth to the sport.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Congratulations to France on being elected Rugby World Cup 2023 host. They presented a very strong and comprehensive bid, which clearly resonated with the Council today.

“We had three outstanding host candidates, who raised the bar and overwhelmingly demonstrated that they were all capable of hosting an exceptional Rugby World Cup. There was very little to choose between the candidates and this was reflected in the independently-audited evaluation report.

“I would like to pay tribute to Ireland and South Africa for their dedication throughout a rigorous, and transparent process and hope that they will bid again. We now look forward to working in partnership with France to deliver what I am sure will be a very successful Rugby World Cup in 2023.”

About the Rugby World Cup 2023 host selection process

The Rugby World Cup 2023 host selection follows a complete redesign of the bidding process to promote good governance and transparency, while providing prospective host unions and governments with an opportunity to gather all the information necessary to ensure hosting capability prior to moving through the process. This re-modelling has been assisted by The Sports Consultancy, which helped develop the documentation and tools and supported World Rugby throughout the process, including the evaluation and assessment phase.

During the applicant phase, the first phase of the process, interested unions were provided with the criteria for evaluation. Initially, there were four applicant unions, but Federazione Italiana Rugby withdrew its application, leaving Federation Française de Rugby, Irish Rugby Football Union and South African Rugby Union to proceed to the candidate stage, which in itself is a mark of their ability to host. On 1 June, 2017, the three candidate unions submitted their full bid documents, which were evaluated by the World Rugby Technical Review Group. The group submitted its report to the Rugby World Cup Limited Board, which in turn made its recommendation to Council today (31 October) prior to the vote on 15 November.

Voting process for selecting Rugby World Cup 2023 host union

On Wednesday 15 November in London, World Rugby Council decided which candidate union would host Rugby World Cup 2023. The three candidate unions were not be able to vote during the process.

That means, in total there were 39 votes left to be won, split up as follows:
• The four remaining Six Nations unions and three remaining SANZAAR unions had three votes each

• The six regional associations (Oceania Rugby, Sudamerica Rugby, Rugby Americas North, Rugby Europe, Rugby Africa and Asia Rugby) and the Japan Rugby Football Union had two votes each

• The remaining four votes belonged to Georgian Rugby Union, Rugby Canada, USA Rugby and Federatia Romȃnă de Rugby

• The unions/regional associations cast their votes as they saw fit, including splitting their votes or abstaining

• The entire process has been overseen by independent auditors

• As no candidate won a clear majority (20 votes or more) after the first ballot, the candidate bid with the lowest number of votes dropped out and then a second ballot was called between the remaining two.

The Rugby World Cup Limited Board is: Bill Beaumont (Chairman), Agustín Pichot (Vice-Chairman), Gareth Davies (Wales), Mike Hawker (independent), Brett Gosper (World Rugby CEO).

Currie Cup Final 2017 Preview WINNING WAY IS THE ONLY WAY FOR THE SHARKS.

As a player Robert du Preez was ultra-competitve, as a coach he is possibly more so, and on the eve of the Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province, the 54-year-old refreshingly cut through the hype and hot air that will always accompany a major sporting event.

How are the Sharks are going to play? Have they anything special up their sleeves for a Province team that caught them off guard three weeks ago in Durban? Do the Sharks kick too much (they kicked more than any other team in three months of pool play)?

The taciturn coach mustered a wry grin before explaining how it will be for the Sharks: “Look too much is made of ball-in-hand rugby (or any particular brand). We want to play winning rugby. If that means we have to kick the ball a lot, we will do that.

“This year we have played to our strengths, which is our pack of forwards. Having said that, our backs have on many occasions done well for us with ball in hand. So we can do both, and it comes down to what the situation requires,” Du Preez said forthrightly.

In short, Du Preez does not want to have a pigeon-holed style of play.

“We want to build a way of playing that suits the Sharks and it does not happen overnight.

“We are not a New Zealand rugby team, we are a South African team, and we want to play a South African brand of rugby.”

Du Preez’s Sharks have led the Currie Cup from the front this season, evolving their way of playing, and it has come down to the same key elements. Uncompromising forward play and winning the gain line battle to provide the backs with opportunities to play what is in front of them — be that flyhalf Curwin Bosch spreading the ball or probing for territory with the boot.

And when without the ball, the Sharks have been brutal on defence.

How the Sharks play is not rocket science and if Province are to stop them at Kings Park, they know their forwards are going to have to trade blows in the frontline trenches. There will be no short cuts.

The Capetonians understand this full well from what transpired in the 80s minutes of their recent win in Durban. That match summed up the Sharks. For 30 minutes, when the Sharks were at full throttle, they steamrolled the opposition.

After the match, Province coach John Dobson admitted that he thought his side were goners given how the Sharks dominated that half an hour. But then the Sharks took their foot off the pedal. Suddenly the opposition could play, and they certainly did, spearheaded by flyhalf Robert du Preez jnr, who brilliantly made the most of the unexpected front-foot ball coming his way.

But the Sharks will not be as charitable in a final. Once bitten twice shy. They have come a long way this season to throw it away now.

That WP win was possibly the best thing that could have happened to the Sharks because it laid bare their strengths and weaknesses, and empathised the ruthlessness and efficiency that is required to be a champion team.

“Three months of hard work comes down to one game. There is nothing more we can do now,” Du Preez said philosophically. “We could not have worked harder than we have. I am incredibly proud of the players. Now it is about being calm and composed, and expressing ourselves as we have done all season.”

*** Du Preez has made one change to his squad for the final. Injured wing Sbu Nkosi is replaced by Odwa Ndungane and the latter’s place on the bench is taken by Rhyno Smith.

Sharks – 15 Garth April, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Odwa Ndungane, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.


Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Tristan Blewett, 23 Rhyno Smith.

Curwin Bosch flyhalf for the Sharks -Pic Steve Haag

Western Province – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.

Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Werner Kok, 23 Dan Kriel.

Kick-off: 4pm

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Assistant Referees: Egon Seconds & AJ Jacobs

TMO: Marius Jonker

BY Mike Greenaway

All Blacks team named for final Test against Australia

The All Blacks team has been named to play the third Bledisloe Cup Test against Australia at Suncorp Stadium, Australia, this Saturday 21 October.
The matchday 23 (with Test caps in brackets) is:

1. Kane Hames (5)
2. Dane Coles (54)
3. Nepo Laulala (9)
4. Samuel Whitelock (92)
5. Scott Barrett (13)
6. Liam Squire (12)
7. Sam Cane (49)
8. Kieran Read (106) – Captain

9. Aaron Smith (67) -pictured below with Razia Myers and me

10. Lima Sopoaga (12)
11. Rieko Ioane (9)
12. Sonny Bill Williams (42)
13. Ryan Crotty (31)
14. Waisake Naholo (14)
15. Damian McKenzie (8)

16. Codie Taylor (25)
17. Wyatt Crockett (67)
18. Ofa Tu’ungafasi (10)
19. Patrick Tuipulotu (14)
20. Matt Todd (10)
21. TJ Perenara (38)
22. Anton Lienert-Brown (18)
23. David Havili (2)

The team features four changes from the matchday 23 which played the last Test against South Africa and they are all in the backs: Lima Sopoaga comes in for Beauden Barrett in the 10 jersey, while Waisake Naholo comes in on the wing for the injured Nehe Milner-Skudder. TJ Perenara is reserve halfback, with Anton Lienert-Brown coming into the 23 to provide additional back cover.

Meanwhile, Sam Cane will play his 50th Test in an All Blacks career which started five years ago in June 2012 when he made his Test debut against Ireland.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said this weekend had all the makings of another great Test match.

“Both teams have their own goals and expectations. From Australia’s point of view, they’ll be desperate to win as they haven’t done so for some time. For us, our goal is to never be satisfied at where we’re at, and that means it’s greater than just the outcome. It’s about how we play, individually and collectively as a unit. We’re always striving to get better every game and this week is no different.

“As always, to do that, our preparation has to be spot on and bone deep. It’s an individual focus for each player. The job of the team management is to facilitate a training week which provides them with clarity and the right amount of intensity so that they can arrive on Saturday ready to hum.

“It’ll be another great opportunity for this young team to show what they’ve learnt throughout the year and playing at Suncorp Stadium will be another fantastic learning experience for them all. It’s a great ground with a lot of tradition and there’ll be huge support for the All Blacks, which we’re looking forward to.”

Pictures from Captains walk about at Newlands which featured the All Blacks today ahead of Saturday’s 7 October date with the Springboks

Bok need to be accurate says the rugby writer Mike Greenaway

When Sean Fitzpatrick was still playing for the All Blacks he was once asked if he could give the Old Foe a tip on how to get back to winning ways (the Boks were having a bad run).

“Just do what has always come naturally to you, it worked for a hundred years.” Fitzy smiled.

Well the hooker has been long retired and while he was referring to what worked for the Boks in the amateur era when they were naturally bigger and stronger than most opponents, we have seen that the game is ever-evolving away from was successful for the Boks for so long.

South African teams can no longer bully anybody. It was fun in the old days to play skinny accountants, doctors and lawyers from England, Ireland Scotland etc because the farmers from South Africa were brutes. New Zealand were not too scrawny themselves comprising so many sheep farmers and the coal miners of Wales were also a brawny lot.

In the professional era, everybody is much of a muchness, physically. It is no longer a case of training in the evenings twice a week after work and playing a match on Saturday. Now everybody is the gym five days a week and taking the same body building supplements. South Africans no longer have a size advantage and running through opponents no longer works.

The cornerstone of successful Springbok teams in the past was immaculate set pieces, fierce driving mauls, kicking for territory and kicking goals.

It sounds a bit like how the Springboks won the World Cup in 2007. Jake White rugby had its merits in that it was hard to lose if you had the right personnel in place to run the conservative strategy, but it was not a style that would win you a prize for good fellowship.

And 10 years on, the game has moved on. You have to be able to score tries as well as kick goals, but if you are going to be cavalier in your approach, you need the necessary skills.

I thought the Springboks against Australia were a little to helter skelter about their approach. Running everything becomes as predictable as kicking everything.

The All Blacks have hoodwinked so many people into thinking that they are the most adventurous team on the planet but the statistics will tell you that they kick more than any other team in world rugby. They take no chances and if nothing is on in their half, they kick intelligently — with a contestable kick that will give them a chance to get the ball back or they probe for territory.

But, and it is big but, if they are in their own 22, and they spot a gap or an overlap, they will run at you and inevitably score. They score so many tries not because they have a devil-may-care attitude but because they are highly skilled, incredibly fit and utterly ruthless in exposing a crack in your defence.

And they are patient. So many teams have thought they were in the game against the All Blacks because there was not much of a points difference as the game hit the three-quarter approach, and suddenly the Kiwis have run in four or five tries. No other team can live with the All Blacks in the last 20 because they run out of steam.

The Boks should be praised for their positive approach but they need to understand that they can’t run the ball for the sake of it when their pack is being out scrummed or they are battling in the lineouts. A backline that is running onto the ball at pace asks questions of the defence. A backline that is getting slow ball is at the mercy of the approaching defence and tends to move sideways.

It really is about decision-making in the heat of battle. If it is “on” then have the confidence to have a go, wherever you are on the field, but if it is not on be patient.

The Boks need to calm down a touch on attack, they need to get their set pieces sorted out, vary their tactics, and then attack with venom and skill when the opportunities arise.

By Mike Greenaway

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