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This past weekend saw the end of the Southern Hemisphere 15-man rugby season… a long and arduous season.

Now only the HSBC Sevens World Series Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament remains, after which we, as  proud Southerners, have to rely on the scraps of rugby coming to us from the Northern Hemisphere, and then fill in the gaps with some cricket action to keep our sport addictions alive.

The South African Blitzbokke provide scant hopes for a good result in Port Elizabeth this coming weekend, but the party will continue… and we will party right along.

On the positive side, it was a good season again for Southern Hemisphere rugby, spoilt by the fantastic wins by France against the Wallabies about a month ago and of course the Coup de Grace by the England rugby side against the world number one side, the New Zealand All Blacks, this past weekend – lambasting them by a massive 38 / 21.

Hereafter a quick look at the respective seasons of the BIG BOYS of Southern Hemisphere Rugby:

 

Australia:

Well, Super Rugby did not go well for them, with only the Conference System giving them assistance to have a team in the play-off’s. The Reds had a dismal season compared to the winning season of the year before, whilst the young Brumbies surprized all with a better than expected season… under a South African coach.

On the international front, Robbie Deans has barely clung onto his job as Wallabies coach, after it appeared that there are severe cracks under the surface of a plastered over Wallaby performance. Of course the rebel without an apparent cause, Quade Cooper, did not make it any easier for Australia, accusing the team environment as being poisoned.

The Wallbies finest moment of the season was probably the 18 / 18 draw against the All Blacks a week or so after conclusion of The Rugby Championship, whereas their worst moment was the absolute drubbing they took on The End Of year Tours to the French (33 / 6).

In addition the Wallabies scraped home against England (20 / 14) and against Wales (14 / 12).

Nathan Sharpe, the giant with the freekish eyes, captain of the embattled Wallaby side has also announced his retirement this weekend.

 

New Zealand:

Super Rugby did not always go their way this season, with a very poor showing by the Blues top of the list, but the Chiefs played wonderfully balanced rugby and had a stellar season, taking the Super Rugby title with consumate ease against the travel weary Sharks from South Africa. This was the Chiefs first ever Super Rugby title, and well done to them. The one thing they showed all and sundry was that you can mix staunch defence with wonderful attacking nous.

The Chiefs laid the platform or set the standard, hopefully, for teams (Specifically South African teams) to embrace the ball-in-hand approach, mixing it with strong set pieces and giving due value to the breakdowns. Hell, I sound like a Chiefs supporter, but heck you have to give credit where due!

On the international front, the All Blacks – number one side in world rugby, continued their world dominance with an almost unbeaten season, just stumbling at the last hurdle against a fired up young England side this past weekend (21 / 38). They were undefeated in the June internationals, undefeated in The Rugby Championship, had a bit of a scare against the Wallabies when they drew 18 / 18 after The Rugby Championship and came one important match short of an unbeaten End Of Year Tour.

If you ask me though, the cracks are beginning to show… the Springboks had every chance of beating them in Dunedin, having dominated the All Blacks forwards on that occasion, the Wallabies showed that they are vulnerable and even Italy held them well a few weeks ago until the All blacks ran in some final tries to make the score look better than it should have. Of course England hammered the All Black side, showing exactly where they are vulnerable.

The All Blacks have average locks, a less than secure set piece element to their game, but a wonderful attacking skill set.

However, one still does not scoff at a national season of played 14, won 12, drawn 1 and losing only 1 game.

They are deserved holders of both the World Cup as well as the 2012 Rugby Championship trophies.

 

South Africa:

Not a bad Super Rugby season at all, with 3 sides placed in the top 6 before the play-off’s and the Sharks losing to the Chiefs in the Final. The Stormers continued their defence oriented domination of the South African Conference, winning it and then falling out of the bus when the chips were down.

The Bulls, in a rebuilding year, after the retirement or migration north of massive players in their history (Gurtho Steenkamp, Gary Botha, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw & Fourie du Preez) did not do badly in retrospective, ending above the Sharks in 5th spot, then failing to go further.

The Sharks had a very poor start to the Super Rugby season, winning only 5 games of the first 10, then hammering down and getting their act together, till the last hurdle was one too much, the final in New Zealand against the high-stepping Chiefs. Kudo’s though to the Sharks who had to travel back and forth over the oceans at the end of Super Rugby. Their balanced apprach of strong forwards and running rugby served them well.

The Cheetahs showed promise at times, but were eventually reduced to also -ran’s, failing to come close enough to the play-off’s. Depth is a real problem at the Cheetahs and injuries ravished them once again this season.

Of course someone has to carry the South African wooden spoon and who else but the Lions to do so! They played some enterprising rugby at times with limited player resources and they were under the sword of SARU throughout, knowing they might get the relegation chop, which eventually happened, having now been replaced for 2013 by the Southern Kings. The less we say about the stench which eminates from SARU in handling the Lions vs Southern Kings saga, the better.

On the international front the Springboks was under a new coach and many players were not available due to injury or due to retirement or going north after a pension cheque. In addition the new coach, Heyneke Meyer, had to contend with the decaying legacy the previous Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers, left him as well as a staff of assistants only plucked from the leftovers who were prepared to work with him… not many were available due to the poisoned chalice it has proved to be in the last number of years.

SARU also did not do Heyneke Meyer any favours, giving him only 5 days to prepare a team for his first Test in charge in June against England. The Springboks won the first two Tests, one good half in the one Test and one good half in the second Test, then drew the 3rd Test against England in Port Elizabeth.

Then the Springboks returned to their franchises to resume playing more Super Rugby.

When The Rugby Championship kicked off, the Springboks won against the Pumas from Argentina at Newlands (27 / 6), then travelled to Mendoza in Argentina and quite frankly were surprized by a fired-up Pumas side at home – drawing that encounter (16 / 16).

Suddenly the knives were out and sharpened by some South Africans, with a Springbok record then reflecting 3 wins and 2 draws, for Heyneke Meyer. What fickle South African rugby consumers (one cannot call them supporters) we have!

Heyneke Meyer was labelled as archaic, limited, Bulls-friendly and out of his depths, these mongrel consumers conveniently forgetting the hand which was dealt to Heyneke Meyer, as detailed above.

To Australia the Springboks went and a 26 / 19 loss to a jaded Wallaby side added more feul to the fire of the doubters and blatant haters.

Must be said though, Heyneke Meyer did not make it easier on himself with selections of the likes of Jacques Potgieter, JJ Engelbrecht and persisting with a clearly out of form Morné Steyn, whilst leaving everybody’s love child, Patrick Lambie, sitting idle on the bench.

In New Zealand there were signs of massive progression with the Springbok forwards suddenly starting to gel and man-shaming the All Blacks at times. Johan Goosen, the talented Cheetahs youngster was given game time and showed promise but the old hands of All Blacks rugby steadied their ship to eak out a win (21 / 11)  they did not deserve on the day.

Back to South Africa and it was the Springboks turn to take on a wobbling Wallaby side at Loftus, where the Springboks ran in 5 tries to 1, defeating them with relative ease (31 / 8).

Great expectations were now harboured of the Springboks for the return match against the All Blacks at FNB Staduim (Soccer City near Soweto). Johan Goosen was chosen to start at flyhalf despite carrying a niggling heel injury and the first half went well, South Africa leading at the break. At halftime however Elton Jantjies had already replaced Johan Goosen, who was off injured, and the All Blacks just upped a gear or two, putting the Springboks to the sword in the second half, eventually running out comfortable winners (32 / 16)… in South Africa of all places.

Of course, this was more feul for the Meyer-doubters and the derogatory nicknames abounded.

Some calls were coming out from the ill-informed that South Africa was better off with the previous Springbok coach, that funny little man, Peter de Villiers. Those who stuck by Heyneke Meyer were tarred with the brush of having a secret enfatuation with Meyer, I suppose I was one of those scoffed at.

Meantime all of us were baying for Heyneke Meyer to start moving away from the kick-and-chase approach and to migrate to a more ball-in-hand and possession-oriented approach.

The Currie Cup interrupted the national cause again, with the returning Springboks, warts and all and niggling injuries notwithstanding, drafted left, right and centre into the final stages of the South African premier domestic competition.

It would be amiss at this stage not to mention that Western Province took the Currie Cup by the scruff of the neck and demolished a jaded Sharks side in the Currie Cup final. Well done Province, a significant trophy finally in the cupboard after 11 meagre years.

In this long season however this was not the end, and it was time for The End Of Year Tours, South Africa being blessed with the fact that they only had to face three sides on tour.

Against Ireland, once again the Springboks had a bad half followed by a very strong and determined comeback half to win the Test (26 / 12). Patrick Lambie was given a starting spot at flyhalf but Heyneke Meyer was once again castigated for dictating terms to Patrick Lambie and the feeling amongst many was that Heyneke was stunting the young man by forcing him to vary from his natural style of play in favour of a kicking approach. The less I say about that falacy, the better.

Against Scotland Lambie was preferred again and the Springboks did enough in the first half to beat back a spirited comeback from Scotland in the second half, to hold out to win (21 / 10).

The margins of the wins against Ireland and Scotland was not inspiring though.

Two weeks ago we saw the final Springbok Test against England. The Springboks built an innings, leading relatively comfortably at the break. England rallied and ran the Springboks close, the Springboks eaking out a 16 / 15 win, also earning them an unbeaten tour to the north in 2012.

Suddenly the Springbok season seemed somewhat better and the undertones of supporter’s murmur was more positive for a change, the Springboks having played 12 games, winning 7, drawing 2 and losing only 3.

The coaching flavour currently is that some answers have been found by Heyneke Meyer. It also seems that the positivity of his tenure is a bit boyed and some players have really stepped up to the mark. Francois Louw and Eben Etzebeth have been relevations in this difficult year, but some answers are still needed at scrumhalf, flyhalf, inside and outside centre and probably at fullback.

It is clear that Springbok defensive structures are now sound, maybe even the best in the world at present, whereas their backline attack is limited and inept at times. Still more work has to be done to move to a more ball-in-hand approach and to embrace possession rugby. Rucks would have to be cleared and cleaned better, to give access to faster ball for the backline to work with.

Whatever you think about Heyneke Meyer and this Springbok side, about the limitations they exhibit, I think we can all agree that there has been some progression both in the way they play as well as in the players now in the saddle. One can’t help thinking though that a new kicking coach and a new backline coach might be the answer going forward.

 

Argentina:

It was a season of new beginnings for the Pumas from Argentina. With most of their frontline players applying their trade in France and the UK, it was clear that the benefit of regular competition of the highest order was beneficial to Los Pumas. The Pumas entered into The Rugby Championship (previously known as the Tri-Nations) with verve and energy.

Their first game up was in Cape Town against the Springboks and they came out of the game with a loss but also with a lot of credit on their card. Their first game at home in Mendoza was laced with pride, endeavour, passion and guts and they were unlucky to draw against the Springboks (16 / 16).

They then travelled to Australasia, losing to but not being shamed by the All Blacks (21 / 5) and very narrowly losing to the Wallabies (23 / 19). On home turf the Pumas took a pounding against the All Blacks (54 / 15) and then we expected them to butcher the Wallabies and to show that same passion again which they showed against the Springboks, but they lost to the Wallabies (25 / 19).

Still one has to describe their first season into The Rugby Championship as a relatively good one against the world’s top 3 sides.

On the End Of Year Tours, they beat Wales convincingly (26 / 12), then lost to the French (39 / 22) and finally got hammered by Ireland. Also a mixed bag tour for them.

28 Responses to Southern Hemisphere season 2012 done and dusted – an autopsy

  • 1

    Draw word Rugby World Cup 2015 is scheduled to take place at 16.55 SA time today, if you’re tuning in for it be prepared for an ‘inspirational/entertaining’ speech from London mayor Boris Johnson who will be helping out with the draw.

  • 2

    1 @ Bullscot:
    Oops sorry should be Draw FOR… gremlins

  • 3

    1 @ Bullscot:
    Howzit BS,

    First heard on Sky News this morning it was going to take place at 12:30 our time, then nothing. So just googled to see. Saw on SportsVibe that the draw will take place at 16:55 Not sure if we showing it here, but if some want they will be able to see it on SportsVibe. Not bothered really unless it is on dstv will wait to see later here who is in our pool.

  • 4

    3 @ Puma:
    Hi ya Puma, yes various websites like RFU and RWC2015 say they will be streaming the draw but won’t be able to catch it live will also have to check it out later, Boks should only be concerned about getting England or Ireland in our group otherwise should be ok. Worst case scenario for Scotland would be to be drawn in same group as All Blacks and England, but then best case scenario probably would be same group as Australia and Samoa so either way its not going to be easy one but lets hope for the latter one.

  • 5

    Here is the world cup draw boys.

    Pool A – Australia – Wales – England

    Pool B – South Africa – Scotland – Samoa – Asia 1 – Americas 2

    Pool C – New Zealand – Tonga – Argentina

    Pool D – France – Italy – Ireland

    France and New Zealand have the easier draws. We have those THUGS SAMOA AGAIN! :mad:

  • 6

    Australia have the toughest draw of the lot.

  • 7

    5: hoe werk die uitspeel wedstryde ?

    swembad A teen swembad B, en
    swembad C teen D ?

    of is dit A teen D en B teen C ?

  • 8

    Just always remember how bad the Samoans thuggery was in our pool game. It was there they stood on Fransies shoulder while he was at the bottom of the ruck and because of that he had to have a op and out of the wc quarter. Remember them slapping John Smit at the back of the head as well. Actually they punched Schalk Burger at the back of the head as well. Now hope we have none of that in the next world cup.

  • 9

    7: of A teen C en B teen D ?

  • 10

    9: Of B teen C en A teen D ?

  • 11

    10: Of DA teen ANC ?

  • 12

    11: Of AB teen BA ?

  • 13

    12: Of BJ teen CJ ?

  • 14

    12 @ bdb:
    BdB, Have no idea who plays who after the pool games. Just damn mad we have the Samoans again in our pool.

    France and New Zealand have easy draws. Australian in the pool of death.

  • 15

    Okay here is how it works after the pool games:

    Quarter-finals
    QF1: Winner of Pool B v Runner-up Pool A
    QF2: Winner of Pool C v runner-up Pool D
    QF3: Winner of Pool A v Runner-up Pool B
    QF4: Winner of Pool D v runner-up C

    Semi-finals
    SF1: Winner QF1 v Winner QF2
    SF2: Winner QF3 v Winner QF4

  • 16

    So the way I see it we will face Aus in the quarter and New Zealand in the semi. That is going how the teams are playing right this minute.

    So again we not going to see the dream final in the next world cup. NO BOK/AB final. Damn what a bummer how the draw has gone.

    If all goes to how the teams are playing now it will be a Bok/Aus quarter – England/Samoa quarter – AB/Ireland quarter – France/Arg quarter: Then the way I see it from how teams are playing now: Bok/Abs semi and England/France semi.

    AGAIN there will be either a NH or SH team winning the final. Again say it is only going by how the teams are playing right now. It could all change by then. I just see it going that way.

  • 17

    Here is the full draw:

    Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, play-off winner.
    Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Asia 1, Americas 2.
    Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 1.
    Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 1, Europe

    So pool A is really a pool of death, not only do they have the toughest teams to play they also have a Oceania team. Could be Fiji. The Islanders are tough and injuries could come from playing them, more so the Samoans I feel. Our game against Fiji in the last world cup was a clean game, no thuggery or dirty play from the Figi players, we only had it coming from the Samoans.

  • 18

    So the way I see it if we win all our games and England win all theirs heading to the final we could see another Bok/England final. Same with ABs and France if they win all their pool, quarter and semi final it will be another AB/France final. Interesting OR boring? Could be as we have seen those teams in a final before.

    Or could it be a England/France final? That could happen too, who knows.

  • 19

    Fark, not a single comment on the actual Article I wrote… with such dedication and verve!

    Hahaha

  • 20

    19 @ grootblousmile:

    Yip sorry about that, just got carried away with the world cup draw. Need to put a thread up with the draw. Though I have said my bit here now……….. :)

    You see we have those thugs Samoa in our pool again? :roll: Since our first world cup in 95 we have had them EVERY world cup.

  • 21

    20 @ Puma:
    Yip, it’s getting ponderous having to play bloody Samoa in EVERY World Cup… but just think what they are saying at present…. “Arghhhh not those freegin Springbok meanies again!”

    Hehehehe

    Our problem is that Samoa is getting tougher and tougher to beat every year and every World Cup, whilst their coconut tackles keep coming.

  • 22

    Good article GBS filled with loads, too much to discuss all at moment but as far as Springboks go it was a very disapointing season but Mr Meyer had far less of a smooth transition into it than the other two coaches in the top 3 with Deans continuing in his role from before and Hansen having being involved with ABs for a while, also think the Springboks had more rebuilding to do playerwise both on retirement and injury front, there may be more but the one All Black player for me who stood out that they were missing was Kaino, whereas your list of star Boks from previous season not there is very long. Hope for a much better season next year it can only be better than this year’s 58% win ratio.

  • 23

    Argentina ended up with a disapointing tour up north being hammered by Ireland but that result aside think they came on in leaps and bounds this year were far more competetitve in the Rugby Championship than had thought they would be and they way they played against Wales especially 2nd half was very impressive, to me the main reason for this which should be mentione : Graham Henry – I think we saw the value of a great coach helping them.

  • 24

    Bulls also did much better than most expected, would have been nicer to have finished higher on the log and gone further in the knockout stages after a very good start to our season BUT that was before we had the huge disruption of losing coaches and the overseas leg of our season, still not shabby to be 2nd best SA team in league stages, Sharks did so well in spite of having to travel so much for knockout games but still think they went further than Bulls because of who their opponents were in the knockouts by ending 1 place above them in the league we gave ourselves a harder first knockout game.

  • 25

    To sum up the Springboks season:
    If you only do what worked in the past, you will find that the others have passed you by.

  • 26

    In Super Rugby the South African teams were the best by having 3 finishing in the top 6. Then one of the teams (Sharks) going onto a final.

    With the Boks we done okay, not brilliant. Even with our game plan we would have won more had we selected right or brought on players that would have benefited the team more. Still have no doubt we would have won the last test against England in PE had Elton been brought on and Morne taken off. Again feel the same when we played Arg in Mendoza. Had Lambie came on for the struggling Morne we would have won that game. Again we should have won the game against the ABs in Dunedin if we had a better kicker on the field. It was our kicking at goal really that lost us that game. We missed 7 penalties if I remember correct. We did end on a high in going unbeaten on our eoyt. So not bad all in all for the first year for Meyer having to build a new team.

    Next year I think we can only get better with the Boks.

    Good luck to all our Super Rugby Teams (especially my Sharks…:) ), also our beloved Boks when they play again next year.

  • 27

    Some of us have to work for a living…

    I apologise for being a bit scarse here on the Blog today… was hectic over here… and had to go to Pretoria most of today.

    But at least I’ve kept the news up to date here on Rugby-Talk.

    Looking at SuperSport, rugby365, and Sport24, rugbyweek and a few other sites… not much is happening… think people are slowing down as the season is effectively over here in the Southern Hemisphere.

    But you know what, there is no need to stay away… give me some ideas about what else we can talk about, what Articles you think we should put up now and how we can keep discussions rolling.

    This weekend is the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens… but I am a bit despondent about the way the Blitzbokke have gone about things this past weekend, so I don’t expect anything special from them this weekend.

    Anybody know if the NBM Sevens Premier League rugby (7sPL) tournament in George next week is going to be televised live, and if so where?

  • 28

    Latest news regarding vacant Scotland coach position is that SRU Boss has hinted that they may go down the route of an ‘interim’ coach as its so close to next years 6 nations, also Scott Johnson the attack coach has apparently expressed an interest in stepping up as head coach.


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