“A good big player is better than a good small player” is something we have heard before on the rugby landscape in South Africa. Unfortunately, these type of utterances has been heard coming from the National coach, Heyneke Meyer, as well.
Is rugby not supposed to be the one game that people of every shape and size can partake and excell in? Remember when we were young kids, standing around with bare feet all excited about our very first rugby practice? Dividing the players into positions seemed like such a simple task…the fat kids were props, the tall kids were locks, the fast kids were wings. There seemed to be a position suited to every size and shape.
Professional rugby as we know it now has put paid to that philosophy, 15 supreme athletes seem to be the target for coaches. Centers weigh in at the 100kg mark or more, which is bigger and heavier than some of legendary Bok forwards of previous eras. Just this week the Grant Khomo under 16 week was played in Pretoria. One of the stand out players for the victorious Western Province team was prop Carlu Sadie who weighs in at 122kg. The fact is, he is not judged on his size or weight, but on his playing ability and it would seem like this youngster has a bright rugby future ahead of him. Obviously when it comes to the position of front row, size is a huge asset, but what about the other positions?
Winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup was a momentous occasion for Springboks but it has done little for the development of the way rugby is played in South Africa.
I believe that the so-called ‘Jake White template’ has been detrimental to South African rugby on a number of levels.
Let me start by saying that I can’t fault White’s tactics in 2007. Given the weapons at his disposal, the approach he adopted was spot on. The efficacy of this approach (when correctly executed) is not in question. My aim here is rather point to the consequences of the mindset that in has become enrooted in SA rugby because of it’s (limited) success.
What concerns me is that the territory-based and defence-orientated approach employed back then has been widely adopted in the Republic and in many quarters is still held up as a blueprint for future success.
From a coaching perspective, it’s not difficult to see why this methodology is popular. Giant men imposing themselves with hard, straight running and big hits have always been the hallmarks of the South African style.
Does Jake White have a valid point in blaming player fatigue on the last couple of results that went against the SA Conference leaders, the Cell C Sharks?
While it is true that the Sharks lost a few players to the national cause, it wasn’t as if it was the bulk of their side. Frans Steyn played one match, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and Willem Alberts were all either rested or rotated during the 4 Test matches in June. JP Pietersen had the biggest work load for the Bok team if measured in minutes played.
In contrast, the Waratahs players who were involved in the Test series against the French, for the Wallabies, seemed to have lifted their game to an ever higher level.
The same can be said of the All Black players who were involved in a tough 3 Test series against a strong England side.
The Cell C Sharks will field a team resting Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts (all on the bench)… and also still without Patrick Lambie, but with Jean Deysel captaining the side and Frans Steyn back in his favoured position of Inside Centre.
This of course means that Tim Swiel starts at Flyhalf, Dale Chadwick at loosehead prop, Kyle Cooper as starting hooker and Lourens Adriaanse as starting tighthead prop.
S’Bura Sithole is back at Outside centre and JP Pietersen moves back to Right wing, with SP Marais protecting the last vestage.
3 Other returning Springboks get starting positions, namely Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies and Lwazi Mvovo.
Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez’s ankle injury is worse than expected and it has now ruled him out for the rest of the year.
According to SARU, Du Preez will miss the remainder of the South African season following an ankle injury sustained by the Springbok scrumhalf in last Saturday’s 55-6 Test victory over Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
Du Preez left the field in the first half of the Test. He was sent for x-rays immediately afterwards and went for an MRI scan in Pretoria on Monday, which confirmed earlier suspicions of an anterior syndesmotic injury. He will be sidelined for approximately six months.
Cosatu has called on ministers and sport administrators to intervene and bring more black players into South African rugby.
The trade union federation released a media statement in which it criticises the white “old boys club” which it believes still rules rugby in South Africa.
It follows the Springboks’ 55-6 win over Scotland in Port Elizabeth at the weekend – a match which was preceded by SARU president Oregan Hoskins urging Bok coach Heyneke Meyer to pick more black players.
Meyer did include a few more black players in his squad for the game in Port Elizabeth, but Cosatu was not impressed.
The governing body of the English Premiership has prevented Schalk Brits from representing the South African Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland later this month.
Brits’ club Saracens were happy for him play in the event, but the final say lies with the governing body of the English Premiership.
Who Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer earmarks as his flyhalf at the outset of the Championship next month could also have a major bearing on which scrumhalf he chooses to plug the unfortunate Fourie du Preez gap.
Incumbent No 9 and still world-class customer Du Preez, 32, was confirmed on Tuesday as having an ankle injury serious enough for him to ruled out of the entire southern hemisphere tournament.
Given his vast, 70-cap experience and precious ability to read and control a game better than most other South African scrumhalves right now, the loss of Du Preez certainly dents the Boks’ chances of ousting New Zealand from their status as defending champions, even if there have been enough positives in other departments of late to suggest they’ll be seriously competitive nevertheless.
The veteran was just beginning to benefit from a decent run of international matches – important given that he plies his franchise trade in the much more modest arena of Japanese club rugby now – in the June window, looking increasingly more like the character who helped drive the World Cup 2007 success.
Fourie du Preez will miss the Castle Lager Rugby Championship following an ankle injury sustained by the Springbok scrumhalf in last Saturday’s 55-6 Test victory over Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
Du Preez left the field in the first half of the Test. He was sent for x-rays immediately afterwards and went for an MRI scan in Pretoria on Monday, which confirmed earlier suspicions of an anterior syndesmotic injury. He will be sidelined for at least three months.
“It’s a massive blow to lose yet another world-class player and a key player due to an injury,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. “Fourie is also a dynamic leader and one of the vice-captains in our team and his injury is a huge setback.”
Jean de Villiers’s good nature in terms of positional flexibility may be exploited once again in a few weeks’ time.
The first-choice Springbok captain, who missed the entire June window period due to a knee injury, is an estimated four weeks away from a return to full fitness, which gives him a reasonable chance of being ready – albeit rather undercooked in match sharpness – for the Castle Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at Loftus on 16 August.
His status was confirmed as the Stormers on Monday issued an update on various sidelined players, some of whom will be available for consideration for Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Newlands.
Both De Villiers and franchise colleague Damian de Allende, another midfielder who had cracked the Bok squad nod a few weeks ago only to be quickly struck down by wretchedly inconvenient injury himself, remain a few weeks out from renewed activity.
The Springbok Sevens team’s hopes of winning a medal at the Commonwealth Sevens could well have been given a blow if indications that Springbok fifteens stars Bryan Habana and Schalk Brits may have to be forced to withdraw by their respective leagues.
While both Brits’ Saracens club and Habana’s Toulon club have given them the go-ahead to be selected for the Games, it seems now that the Premiership and Top14 may well order both to withdraw as the Games falls within the prescribed off period for European rugby.
As both leagues stipulate a strict four week rest period for players during the off season, it is unlikely they will change their minds and Blitzbok coach Neil Powell may well be forced to look elsewhere to bolster his team.
The Northern Hemisphere has had a distinct advantage going into the annual Junior World Championship, but that may soon evaporate.
South African Under 20 coach, Dawie Theron, said discussions are underway to organise a four-nations Rugby Championship style tournament for juniors.
The reason is that when the Six Nations teams – England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy – get into the play-offs of the IRB JWC they have the experience of a tough competition to fall back on.
The joke is going around that Heyneke Meyer describes everything the Bokke does as “AWESOME“!
Well, the South African public have reason to be AWED by the AWESOME display of the Springboks and their AWESOME coach!
Not only are the Springboks playing a very well-rounded and balanced game, 2 and a half years into Heyneke Meyer’s tenure, but it appears that the Springoks can now call on 40 odd players to do National duty for them at any given time.
Not only do the Springboks have locks of absolute world class to burn, the looseforwards are equally impressive, the midfield options have been greatly bolstered… and the flyhalf stocks are suddenly no concern anymore, with well-rounded performances by Handré Pollard and Marnitz Boshoff.
The biggest problems still for the Springboks, seem to be adequate depth at both loosehead and tighthead prop.
With almost 30 frontline Springboks out with injury and / or not available due to the International Window having closed before the start of the Test on the weekend, the mix-and-match Springboks certainly excelled on the weekend.
The 5 Springbok debutants, Handré Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies and Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje also distinguished themselves on the field of play.
At the end of the June Internationals, the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer finally have reason to smile!
Springboks (19) 55 / 6 (6) Scotland (Final Score)
The South African Springboks and Scotland did battle in the June Internationals at
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth 17:00 SA Time (16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
Never can a nightmare have turned good as quickly as Adam Ashe’s. He spent almost the entire season fighting a recurring hamstring injury and though he did recover in time to win the chance to go training at the Canterbury International High Performance unit in Christchurch, New Zealand, everything was in reality geared to trying to make an impression next season.
He has not had to wait that long for his chance. Even though he had hardly played any rugby during the Scottish season and had managed only 36 minutes of pro play as a replacement for Glasgow, he has been propelled from the fringes of the game to centre stage as the starting No 8 against South Africa.
The magnitude of the step up is huge. For example, among the Springbok back row is Schalk Burger. Ashe was just ten when Burger started playing for South Africa in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, scarcely any older when Burger won the World Player of the Year award. No wonder that, with his strong ball carrying and kamikaze tackling style, Burger was one of teenage Ashe’s heroes.
A capacity crowd is expected at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday when the Springboks take on Scotland.
EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, said there were roughly 3 500 tickets left by Thursday afternoon and tickets were selling fast.
“We have seen an upsurge in ticket sales this week and we are encouraging those who have not yet got tickets to please get them as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”
Crous said it would be great to be able to put up “sold out” signs ahead of the Test match and called on Nelson Mandela Bay residents to come out and support the Springboks.
He also advised people to come early to ensure that everyone would be able to get into the stadium before kickoff at 17:00 SA Time.
We run through some key players that went down in action during the June Internationals for Southern Hemisphere nations, that might impact some team’s Super Rugby chances.
South Africa and Australia are severely hit but things look a lot better for the New Zealand Franchises.
It is fast heading to crunch time in Super Rugby, with Round 17 on this weekend. The South African sides are of course excluded from Round 17 due to the fact that they started a week earlier than their Antipodian counterparts.
Including Round 17, there are only 3 weeks of the open Rounds left, before the weekend of Play-Off games ensue for the Top 6 Super Rugby sides and the margins for error is so small, specially for those Franchises still on the fringes of making the Play-Off’s.
After the 2 Play-Off games, featuring No 3 against No 6 and No 4 against No 5, there is one weekend of Semi-Finals (2 games) and a week later the Final.
SANZAR on Friday said it will immediately introduce a strengthened concussion test for players in Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship in line with moves made by the International Rugby Board.
SANZAR, which runs the Super Rugby competition and the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, said player welfare was paramount.
There is always something to discuss after a rugby Test match, especially one as thrilling as this.
There are the action and the special moments to discuss, the performance of players and all to frequently the Laws of the Game, the ever-changing, confusing and after controversial Laws of the Game and the demands of applying them accurately.
There were two tries especially discussed after the Nelspruit Test – one a try by the Welsh hooker and the other the definitive penalty try near the end – and penalty tries are rare and always debated.
The running joke may be that Heyneke Meyer is selecting his best side for the 2007 Rugby World Cup with the number of Springbok veterans in his side, but the inclusion of Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje for Saturday’s Test against Scotland may suggest otherwise.
The versatile loose forward had experienced a meteoric rise in his career and could make his Springbok debut playing off the bench against Scotland in Port Elizabeth only a few months after playing Varsity Cup rugby for Shimlas.
While a patch of grey hair in his primary school years secured him the Afrikaans nickname “oupa”, meaning grandfather, the versatile forward is anything but a geriatric.
Tank Lanning, former WP tighthead prop and head of Tankman Media has an interesting look at the Springbok team chosen to play against Scotland as well as the words of the uber-opportunist, Oregan Hoskins earlier this week regarding supposed instructions to Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
This is pretty much they way I feel about it too and for once I am able to agree with something Lanning said, without hesitation!
Good piece, Tank!!
Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard is one of five uncapped players who have been named in the Springboks’ match-23 for Saturday’s final encounter of the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Scotland in Port Elizabeth.
In total, the Springbok starting team shows six changes from the side which beat Wales by 31-30 in Nelspruit last weekend.
The four uncapped players on a new-look bench are Marcel van der Merwe (prop), Stephan Lewies (lock), Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward) and Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf). Also on the bench are Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Francois Hougaard and Zane Kirchner, none of whom have played any Test rugby yet this season.
Two players, Pollard and Marcell Coetzee, have not yet featured for the Springboks this year, while four of these are replacements who have been promoted to the starting team, namely Lwazi Mvovo, Schalk Burger, Lood de Jager and Coenie Oosthuizen.
Adam Ashe, the 20-year-old Glasgow Warriors No 8, will become the seventh new cap of Scotland’s summer tour when he takes to the field against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Ashe, a product of the Hillfoots and Stirling County clubs, was preparing for club training at Lincoln University in Christchurch one week ago, having been domiciled for a couple of months in New Zealand’s South Island as recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship.
Others have graduated to full international honours and have cited the “invaluable” experience the scholarship has bequeathed them, for example, John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray and Kevin Bryce.
The match is played at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 17:00 SA Time, 16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT.
Springbok defence coach John McFarland says they have taken note of the dangerous back three of Scotland ahead of their Test in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Scotland head into the Test on the back of three consecutive away wins – against Argentina (21-19), Canada (19-17) and America (24-6).
They also have a new coach in Vern Cotter, but it was in particular the performances of Stuart Hogg (fullback), Sean Maitland (wing) and Tommy Seymour (wing) that caught the eye of the Springbok management.
As the announcement of the Springbok squad is awaited on Wednesday, speculation as to the possible composition of the side is gathering momentum.
At this stage it would appear that Johan Goosen is not over his injury worries and that Handré Pollard would leapfrog into the starting berth at flyhalf.
At lock Lood de Jager should get the nod and a 1st start at No 4 lock, in the absense of Flip van der Merwe, who is out with a longer term injury.