Category Archives: Rugby Opinions

And the whining and complaining starts as the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby fixtures are released

The 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby fixtures barely came out and immediately after that the whining and crying started. Teams are complaining about tours and others about why they have to start away from home, the list of complaints goes on and on.

Here is a look at the fixtures for the South African Conference teams:

Bulls – Sharks (a), Cheetahs (a), Lions (h), Blues (h), Bye, Sharks (h), Chiefs (h), Hurricanes (a), Highlanders (a), Waratahs (a), Force (a), Cheetahs (h), Stormers (h), Bye, Brumbies (h), Lions (a), Stormers (a), Rebels (h)

Cheetahs – Lions (h), Bulls (h), Rebels (a), Reds (a), Hurricanes (a), Blues (a), Bye, Chiefs (h), Crusaders (h), Sharks (a), Stormers (h), Bulls (a), Force (h), Brumbies (h), Stormers (a), Bye, Sharks (h), Lions (a)

Lions – Cheetahs (a), Stormers (h), Bulls (a), Sharks (a), Blues (h), Reds (h), Bye, Crusaders (h), Sharks (h), Stormers (a), Bye, Chiefs (a), Highlanders (a), Waratahs (a), Force (a), Bulls (h), Rebels (h), Cheetahs (h)

Sharks – Bulls (h), Hurricanes (h), Bye, Lions (h), Reds (h), Bulls (a), Waratahs (h), Bye, Lions (a), Cheetahs (h), Highlanders (h), Rebels (a), Brumbies (a), Crusaders (a), Blues (a), Stormers (h), Cheetahs (a), Stormers (a)

Stormers – Bye, Lions (a), Hurricanes (h), Crusaders (a), Chiefs (a), Brumbies (a), Reds (a), Waratahs (h), Bye, Lions (h), Cheetahs (a), Highlanders (h), Bulls (a), Force (h), Cheetahs (h), Sharks (a), Bulls (h), Sharks (h)

The Stormers are the biggest complainers this year. Given that they are to tour Australia and New Zealand and playing 4 of the best teams in Super Rugby over the last 4 years. Yet they are doing so very early in the season. This means not to many injuries, players who are still fresh and fit. Il rather take on the Crusaders, Chiefs, Brumbies and Reds with a fit squad than have the Bulls, Sharks or Lions’ schedule that sees them tour towards the end of the competition.

The Cheetahs must have the best schedule of the SA teams. They play two home games, then go on tour where they will play the Rebels (easy), Reds (not so easy), Hurricanes (easy) and Blues (still to decide). The Sharks on their side can build up steam with 7 homes games and 2 byes before they go on tour. They do however end the season with 2 away games out of their last 3.

The Bulls start away and then hit a string of home games before touring and then hitting home games again. They also end with 2 out of 3 games away from home. The Lions might have the best schedule on home/away and tour games. They start with 4 away games out of 9 and have two byes. Then they go on tour and end off with 3 straight home games.

The Stormers shouldn’t complain too much as they have missed playing at least 1 of the top 4 finishers for the past two years. In the end if you want to win the title, you have to beat the best home and away.

The privilege of watching the Springboks v All Blacks live

I was privileged enough to attend the test between the Springboks and All Blacks at Ellis Park this weekend. And what a game it was. An epic test match between the two best rugby nations to ever play the game. 63888 supporters packed into the stadium and the atmosphere was electric.

The Boeing, as in 1995, flew over the stadium and with the first passing the crowd erupted. What they didn’t know was that this plane, with the words GO SPRINGBOKS! On its belly, would pass over no less than 3 times.

Beast led the Springboks out onto the park and was greated with cries of: “BEEEEAAAAST!!!!!” in his 50th test for his adopted country.

The National Anthems brought goose bumps on goose bumps and it was clear that the supporters were behind the Springboks. When the Haka was done by the All Black, I could barely hear it on the TV in the suite. And that was with a closed door. The sounds of Ole, Ole, Ole being sang by the crowd the only thing you did hear.

And then it was time for the game to get underway. The Springboks didn’t start too badly and soon had a 15-7 lead. Bryan Habana scoring two tries with Morne Steyn converting one and landing a penalty. The fact that the All Blacks managed two easy tries should have had warning bells sounding at halftime. An injury to Habana also made a huge difference. The one to Willem Alberts allowed Franco vd Merwe to make his debut for the Boks at age 30. The All Blacks came back with two tries before the break. Halftime score 15-21 to the All Blacks.

South Africa had their bonus point try with 20 minutes left to go after Willie Le Roux and Jean de Villiers scored a try a piece. Morne once again only managed to convert one of the tries.

Beauden Barrett and Kieran Reid scored two tries for the visitors and that was all they need all though Barret added a penalty for good measure.

In the end much can be said and there will be a lot of debate regarding the performance of both sides in this test. Attacking rugby was played by both sides and it was good to watch. The Springboks can only blame themselves for poor defensive errors and soft turnovers at times. That cost them the game and the title in the end. It might also have been a case of winning the Rugby Championship title before winning the game.

Nigel Owens and his Assistant Referees were in top form and must be applauded for how they handled the game.

After the game I was lucky enough to meet World Cup winning Captain and current Sharks CEO, John Smit. And he obliged me with a photo and autograph on my jersey. A moment I will not forget for a while to come.

SCORERS:

South Africa 27 – Tries: Bryan Habana (2), Willie le Roux, Jean de Villiers. Conversions: Morne Steyn (2). Penalty: Steyn.

New Zealand 38 – Tries: Ben Smith, Liam Messam (2), Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (3), Barrett (2). Penalty: Barrett.

 

Overseas based players: Should they be considered for the Springboks?

With so many of South Africa’s top rugby players leaving the country tho ply their trade overseas, this has become a discussion point again. A discussion that is not only taking place around the braai but also in the boardrooms of SA Rugby. Even our captain has his view.

Currently it is a sticky point. The All Blacks has made it clear: “Either play in New Zealand or kiss the All Black jersey goodbye.” In South Africa it has always been a situation of selecting only one or two players.

Not an issue I say. Rugby players has a limited career and need to make their money while they can. I mean if a rival company overseas offers me a salary ten times what I’m earning now, I’m going to grab the opportunity. I can always come back later and take up a higher position in SA. No one will flinch or have anything to say. The experience I’ve gained will be to the benefit of all. Why not rugby players?

Well I do have one problem. Currently we don’t have an international rugby season with an international window as we see in soccer. This makes it cumbersome. Players are only available for Bok selection if clubs release them. There are certain windows when clubs have to release players, but that is only in June and November and during the World Cup.

I feel that should a player want to be eligible for Springbok selection while playing overseas he must negotiate his contract in such a manner that he will be available for all tests. Even those outside the normal international windows. Francois Louw is a good example as is JP Pietersen. Their contracts is of such a nature that they will be available when called up for Springbok duty. That is fine with me.

Fourie du Preez is the other side of the coin. To be told he is only available for certain tests means that someone else, in this case Piet van Zyl or Jano Vermaak, has to sit out for the tests he is not available. They are however good enough to play when he is not around. That to me is a huge problem.

If you want to play overseas and be av ailable for the Springboks it must be available for all tests. It is unfair towards the players playing their hearts out in SA to be told we will select you only when the other guy is not released. It sends a message that you are not good eneough but we will use you when we don’t have a choice. It also disrupts team sinergy and continuity.

For now we have to take what we can get, but SARU, not Heyneke Meyer, should decide on this and implement the regulation pertaining to all. This is however just my view.

follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter

Dave’s Dream World XV: 1979-2013

A while back I did a South african dream teams of my lifetime. Well after a comment or two a reader I decided to look at a world XV from the same period. 1979 to current. Here is the team that Johan and myself came up with.

15. Serge Blanco
Born on 31 August 1958. Playing career 1974-1992. International career 1980-1991. 93 caps for France and scored 233 points. He scored a record 38 tries for France. In 1997 Serge Blanco was among the inaugural set of rugby players inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. In 2011, he was also inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame.

14. David Campese
Born on 21 October 1962. Playing career 1982-1998. International career 1982-1996. Sevens career 1998. Played 101 times in the Australian jersey and scored 64 tries, second only to Daisuke Ohata of Japan who scored 65 tries. In 2007 Campese was honoured in the third set of inductees into the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame.

13. Danie Gerber
Born on 14 April 1958. International career 1980-1992. He played 28 test for the Springboks. It would have been more had south Africa not been isolated from international sport. He played 115 provincial games for Eastern Province, 40 for Western Province and 24 for Free State. He scored 82 points in his 28 tests. In 2007 he was induced into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. Named in both International Rugby Hall of Fame member’s Martin Johnson and Bill McLaren’s all time XV.

12. Phillipe Sella
Born 14 February 1962. Playing career 1982-1998. International career 1982-1995. He played 111 Tests for France and scored 125 points. He became a member of the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1999,[1] and the IRB Hall of Fame in 2008.

11. Bryan Habana
Born on 12 June 1982. Playing career 2004-Current. International career 2004-current. He has 86 caps for the Springboks and scored 250 points (50 tries). He has 118 Super Rugby caps scoring 280 points (80 tries) and 43 Currie Cup caps (40 points 8 tries). International Rugby Board Player Of The Year: 2007. International Rugby Players’ Association’s Try of the Year: 2012

10. Hugo Porta
Born on 11 September 1951. Playing career 1966-1990. Internationla career 1971-1990. He represented Argentina 58 times and scored 590 points. He also captained them 34 times. Olimpia de Oro Award (for “sportsman of the year” in Argentina): 1985. Olimpia de Plata Award (for “rugby union player of the year” in Argentina): 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982. Midi Olimpique Magazine: “Best rugby union player of the world” (1985). Roathmans Yearbook Magazine: “Best Fly-half of the 1980s” (1989). Member of the Rugby hall of fame of New Zealand. All-time top scorer of Argentina primera división: 301 points. All-time 2nd. scorer of Argentina national team: 590 points (1970-90). Enter to the Guinness World Records due to having scored seven penalties and a conversion in the same match (in 1982 versus the Springboks).

9.George Gregan
Born on 19 April 1973. Playing career 1994-2011. International career 1994-2007. Represented Australia in 139 tests and scored 99 points.

8.Zinzan Brooke
Born on 14 February 1965. Playing career 1986-2001. International career 1987-1997. He has 58 All Black caps scoring 89 points, this includes 3 drop goals.

7.Richie McCaw (c)
Born on 31 December 1980. Playing career 1999-current. International career 2001-current. Represented the All Blacks in 123 tests to date and scored 95 points. n December 2011, Prime Minister John Key revealed that he had asked McCaw about the possibility of a knighthood in the 2012 New Year Honours, but that McCaw had turned it down. No formal offer had been made after that.

6.Michael “Ice Man” Jones
Born on 8 April 1965. Playing career 1985-1999. International career 1986-1998. He represented Samoa in 1 test in 1986. From 1987-1998 he played in 55 tests for the All Blacks, scoring 56 points. In 1990 he received a New Zealand Medal for service to the Pacific Island community. He graduated from the University of Auckland with three degrees: B.A., M.A. and Bplan. In 2003 he was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. He has been given the Matai title (Samoan chiefly title) of La’auli.

5.Victor Matfield
Born on 11 May 1977. Playing career 1999-2011. International career 2001-2011. He played 110 tests for the Springboks and scored 35 points. Crowned IRB (International Rugby Board) player of the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Rated by almost everyone as the best lock of his time.

4.Martin Johnson
Born on 9 March 1970. Playing career 1989-2006. International career 1993-2003. He played 1 game for the New Zealand under 21 side in 1990. He represented England 84 times, scoring 10 points. He also represented the British & Irish Lions on three tours, captaining them on 2. The only player to do this. He has 8 B&I Lions caps. He was awarded the CBE in the 2004 New Year honours. On 24 October 2011, at the IRB Awards in Auckland, Johnson was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame alongside all other Rugby World Cup-winning captains and head coaches from the tournament’s inception in 1987 through 2007 (minus the previously inducted John Eales).

3. Martin Castrogiovanni
Born on 21 October 1981. Playing career 2001-current. International career 2002-current. He has played 98 tests for Italy and scored 60 points. During the 2008 Six Nations Championship, Castrogiovanni was Italy’s top try scorer.

2.Keith WoodBorn on 27 January 1972. Playing career 1992-2003. International career 1994-2003. He represented the B&I Lions in 5 tests (2 tours) and Ireland in 58. He scored 75 points for Ireland. The inaugural winner of the IRB World Player of the Year award in 2001. In 2005 the Munster Rugby star was inducted into the Rugby Hall of fame. He currently holds a world record of 15 international test tries scored by a hooker, previously held by Sean Fitzpatrick (12) of the New Zealand All Blacks. He scored 4 tries in one game in the 1999 World Cup.

1.Os du Randt
Born on 8 September 1972. Playing career 1994-2007. International career 1994-2007. He played in 80 tests for the Springboks and scored 25 points. He is one of only 6 players to have won 2 World Cup titles (1995 and 2007). Named by Rugby World magazine as the second-best loosehead of all time in 1999.

This is the team I would pick if I had to. That there are at least 3 players in each position, if not more, that can be consider it true. That is what makes this such a nice topic. I would love to know how your team would look. That way we can compare, remember and honour players of years gone by.

follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter

Quota systems: Are they necessary or is SARU using them as a ruse to apiece parliament?

After SARU announced it’s new quota system for the 2014 Vodacom Cup, many have spoken out about it. Peter de Villiers had this to say in an interview with BBC Sport:

Top of Form

“It’s the worst decision they could make. Everybody will believe that these players will be picked because people are looking out for them.”

“They (SARU) make people believe they care about who is coming through the system – but they only do that to tick some boxes.

“They like to report these things but you don’t see the difference in reality.

“It’s not the first time they have tried to put these things in place and they have never worked.

“It will only ever work if there is a transformation period in people’s hearts.

“If there isn’t I think they are wasting their time.”

Oregan Hoskins had this to say:

Top of Form

“We saw the negatives of that, but we must acknowledge the valid criticism that since the quota system has been scrapped, we have gone backwards in terms of black players in the system. We have to do something drastic to rectify this decline or we would be failing ourselves as a system.

“We will be opening ourselves up to outside intervention. Quotas were scrapped 10 years ago and there was a lot of negativity around the system then. But we have to be brutally honest with ourselves and say that since scrapping quotas, our transformation drive has declined inexplicably and we have to capture that decline. We simply cannot allow it to continue,” said Hoskins

Now two things can be taken from Hoskins’ statement. Either the Quota system has never worked. It only forced coaches and selectors to select players on skin colour and not on merit. Therefore the decline in players from a certain group after the systems are scrapped.

Personally I believe that all it does is create further friction and does not really account for transformation. If a player is good enough to play he will be selected nop matter the colour of his skin or his ethnic background. Bryan Habana, Breyton Paulse, Siya Kolisi, Beast and Trevor Nyakane is but a few players that came through the system without a quota requirement being in place.

What makes them different from the rest? I believe it is their talent and ability. In other words merit. Once a player is selected only because a coach or selector is forced to select him you will see other players sarting to leave the system and look to play elsewhere. We already have a problem in keeping top class players, both black and white, in South Africa and now wer want to force the issue even further.

I agree with De Villiers that a quota system is not need. That is if development of the game at grassroots level is done properly. Instead of trying to force the issue at provincial level, maybe SARU should do more to assist schools to develop players. And I’m not talking about a clinic here and there. Proper support and guidance.

I’m all for transformation but it should not be something that is forced. That in itself takes us back to where we were during apartheid. We will select players based on skin colour and due to political interference. We all saw what that did to our rugby and country. We should not have it happen again..

The Castle Rugby Championship, ABSA Currie Cup, ITM Cup and French Top 14 previewed

What a weekend of rugby awaits us. We have the Castle Rugby Championship kicking off in grand style, the second round of the Currie Cup and the ITM Cup and Top 14 kicks off as well. If you are a rugby fanatic this weekend will be filled with action.

The Castle Lager Rugby Championship

We start of the Championship with The Wallabies v The All Blacks at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Kick-off is at 12h15 CAT. It should not be too difficult to decide who will win this one. Australia is coming of a disappointing series against the B&I Lions. They are under a new coach and look to rebuild. The All Blacks is undefeated in their last 6 matches in the competition and will look to keep it that way. Still this will be an interesting game as both teams can play some expansive rugby yet will probably try and keep it close for the first 60 minutes or so.

Prediction: All Blacks by 14 minimum.

Saturday afternoon at 17h00 CAT the Springboks will take Los Pumas at the FNB Stadium in Soweto,. What a remarkable day for South African sport as the game will be preceded by a soccer international between Bafana-Bafana and Burkina Faso at the same ground, all in celebration of Nelson Mandela. Los Pumas have the influence of Graham Henry and will not be an easy side to beat. Yet the Springboks are much more settled under Heyneke Meyer and consistency has been brought into the team. Argentina will probably try and play the game with their notoriously good forward pack. The Springboks will probably be conservative at first but they will look to give the ball some air. Tactical and positional play will be the order of the day.

Prediction: Springboks by 14-21.

ABSA Currie Cup round 2

Friday night it is the Sharks v MTN Golden Lions at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban. Both teams had narrow losses this past weekend and will look to improve on their performance. The Sharks will look to dominate the set pieces and only open up the game later. The Lions will look to give the ball some air as this is when they are at their most dangerous. Another tight game can be expected.

Prediction: Sharks by 3-5.

The Vodacom blue Bulls will face the GWK Griquas at 19h10 CAT on Friday night at Loftus Versfeld. A Young Bulls side will take momentum and believe from their draw against WP last weekend and will look to improve on that. The Griquas will have confidence and Momentum after their win against the Sharks in Durban. Both sides have good runners and an exciting match is on hand. The Bulls are strong up front, but Griquas can counter this. Discipline will probably be the deciding factor in this game.

Prediction: Griquas by 3

Saturday after the Springboks v Argentuina test, DHL Western Province takes on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. The Cheetahs know they have a lot to do after a very close win against the Lions. They are strong up front, but WP has a better line out. If they are to open up the game this might give them a chance but then WP can be dangerous in open play. WP will have to focus on not relaxing like they did against the Bulls. The game was theirs to win and they threw it away.

Prediction: Western Province by 5

ITM Cup 2013

Here are the ITM Cup fixtures and predictions for the weekend

Counties Manukau v Wellington – Wellington by 7

Canterbury v Taranaki – Cantebury by 13

Hawke’s Bay v Manawatu – Hawke’s Bay by 5

Southland v Tasman – Soputhland by 9

Auckland v North Harbour – Auckland by 7

Otago v Bay of Plenty – Otago by 9

Waikato v Northland – Waikato by 8

French Top 14 2013/14 season

Montpellier v Toulon Toulon by 5

Bairritz v Clermont Auvergne – Bairritz by 6

Bayonne v US Oyannax – Bayonne by 8

Bordeaux Begles v Touloyuse – Toulouse by 6

Grenoble V Stade Francais – Stade Francais by 11

Racing metro 92 v Brive – Racing Metro 92 by 7

Perpignan v castres – Perpignan by 10

New scrum laws not that new

Having watched the weekend’s Currie Cup action and the introduction of the new scrum laws, I was quite surprised. The new laws are not that new after all.

Yes the sequence have changed once again and it makes it easier to set the scrum. It does take away from the hit, but it makes it more steady. Also gives the referee the opportunity to check on the scrum feed. This does take away from the hit and gaining advantage from it.

It is however not much different from how scrums were set in the 70’s & 80’s. The two packs of forwards in those days would just bind and get the scrum steady for the scrumhalf to feed. No sequence from the referee, but essentially the same us today. More emphasis was given to the front-row’s actual technique than pure strength. The feed of course played a big role as well vback in those days.

Well today we are moving back to that. Technique playing a role and how good the hooker really is. It was on how well the scrumhalf could place the ball under his own team’s feet.

One thing that referees should look at is how the teams actually scrum. As far as the laws go it is still illegal to scrum up. Something the Bulls did well in their match against Western Province. They would dip down and on the second push go up. Pushing the WP front row up and forcing a penalty. Another thing to watch out for is the Hooker lifting his leg before the ball is in.

In essence scrummaging is again a art and not just based on brute strength and size. It is how I remember it when I played rugby. Yes, I played hooker. All 50kg and 1.65m of me at the age of 16-17. My props were a bit bigger but we were not the biggest. Still we were a scrum to reckon with. Because we had the technique of scrumming down to a T. Seldom had a heel against the head, but won at least 2-3 a match.

One thing is sure we will spend less time on resetting of scrums. And we will see more turn overs as teams refine the art once again.

follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter

My concerns with the Springbok squad for the 2013 Castle Rugby Championship

Once again Heyneke Meyer and the Springbok selectors suprised us all by selecting probably the best 30 players for the up coming Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

There will be those that are calling for a Heinrich Brussow to be included. Some calling for Aplon and os the list will go on. Looking at the past Super Rugby season those guys all have valid points. Lappie Labuschagne is one player I would like to see in the side, but his time will come. There are however a couple of concerns for me. Looking at the 2015 World Cup there is 3 players that concern me.

First and foremost is captain, Jean de Villiers. He is currently 32 and not getting any younger. He has 15 tests since the beginning of last year and missed only 2 Super Rugby matches. At his age this will take it’s toll. Will he be the number 1 inside centre come 2015? I don’t think so. Jan Serfontein is already putting up his hand as the best in South africa at the moment. It is time to blood a new captain now. Leave it to late and the experience factor comes in. We don’t want another Smith/Du Plessis situation where the best player is on the bench because the captain needs to play.

Guthro Steenkamp at 32 is another selection I don’t understand. He will be 35 when the World Cup rolls around. A ripe age for a prop. And please remember not all props are as lucky as Os du Randt. The question is once again if he is the best. If the answer is yes let him play. I do believe we have better props available to the Springboks.

My last concern is Fourie du Preez. He will be 33 in 2015. He has not played for a year at internationbal level. Do we have youngsters better than him? Well that is hard to say. We haven’t seen him play since the 2011 World Cup. He is more rested than the players in South Africa and that counts for him. Still it is a selection I don’t understand.

One thing I do know is that come 17 August many questions will be answered. And I will be behind the Springboks once again. No matter who is in the side.

follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter

Super Rugby: is it time to evolve?

Vodacom Super Rugby has evolved over the last 17 years as one of the best and hardest competitions in world rugby. It is however on the verge of following apart if reports out of Australia can be believed.

2015 will see the end of the current broadcasting contracts will come to an end and new ones will be negotiated. SARU is calling for a further expansion of the competition to include a sixth South African franchise. The rest of SANZAR however is not very keen on this. They feel there is to much rugby being played and more teams will just increase this.

I still believe that the competition can be expanded to more teams while the number of games played per team is reduced. Something that will not take away from the status of the competition, but rather add to it. It just seems that the powers that be at SANZAR is not considering all options. I have hinted at a Heineken Cup format, but it might be a logistical nightmare. What other alternative is there? Well here is one that might make more sense.

A two tier competition with 24 teams playing in it. The broadcasters get more games yet the teams play less and the competition is shorter. How do I see it work? Well let’s have a look.

A Premier Division seeing the top 12 teams at the end of 2015 competing for the title. teams play each other once and the top 4 teams compete in the semi’s and from there the final. Like they did in the old Super 12.

The First Division or second tier competition gets played on the same basis. The bottom three teams at the end of 2015 will fall into this tier. Add to it the sixth South African franchise. Now it becomes interesting. Argentina fields 2 teams. Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Canada. The USA and maybe Japan field a team each. They play on the same basis as the Premier division.

The two finalists in the first division gain automatic promotion to the Premier division in the next season. The bottom two teams in the Premier Division being relegated. The next two worst placed teams in the top division play the two losing semi-finalists in a promotion series. Each team playing the two teams of the other division once. The top two teams play Premier division the next year.

This will see 69 games played per division plus 4 promotion relegation games. That is 142 games in total. But they will be played over maximum 15 weeks if each team has two bye weekends. Two additional weeks for the promotion games. This means if the competition starts the last week of February we will be done by the end of May before the June tests. The Rugby championship can start earlier and end sooner. Giving international players more of a break.

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Commentators v Referees

Bobby Skinstad during a commentary stint


Referee Jaco Peyper

 

The past weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby Semi-final between the Vodacom Bulls and ACT Brumbies as well as the promotion/relegation game between the Southern Kings and MTN Lions were marred by commentators and studio experts from Super Sport critiquing the referees on various of the calls that were made on the field.

The Kings v Lions game particular saw or shall I say heard Bobby Skinstad pointing out every mistake referee Jaco Peyper made when he awarded a scrum, penalty or free-kick to the Lions. His biggest call was the last pass before the Lions’ second try. Bobby said to all that was listening that the pass was at least a metre forward. Replays showed that it was at most a flat pass, but Janties’ hands were moving back as he released the ball. According to the rules and laws of rugby this is not a forward pass. That left there. Bobby sounded more like a PR manager for the Kings than a commentator.

Most commentators will comment on the mistakes that the referee is making and in some instances even call on the referee not to be biased. They must however listen to themselves and their colleagues. Commentators are the most biased people in rugby. Especially the ones working for South African broadcasters. You know that when certain commentators are doing duty with a certain team playing, that you might as well not listen. Joost use to be very pro-Bulls. Kobus Wiese is again a Lions man. Joel Stransky will favour the Sharks and so the list goes on. This I can however still stomach.

What I can’t stand is when a commentator like Bobby starts to critique the referee and then get the calls wrong themselves. The referee indicates what transgressions of the rule has been committed with hand signals and then also tells the captain what happened.

Showing this while saying: “Diving over the ball.” Will in most cases be interpreted as entering from the side or just going of the feet by commentators.

Understand me correctly: Referees do make mistakes and they should be accountable for them. But before you start showing out their mistakes, make sure you know the rules or at least listen to what the referee is saying and follow his hand signals. That way you might get the call right and then realise that he actually penalised a team for the correct infringement and not what you though it might have been.

Supporters listen to commentators and experts and they will go with what they are saying as the gosperl of rugby. Yet most of these so called rugby disciples are nothing more than false profits as they know even less than most followrs.

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