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Tuesday, July 25, 2006


RugRats @ Loftus

Rugrats at Loftus

Rugrats at Loftus, 22 June 2006
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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

We have been SPAMMED - or something...
Hi gents and ladies, word from Kandas is that we have been attacked and the site is down temporarily - should not be too long.
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Sunday, February 05, 2006


SA Unions / Teams: Chester back as coach in SA rugby

Chester Williams will be back in the fold of SA rugby when he gets appointed as coach of the SA A team later this week, according to Rapport.

Williams was recommended as the coach of the A-side some seven months ago, but with all the fighting and backstabbing in SARU the appointment was never made official.

The appointment followed after the ex Springbok wing was fired after a disastrous season as coach of the Cats' Super 12 team.

Prior to that Williams enthusiastically trumpeted his chances of taking over the coaching duties of the Springboks after the demise of Rudolph Straeuli – despite the fact that his only experience in coaching was with the SA Sevens team.

At one stage he was the firm favourite on the rather bleak shortlist before the appointment of Jake White, who was at that stage a rank outsider.

Williams has been on Saru's payroll ever since he lost his job as coach of the Cats.

He told Rapport that he would be in the "seventh heaven" if his appointment becomes a reality.

"I was disappointed when the Cats fired me. I will hopefully get another chance to do my own thing and to show that I can be succesfull.

"It will be my job to support Jake White by coaching and exposing young players to the greater stage of rugby," he told the newspaper.

At this stage no decisions regarding the A-team matches have been made.
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Saturday, February 04, 2006


Rugby Administration: Van Rooyen "will do whatever it takes to win this election."

Jan de Koning from Rugby365 is reporting that Brian van Rooyen is touring the provinces seeking their proxies.

A proxy vote would give him the right to vote (for himself) on behalf of provinces and once they have signed the proxy form, they would not be able to change their minds and support another candidate.

According to the rules of the election, each province has three votes, and the proxy could be used to split a union's votes, even if the mandate is to vote for the other candidate.

This is a typical example of where SARU lets itself down on transparency. This should not be an election held by secret ballot, each and every vote should be released to the media for public consumption.

They are electing the three most powerful positions in a national sports body, not a government, there should be no necessity or requirement for the votes to be secret. Let's have the provinces openly declare to the public for whom they will be voting.

This is the same Van Rooyen who has been requesting his opponents to keep things "above board" and not use "devious means".

He has now told Brenden Nel from the Pretoria News that he would "do everything in my power" to stay in charge of South African rugby.

"Yes, I'm asking for them [proxies]," Van Rooyen told the Pretoria News.

"And I will do whatever it takes to win this election. I am not breaking the rules, but this is a game, and in a game you do what you can to win. An election is such a game and I am not undermining the rules.

"I am not going to divulge my tactics, but I have asked provinces to give me the proxy to cast their vote for them."

"I will not be forced out. I was democratically elected two years ago and I will accept the democratic will of the SARU delegates."

Oregan Hoskins has apparently expressed his "horror" at learning to what extent Van Rooyen will go to remain entrenched.

"It's sad that anyone should resort to such means to get elected. I believe he is unsure of his position and does not want to rely on the democratic process of a secret ballot when we get to the 24th."

Van Rooyen and SARU CEO, Johan Prinsloo, have apparently met with the King of the Bafokeng tribe to finalise arrangements for the Test match against the All Blacks in August.

One thing is for sure, SARU's every action will be closely srutinised after this election in order to ascertain whether any favours were promised in exchange for votes.

Let's hope the 14 presidents vote for the candidate that has the best interests of South African rugby at heart, not personal gain.

News sources: and Pretoria News
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Six Nations: Ireland 26-16 Italy

In what wasn't a great spectacle, the Italians can rightly head home disappointed that they lost this one.

The Italians can justifiably question whether Irish wing, Tommy Bowe, grounded the ball for his try.

Television replays appeared to show his arm between the ball and the goal area before he was heroically held up by Azzurri openside, Bergamasco.

Pierre Berbizier was quietly furious at the post match interview, asking why the fourth official wasn't called in to adjudicate. The BBC subsequently ran the footage again from many angles, in none of which can it conclusively be seen that the ball was grounded.

Berbizier went on to question whether stamping is now to be allowed in the Six Nations since there were two clear instances of overly zealous Irish rucking.

It was on the second incident where the Italians were penalised for a retaliatory punch from a furious Martín Castrogiovanni. In fact, the referee could easily have awarded a yellow against the Irish.

Those two scoring opportunities were the difference between the two teams in a match where the Italians matched the Irish in most departments.

The Italians can go away heartened for their upcoming matches against Wales and Scotland whilst the Irish will have to improve if they plan to win the title this year.

For Ireland:
Tries: Flanery, Bowe
Cons: O'Gara
Pens: O'Gara 4

For Italy:
Try: Mi Bergamasco
Con: Pez
Pens: Pez 3

Yellow card(s): Pez, Italy -late tackle, 38

Ireland: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Denis Leamy, 7 David Wallace, 6 Simon Easterby, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Malcolm O'Kelly, 3 John Hayes, 2 Jerry Flannery, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Simon Best, 18 Donncha O'Callaghan, 19 Johnny O'Connor, 20 Eoin Reddan (Wasps), 21 David Humphreys, 22 Andrew Trimble.

Italy: 15 Cristian Stoica, 14 Pablo Canavosio, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Mirco Bergamasco, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Ramiro Pez, 9 Paul Griffen, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Josh Sole, 5 Marco Bortolami (captain), 4 Santiago Dellapè, 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Antonio Festuccia, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Carlo Del Fava, 20 Aaron Persico, 21 Simon Picone, 22 Rima Wakarua.

Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Touch judges: Joël Jutge (France), Nigel Owens (Wales)
Television match official: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)
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Six Nations: Scots host the French

The Scotland/France match tomorrow should be fascinating. Scotland are desperate to halt the slide in their fortunes whilst France are eager to build towards the world cup next year.

Brendan Gallagher of the Telegraph provides the low down on tomorrow's clash.

If performances against the All Blacks are the true yardstick of international rugby - when have they not been? - then Scotland, at last, are on detectable upward curve and need fear nobody in this season's Six Nations.

It was the manner of their 29-10 defeat against New Zealand in November that gives modest cause for hope, with a return to their fast, hard-rucking game up front, allied to adventurous, direct running behind. A good performance, not blessed with much luck, against a brilliant team.

It was not enough, of course, to defeat Tana Umaga's men on the day but Scotland can join a long queue in that respect. More of the same, though, would be good enough to ruffle a few feathers in the Six Nations and finally breathe some life into a moribund Murrayfield.

Tomorrow they line up against a supremely talented but slightly edgy French side who have been deprived at the last minute of centre Yannick Jauzion, whose foot problem has belatedly been diagnosed as a broken toe. He will also miss next weekend's game against Ireland. Ludovic Valbon will deputise.

As of yesterday there were still 15,000 tickets left for tomorrow's game, and though Scotland cannot be blamed for these unloved Sunday kick-offs, their challenge is to make every home championship game a sell-out again.

"We have home advantage, a noisy crowd, and the guys like nothing better than playing at Murrayfield," Jason White, Scotland's captain, said. "It's our home, where we love to play and we're looking forward to performing well and getting a victory.

"We're going to look to play with the ball to get the crowd involved and make them feel part of it. We've got some great runners and we're looking to use them."

Scotland must remember what they did well in November. Their forwards, especially in the second half, hunted as a pack and recycled with New Zealand-style efficiency.

Space was found for powerful runners such as Hugo Southwell, Sean Lamont and Andrew Henderson, while Chris Paterson, Scotland's most talented all-round footballer out on the wing, was brought into the game as much as possible.

There will be another factor tomorrow. Mike Blair - a big name in the making two years ago before a slump in form - is back at scrum-half, preferred to Chris Cusiter.

While the latter's defensive qualities are excellent, Blair is a much more potent runner and, with their renewed confidence, Scotland intend to get on the front foot as much as possible. That is the theory.

For the French, meanwhile, this game presents exactly the kind of challenge that will tell us everything we need to know about Bernard Laporte's latest team.

A cold, dull afternoon in Edinburgh against an improving Scotland side who have the capacity to raise their game is an awkward assignment, especially if France underestimate their opponents.

Win well and France will confirm that they are in the early stages of building an outstanding side to take the 2007 World Cup by storm. Lose, and life becomes much more difficult.

Laporte acknowledges as much and the coach talks openly about this Six Nations tournament not standing in isolation. "We have two challenges now: one is to win because the Six Nations is a big competition, the other one is to build, because the aim is the World Cup. It is there in the back of our minds," he said.

France should depart with a win if all their big names fire and they resist the Toulouse habit of inexplicably taking their foot of the gas. Arrogance, laziness, boredom, show-boating?

Europe's premier club side get away with breezing in and out of games in the Heineken Cup, but the Six Nations is different. France went to sleep against Wales last season after all but destroying them in the first half and paid dearly.

They will also be mindful of a distinctly average performance against Scotland in Paris last February, when only a borderline decision against Scotland flanker Ally Hogg enabled them to scrape an unimpressive 16-9 win at the Stade de France.

Scotland have everything to play for - which has not always been the case recently - but if France are the quality team we think they are, they will prevail, albeit by a narrow margin.
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Currie Cup: Cheetahs fight back

The Free State has long been a nursery of South African rugby. For decades many of it's finest young stars have been lured to larger wealthier regions and currently at one club in the UK alone there are 5 or 6 Shimlas players.

Well, they've had enough and plan to fight back.

Die Volksblad's Hendrik Cronje reports;

Bloemfontein - The Cheetahs are formulating a plan to stop the continuing exodus of promising rugby players from the Free State region.

The province will make it difficult in future for other provinces to lure away talented players like Frans Steyn (flyhalf, Sharks), Adriaan Strauss (hooker, Blue Bulls), Bismarck du Plessis (hooker, Sharks), Ruan Pienaar (scrumhalf, Sharks), Roland Bernard (flank, Lions) and Sewes Oosthuizen (prop, Sharks).

The man who has to try and shut the gates is Pine Pienaar, former first team coach of Grey College.

Pienaar will draw up a data base of young talented players and identify a group which will in future be given the opportunity to practise with Rassie Erasmus' Cheetah team.

"We'll try out utmost to keep our talent here," Pienaar said.
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Super 14: 'Spears will certainly play Boks from the relegated franchise' - Tony McKeever

Tony McKeever, CEO of the Southern Spears, told RuggaWorld he does not seek players left redundant when one of the current five Super 14 franchises drops out of the competition next year. McKeever also rejected a promotion-relegation match as a compromise out of the impasse created by the Big Five's refusal to sign the agreement that was reached in June 2005.

In an exclusive interview with RuggaWorld the CEO said that he is aware of clause 10.1.10 in the June 8 agreement, which states that Springboks of the relegated franchise will be transferred to the Spears on the recommendation of the national Springbok coach Jake White.

McKeever reiterated that the Spears are not so much interested in the relegated players. He is however willing to accept the Springbok rugby players, if so requested by White.

"We believe in an equitable distribution of our top players in order to prepare them for the World Cup in 2007 and beyond," McKeever said.

He also rejected claims that South Africa does not have 180 first class players. "Take the Stormers as an example – they have four Springbok scrumhalves available. How much playing time will they get where they are? Is this an equitable distribution of resources, and is this in the interest of both the players and SA rugby?"

The CEO rejected the playing of a promotion-relegation match between the Spears and the franchise finishing bottom of the Super 14 log as a compromise and some kind of out, for the current impasse.

"A compromise from what? The President's Council signed off an agreement on the 8th June 2005 last year that was endorsed by the Minister of Sport. Everyone received a white paper giving them ample time to raise objections," McKeever told the rugby writer of the Cape Argus.

"For eight months there was no vociferous opposition. But suddenly, with the Big Five staring into Armageddon and a potential black hole, the Spears have to become the sacrificial lamb. It is outrageous."

After their meeting on Thursday SA Rugby released a statement saying it had been decided that the automatic promotion-relegation issue will be discussed further and referred to the Board of Directors of SA Rugby.
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Super 14: 'Rushing the Spears will only embarrass SA rugby'

Twelve months is just too short a time for the Spears to get it together, and embarrassment beckons for them and South African rugby if they are pushed too quickly, says Gavin Rich of SuperRugby.

Rich states that, based on what the Spears had delivered in their four warmups, it would be far more intelligent to delay their Super 14 debut until such a time as they have built experience as a playing unit and developed their individual talent through their participation as a team in the Currie Cup.

He acknowledges that the Southeastern Cape does hold a lot of potential, provided the administrators can find a way to make it all work. Having a strong team in the region should ignite the interest in the black communities. But more time is needed to put structures in place to ensure that the "vast reservoir" in the region is properly tapped and nurtured.

Rich says coach Pieter de Villiers is reminding everyone that he is building his team over three years, and maybe his team should be given three years to develop "before being thrown for the wolves in the Super 14."

"The franchise that finishes fifth out of the local entries in this year’s competition is going to have to be extremely woeful to be weaker than the Spears.

"For a start, they are going to have to recruit a tight five, for the pack was completely ineffectual against the Cheetahs. They were not much better against the Stormers, and will have to bring a lot more muscle to their Super 14 matches if they are not be blown off the planet."

(The Spears will play in this year's Currie Cup competition, which could theoretically also include one of its feeder unions - SWD, Border and EP.)
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General discussions: Rugby tickets, why you pay more than soccer fans.

It is interesting to note that whilst Springbok fans were forking out about R350 per ticket for the Bloemfontein test against Ireland in June 2004, Bafana Bafana fans paid R20 to watch their heroes in the same stadium a week earlier.

Perhaps it is also instructive that whilst the Boks stand at number 2 in the world, Bafana are slip sliding away down the hill.

Is it possible to reconcile the imperative of taking the game to the masses whilst remaining commercially successful?

Is it possible to remain a world class team in the face of crippling financial losses?

I know what my opinion is but I can't claim to know the answers for a fact.

It is interesting to compare the contrasting approaches between South African soccer and rugby.

It cost the Cheetah Company R4 million to host that test, additionally they had to pay VAT of 14% on the sale of tickets, amounting to approximately R800 000. The cost of putting on the event in terms of marketing, security and personnel was a further R800 000.

Therefore the Cheetahs had to fork out R5.6 million rand for the pleasure of hosting a test match.

As Harold Verster told News 24's Schalk Jonker at the time, "This means that if you charge a standard R200 per person, you would need 28 000 people through the gate. That's just for us to break even."

So why does it cost a host union so much money to put on a test?

Well, they have to guarantee SARU a fee, the fee depends on the opposition and, thus, a team like Ireland attracts a guarantee fee of around R4 million whilst the All Blacks, England, France or Ireland would cost between R5.5 million and R6 million.

What this means is that when SARU take the game outside the traditional powerhouses they cannot expect the host union to pay these enormous sums and therefore have to make up the budget shortfall elsewhere.

SA Rugby's commercial manager Kyle Nel said at the time that the same model is used in Australia and England.

"We don't take that money and put it in our back pockets," Nel told News24. "There are a lot of expenses attached to a tour like this and SA Rugby has to cover all those costs.

"We're hosting the Irish for three weeks and we basically have to pay for everything. We even pay for the water they drink.

"Last year we took the Argentina Test to Port Elizabeth, as part of Sarfu's policy to take the game to the people. It would be unreasonable to expect a small union like that to come up with millions of rands for a guarantee, so we said they could pay less. But, now we have to get that money from the other bigger provinces."

News24 asked Nel why money from sponsors and TV rights could not be used to cover these costs, Nel said it was too complicated to explain.

By contrast, soccer's approach is the complete opposite.

Clive Mtshiselwa, the South African Football Association's marketing manager, told News24, "We have to keep in mind that the most of our supporters fall in the lower income market and a lot of them are unemployed.

"It would be inhumane to ask high prices for these people to see their heroes. It is our mission to take soccer to the people and you can't do that if you pricing structure is at a premium," said Mtshiselwa.

"It would cost us about R3m to host England for example. Safa and our sponsors pick up that tab. We only use gate money to cover minor expenses like security, cleaners and things like that.

"Usually the municipality says 'Okay, we'll cover the costs of getting the stadium in order'."

"But we never charge them a lump sum to host internationals. In fact, all the international matches we stage, we stage at a loss."

Now whilst I am full of admiration for the approach of SAFA, I just can't get rid of the image of Bafana Bafana sliding away into footballing obscurity whilst the Springboks challenge the All Blacks for number one spot in the world.

It also begs the question, with South African soccer in the red to the tune of tens of millions of rands, are they spending more money than SARU in creating jobs, infrastructure and opportunities for the disadvantaged in society? Somehow I doubt it. Luckily for SAFA and South African soccer, they have the money spinning 2010 World Cup to look forward to.

That will be the fresh start they need, time will tell if it is used as a clean slate or a fresh start to begin the plunder all over again.

In the interim, is it possible to charge R20 for international rugby tickets and remain at the top of the tree? I don't think so.

Information source:
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Super 14: Home match = 12 point start.

The British Journal of Sports Sciences has found that in the Super 12, kicking off in front of your home crowd equated to a 12 point start on the scoreboard.

The Stormers were found to be one of the two teams with a negative home record.

In what may come as a massive surprise to most, the Cats with finishes of fourth, third, 11th, 12th, 12th and 11th had the greatest home advantage!

The study by Associate Professor Hugh Morton from Massey University's Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health found Super 12 rugby teams with a home advantage more often than not won their games.

Dr Morton analysed the records of 414 games in the Super 12 between the 2000 and 2005 seasons. He discovered that 259 games were won by sides playing at home, seven drawn and 148 by the visiting team. He then calculated the difference between the average number of points scored in games played at home and the average number scored in away games to give a score that indicated each team's relative home advantage.

Former All Black midfield back Bernie McCahill, who played for Auckland in the late 1980s, says a home game has always been an advantage.

"The home crowd advantage in the early days must have been bigger than we noticed."

He said those were the days of "the marchers" where home crowds used to walk from one end of the field to the other.

The latest rugby research would be refreshing reading for Auckland's Blues until they looked harder at the data. They and the Stormers are the only teams with negative home records.

Dr Morton's study found the Cats and then the Brumbies had the greatest home advantage.

The research says the Blues and Stormers are least favoured at home, but it may be simply, in the Blues case, that they perform nearly as well offshore as at home.

The statistics will interest those who have regular rugby betting splurges.

"These figures can be used as a means of forecasting," Dr Morton concurred. If you know what the home advantage is and what the two teams' points ratings are, you can do the arithmetic and forecast what you might expect the result to be.

"Of course, you can't always guarantee it's going to be right," he added.

* The New Zealand Herald's chief rugby writer, Wynne Gray, says he is sceptical.

"At first glance, and without trawling through more than 400 matches as Dr Morton did, I have some doubts about the value of his analysis.

"But as the learned academic also noted, the perception of home advantage, even among sports commentators, is not always accurate."

Gray said the research would have been more effective if the results of all 10 years of the Super 12 competition had been analysed rather than just the last six years.

"Trends can appear in results at home or offshore but to try to then narrow that down further into points differential seems a trifle dubious.

"Some years there is an emphasis on defence and tries are hard to come by while in other seasons there has been a focus on all-out attack."

Gray also queried whether Dr Morton's study allowed for factors such as diverse weather conditions, injuries, suspensions or where sides were in the competition when they played at home or offshore.

"The Cats may rank highest in Dr Morton's scale of home advantage, but they scarcely trouble the scorers offshore so any home points must help.

"All very strange, especially when the Cats, in the six years of Dr Morton's study, finished fourth, third, 11th, 12th, 12th and 11th."
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