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Saturday, December 17, 2005


International Teams: 2006: the year of the blackout

Original Source: Reuters

New Zealand stood astride 2005 like a black-clad rugby colossus, sweeping all before them in unprecedented dominance of the global game.

In winning 11 of their 12 Test matches, the All Blacks completed a series whitewash of the British and Irish Lions, reclaimed the Tri Nations title, retained the Bledisloe Cup and finished off with a Grand Slam European tour.

Flyhalf Dan Carter was rightly acclaimed the sport's best player by both the International Rugby Board and the players' union while Graham Henry was unsurprisingly named coach of the year.

It was all fitting reward for a team playing a brand of high-speed, high-intensity, high-skill rugby at which the rest of the world could only marvel.

However, New Zealand's other notable victory this year, securing hosting rights for the 2011 rugby World Cup, was the wrong sort of black mark for the game.

After years of lip-service about the need to expand rugby's horizons, the people representing the traditional powers chose to ignore the claims of Japan and the chance to move the event to Asia for the first time.

The decision, made by an IRB council weighted ridiculously in favour of the main European and southern hemisphere nations, was widely criticised.

On the pitch, New Zealand deserved everything they got.

They began their year with a 91-0 destruction of Fiji, a warm-up for the Lions series that obviously did the job.

The Lions, with England's World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward, arrived in New Zealand seeking only their second series win. Despite travelling with their biggest-ever squad and an army of coaching and back-up staff they never looked remotely capable of matching the heroics of 1971.

Some of Woodward's selections were baffling but there was bad luck too when captain Brian O'Driscoll was dumped out of the series in the first minute of the first Test by a controversial spear tackle that dogged All Black captain Tana Umaga for the rest of the year.

New Zealand won the first test 21-3 and then really reached the heights in the second as Carter produced a consummate all-round display to score 33 points in a 48-18 victory.

The clean sweep was duly completed but the All Black procession was jolted in their opening Tri Nations match when South Africa inflicted a 22-16 defeat in Cape Town, their only loss of the year.

Three more wins, however, secured the Tri Nations title.

The All Blacks arrived in Europe to mark the centenary of their first tour with Henry claiming a Grand Slam was secondary to developing a squad for the 2007 World Cup.

True to his word he used 30 different starters in opening wins over Wales and Ireland. Only against England, in a titanic Twickenham battle, did he feel the need to field his best team.

After all the excitement generated by their quicksilver backs, it was defensive obduracy that won the day against the world champions as, down to 14 men for the last 23 minutes, they held out for a 23-19 win.

Their second slam, 27 years after the first, was completed against Scotland but for the modern All Blacks fan the achievement will become a mere footnote if the team fail to follow up by winning the 2007 World Cup.

It was also a memorable year for Wales, whose fans regained their pride and whose team rediscovered their ability to play the sort of exciting rugby that was the hallmark of their glory days of the early 1970s.

Wales won the Six Nations for the first time since 1994 and the Grand Slam for the first time in 27 years but it was the effervescent, exciting nature of their play that gladdened the heart.

Their astonishing 24-18 victory over France in Paris featured one of the sport's great comebacks and the Grand Slam decider against an Ireland team who had also won their first three games produced an atmosphere that will live long in the hearts of the 72,000 at the Millennium Stadium.

England struggled as new coach Andy Robinson battled to overcome the loss of many of his World Cup stalwarts.

Defeats by Wales, Ireland and France left them an unaccustomed fourth in the Six Nations, though the green shoots of recovery were evident in November with victories over Australia and Samoa.

Australia signed off with a defeat in Cardiff that represented their eighth in nine games, led to the sacking of coach Eddie Jones and left a cloud over the future of captain George Gregan, who overhauled former England prop Jason Leonard to become the game's most capped player with 118 appearances.

New Zealand's Canterbury Crusaders won the last Super 12 title - it expands to Super 14 next year - beating the NSW Waratahs in Christchurch to take the honours for the fifth time.


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Other Unions: Simple life is wasted on Harlequins

For those unaware, Harlequins are by far the biggest club in London and were relegated from the Premier League last year. They are captained by Andre Vos and bought Andrew Mehrtens to bolster their challenge for promotion. Below is an article from ex-policeman and England lock, Paul Ackford.

By: Paul Ackford

Welcome to the world of hog roasts, real ale and potential banana skins. It was a bizarre experience watching Harlequins survive against Plymouth Albion yesterday by 23-16.

The rugby was far more watchable than the usual fare served up by the Premiership. There were no professional fouls, no time-wasting and relatively little injury time. In fact, I'd forgotten how good a spectacle matches at this level can be.

But bizarre? Get this. One Albion old boy, now running a bar in Thailand, sidled up to me before the start. "There's a rumour I'm dead," he said in all seriousness before wandering off again.

Ten minutes earlier a bloke who said he was a policeman in charge of informants in London had approached. "I've heard your name every day for 10 years," he moaned. "My wife named our two cats Ackford and Dooley. They're dead now."

That's the beauty of National League One rugby. It's not that the rugby isn't deadly serious because it undoubtedly is. It's just that the intimacy of the occasion allows for those kinds of experiences, like watching the elderly hen party parading as Mother Christmases behind the posts, or the sight of a gang of wheelchair users enjoying the match on a raised dais courtesy of money raised by the Wooden Spoon society.

On the pitch there was a lot going on too. The ref lost a contact lens early after awarding a series of penalties against Plymouth. "That says it all," said a wag as the official prodded his left eye with his finger.

"You should have gone to Specsavers."

Then there was the clash of cultures. Quins, bolstered by a £1.5 million parachute payment after being relegated from the Premiership last season, could probably buy Albion three times over. Andrew Mehrtens, their All Black outside-half, is paid as much each year as the Albion front five together.

Before the season Quins' backroom staff surveyed each League One venue to make sure their players were acquainted with the geography and feel of the place before they turned up. Photographs of the changing rooms were taken, videos distributed.

Yesterday they had a camera at Plymouth to feed back snippets of play for Dean Richards and his coaching staff to analyse.

So it would be fair to assume, with all that money and technology and expertise on hand, that Quins would be the more sophisticated side. Er, bin that assumption. Quins were outscored by Plymouth by two tries to one as the West Country team played all the rugby, most of it coming through Mehrtens' channel. "They don't need that analysis," someone said. "They just need to get Mehrtens to tackle."

And that was perhaps the most disappointing aspect from a neutral perspective. Quins, especially in the second period, had oodles of possession yet all they did was work it to Mehrtens who sought the corners to pin down Plymouth and wait for the inevitable penalty opportunity. Adventurous it was not, but Mehrtens finished with six penalties, Quins finished with another victory to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches and almost guarantee their return to the Premiership, and Albion finished with a record gate of 5,551 and a huge dollop of pride.

As for the state of rugby one rung below the top level. Yes, it was genuinely exciting. Yes, there were more line breaks, more adventure (mainly from Albion) than Bath and England, to name only two sides, have managed all season. But a lot of the teams in this league are populated by foreign players limiting the development of the next tier of England players.

Plymouth's back line consisted of a home-grown full-back, centres from South Africa and Tonga, a French wing, a Devonian outside-half and, for much of the second half, a scrum-half from Argentina. No complaints about the quality of their work - they gave Quins the run-around at times. But it's hardly fertile territory for England-qualified youngsters. At least Plymouth reversed that trend when it came to their forwards.

There were two images of the afternoon for me. One was of Dean Richards leaning nonchalantly, arms folded, on the post as his players ran complicated warm-up patterns. Typical Deano that.

This is a man whose idea of a warm-up in his England days was to roll down his socks, lift his shirt, pat his belly and time how long it took to stop the flesh wobbling. It was good to see him back on the English scene after a spell in Grenoble.

The other was when Graham Dawe, former England hooker and Albion coach, came off the bench to batter away at Quins for the final 10 minutes.

The staggering fact about Dawe is that, aged 46, he is still playing, still competitive and still being a proverbial pain in the arse to opposing front rows.

He couldn't pull it off yesterday and some say he should be seeking the comfort of his arm chair rather than locking horns with men half his age, but at least he is out there playing the sport rather than pontificating about it.

Still, I bet he's never had a cat named after him

Click here to read full article and comments.

Discussions: When violence tramples on the game's fine line

By Mick Cleary
(Filed: 16/12/2005)

Those of us who like their rugby spiced with a touch of brutality do so because we have a precise grid reference for the fine line. On one side exists raw-meat rugby, full of big hits and collisions as well as that diminishing species, the occasional punch-up. It's a basic, visceral experience. Where else can you let loose the beast within? But the line is there, always there. The other side of the divide is a dark place, an area of mayhem and lawlessness. Anything goes.

Rugby does not often descend to those depths. When it does, it is usually yanked back to the bright uplands pretty quickly, usually by the referee's whistle.

Last Saturday, playing for Esher in a veterans' match, John Inverdale had little awareness of anything except the blood that was coursing down his face. He had just taken a boot to the forehead, and a right mess it made.

Inverdale was shepherded to the touchline and swabbed by the sponge man, who was desperately trying to stem the flow. No action was taken at the time, the referee blowing for no side immediately. The game, against Staines Vets, finished 17-17.

Inverdale, 48, and in decent shape despite years of journalistic excess, was playing on the left wing. In what was to be the last play of the game Ray Dudman, the Esher fly-half, leathered the ball downfield. Inverdale set off in pursuit, as did the covering Staines wing. The ball landed end-up, near the try-line, and bounced back over the heads of the two players.

Inverdale swivelled, lost his footing and saw another Staines player get hold of the ball. Inverdale managed to get some sort of tackling grip on the defender's leg. Mistake, as it turned out. The other leg made contact with Inverdale's head, lacerating his brow.

And that, dear reader, is where the fine line exists. Boots and heads shouldn't meet. One man's deliberate stamp is another man's accident, you might say. Ask any rugby player. They know the difference.

The pages of The Daily Telegraph would not normally be taken up with disciplinary matters of an old lags' match. Inverdale, though, is one of ours, as well as being a high-profile BBC presenter. He has not attended any function, business or pleasure, for the past five days, even skipping Sunday's Sports Review of the Year (there might be a few others wishing they'd done the same). He did a stint alongside Denise Lewis for UKTV Sport to be aired this weekend. Inverdale is there in his full gory glory.

The real point of this piece is to highlight the dilemma now facing Inverdale, one which countless rugby players face. What do you do when you're feeling aggrieved?

Complain, and you come over as a wuss, a celebrity softie crying foul in a big man's world.

But what if the citing process fails to unearth sufficient evidence? Should Inverdale consider a civil action? Tricky terrain, that one. Those that argue that every act on a sports field should be subject to the same rule of law as the ordinary civilian takes no account of the fact that Joe Soap doesn't have 10 bells knocked out of him when walking down the street. A rugby player does. And quite legitimately.

It's for this reason, this intense physical Inverdale has put the matter in the hands of his club of which he has been a member for 19 years. He is also rugby manager at Esher. Citing procedures have been issued. That's not a course every club would take. Some might not have the funds to stump up the £200 the RFU request in order to avoid "frivolous or vexatious citings".

It's for this reason, this intense physical confrontation, that the odd punch does get thrown. That, to me, is acceptable.

A boot on the head is something else entirely. The fine line is wrongly labelled. The line is very clear, wouldn't you say?
Click here to read full article and comments.

Other Tournaments: Sale's forward charge proves too much for Castres

Sale 35 - 3 Castres

Andy Wilson at Edgeley Park
Saturday December 17, 2005
The Guardian

Sébastien Chabal celebrated the new three-year contract he signed with Sale last week with a try either side of half-time to extend their lead at the top of Pool One and take the English side to within touching distance of a first appearance in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

The back-row broke Castres' unconvincing resistance by plunging over from close range late in the first half, then added a spectacular second with a 70-metre gallop after intercepting Phil Christophers' pass to remove any doubt about the result.

Jason Robinson scored a third Sale try while the Castres hooker David Roumieu was still in the sin-bin for an infringement in the build-up to Chabal's first, and the substitute Robert Todd completed a near- perfect night for the Sharks by securing their bonus point with the last touch of the match. "Before the game I will sign for this," Sale's rugby director Philippe Saint-Andre said after a second win in a week against Castres. Even a worrying-looking injury to the England wing Mark Cueto turned out to be nothing more serious than a bang to his hip.
"I don't think it was our best performance, we can improve by 40%. But if we win, we score four tries and we still have a lot of work to do, that is good."

Sale are still not mathematically certain of a place in the last eight but, as their next European game is at home to Newport Gwent Dragons next month, they must now be favourites to guarantee a home quarter-final before travelling to Munster for their last pool match.

This was a far more comfortable night than last week's tight battle in Castres. The physical and mental superiority which Sale's forwards had worked so hard to establish there was never threatened by visitors who reinforced the stereotype about French teams' lack of stomach on the road. Castres made eight changes from the starting line-up beaten 20-16 in France last Friday - six in the pack - and soon went 3-0 behind to the first of three penalties from the excellent Charlie Hodgson.

But there was undeniably a contest to watch throughout the first half as the full-back Roman Teulet brought Castes briefly level and they did not concede a try until Roumieu's costly sin-binning. But Sale were always on top even if they only really clicked once in the first half, when their England wings past and present, Robinson and Cueto, combined slickly down the middle to set up the position for Hodgson's third penalty.

Shortly after that Cueto pulled up lame. It looked worryingly like a hamstring - bad timing with Sale facing three important Premiership matches in 14 days after Christmas - but Saint-André did not seem too worried later, reflecting that a win against Northampton on Boxing Day would complete "a great year".

Sale Sharks: Larrechea; Cueto (Mayor, 35), Taylor (Todd, 60), Seveali'I, Robinson; Hodgson, Martens (Coutts, 53); Sheridan, Bruno (Titterell, 64), Turner (Stewart, 64), Jones, Schofield (Fernandez-Lobbe, 53), White, Lund, Chabal.

Sub not used: Courrent.

Tries: Chabal 2, Robinson, Todd. Pens: Hodgson 3. Cons: Hodgson 3.

Castres: Teulet; Milford, Raffault, Christophers, Ropati; Delaigue, Albouy; Forestier (Hoeft, 20), Roumieu (Vigneaux, 47), Attoub (Castex, 47), Ghezal, Capo Ortega, Froment, Bernad, Taussac.

Subs: Nallet, Puricelli, Fior, Montoro.

Sin bin: Roumieu (40).

Pen: Teulet.

Referee: M Changleng (Scotland).
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Rugby Personalities: Healey enjoys a change of role

By David Hands

The Leicester Lip is ready for life after rugby in the real world

FOR so long, Austin Healey has tried to be the central figure, the main man, the cheeky chappie — for Leicester, for England, for the Lions. Now he is content to be the impact player, the accessory rather than the fashion statement and, believe it or not, the role suits him.

Against the Ospreys last Sunday in the Heineken Cup, Healey appeared after 51 minutes as a replacement on the wing. There was a strength to his game that has not always been there and that was best illustrated not by his try, wrapped up with his forwards, but in a clash with Gavin Henson.

That it should have been Henson was a nice coincidence because he and Healey share certain characteristics, but the Wales centre tried to deal with Healey as he did with Mathew Tait during the Wales v England game last season, by lifting him off his feet in the tackle. Healey, though, kept his legs pumping and drove on through Henson as his supporting colleagues came in and kept the momentum of the attack going.

It was the sign of a player living the moment, retaining the enthusiasm of one younger than his 32 years to place alongside the experience of 51 international caps and 230 appearances for his club. A player, indeed, far more relaxed and settled than he was at the start of the season.

Next year, Healey will start training for life after rugby. “Four months ago I was quite concerned about what I was going to do,” he said. “Would I take the easy way and go into coaching or find employment elsewhere?” His answer was to consult Careers After Sport, the organisation established last year by Jon Sleightholme, the former England wing, and two partners from the world of recruitment, Alan Dickenson and Russell Yeomans, which helps elite sports people — not only from rugby — to make the transition to what Healey calls the “real world”.

The company has identified that top-class sports people represent a vaulable commodity to the business world because they have the drive and motivation to succeed. Healey’s quick wit has landed him in trouble on many occasions over the past ten years, but the intelligence and perception that he has brought to the game may also have a wider application, even if at this stage he chooses to keep his new career under wraps.

His full-time playing career will close at the season’s end and he will then play as a part-timer while he develops his alternative job. “It’s taken a huge weight off my shoulders,” Healey said. “For any international sportsman who has not been involved in a business outside sport for ten years, it’s a huge step and a worrying one.”

For the past two years, Healey has been conscious that his body could not take the strain, in particular the back injury that so affected him in 2003 and that probably cost him a place in England’s World Cup squad.

There has been the knee and the groin, too, but the back is littered with disc trouble and has caused sciatic problems in his right leg; the explosive speed is no longer there, but that has been replaced by the experience that allows him to cut the odd corner.

As it is, Healey cannot bend to talk to his two daughters, Ellie-May and Daisy — he has to kneel — and if there is one element in his life that has changed Healey from “rent-a-quote to a relatively sensible person”, it is his role as a father.

“A major point in my international career was the arrival of our first girl,” he said. “I lost a bit of drive to do stuff, I’d go for the option of taking her for an ice cream.” The birth of Daisy coincided with Healey’s omission from the World Cup squad, as though life was emphasising that there are priorities other than sporting glory.

The Leicester Lip has not been entirely buttoned, it should be said. A legion of players, colleagues and rivals still regard Healey as Mr Gobby, but the serious sportsman who has always lurked within may be due a run. In his autobiography, Healey wrote: “Inside me there is a normal person, prone to the same failings as everyone else. It’s just that I don’t want to be normal. So I don’t let him out.” Maybe normality is the next great step to be taken.


Asked what his greatest strength was before his first full appearance for England in 1997, Healey said: "My ability."

Was forced to stand silent in a corner, bound with black tape and an apple stuffed in his mouth by his team-mates on 1997 Lions tour.

On professional sport: "There's no room for self-doubt. So I go out of my way to talk myself up, to bury any feelings of vulnerability. I'm at my best when it's make or break."

Healey and Matt Dawson turned up for England training with the Royal Marines in beach shirts and shorts, having bet each other £50 how long it would take Clive Woodward to protest.

Called Graham Henry, coach of the 2001 Lions, Ming the Merciless.
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Other Tournaments: English rise to top as French eye the future

By Matthew Pryor

IF THE best French teams have flexed their muscles in the Heineken Cup, the European Challenge Cup continues to be the preserve of the English. All five pools are led by English teams. It shows the strength, or at least level playing field, of the Guinness Premiership relative to the French championship, where the top four or five teams are so much stronger than the rest.

The French clubs in the Challenge Cup are experimenting, whereas most of the English teams see it as the best way to qualify for the Heineken Cup next season. Thus Brive did not seem too disappointed to lose 25-22 away to Borders last weekend because they fielded a young team.

“We were looking at the European Challenge Cup as an opportunity to give our younger players the chance to get some high-quality rugby, but things are starting to look good for us in terms of qualification,” Jérôme Bonvoison, the Brive captain, said.

Things are looking better for the English, but this weekend Northampton, Worcester and London Irish, who all won close-fought home games last weekend, face tricky away games against the same opponents. Northampton had to go to Narbonne last night, where Bristol lost 20-13 in the first round of matches in October, and today Worcester are away to Connacht and London Irish away to Agen.

Newcastle Falcons should stroll past L’Aquila at Kingston Park tomorrow and although they still have to travel to Brive, leadership of pool four is almost secure. Gloucester look favourites to be the top seeds, having beaten Bayonne 26-10 in the first round of games and Toulon, the bottom team in the French championship, 74-3 in Toulon last Saturday.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Discussions: Poms rapt with gift for whingeing

Submitted by: Boertjie
December 16, 2005
LONDON: The English like nothing more than a whinge - everybody knows that. An unfair generalisation? Well, they're doing their best to live up to it.

One of the more popular English stocking-fillers this Yuletide is a charming little book called Is It Just Me, Or Is Everything Shit?. It's a publishing phenomenon - sales are soaring and copies are flying off the shelves.

According to the book, by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur, everything is grounds for a good old moan - from TV shows to royalty, pop stars, shopping centres and Che Guevara.

The authors get no prizes for originality, however, as they're just the latest to capitalise on the malaise of pointless irritability that grips middle Britain.

The Gripes of Wrath - This Book is Guaranteed to Make Your Blood Boil is achieving success among British whiners. Or you can pick up Talk to the Hand - The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door).

The Pedant's Revolt: Why Most Things You Think Are Right Are Wrong has also attracted plenty of buyers.

For those who like to be forewarned and miserable, there's Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK, or The Idler's Book of Crap Holidays: 50 Tales of Holiday Hell.

And let's not forget How To Support A Crap Football Team. And it's not just books. These titles all tap into the same vein of discontent that prompted the TV series Grumpy Old Men, shown in both
Britain and Australia, where middle-aged men vent their spleens on all and sundry.

There's also the companion series, Grumpy Old Women. And now into its third series is the hit TV sketch comedy Little Britain, a slide-show of grotesque characters that is as mean-spirited as it is
undeniably funny.

So what's going on?

If you were stuck beside such whingeing malcontents on the bus, you'd change seats. If you came across one down at the pub, you'd lock yourself in the loo.

So why are the English parting with their hard-earned cash to wallow in this pointless nihilism? Sure, misery loves company and all of that - but maybe these people should jump on a plane and visit a
less-fortunate country, where there is genuine cause for complaint. Then they could tell mothers scouring rubbish tips to scratch a living for their children just how crap their flight was.
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Other Sport - Cricket: Even Stevens at the end of Day 2

Day 2 ended much like day 1, the only difference being, the shoe was on the other foot.

South Africa was unable to take advantage of the commanding position their bowlers, especially Ntini, put them in yesterday.

South Africa could only manage to score 296, a lead of 38, before they were all bowled out by an aggresive Australian attack lead by Lee and Warne. But it could have been far worse was it not for a crucial 71 run partnership between Pollock and Boucher.

South Africa was well in control at the start of the day, but some gutsy and aggresive bowling by the Aussies, had them in heaps of trouble after lunch.

Just before tea they lost the crucial wicket of Prince, bringning in the last 2 recognized batsmen in the South African team to the crease, Boucher and Pollock. At that stage South Africa was well behind the Australian first innings total of 258, and was in serious danger of being dismissed well below the first innings target.

However, Boucher and Pollock, through a bit of luck at times it must be said, came out after tea and took the Australians on with some aggresive batting. Bracken and Warne was especially targeted, so much so that Ponting had to bring his main bowler Lee back into the attack at the expense of Bracken.

This is where Australia also made the crucial breakthrough by claiming the wicket of Pollock, who was beaten by pure pace, playing onto his stumps off the bowling of Lee ending what could have been a disasterous partnership for the home side. After the dismissal of Pollock, Boucher tried to keep the pace going, knowing that the chances of the tail enders sticking around against an attack like this, was unlikely.

This proved to be his undoing as-well, edging a delivery off Warne to hayden in the slips, when he tried to force the pace. Nevertheless, his innings was crucial in the context of the game.

South Africa ended the day probably the happier of the two sides, after they manage to claim the wicket of Hayden in the last over of the day. But it will be difficult to say who is in the driving seat at the moment, seeing that some poor bowling by Ntini in the final session, helped Australia wipe out the deficite by the end of play on the day.

Australia closed the days play on 38/1, and tomorrow the sides will start on equal footing again barr the one wicket Australia has lost.

South Africa though, will seriously need to look at their discipline. Already there was a catch dropped in Australia's second innings which could have seen Langer make his way back to the pavilion on 0. And this is not the first catch the South African fielders have dropped in this test either.

The bowlers also had better get their lines and lengths right very early on tomorrow as we saw what the Australians are capable of if they are if presented with the rubbish the South African bowlers dished up in their second innings.

The honours in the South African team belongs to the bottom order though. Not only did they put South Africa in a strong position yesterday, but through Pollock and Boucher they made sure that South Africa are still in this with a chance.

At this stage my money is on Australie though because of one factor, Warne. If South Africa fail to restrict Australia to a low target in the next day or two, Warne could prove the deciding factor on a pitch which will help him on days 4 and 5.

South Africa will need to bring their "A" game to the park tomorrow. Because tomorrow could well decide the outcome of the test match.

Match Updates - Day 2:

What seems to become almost as predictable as a NZ rugby victory, South Africa yet again managed to throw away a commanding position in the first test against Australia, because of yet another poor batting performance.

After a great opening day for South Africa in the field, Australia came back strongly on day two of the first test limiting the South African batsmen to 173/5 after 53.4 overs in the afternoon session. Having started the day in control, South Africa lost the plot with bat in hand to swing the test match in Australia’s favour again.

Apart from a De Villier’s fifty, there was nothing to write home about for the South African batsman. The first to depart was captain Smith adding only 16 runs to his overnight score. Gibbs looked to get going, only to loose his wicket yet again in the early twenties.

Jacques Rudolph disappointed with the bat only scoring 8 runs from 28 balls. Prince and Kemp looked to steady the ship a bit, but only for a short while. Kemp was deceived by a slower ball by McGrath, and going through with the drive only ended up finding the safe hands of Hodge.

Prince and Boucher are looking to build a partnership currently, with Prince showing great patience and technique. Let’s just hope these two can stay together for a while.

Follow the match live on

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

At tea, South Africa is in a spot of bother on 189/6 having lost the wicket of Ashwil Prince shortly before tea, trapped in front by Shane Warne.

The last recognised batsmen, Boucher and Pollock, are currently at the crease and will resume duty after tea.

Batsmen to come: Langevedlt, Nel and Ntini

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

Pollock and Boucher to the rescue! The two South African veterans have decided to take Australia on in their own game, and so far, they are very successful. Pollock and Boucher resumed the evening session and came out guns blazing, smashing Warne and Bracken all over the park.

SA 218/6 after 66 overs.

Run Rate: 3.3

Overs remaining in the day: 31

South Africa trail Australia's first innings total by 40 runs with 4 wickets in hand.

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

They say that fortune favours the brave, and I guess it's none more so than for these two South African batsmen. Obviously South Africa has decided to throw caution to the wind and take the Aussies on - and so far it is working.

Anything that is slightly short or a bit wide, is dispatched with in no uncertain terms. The South Africans are literally throwing the kitchen sink at anything slightly wayward.

Pollock, at almost a run a ball (30 off 32), is leading the charge, with Boucher (41 off 55), not far behind. They have hit Bracken out of the attack and Ponting was forced to bring Lee back into the attack to stem the tide.

South Africa at 256/6 after 72.2 (RR 3.54) are now only 2 runs behind the Australian first innings total with four wickets in the bank.

Warne in particular is being targeted by these two, and apart from one or two lucky escapes where the ball was edged just wide of slip, or pulled just over the mid-wicket fielders head, the South African batsman are currently doing a brilliant job at disrupting the master spinners rythm.

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

Pollock is out! After leading a great fightback with South Africa deep in trouble, Pollock unfortunately looses his wicket defending a delivery from Lee, only managing the find the inside edge of his bat and rattling into the stumps.

South Africa has now taken a lead of 6 runs with 3 wickets remaining.

SA 264/7 after 73.4 (RR 3.58)

Next man in Andre Nel

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

50 up for Boucher!

The loss of Pollock did not seem to affect Boucher as he crashes the ball into the mid-wicket fence of the bowling of Lee to bring up his 50 in style! Well played Boucher, excellent knock.

SA 269/7 (Lead 11 runs)

Boucher 51 off 62 Balls

Nel 1 off 8

Last man out: Pollock 34 off 35 balls

Still to bat: Langeveldt and Ntini

Overs remaining: 22

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

Boucher is out. After staging a brilliant fight back with Pollock, Boucher is out edging a ball of Warne's bowling brilliantly caught by and outstretched Hayden in the slips. Boucher obviously looking to take the game to the Australians with no more recognised batsmen to come, was undone by a bit of extra spin when he looked to smash Warne over the long off fence.

There is no question though, that his innings, and that of Pollocks, was extremely important for South Africa after they found themselves in a spot of bother just before tea, and might have just swung the momentum in the favour of the South Africans.

Langeveldt, the man that replaced Boucher, lasted one ball, being trapped in front for a golden duck off the bowling of Lee.

Nel and Ntini, will no doubt look to frustrate the Australians for as long as possible.

Boucher 62 off 77 balls.

SA 291/9

Lead: 33 runs

Overs remaining: 16

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

All out! After a final flurry from Ntini, scoring 12 off 10 balls, the South Africans first innings comes to and end having scored 296 after 81.2 overs, giving them a lead of 38 runs.

The last wicket to fall was that of Ntini's who fell for a short pitched ball from Lee, only managing to balloon it up in the air where it was comfortably taken by Hodge.

South Africa, being in some trouble before tea, can thank their two veterans Boucher and Pollock for staging a brave and effective comeback. The 71 run partnership enabled South Africa not only to pass Australia's score, but also put up a handy 38 run lead, giving them a slight edge.

With 13 overs still remaining in the day, Australia has a difficult little period to negotiate before the end of play on day 2. Hopefully, South Africa will come out in full attack mode, to end what has been yet another fascinating day of cricket.

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

Aided by some poor bowling the Australians are quickly closing in on the first innings lead by South Africa.

Ntini, persisting with wayward short pitched deliveries in his first over gifted Hayden 12 runs in the form of three brilliantly executed pull shots.

Australia was also gifted a life after Gibbs failed to hold on to an edge off the bowling of Pollock that could have sent Langer packing for a duck.

The South Africans had better look at their disciplines if they are to be competitive throughout this test.

23/0 after 5.4 overs (RR 4.06)

Langer 6 off 19

Hayden 16 off 16

More to follow.

** UPDATE **

Breakthroug at last!! Hayden is caught by Boucher in the fine leg region off the bowling of Langeveldt after he skied a short pitched delivery from Langeveldt for 20.

This was a much needed breakthrough in the 3rd last over of the day as Australia, through some poor bowling from Ntini, quickly erased the first innings defecit of 38 runs.

Lee was sent in as a nightwatchman and negotiated the final deliveries of the last over successfully.
Umpire calls stumps.
Match Summary end of day 2:
Australia 258 & 38/1
South Africa 296
Lead 0


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Friday, December 16, 2005


SA Unions: City of origin

Whilst browsing Oranje Orakel's marvelous site I noticed that he has provided a link to the Cheetahs brand spanking new website.

So, being a dutiful son of South African rugby I couldn't resist going for a peek.

It's a nice site and going through the players profiles it struck me how much players move around, at least judging from where they were born.

Wouldn't it be great to have an annual State-Of-Origin type tournament where all the players have to represent the city/town of their birth. Places like Bethlehem might surprise!

Alwyn Hollenbach - Johannesburg
Barend Pieterse - Virginia
Barry Goodes - Welkom
Bevin Fortuin - George
Bian Vermaak - Heidelberg
Chris Kruger - Queenstown
Christiaan Van Rooyen - Heidelberg, Gauteng
CJ Van der Linde - Welkom
Corniel Van Zyl - Nelspruit
Darron Nell - Uitenhage
Eddie Fredericks - Stellenbosch
Gaffie Du Toit - Cape Town
Gareth Krause - East London
Gavin Passens - Cape Town
Giscard Pieterse - Middelburg
Heinrich Stride - Port Elizabeth
Henro Scholtz - Bethlehem
Jannie Du Plessies - Bethlehem
Juan Smith - Bloemfontein
Keith Lowen - Huntly (New Zealand)
Lukas (Kabamba) Floors - Oudtshoorn
Meyer Bosman - Bethlehem
Michael Claassens - Kroonstad
Nicky Van Der Walt - Baberton
Noel Oelschig - Bloemfontein
Ockert van Zyl - Bloemfontein
Ollie Le Roux - Fort Beaufort
Os Du Randt - Elliot
Ronnie Cooke - Pretoria
Rory Duncan - Durban
Ryno Van der Merwe - Belville
Sinethemba Zweni - Port Elizabeth
Tertius Carse - Brackenfell, (Cape Town)
Tiaan Liebenberg - Kimberley
Trevor Leota - Auckland (New Zealand)
Vuyani Dlomo - Patensie
Wian Du Preez - Bloemfontein
Willem De Waal - Paarl
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Humour: Weeweechu

One beautiful December evening Huan Cho and his girlfriend Jung Lee were sitting by the side of the ocean. It was a romantic full moon, when Huan Cho said "Hey baby, how about playing Weeweechu."

"Oh no, not now, lets look at the moon" said Jung Lee.

"Oh, c'mon baby, let's you and I play Weeweechu. I love you and its the perfect time," Huan Cho begged.

"But I rather just hold your hand and watch the moon."

"Please Jung Lee, just once play Weeweechu with me."

Jung Lee looked at Huan Chi and said, "OK, we'll play Weeweechu."....

(Scroll down)

Huan Cho grabbed his guitar and both sang....
"Weeweechu a melly Chlistmas,
Weeweechu a melly Chlistmas,
Weeweechu a melly Chlistmas,
and a happy New Year."
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Rugby Personalities: Rassie Erasmus Q&A

Original Source: Rugby News/Rugby Nuus
By: Chris Schoeman

Cheetahs coach Rassie Erasmus managed to achieve in one season what most provincial coaches can only dream of their whole career ... to win the Currie Cup. Chris Schoeman, editor of Rugby News/Rugby Nuus magazines spoke to him about his career as player and coach. He gives his views on 2005 and what to expect in 2006.

Rugby365 publish the interview with kind permission of the magazines. You can visit their websites at and for more info. (The magazines are also available at major new agencies [CNA, PNA, etc.] and supermarkets.)

Question: You're from the Eastern Cape; tell us about your life before you came to Bloemfontein.
Answer: Yes, those were the good days. I grew up in Despatch when the town was a force to be reckoned with in club rugby. I was only a lightie when I became ball boy at the town's rugby field. I regularly went to watch when the big guys were practicing. It is ironic that Pote Human, who is the present Blue Bulls forwards coach, lived next to us! Top players like Danie Gerber, Willie Meyer, Adri Geldenhuys and Frans Erasmus all played for the town club. In my high school days I often worked as barman at the rugby club where I could be in closer contact with my heroes. I myself didn't play too badly and in matric in 1990 I played for the EP Craven Week team. Os (du Randt) played for NEC and the SA Schools the same year. After that I came to Bloem for my military training and played for Free State U20s. I enjoyed Bloem so much that I decided to stay there and here I still am today!

Q: Tell us about your Free State days.
A: I played my first match for Free State in 1994 and in the end played more than 120 matches for them. I also played for Lions for two years, but I was very happy to come back to the Free State. My first highlight with them was the Currie Cup Final in 1997, but we lost by two points. Then of course there was last year's final which we also lost, but fortunately this year I was on the winning side, although this time as coach and not as a player.

Q: In 2000 you were the Super 12 Player of the Series and in 2001 the South African Player of the Series. What other highlights were there as player?
A: My first test against the British and Irish Lions at Ellis Park [1997]; thereafter our Tri-Nations title in 1998 and the 17 subsequent test victories with Nick Mallett as coach. Then of course the World Cup quarter-final against England in Paris in 1999 when we destroyed them.

Q: Which coaches stood out for you?
A: If it is just about how the game should be played, Nick Mallett was the man. André Markgraaff taught me a lot about discipline and passion and commitment.Then Oom Peet [Kleynhans], I've learnt a lot from him about one's approach to the game. He has made a huge contribution to the game in the Free State.

Q: Did you ever think during your playing days that you would one day be a provincial coach?
A: I always wanted to remain part of the game after hanging up my boots, but never thought it would happen so soon. It was only after meeting Oom Peet that I had the hope to become coach. It was a special experience to see how he thinks about the game and how he does things.

Q: What were your aims at the beginning of 2005?
A: We had been in the final the previous year and we felt at least we should go through to the final again. We've been there and we could do it again, maybe this time it would depend on the bounce of the ball, and that is exactly what happened. The final could have gone either way.

Q: How did you approach the semi-final against WP and the final against the Blue Bulls?
A: Before every match you analyse your opponents, look at their weak points and concentrate on your strong points. The WP is not really so weak up front as people think and we had to play hard to beat them. To be honest, we didn't play very well in the semi-final, but we did enough to win the match. The main thing we told ourselves was to keep the ball away from the WP backline. You will be stupid not to do it. As far as the final is concerned, you know, people don't give the Blue Bulls enough credit for their achievements. You often hear they are predictable and if you keep them at bay up front, they are very ordinary. But why can't anybody do it? Heyneke Meyer is a very shrewd coach and even in the final he came up with one or two things that were new to us. The final could have gone either way. But I have to say that it had been the first time in four years that we had been able to match the Blue Bulls for the whole 80 minutes. So we stayed in the game and in the end the ball bounced right for us.

Q: What was the atmosphere like in the dressing room before the final at Loftus?
A: I think the fact that we had been in the final the previous year and had to sit in the same dressing room at the same stadium as in 2004, made most guys somewhat calmer. But the fact remains that you still have to go onto the field and cope with everything. So there is still the quiet tension before the game. You have your experienced guys like Os, Naka and Ollie who can probably handle this better than the younger players. But the young guys like Meyer Bosman and Alwyn Hollenbach who were playing in their first final were very nervous.

Q: What can we expect from the Cheetahs in next year's Super 14?
A: Look, we managed to win the Currie Cup and the Free State players have a lot of confidence and that is good. But at the same time everybody realise that the Super 14 is a totally new competition, something different from the Currie Cup we had been used to. It has new demands, new challenges and requires new adjustments. One can't just say for instance we want to win seven matches. What will happen for instance if after seven matches you have won five and six remain? You can't say we've won five, now we only need to win two more. You have to look at every match as it comes and plan from match to match. We have already done bleep tests and power training, etc. with a big group of approximately 50 from the Free State, Griquas and Griffons and in January we will select the final group of 28. As I have said before, the Super 14 is a new challenge but we look forward to it.

Q: Some people say you shouldn't be 'pals' with the players. How do you see it?
A: I have learnt from coaches like Nick Mallett, Oom Peet and even André Markgraaff that you have to be able to relax with the players at the right time but in such a way that they won't lose their respect for you. You have to remember, I have just turned 33, how can I now all of a sudden pretend to be 40? Last year I was still playing with many of my players, winning, losing and crying together, how can I now put myself on a pedestal? I believe you have to remain the same person. When it comes to practice and game analysis and this type of thing, then you're the boss. Away from the field you have to enjoy yourself with the guys, but when it comes to rugby, it is all black and white.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learnt from rugby, on and off the field?
A: You know, one experiences that there are a lot of people out there who want to see that you are not successful. It is a trait of our people, they want to deny you winning and being the Currie Cup Champions. But then there are lots of people who will always support you. One should never allow the negativity of others to undermine your confidence. There will always be those who support you and they are they ones you should be able to trust.

Q: Who, in your opinion, has been the greatest player in your time and also before your time?
A: Some people won't agree with me, but when I played there was no player like of Jonah Lomu. It was often said that he couldn't turn around quick enough for chips and that sort of thing, but look at the tries he scored and the matches he had won almost all by himself. Many had lots of negative things to say about him, but I tell you, the guys were scared of him. Before my days there had been only one, Danie Gerber. We grew up in the same town and I often saw him playing for the town's team, for EP and the Springboks and he was just a phenomenal player. What impressed me just as much as his play, was his commitment. He had all the talent in the world and things came very naturally for him, but he never rested on his laurels. I often saw him jogging early in the morning and practicing on his own and I always realised he never thought he was too good for that. He was a great example to everybody.

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Rugby Administration: Rugby boss back in the dock

By: Liam Del Carme
Original Source: Beeld

There could be enough evidence to investigate allegations further that SA Rugby Union president Brian van Rooyen, as well as members of Saru's presidents' council, contravened the organisation's code of conduct.

SA Rugby has denied that a prima facie case exists for further investigation following advocate Jannie Lubbe's investigation.

Saru CEO, Johan Prinsloo, has tried to deny the allegations, but Beeld's information is that the SABC has a copy of Lubbe's report in its possession.

Prinsloo said: "Advocate Lubbe was asked to compile a report which forms part of a broader investigation. The chairperson of our disciplinary committee, Judge Lex Mpati, and the other members of this committee must however decide whether action will be taken against anyone.

"I don't think a decision has yet been taken if grounds exist for a prima facie case. The people who reported that have more information than us."

Lubbe's investigation came about after Van Rooyen was found guilty of corporate mismanagement after an internal investigation earlier this year. He, among others, took decisions without the necessary authorisation.

SA Rugby, spurred on by the department of sport and recreation, decided to launch a comprehensive investigation.

Much broader investigation

Lubbe was asked as part of the investigation to ascertain whether or not a prima facie case could be made.

Prinsloo said it has yet to be decided if the case could be taken further.

"I don't know why everyone is concerned about the story all of a sudden. Lubbe's investigation forms part of a much broader investigation ordered on October 14. Legal procedure must take its course. The case is yet to be completed."

Prinsloo said he did not know when the investigation would be completed: "The matter is in the hands of the legal representatives. They have to take a decision and we can't tell them what to do."

Even if Judge Mpati should decide to take disciplinary action against Van Rooyen, the beleaguered president will be involved in a bigger struggle for re-election when SA Rugby's annual meeting takes place in February next year. Expectations are that he will be opposed as president.

Van Rooyen is overseas at present.
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Other Sport: Makhaya the Magnificant

The Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
December 16, 2005
South Africa 0 for 38 trail Australia 258 (Ponting 71, Ntini 5-64) by 220 runs

Makhaya Ntini bowled South Africa to a position of strength by taking 5 for 64 as Australia were dismissed for 258 on the first day at Perth. Ricky Ponting made an aggresive 71. At stumps, Graeme Smith (18 not out) and AB de Villiers (14 not out) had whittled the lead down to 220 runs.

A fiery six-over spell from Makhaya Ntini, when he rocked Australia's middle order with darting pace and whizzing bounce, turned the first Test around, putting South Africa on top on the first day at Perth. In a span of 13 deliveries, he prised out Michael Hussey, Brad Hodge and Adam Gilchrist and wrenched away Australia's advantage, set up by a glorious counterattacking half-century from Ricky Ponting. Brett Lee and Shane Warne produced plucky efforts to push the total, but Andre Nel mopped up the tail as Australia were bowled out for 258.

A feisty half-century from Ricky Ponting led Australia's rapid start in the first Test at Perth as they overcame a few setbacks to reach 3 for 175 at tea. South Africa, choking the runs in the second session, inched their way back into contention but a fine partnership between Michael Hussey and Brad Hodge thwarted any hopes of a quick fightback.

However, a Jacques Kallis-less South Africa got off to an almost-ideal start in their first Test at the WACA. Makhaya Ntini struck off his second ball, digging in a short one and Hayden was undone by the bounce as he attempted the pull shot only to see it balloon over gully, where Jacques Rudolph took a juggling catch running back. Ponting's first ball had a sense of déjà vu as Ntini's superb bouncer rattled him on the side of his helmet. He committed himself on the front foot and had nowhere to run, invoking memories of Steve Harmison's snorter to him on the opening morning of this year's Lord's Test.

But a change of guard was enough to get back his terrific judgement as a bustling counterattack began to unfurl. In Ntini's next over he rattled 13 - a glorious pull to midwicket, another pull backward of square, and a drilled boundary in front of square when Ntini pitched it up. Once he had cut through the tension like a hot knife through butter, nothing could stop him. Four more controlled fours flowed from Ponting's bat in the first hour as Langer also began finding his feet. Things got worse for South Africa after the drinks break as the duo clattered a flurry of boundaries - Langer creamed three fours off Ntini and Ponting thundered two more off Charl Langeveldt.

Pollock and Nel provided South Africa with a much-needed pressure valve after lunch and a disciplined spell pulled things slightly back. Bustling in with his characteristic zest, and generating pace close to the 135kph mark, Nel maintained a full length while bowling against an attacking Ponting. He was driven on a couple of occasions, gloriously in fact, but didn't dig it in short, unlike the erratic Langeveldt, and stopped the leak of runs from one end. Pollock's rigorous methods added to the batsmen's frustration and Ponting was trapped in front while trying to turn one to the on side. Ntini had earlier ended Langer's gritty knock - top-edging a pull just like Hayden had done - and South Africa had a small opening.

However, a composed stand between Hussey and Hodge ensured that Australia regained the initiative. Hodge was lucky to be dropped on 3, when Mark Boucher got his gloves to a hard flash, but he cashed in with some fine stroke on the off side. Hussey, it appears, can do little wrong at the moment and a couple of awesome pulls served as appetisers, promising much more after the tea break.

How they were out

Matthew Hayden c Rudolph b Ntini 0 (1 for 0)
Mis-timed a pull; juggling catch running back from gully

Justin Langer c Smith b Ntini 37 (2 for 111)
Top-edged a pull; mid-off takes the skier

Ricky Ponting lbw b Pollock 71 (3 for 117)
Trapped in front while trying to turn one to leg

Michael Hussey c Langeveldt b Ntini 23 (4 for 180)
Top-edged a pull; sensational one-handed catch running in from mid-on

Brad Hodge c Boucher b Ntini 41 (5 for 185)
Nicked a drive on the front foot

Adam Gilchrist c Gibbs b Ntini 6 (6 for 199)
Top-edged a cut to second slip

Shane Warne lbw b Langeveldt 24 (8 for 243)
Shuffled across the stumps and missed a straight one

Nathan Bracken c Boucher b Nel 10 (9 for 258)
Feathered an edge while trying to cut

Glenn McGrath c Boucher b Nel 0 (258 all out)
Caught in the crease, nicked to the keeper

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo
© Cricinfo

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Discussions: The Challenge

Okay, you are a frustrated South African rugby fan. Join the club, take a ticket and stand in line because it's going to be a long process, boet!

Well, here's a deal, we at Rugga World can't promise anything but we do absolutely guarantee that we'll do our utmost to get your grievances in front of the powers-that-be. Read on.

Use this thread and post your single most urgent item - please note, we will ignore ALL posts that do not contain a single important item.

We do understand that a lot of you have many issues to address, we do understand that we are getting to the festive season and we may not get the response you all would hope for.

However, it doesn't matter, we'll toll the responses and when we corner an official, AND WE WILL, we'll get him/her to address your questions and reply in a suitable thread.

So, go for it, ask away, silly questions will be totally disregarded, serious questions will be kept for an opportune moment and as soon as we get relevant replies we will get back to you.

Remember, this site is RugRat driven, whatever you guys tell us you want and need will be, and becomes our priority, within our limited budget.

We don't ask for a contribution, we are independent, we want to retain our integrity and report the way you have indicated - independent & unbiased.

We'll do that. If you can think of any way to donate or contribute then drop us a line. We'll find a way of acknowledging contributors.

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Rugby Administration: The King to judge the king.....


It would seem that in South African rugby, at least, nothing ever really goes away. In a surprising development, we learn at Rugga World that Judge King will be called upon to study allegations that the Lion King has possibly exceeded his mandate as chief primate of the rugby jungle. Rugga World will report all breaking news on this story as fast as it is released but, more importantly, far more importantly, joins with all South African rugby fans in wishing these times over and welcoming in any administration that puts rugby first, rugby fans first and Springbok rugby first! Your thoughts are welcome. Whilst you are about it, in your comments, give us an indication of whether the Lion King's head rolls or is preserved in aspic!

Reading further, one would have grounds to wonder if Mr Prinsloo is completely out of touch in contemporary South African life. Judge for yourselves.

Judge Edward King will study a report that Brian van Rooyen used his position and privileges for personal gain and did not carry out the functions of his office in good faith and honesty.

Johannesburg - The former Judge President of the Cape, Edwin King, who was in charge of the investigation into Hansie Cronje's match fixing in cricket, will study allegations that South Africa's rugby boss Brian van Rooyen has breached SA Rugby's code of conduct.

A provisional investigation by advocate Jannie Lubbe found that there is a prima facie case to be made against Van Rooyen and other members of SA Rugby's presidents' council.

Lubbe acknowledged on Thursday that he gave the report to SA Rugby earlier this month.

Asked who would take the matter further, Lubbe said: "I know SA Rugby has approached Judge King."

Lubbe was asked to evaluate the contents of the Heunis/Brandt report that was completed earlier this year, as well as additional evidence received from, among others, the department of sport and recreation.

Lubbe said that he received the report compiled by advocate Jan Heunis, SC, and AF Brand, an attorney, on August 16.

Die Burger has a copy of the report.

He said in his report that disciplinary action should be taken against Van Rooyen because he allegedly "used his position and privileges for personal gain."

According to Lubbe, he only investigated complaints handed in after August 16.

Not in good faith

He said there were prima facie evidence that Van Rooyen had breached some code of conduct rules by "not executing the functions of his office in good faith and honesty."

Van Rooyen apparently "did not act in the best interest of Saru and thereby brought the credibility and integrity of the union into disrepute and also acted in a manner not worthy of his position."

The report also said that Van Rooyen had acted in such a manner that it impacted unfavourably on Saru, SA Rugby (Pty.) Ltd. and a commercial partner.

These contraventions referred to "his initiative and active lobbying for an office for the president in Johannesburg" and an attempt to "obtain a Rover vehicle for his personal gain."

Van Rooyen also apparently "signed several agreements without the necessary authorisation" and also gave instructions to "Saru's CEO to sign agreements without authorisation."

The report also said "Andre Bester, Rayaan Adriaanse, Cliffie Booysen and Vusi Kama" were appointed Saru employees or service providers without following the correct procedures.

"Bonuses were promised to the Springbok team and management without any authorisation or provision being made in the budget."

According to the report Van Rooyen also promised a Tri-Nations Test to the Leopards.

Van Rooyen also allegedly made false statements about the action of former Saru deputy president Andre Markgraaff and another person to Springbok coach Jake White, while confidential information about the players' remuneration was leaked."

Not in their hands

SA Rugby's CEO, Johan Prinsloo, told Beeld earlier this week that the Lubbe report did not state that grounds existed for a prima facie case against Van Rooyen.

Prinsloo explained: "The case has progressed much further than what we had thought. I only heard about this on Wednesday. The matter is not in our hands anymore. It was in the hands of Judge Lex Mpati (chairperson of SA Rugby's disciplinary committee.)

Lubbe indicated earlier that he had given copies of the report to both Prinsloo and Mpati.

When Prinsloo was asked if King is the person who would take over the investigation, he said: "Yes, the name sounds right."

King became known when he handled the investigation into Hansie Cronje's match fixing.

His name is recognised outside the country's borders, but Prinsloo was unsure about the former judge's identity.

Even though the national broadcaster is in possession of the report, and has already reported on it, Prinsloo said the report was just meant for certain people's perusal: "We can't make the report public property. How will someone like Brian van Rooyen feel if he has to read about it in the newspapers without having seen it himself?

"His legal representatives also haven't seen the report," Prinsloo said.

It is unclear what disciplinary action could be taken against Van Rooyen. Strictly speaking he can only be voted out of office at the next AGM scheduled for February.

Mpati and Van Rooyen were not available for comment.


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International Teams: Lies, damned lies and stats...

Let's indulge.

Statistics for South Africa

Games played: 328, 6.13%
Games won: 206, 62.80%
Games lost: 103, 31.40%
Games drawn: 19, 5.79%
Most wins in a row: 17
Most losses in a row: 7

Teams played: 23, 17.56%
Teams beaten: 23, 100.00%
Teams lost to: 10, 43.48%

Largest points for: 134, 134 - 3
Largest points against: 55, 55 - 35
Largest winning margin: 131, 134 - 3
Largest losing margin: 50, 53 - 3

4:44:11 PM Total points for: 6,984
Total points against: 4,712

Average points for per game: 21.29
Average points against per game: 14.37
Average points difference: 6.93
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International Teams: Spotlight on: The United States Rugby Union

Continuing our efforts at Rugga World to spread the game and give coverage to all aspects of the game, we feature the United States Rugby Union today. It is a universal truism that should the USA ever really take rugby seriously, most pundits have a sneaky feeling they could be world champions within a decade, regardless of the traditions and history of countries such as New Zealand and South Africa. Their gene pool is simply too big, their resources unlimited and their real potential untapped. Unfortunately it is unlikely we'll ever get to see that potential fulfilled.


On May 5, 1874, Harvard University hosted Montreal’s McGill University at Cambridge, Mass., in the first recorded rugby game on American soil. While there are no records of the match and no one remembers who won, the game sparked an interest on college campuses nationwide.

As American rugby’s popularity began to grow, rugby was soon included as a sport in four Olympic Games (1900, 1908, 1920, 1924), and the United States claimed victories in both the 1920 and 1924 Games.

Shortly after the 1924 Olympics, however, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) removed rugby as an Olympic sport. Without the Olympic incentive, the sport’s growth in America collapsed and the game remained dormant for the next half century.

However, the sport then enjoyed a renaissance, beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the 1970s. This created the need for a national governing body to represent the USA in the International rugby community. Four territorial organizations gathered in Chicago, Ill., in 1975 and formed the United States of America Rugby Football Union (now known as USA Rugby). Today, USA Rugby is made up of seven Territorial Unions (TUs) and 37 Local Area Unions (LAUs),and supports more than 50,000 members.

U.S. National Teams

USA Rugby's national teams are nicknamed the Eagles. The National Men’s Team first took the field in 1976. Competing in international tournaments like the Churchill Cup and the Pan American Championship, as well as specially scheduled matches against world powers such as France and Ireland, the Eagles have qualified for four of the five Rugby World Cups, most recently at the 2003 World Championships in Australia.

The National Women’s Team, launched in 1987, claimed the first Women's Rugby World Cup in 1991 and finished second at the '94 and '98 World Cups. The Women's National Team also competes in the Churchill Cup and against world powers like New Zealand and England.

USA Rugby also fields a Boys' Under 19 team, a Girls' Under 19 team and a Women's Under 23 team, as well as Men’s and Women’s 7s National Teams - an abbreviated version of the 15-a-side game.

Mission Statement

To be a world power on and off the field.

For further information on USA Rugby please visit

Statistics for United States

Games played: 139, 2.60%
Games won: 47, 33.81%
Games lost: 90, 64.75%
Games drawn: 2, 1.44%
Most wins in a row: 4
Most losses in a row: 8

Teams played: 26, 19.85%
Teams beaten: 14, 53.85%
Teams lost to: 21, 80.77%

Largest points for: 74, 74 - 5
Largest points against: 106, 106 - 8
Largest winning margin: 69, 74 - 5
Largest losing margin: 98, 106 - 8

Total points for: 2,756
Total points against: 3,748

Average points for per game: 19.83
Average points against per game: 26.96
Average points difference: -7.14
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Other Tournaments: Maoris will walk it....again.

They can formalise whatever they wish but any tournament featuring the New Zealand Maoris only means one thing, you could contribute towards environmental concerns, cut greenhouse emissions and simply send the Churchill Cup to New Zealand via TNT. In what looks to be a lopsided encounter it is hard for your correspondent to envisage any other outcome than the Maoris beating England A, Ireland A beating Canada and Scotland A beating the USA.

Tournament organisers have formalised teams, places and dates for next year's Chruchill Cup.

The competition will include Canada, USA, England A, Scotland A, Ireland A, and the New Zealand Maori.

The six teams will be divided into two pools, a Canada pool and a USA pool, playing each team in their pool before moving to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for the Finals Day at the Commonwealth Stadium. Each team will play a total of three matches in the tournament.

Pool A in San Francisco, USA
Ireland A
NZ Maoris

Pool B in Toronto & Ottawa, Canada
England A
Scotland A

Sat 3rd June
England A v Scotland A, Toronto
USA v Ireland A, San Francisco

Wed 7th June
Canada v Scotland A, Ottawa
USA v NZ Maoris, San Francisco

Sat 10th June
Canada v England A, Toronto
NZ Maoris v Ireland A, San Francisco

Sat 17th
Finals Day, Edmonton
3rd Place Pool A v 3rd Place Pool B
2nd Place Pool A v 2nd Place Pool B
1st Place Pool A v 1st Place Pool B

Rugga World Service

Statistics for New Zealand Maori

Games played: 79, 1.48%
Games won: 48, 60.76%
Games lost: 27, 34.18%
Games drawn: 4, 5.06%
Most wins in a row: 12
Most losses in a row: 4

Teams played: 12, 9.16%
Teams beaten: 10, 83.33%
Teams lost to: 6, 50.00%

Largest points for: 69, 31 - 69
Largest points against: 36, 13 - 36
Largest winning margin: 63, 3 - 66
Largest losing margin: 25, 6 - 31

Total points for: 1,563
Total points against: 1,031

Average points for per game: 19.78
Average points against per game: 13.05
Average points difference: 6.73
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World Cup 2007: France will beat New Zealand

Source: The Observer
By: Eddie Butler

You don't have to look far from home to find the favourites for the Rugby World Cup in 2007. And they are not the All Blacks, says former Welsh Test back-rower Eddie Butler.

HERE we are, just over the mid-point hump between the Rugby World Cup in Australia and the next one, to be held in France in 2007. Hump is the word, that being what the Australians have got with Eddie Jones. The coach who took them, against the odds, to the final in Sydney has gone, following a long campaign against him, prompted by a recent record that revealed just one win in the Wallabies' last 10 games.

For years, Jones managed without a front row of true Test quality. He had Bill Young, but he never had a complete unit that could provide the security of possession and ballast that might have made his job easier. Now everybody knows Australia are there for the taking at the scrum.

It is not a pretty place to be, but it does seem slightly harsh to sack the coach when the real problem seems to be beyond his reach. Perhaps he hasn't tried hard enough to poach a few large islanders. Or perhaps he was resigned to the All Blacks pinching Tongan-born Saimone Taumoepeau first.

New Zealand are clearly the No. 1 rugby-playing country. Drawing on the best players from five Pacific Islands - their own North and South islands, plus Tonga, Fiji and Samoa - they have assembled a formidable squad, certainly the richest and deepest pool of talent the game has ever known.

Since there is no reason to suppose their recruiting policies can be tamed by the IRB in time for the next World Cup, it would appear they will remain red-hot favourites to win the trophy that has eluded them since 1987. (And to our Kiwi readers who claim that other countries poach as vigorously as the All Blacks, how can it be that Sitiveni Sivivatu and Sione Lauaki can one year play for the combined Pacific Islands against New Zealand, and the next be playing for the ABs? That's not missionary work but piracy.)

Even on their recent tour, and even as they were purring towards their second grand slam over Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland, there were signs that each game, Ireland excepted, was becoming progressively harder for the All Blacks. Maybe that was the nature of the fixture list, or a result of experimenting with selection and overuse of the replacements' bench at Murrayfield, but, if you compare how the All Blacks began their international year (discounting a run-out against Fiji) and how they ended it, it seems clear they have been hauled in slightly by the chasing pack.

Defence coaches will work out how to pull open the curtain of dummy runners New Zealand manoeuvre in front of their passers. Referees and the law-makers will be invited at every opportunity to clarify what the All Blacks do at the post-tackle situation. Analysts will point out how much illegal (unpenalised) wheeling the All Blacks impart on the scrum. Two years of intense scrutiny lie ahead.

Is it an advantage to have faced New Zealand and been bowled over by them, and have two years to plot revenge? Or is it better to be France? They were the very first high-profile victims of Graham Henry's All Blacks, but that was last year in Paris. Since then, France have gone serenely about the business of preparing themselves to host the next World Cup.

If any team can benefit from having the game's biggest tournament on home soil, it is France. And if any team can take on New Zealand in a passing game, it must be France. English-speaking teams have all crept up in modern times into a flat-back formation. Only France remain faithful to a steep-angled alignment. Dave Ellis of England may have organised their defence into a tightly disciplined system, but in attack France remain utterly French, with Frederic Michalak the slightly enigmatic chef de gare and Yannick Jauzion pure, level-headed class in the centre. Between the midfield and front row, France have a back row and halfback maturing in the vat, with Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and Yannick Nyanga on track to be very tasty. And talking of maturity, if little Thomas Castaignede carries on playing the way he is, he could still light up a World Cup. He sees more in the blink of an eye than the England three-quarter line see in a month of unblinking concentration on their fourth volume of "How to Create Space".

By 2007, I think France will have moved ahead of New Zealand. And whenever France make a move, England should not be far behind. In the professional age, these are the two that have been the European leaders in research and development. They, in turn, have hauled the Celts forward.

But there are still some pretty dismal rumours about discontent in Andy Robinson's camp. This is not about the tug between club and country; this is about how England want to play. It seems the politics may disguise the suspicion among the players that their current coaches will not be able to train them towards a brighter future. That is serious. And just as this may not be the best time for New Zealand to hit a peak, so it is not the moment for England to hit rock bottom. It seems they have left themselves with too much to do before the World Cup. Australia have sacked Jones, but have a track record of being able to react quickly to crisis. England's crises tend to linger. Two years is not long for a country that has allowed its club-country row to fester as long. And there is a long way for England to go - from monstrous up front to all-round creative.

It would appear then, at this mid-point between World Cups, that neither of the sides that went to the last final can look much beyond a quarter-final. Which does open up a window for somebody else. For Wales, perhaps, although the autumn series saw them severely stretched when it came to digging into the reserves. But at least they continued to play, and Shane Williams emerged after a series of traffic accidents to show against Australia what instinct and balance can still achieve.

If the challenge of England and Australia may fade, then South Africa's will grow. The Springboks have been through a strange old period, but theirs is a peculiar old country. Or young country. The point is that after such upheavals in their rugby politics and among their players and coaches, change is no longer a word that frightens them.

They have clung to just one tenet from the bad old days - aggression. But that is no bad thing. And Jake White has added an awareness that means they spring from defence to counterattack with even sharper reflexes than France or New Zealand. If White can just find himself an outside-half of the quality of Dan Carter … it's a hell of an if.

Given the place of Sven in England's sporting affections and headlines, and the importance attached to the role of Duncan Fletcher, it should come as no surprise that the rugby coach is now apparently more important than the players. Think of Clive Woodward: it was all his fault. We are only now finding it just about palatable to say the Lions were simply beaten by a better All Blacks team. Think of Eddie Jones.

But the coach is important, because he has to keep his team ahead of the rest, or up with the leaders. We used to say that rugby, despite appearances, was simple - it's not. It's a very difficult game, not necessarily to play but to manage.

What will determine who will emerge as the front-runner over the next two years is not the brawn on the field - not even an Australian tighthead - but the brains off it. That, plus the prospect that the axe may not be satisfied with taking out just Eddie Jones.

Rugga World Service:

Statistics for France vs New Zealand

Games played: 41, 6.86%
Games won by France: 10, 24.39%
Games won by New Zealand: 30, 73.17%
Games drawn: 1, 2.44%
Most wins in a row for France: 3
Most losses in a row for France: 8

Largest points for France: 43, 43 - 31
Largest points against France: 54, 54 - 7
Largest winning margin for France: 14, 8 - 22
Largest losing margin for France: 47, 54 - 7

Total points for: 544
Total points against: 931

Average points for per game: 13.27
Average points against per game: 22.71
Average points difference: -9.44
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Discussions: Perspective, or, One Man's Giant is another's Dwergie

You all did it at school. The teacher asked you to form a circle, one of you was nominated to whisper a few sentences in your neighbour's ear, they in turn would pass on the message until it reached your classmate on the opposite side from where you started. Thus, "The three brown bears went running through the woods hunting for juicy berries" was miraculously transformed into, "The free round pears were running with honey and Lucy Woods is a lekka stuk".

Rugby and rugby history is no different, we've seen statistics manipulated, especially in South Africa, to massage whatever subliminal message was intended for your ears.

As an exercise in change, I thought I'd just throw some weird and wonderful stuff at you. Take from it what you will, discard the useless.

Breyton Paulse is the lightest Springbok ever, sheesh the oke is about 76kg. Okay, maybe at the start of his career. It matters not, he is nowhere near the most svelte Bok ever fielded, the honour belongs to one Billy Sendin, weighing in at a marvelous 60 kilograms. Billy graced the fields of New Zealand and Australia on the 1921 tour.

Rudi Straeuli capped far too many Boks and ensured we sent out raw recruits to face the molten lava that is the heat of international rugby. Maybe he did but he didn't select fifteen new caps who were all starting their first test! Did anyone? Yip, the opening test of the 1949 New Zealand tour.

How can we possibly play Schalk 'The Hulk' Burger at eighthman? Sheesh, he's already played at blind and open side! Schalk has a long way to go to match the indomitable Boy Louw, he played in every single forward role for the Boks and, yes, there were still eight positions in those days.

I've never seen such a light Springbok forward pack. Maybe not but with today's packs averaging around 900+kg's, spare a thought for the 1906 pack who cumulatively weighed in at 672 kg's!

South African rugby is one of the oldest in the world. Absolutely! It saw the light of day in 1889, a mere stripling, however, compared to the Indian Rugby Board which formed in 1874!

Has a player ever played rugby and cricket for South Africa? Yes! Has a player ever played rugby and cricket and captained South Africa? Yes! Has a player ever played rugby and cricket and captained and refereed South Africa? Yes! Has a player ever played rugby and cricket and captained and refereed and coached for South Africa? Yes! Has a player ever played rugby and cricket and captained and refereed and coached and beaten WG Grace at cricket for South Africa? Yes! Yes! Yes! HH Castens!

The Springboks spent sixty unbeaten years in rugby test series. Oh, some will mock, it was all those biased Japie refs, well, maybe, but unless those 'Japie' refs travelled on all 6 tours overseas during that period then it is a highly fallacious argument! You try playing in fifty four tests and lose only 11!
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Thursday, December 15, 2005


Brannasnacht: The Constitution

Well Brannasnacht will be officially open at 21H00 CET. Till then I would just like to remind all newcomers and all the "hardebaarde", who has not yet posted on the night of Rugga World Brannasnacht (including board members), of the constitutional questions.

The questions are the following:

1. What is your shoe size?

2. When last did you get lucky?

3. Where and did you expect it?

4. Were you ever responsible for any veldfires because of it?

5. What would your wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend say if he/she sees the answers to the questions or any of your posts?

Enjoy Brannasnacht with us and under no circumstances miss it without an apology, unless you want to be held responsible for every catastrophe in the world for the next week. Answers to the above can be posted from 20H30 onwards in order for members to evaluate them when they log on at 21H00.
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SA Unions: SWD Eagles Coach

It is rumoured that Phil Pretorius has been appointed Coach of the SWD Eagles. This is a rather irresponsible and erroneous statement as the Eagles are not ready at this time to effect such an appointment.

Pretorius has been asked, and has graciously accepted, a caretaker position to prepare players for the 2006 Vodacom Cup, until the Eagles are ready to appoint a Coach. This foresight of the newly elected SWD Executive has been widely welcomed by the Southern Cape business community and potential sponsors. More to follow.
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The franchises haven’t announced their Super 14 squads yet. They will on 6 January 2006. On 21 January 2006 the Cats face their first challenge against a young and inexperienced Spears. Snubbed for the Super 14 by Norman Arendze’s panel, the Spears will be out to make a point. DavidS, the quintessential Cats fan, speculates about the make-up of the squad and the one that will face the stern Spears test and probably the Stormers at Newlands in the season opener

There are a few things to recall about this side. The first is that under the rugby transformation edict that Mveleli Ncula issued there must be eight black players in the squad, six in the match 22 and eight in the squad of 30. The second is that Frans Ludeke will want to retain the nucleus of the Lions for the squad and basically, the squad will be a beefed up Lions squad with depth added at key positions where the Lions are lacking. If DavidS was the selector with these conditions, this is the squad he’d like to see.

1. Lawrence Sephaka
2. Lukas Van Biljon
3. Marius Hurter
4. Kleinjan Tromp
5. Jannes Labuschagne
6. Cobus “Baywatch” Grobbelaar
7. Wikus Van Heerden ©
8. Gerhard Vosloo
9. Enrico Januarie
10. André Pretorius
11. Ashwin Willemse
12. Wayne Julies
13. Jacque Fourie
14. John Daniels
15. Conrad Jantjes
16. Gordon Gilfillian
17. Jonathan Mukoena
18. Earl Rose
19. Baksteen Nel
20. Nicholas Eyre
21. Grant Estehuizen
22. James Van der Walt

The other four?

23. Casper Steyn
24. Heinrich Kok
25. Willem Stolz
26. John Daniels

Aside from Jonathan Mukoena (Leopards) and Casper Steyn (Pumas) the rest are all from the Lions and their selections are self explanatory. Two notes. There are still injury clouds over André Pretorius, Ashwin Willemse and Kleinjan Tromp. If the three of them don’t make it, then there would be the following replacements in my Cats side:

a. For André Pretorius Nel Fourie
b. For Kleinjan Tromp Trevor Hall (seeing as Cobus Grobler – the other one – has moved to Bloem)
c. For Ashwin Willemse Ogingwa Siwundla

However in the starting line-up, Casper Steyn, who was superb for the Pumas last season at flyhalf would replace Pretorius. Ashwin would be replaced by John Daniels and Gordon Gillfillian would start.

We have a massive shortage of quality at scrumhalf and here’s sincerely hoping we don’t have an injury with Enrico Januarie, because there’s a vast difference between him and the next best in Nicolas Eyre. Anyway look carefully and note this down:

You are looking at the names of the Super 14 Champions 2006.
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