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Friday, December 23, 2005

 

Discussions: To all RugRats wherever you may be!


Have a very merry Xmas and a wonderful year in 2006! May yours, and the Springboks, fortunes be linked and exceed your wildest expectations! Be safe.

Rasputin.
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Rugby Administration: Aggrieved rugby boss takes case to court



Yako feels he has been unfairly treated by BRFU

By EDDIE BOTHA - Business Editor
www.dispatch.co.za


AXED Border Rugby Football Union (BRFU) president Monwabisi Yako wants the high court to reinstate him after he was ousted by the union in an unprecedented move.

And, accusing SA Rugby Union (Saru) of dragging its feet when he approached it to intervene on his behalf in the domestic rugby crisis, he also issued a summons against the sport's parent body.

The latest shots in the battle for the BRFU leadership come after the union passed a vote of no confidence in Yako and his executive in October.

At the time legal advice was that such a move would be constitutional only if it had been done during an AGM.

"I have been treated unfairly. That is the only reason why I am taking the legal route,* Yako said yesterday. "There is a constitution which we have to adhere to. But when it suits people and it does not serve their purpose, they violate it.*

Yako said he had written to Saru, and asked the parent body to intervene. "But Saru has been dragging its feet. That's why I cite Saru as a respondent too.*

The summons, which cites the BRFU, Border Rugby (Pty) Ltd, the interim management committee which replaced the executive, and Saru and its commercial arm, SA Rugby (Pty) Ltd, requests the Grahamstown High Court in an urgent application to reinstate Yako until 2008.

Yako also wants the court to stop a planned AGM from being held later next month.

He wants to remain as a director of Border Rugby (Pty). He has asked the court to interdict the other parties from interfering with his work and that of other office-bearers.

The court documents contain Yako's affidavit and supporting affidavits by the then vice-president Zola Yibe, and executive members Malusi Mavela and Ivan Harry, also axed during the vote.

Pretoria attorney Brandon Foot, for BRFU, said the matter would be defended and he was busy preparing an answering affidavit to Yako's allegations.

Foot, who has been involved in the administration of cricket, represented the United Cricket Board when it opposed an application by the late former Proteas cricket captain Hansie Cronje, against his life ban for match-fixing.

Foot also served on the judicial management team of Eastern Province Cricket in the past.

He said he had received a copy of an earlier summons Yako's lawyers issued against Saru vice-president Mike Stofile.

The summons claims R200000 from Stofile for having allegedly defamed Yako during in an interview with Daily Dispatch sports editor Brian Mclean.

The Dispatch has also been served with a summons.

Foot plans to use the summons in the forthcoming litigation between Yako and BRFU.

Yako wants the court to set aside the interim committee's appointment. Chairman Cliff Pringle, Des Allison (premier league clubs), Bongo Nontshinga (tertiary institutions), Kwezi Malgas (high schools), Sipokazi Jani (women's rugby) and Fred Darke (referees) are cited.

After being axed, Yako vowed that he and his executive would not be removed without a fight.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm still the Border Rugby president."
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SA Unions/ Teams: Spotlight on Durban Collegians


Sources: www.durbanrugby.co.za/collegians.htm & http://www.themercury.co.za/
Collegians' efforts pay off
December 15, 2005

By Jos Robson

The remarkable success of Durban Collegians during the 2005 club rugby season, which saw them win the McCarthy Toyota Premier Division thus allow them the honour of representing the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union at the SuperSport National Club Championships in Stellenbosch, has paid off handsomely on theeve of their centenary year.

Collegians performed way above themselves at the National Club Championships, ending up playing in the semi-finals against the University of Johannesburg (formerly RAU). Their efforts didn't go unnoticed, and they have been rewarded for their achievements with the announcement by Gilbert that they have committed themselves to a three-year clothing and equipment sponsorship for the 2005 Moor Cup champions. The Managing Director of Gilbert, Eric Ichikowitz, in a statement to the media, highlighted how extremely proud the company was of being able to be part of a very special moment in the history of Collegians as they approached their centenary year.


"Gilbert have been involved in the game since its inception in 1823, and understand the proud heritage and traditions of arguably the most successful club in KZN," he explained.

"It's not only a great moment for them, but also for us as a company, and we are proud to be associated with them as it really does suit our brand, and we look forward to a successful and happy partnership," he added. Andre Botha, the Chairman of Collegians, was delighted with the announcement. He stated that the club was equally proud to be associated with one of the great leaders of sports equipment and apparel. Botha also highlighted the fact that rugby clubs could not survive without having successful corporate organisations on board with such important sponsorship deals in place, which goes a long way in contributing to the success of any club.

Durban Collegians have also announced that they have appointed Juiced Media, publishers of the Sharks rugby magazine and South African Rugby News as their media partner. They will be publishing the club's centenary brochure, scheduled for publication in early March 2006. It certainly looks destined to be a bumper year for them.

Josie Nel, the widow of legendary 1937 Springbok captain Philip Nel, will unveil her husband's Springbok blazer at a function at Maritzburg Collegians tonight. The event will also be used to announce the club's new sponsorship deal with Gestetner

UPS Durban Collegians was formed in 1906. Rich in rugby history, Collegians has been the spawning ground of 15 Springboks, 7 Junior Springboks and over 80 Natal players.

Collegians have an outstanding record of achievements in Natal club rugby; Collegians have won the Moor cup (Premier League in Natal) 26 times, including an uninterrupted run from 1971-1987 and have never been out of the top 3 teams in league finishes.

They have won the Murry cup (premier knock out competition) 29 times of which 14 times ran concurrently with the league.

There are/were currently two playing springboks with the club: Ollie le Roux and Trevor Halstead.

During the 2002 season four collegians played for the sharks: Ollie le Roux, Trevor Halstead, Philip Smit and Brendon Botha

Seven players represented the Natal "Merit A" and Wilderbeest sides. Six players either played in the Natal Under 21 or 19 teams giving a total of 17 players who represented Natal last year.

Collegians boast a junior rugby section of over 300 registered players, ranging from Under 8 to Under 18.

Collegians is situated at Kings Park, adjacent to the Kings Park Virgin Active Club and the Natal Athletics Stadium.

Chairman : Gary Meyer
Cell : 083 4492299

1st Team Coaches: Dean Hayden and Quinton Reynolds
Under 20 Coach: Gary Brown
Junior Chairman: Danie Bester
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Rugby Administration: Dalton appointed CEO, Auckland.


In yet a further example of how prominent, and well respected, ex-All Blacks get involved in rugby administration, the New Zealand Herald reports that former All Black captain Andy Dalton has been appointed chief executive officer of the Auckland Rugby Union.

It begs the obvious question as to why so few ex-Springboks get involved in local rugby?

The sheer publicity of their names, and the reputations they wish to uphold, would almost guarantee they work in the best interests of South African rugby, not merely for their own benefit, as a large section of rugby supporters believe the status quo to be.

Former All Black captain Andy Dalton has been appointed chief executive officer of the Auckland Rugby Union.

He will take up the position in March, succeeding David White who announced in October that he was leaving to take up the equivalent role with British club Bristol.

Over the next few weeks Auckland rugby will work with the Counties-Manukau and Chiefs boards over Dalton's retirement as chairman of Counties-Manukau, and as a member of the Chiefs board.
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IRB Sevens: Boks can avenge Sevens defeat

December 22 2005 at 09:32AM

The pools and schedules for the third and fourth events in this season's International Rugby Board (IRB) Sevens series - the New Zealand International Sevens and the USA Sevens - were announced on Wednesday.

Wellington hosts New Zealand, who swept all before them in the first two events last year to lay the foundations for a sixth IRB Sevens title, but this season Fiji go into the Wellington event at the top of the standings table and in fine form, having won one final and lost the other in the first two events of the season. England, meanwhile, top the pools on the strength of the results of the last six tournaments and face Australia, Scotland and Papua New Guinea in pool A.

Fiji head pool B, in which they will face France, Canada and Niue, while hosts New Zealand are seeded third and face a tough test in Samoa, Kenya and the Cook Islands in pool C. Coach Gordon Tietjens faces one of his greatest challenges as he looks to rebuild the side after early season disappointment, and defend the overall IRB Sevens crown.

Pool D is topped by fourth seeds South Africa, who will face Argentina, who beat the Boks in the semifinals of the George event earlier this month plus Tonga and USA. The New Zealand leg of the tour takes place on February 3-4.

Pool D is topped by fourth seeds South Africa
The seedings do not change for the US showpiece at the Home Depot Centre in Los Angeles on February 11-12, but the 16 sides do; Uruguay, Mexico and a combined West Indies side replace Pacific Islanders Niue, the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea. In Los Angeles, England again top pool A and face France, Kenya and hosts US, while pool B pits Scotland and Uruguay against fancied Fiji and Argentina, who will battle out a repeat of the George final, won by Waisale Serevi's Fiji.

Pool C sees newcomers West Indies square up to a trio of Oceania heavyweights; New Zealand and Australia will resume their rivalry, and Tonga are never to be counted out in the Sevens game, and pool D is again topped by South Africa, who face Samoa - so impressive in the first two events of the season - as well as Canada and 2004's LA darlings Mexico.

IRB Tournaments Manager Beth Coalter said: "The IRB Sevens season got off to a fantastic start in Dubai and George, with so many teams truly competitive.

"Fiji look back near their best and England's recent consistency means they're top seeds for these two events.

"But it's going to be fascinating to see how New Zealand respond in front of their home crowd, and then in Los Angeles where they defend their title.

"I think you'd have to be very brave to count them out, but the fact that so may teams are in contention is fantastic for the series and fantastic for Sevens." - Sapa

This article was originally published on page 26 of The Mercury on December 22, 2005
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Other Unions/ Teams: Nobody wants Steady Eddie


http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/

Queensland are not rushing to offer Eddie Jones their Super 14 coaching job despite glowing endorsements for the ex-Wallabies mentor from Reds players.

Jones, who was sacked as Australian coach earlier this month, has officially applied to replace Jeff Miller at the Reds following the inaugural Super 14 season.

Reds players have embraced news of Jones's interest in taking over at Ballymore and he has boosted his cause by stating that Queensland has the potential to again be title challengers.

"I don't think Queensland could get anyone better for the coaching job," said prop Greg Holmes, who made his Test debut against France on the Wallabies' ill-fated European tour.

"I think he is a really good coach and personally I know I would be rapt if Eddie got it."

Reds flanker David Croft has also declared that Jones would be "fantastic" at Ballymore.

At least eight candidates, including four from overseas, are believed to be vying for the Reds' head coach role.

Queensland Rugby Union CEO Theo Psaros said a selection panel including current Reds international Ben Tune, former Wallabies Dan Crowley and David Codey plus high performance manager Bob Murphy would interview all applicants.

"He [Jones] has officially applied but like every other applicant he's just now part of the process," Psaros said today.

"We expect to make a decision before the start of Super 14.

"We've got a lot of excellent applicants and it's going to be a tough challenge for our panel.

"We've just got to look at the candidates and we're looking for the best available coach for 2007.

"We're not rushing it because it's such a crucial appointment."

The Reds play a pre-season match at Ballymore on January 21 against the Auckland Blues, who will be in a training camp that week at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.

Queensland will travel to New Zealand for another trial game against the Highlanders before the opening Super 14 match with the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on February 11.

AAP
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Discussions: Harrison gets extension to serve penalty


http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/

Former Wallaby Justin Harrison has been given an extension until September 1 to complete his punishment for making a racial slur during the NSW Waratahs' Super 12 clash against the Cats in South Africa last March.

Harrison, who served a three-match ban for the incident, was fined $20,000 by SANZAR.

He was told he would escape the fine if he completed an anti-discrimination course run by the anti-discrimination board of NSW and 30 hours of community service.

The 31-year-old has since left NSW and signed a three-year deal with Irish club Ulster, and, because of his playing commitments abroad, had requested an extension in serving his penalty.

A SANZAR judicial committee - comprising chairman Terry Willis, Kim Garling and Mick Mathers - today granted Harrison an extension until September 1.

Harrison was found guilty of racially abusing Cats winger Chumani Booi in a match on March 12.

AAP
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Thursday, December 22, 2005

 

Rugby Personalities: Lomu seeks speed with sprint ace


http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/
By Graeme Gillespie
Thursday, December 22, 2005

Jonah Lomu has turned to former Olympic sprint champion Linford Christie in an attempt to fast-track his career back to the big time.

Christie became the oldest man to win the Olympic 100m title when he triumphed at the 1992 Barcelona Games at the age of 32. His reputation was tarnished, however, when seven years later he tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid.

Despite traces of nandrolone being found in a urine sample, Christie has always denied the claims.

Lomu is now hoping to recapture his explosive power and pace under the guidance of Christie. The pair held their first training session at the weekend and will continue to work together over the coming weeks.

"I met Linford a few years ago when we were both doing promotional work," said Lomu who made his first start for the Cardiff Blues a fortnight ago. "We've kept in touch and he kindly offered to help me out with his expertise.

"It's too good an opportunity to miss."

He is also expected to work with another Olympic track champion, relay gold medallist Darren Campbell, through the connection with Christie. If Lomu can increase his pace he will become all the more dangerous as an attacking weapon for the Blues.

So far his main impact has been to create opportunities for others, with defenders being drawn to him like moths to a flame.

Blues captain Rhys Williams benefited last weekend when he scored the first try in his side's 43-16 victory over Calvisano at the Arms Park.

Two Italians drifted wide to cover Lomu, leaving a gaping hole for his skipper Williams to sail through.

"It's great to play alongside him," said Williams.

"He's obviously going to attract a few defenders and if we can use him as decoy, it makes a hell of a difference. It benefits the team and he's happy with it and we are happy to be scoring tries."

The Press, New Zealand
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Brannasnacht: The Christmas Edition

Do not despair. Details to be submitted during the course of the afternoon and early evening. As usual we will start at 21H00 CET and you are all cordially invited to attend and take part.

From all of us at Rugga World - may you all have a very peaceful and Merry Christmas. Enjoy the rest!
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Discussions: Just when we thought Rugga World visitors are addicted...

Source: http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk

A NEW internet rugby game is set to keep the idle hands of bored workers busy in offices across Wales in their last few days before Christmas.

As the phones grow quiet and the emails get thin on the ground, staff who are still confined to their desks will quickly get bored of surfing the net.

An internet rugby game which includes top teams and famous landmarks from Welsh rugby towns is becoming an email hit as it gets passed from computer to computer.

Players of Flick 'n' Kick, which has been created for Welsh building society Principality, have the choice to play the national game, as Wales against England, or they can choose to take control of their favourite Principality Premiership team to smash the opposition.

Plus there is another good reason for skiving staff to start practising their control skills with the mouse. Those who record top high scores in the Principality's national league table will be up for winning tickets for next year's Six Nations clashes in Cardiff.

The idea is the brainchild of internet marketing company Rubber Republic, which says that consumers are now spending 33% of their media time online, when compared to other activities like watching TV or reading.

The game is basically a reminder of the days when schoolboys used to play "flick rugby" using coins on desks, but utilises internet technology to heat up the competition.

The aim of the game is to rack up as many points as possible by dodging tackles, collecting power-ups and scoring tries.

But if you're tackled or go out of bounds, it's back to your own try line.

Watch out, the power-ups can help or hinder you - but once you've scored a try you can add to your points total with a successful conversion.

Tracy Morshead, managing director of Principality Building Society, said it was a way of raising the profile of both her company and Welsh rugby in general.

"Principality has a long association with rugby in Wales and are proud to support the Premiership which develops and nurtures young players.

"We're encouraging supporters to get behind their local clubs and help get their teams to the top of the league - both on and off the pitch. So get clicking!"

Rubber Republic, which has produced internet games for clients including Sony, said this method was a great way to bring customers and big corporations closer together.

"This game is aimed directly at a very specific audience - people who love rugby, they're Welsh, they support their club," said Andy Parkhouse at Rubber Republic.

He added, "This form of marketing is a great way of reaching people who spend a lot of time online, which people do both at home and in the workplace these days.

"Also it is pretty cost-effective. On the web it is all digital and therefore quite cheap to distribute."

There are also great incentives to play. Not only can you support your Principality Premiership team, so they're at the top of the league, but also up for grabs are pairs of tickets for Wales' home matches in the Six Nations Championship. Other prizes include season tickets for a Premiership team and an exclusive meal with a Wales player.

To play Flick 'n' Kick, go to http://www.flicknkick.com/national/
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Rugby Administration: SARU Slammed by Cape High Court


Source: http://www.iol.co.za

A Cape High Court judge has slammed the South African Rugby Union (Saru) for its "discriminatory and inappropriate approach" to selecting historically black teams for national club championships.

Judge James Yekiso was explaining why he set aside Saru's decision that the Eldoronians Rugby Club, owned by controversial South African rugby boss Brian van Rooyen, and the Eersterust Rugby Club would vie for the title of "Top Black Club for the North".

Earlier this year, the judge ordered that the Tirfu Raiders Rugby Club, which was ranked higher than Eldoronians in the Golden Lions premier club competition, be declared the "Top Black Club for the North" and, as such, be entitled to play in the SuperSport Club Championship in Cape Town.

Tirfu's legal action against Saru came after the union decided that Eldoronians play Eersterust for the "Top Black Club for the North" spot in August, more than a month before the end of the rugby season and not at the end of the season as in previous years.

"(This) decision was not rationally connected to the purpose sought to be achieved, being the identification of the top black rugby club to participate in the Supersport Club Championships," Yekiso said.

"And furthermore, the approach adopted by the management committee of Saru constitutes a discriminatory and inappropriate approach, and is thus unconstitutional or unlawful," he said.

In papers before the court, it emerged that the disputed decision was not in line with procedures adopted in historically white clubs, where top clubs were decided when the rugby season was over.

It also effectively allowed Eldoronians - which were situated seventh in the Golden Lions premier club competition at the end of the season - to be given preference over the higher ranked Tirfu club.

Correspondence before the court revealed that Golden Lions bosses had been rebuffed when they asked Saru for transparency in explaining how they had selected the historically black teams that would play in the national championships.

Saru official Cliffie Booysen wrote that it would be "inappropriate" to discuss the transparency of the process which led to the decision, which he said was taken "by the management committee in the interest of the game, especially the two additional teams".

Saru legal adviser Christoffel Ferreira also stated in papers before the court that the union had attempted to settle its legal dispute with Tirfu by offering the team the opportunity to play Eldoronians for a place in the national championship.

Judge Yekiso dismissed Saru's claims that Tirfu's application should be dismissed with costs because it had refused to accept a "proposal which is a fair and equitable way of resolving the problem and of appointing the strongest black club to represent the North".

The judge ruled that the offer was "still contrary to the established past practice and did not have the potential to determine and identify the top black team from the North.

"Tirfu did not accept the offer on the basis that it did not constitute an acceptable solution, and indeed a legally valid solution, to the problem that Saru had created," he said.

"In my view, the rejection of the offer was not unreasonable in light of the circumstances prevailing at that time."

This article was originally published on page 3 of Cape Argus on December 22, 2005
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General Discussions: Dumped via Small's SMS



By: Malani Venter
Source: www.news24.co.za
Picture: http://www.supermodel2005.co.za/

Cape Town - Former Springbok James Small gave his new young love the boot - via SMS.

According to a good friend of the model Lindsay Duncan, Small dumped the 19-year-old beauty a few days ago with an "insensitive" SMS.

They were only a couple for two months.

Duncan was photographed about three weeks ago in a lighthearted mood when she had lunch with friends at Small's Camps Bay restaurant, Café Caprice.

She confirmed on Wednesday that the relationship had ended, but did not want to comment any further.

The Cape Town model from Ice Models was crowned as the "Rooi Rose" model of the year 2005.

Small and ex-model Christina Storm are currently involved in a custody battle over their child, Ruby. Small was not available for comment on Wednesday.

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Super 14: Spears make the front page!



It is wonderful to see the Southern Spears being splashed across the front page of today's The Herald. Way to go for all involved!

To view the actual full front page visit http://www.theherald.co.za/herald/img/hP1_22122005.pdf
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Rugby Personalities: The Big Interview: Bryan Habana


By: David Walsh
Source: UK Sunday Times
The rising star of Springbok rugby tells David Walsh how he deals with the unique pressures of the Rainbow Nation.

Eight days ago Bernie Habana walked with his 18-year-old daughter Alycia to the Millennium stadium in Cardiff. He liked going places with Alycia because in her company you never got lost. Go to a rugby game with Alycia and you end up at the right gate. "The brains of the family," he always says.

Bernie Habana's reasons for being in Cardiff last weekend were straightforward. His country, South Africa, was playing Wales, and since he was a boy, rugby union has been one of his passions. Alycia, too, likes the game. In the rivers of Welshness that flowed up St Mary Street and towards the ground, Bernie picked out South African flags here and there.

He loves his country's flag. For him it is a symbol of South Africa's diversity and at the same time an expression of its unity. Others interpret the colours as they wish; he sees the blue as depicting South Africa's clear skies, red stands for the fertile soil, green for the vast lushness of the countryside, yellow for the sunshine and white, ah, the white he knows symbolises peace. "It's like a beautiful woman," he once said, "you fall in love with it."

He and Alycia had shown their tickets at a security check 50 yards or so before the turnstiles when he noticed the other flag: the orange, white and blue that was the country's official emblem of South Africa before the end of apartheid. As a man of colour, he considers the old flag an image of oppression and finds it offensive.

It was draped across the shoulders of a young white South African as he and his two friends made their way to the game and Bernie Habana wasn't prepared to let it go. Approaching the young man, he pointed to the flag. "Do you understand how people like me see that flag as personifying what was wrong with our country?" The young supporter was unsympathetic.

So Bernie tried to explain that South Africa was now a different country with a new flag, and if the old hurt was to be taken away, then the symbols of injustice had to go first.

"You have the Springbok on the jersey you wear and a symbol of oppression across your shoulders," he said. He gets emotional but not unreasonable when talking about South Africa.

"My son is playing for South Africa today," he said to his young compatriot. "I don't want you to support him and he would not want you to support him."

"Who is your son?" "Bryan Habana."

"You're just bringing politics into sport."

"I'm not. I am speaking to you as a human being."

The young man's two friends apologised. The one wearing the old flag remained defiant, but then he seemed to hesitate. Bernie and Alycia walked on. Glancing back, Bernie saw the man pull the flag from around his neck, fold it up and stuff it into his coat. He went back to speak to him. "I appreciate the respect you have shown in putting away that flag," he said.

They all then made their way inside the stadium and to their seats. South Africa won 33-16 and Bryan Habana, the new star of his country's rugby team, scored two tries, his 14th and 15th in just 14 internationals. He failed to add to that tally against France yesterday.

IT WAS a day he would remember, Thursday, May 25, 1995. Bryan Habana was 11 and a pupil at Meredale Primary School. Before that day, his parents had never taken him out of school.

Not for any reason. Faith, his mother, was an educationalist; Bernie was a successful businessman. They both believed in education. But Bernie also loved rugby, and on that Thursday he took his boy to the opening match of the 1995 World Cup, South Africa versus Australia in Cape Town.

Coming just 13 months after the country's first free elections, this was an important moment: South Africa's chance to show its new face before a world audience. So that morning father and son boarded a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town.

It was the beginning of a long journey for the boy.

A HOTEL near the town of Chantilly, north of Paris, is the latest staging post. He is here with the Springboks, a valued member of the team he first saw 10 years ago. His mother and father, Alycia and his girlfriend, Janine, have endured a bitingly cold Parisian morning and four trains to visit.

He kisses his parents, his sister and his girlfriend, although not in that order. They ask how he is. He smiles and says things are just fine. They talk about Paris and the rugby, and when Bernie gets a quiet moment, he reminds his son that there is just one match, one weekend, to go and then a long, long season will be at an end. His son nods knowingly; one weekend, body and soul can hold up for one last weekend.

And it shall end pleasantly enough. This evening he will attend an International Rugby Board banquet in Paris to celebrate the International Player of the Year. Dan Carter, New Zealand's outstanding fly-half, will deservedly receive that award, but Habana was one of the five shortlisted players, and 12 months after first playing Test rugby, has been named International Newcomer of the Year. It is an achievement comparable to that of the more experienced New Zealander.

We sit in a quiet landing on the first floor of the team hotel and he begins to tell his story with the rapid-fire delivery of a sprinter. He was born Bryan Gary Habana on June 12, 1983, in a suburb of Johannesburg, although his was no dusty suburb. Like his brother, Brad, and Alycia, he attended private school.

"The biggest thing about my childhood," he says, "was the love shown to us by our parents. If you have that always coming towards you, you automatically try to give it out to other people.

"One of the core values in our family was that colour was not an issue. It's a value I hold dear to my heart and will do until I start turning in my grave. Growing up in a country with so much history and so much diversity between the cultures, I was never conscious of the differences. I didn't worry about the colour of a man's skin or the significance of his surname, and for this, I am thankful to my parents."

From the day he first ran, he was an athlete. From the age of six until he was 13, he never lost a 100m or 200m race and at primary school he played football and cricket, too. But when he talked to his parents about sport, they told him it was nothing compared to the importance of education. He was a good student.

He was seven or eight when he tired of people always spelling his name incorrectly; "Brian," they wrote, not understanding he was "Bryan". "Why couldn't you have made my life simpler," he asked his dad, "and called me Brian?" "You don't understand," Bernie replied, "You are Bryan Gary Habana because I named you after two footballers, Bryan Robson and Gary Bailey, who both played for Manchester United. I called you Bryan because of Bryan Robson's drive, his ability to inspire his teammates, his love for the game and his determination to come back from bad injury. Gary is your second name because he was South African and he played with a smile on his face."

There were other things Bernie could have told his son; how he had travelled to England in the late 1980s because he wanted to stand in the Stretford End before they tore it down and filled it with seats. How he then went to Twickenham and when this lady from the Rugby Football Union brought
him on a personal tour, he could smell the history in the old timber and the green paint.

Plenty of things he could have told the boy. How he had played for the old South African Rugby Union, the governing body that catered for non-whites who played the game.

He loved rugby but he hated the oppression of apartheid, any kind of apartheid. His own union banned him for life because in his love for the game, he attended one of the games between the Springboks and one of the unofficial touring teams of the late 1980s. "I accept my punishment," he
told his accusers, "but you must also ban the man who reported me, because he too must have been there."

What to tell a boy whose mind is free of prejudice, whose eyes see what is good, whose hopes are unbounded. So, to tell him about rugby, Bernie took his 11-year-old out of school on that Thursday and boarded a plane for Cape Town.

"It was my first experience of rugby," says Bryan. "I'd heard about the game, knew my dad had played it, but I'd never been bothered. There wasn't a rugby culture in my primary school; athletics, cricket and football were my sports. Then I went to Cape Town and saw that opening match. It was a turning point for me . . .

"My dad and I flew to Durban to watch the semi-final against France, we were at Ellis Park for the quarter-final against Samoa, and when you are alone with your dad at the World Cup final and your country is playing the All Blacks, that was just unbelievable. It brought me a lot closer to my dad and
a lot closer to rugby."

So much about that tournament remains vivid in his memory. Before the quarter-final, his father took him to watch the national team train at the Wanderers' club in Johannesburg. When it was over, he waited outside the changing room to see if he could catch a glimpse of the players.

Francois Pienaar was signing autographs when he asked Bryan if he would mind keeping an eye on his kit bag.

For the kid, this was a privilege beyond description. He carried Pienaar's bag to the car, and there, the captain of the Springboks opened the bag and gave him a blue training jersey with No 6 on the back. He brought it home. Although it was big and loose over his tiny shoulders, he slept in it every
night.

Because he was bright and innocent, he soaked up all the goodness from that World Cup campaign. "I sat there wondering how 40 rugby players could unite a country of 44m people, a country that was so culturally diverse. How amazing it was that our president, imprisoned for 27 years, could come on to the field and be the face of what South Africa now stood for.

"It showed me what the country could be, what potential there is. It meant a lot to me that Chester Williams was part of the team and that he was there totally on merit. He was also showing the new face of South Africa, centre of the stage for the black community. I thought, 'If I could be part of
this, it would be unbelievable'. Chester's presence seemed to say, 'There's many other people who can do this'. And I wanted to be one of them."

He remembers, too, the overwhelming emotion and the sheer chaos of the final. "We had tickets, Dad and I. But the stadium was so packed that we couldn't get to our seats. My dad ended up sitting on one seat, with me on his lap. I will never forget the passion, and at the end guys were drinking beer, hugging each other, crying. I had never seen anything like it in my life.

"We can win the World Cup again, but it will never be the same; you're not going to get that feeling again. To have experienced it with my dad, well, it's definitely something that stuck in my mind."

IT WAS a year or so before Bryan played his first game of rugby, for the Under-14 G's at his new school, King Edward VII in Johannesburg. They were the seventh-best under-14 team in the school, a collection so modest that the achievement was to get them on the pitch at all. In his first experience of the oval-ball game Habana scored two tries and started as he meant to continue.

He has been a prolific scorer of tries through the 10 years of his involvement in the game, first as a scrum-half, then as a centre and now as wing.

Sometimes he seems blessed with the good fortune to be so often in the right place at the right moment, but it happens so routinely, it is not luck at all. He has a razor-sharp instinct for knowing where he needs to be, and once he gets the chance, that's it. Nobody catches Habana.

Injured at the beginning of last year's Under-21 World Cup in Scotland, he made his first start in a pool match against New Zealand. His knee was heavily strapped, he was not 100% fit, yet still he scored three tries in a match that the Kiwis won decisively.

You remember, too, his first cap for the Springboks, coming late in the game against England at Twickenham 12 months ago.

By then a dominant England were home and dry. The crowd stayed in their seats only because their team was threatening to score again. Then Habana came on, and against the tide of English dominance, he ran in a try.

Seated in the stand, Bernie jumped up and acclaimed the score, arousing the curiosity of the Englishman in the next seat.

"Why, when your team has been thrashed," he asked, "does it matter that you get a consolation try?" "Because it's my son that scored it," said Habana.

"Well, that's the most wonderful thing," said the England supporter, "the most wonderful thing."

For the Habanas, it was. Their boy started his first match against Scotland a week later and scored his second and third international tries. His Test career has just reached the end of its first year and already he has scored tries against England, New Zealand, Australia and France. His tries-to-matches ratio is extraordinary.

As a talented, educated and intelligent non-white Springbok, his importance to the team transcends conventional boundaries.

When South Africa played Australia earlier this year for the Mandela Trophy, a game organised by the former president to raise awareness for the fight against Aids, Nelson Mandela greeted the players wearing Habana's international cap, the one from Twickenham. He also spoke on the telephone to Mandela, who wanted to talk "to that youngster who scores all the tries".

Habana is aware of the particular responsibility he bears.

"Oh, definitely. But it is good. When I go back home and a white person tells me how they love to see me score tries for the team, or a person of colour tells me I am the reason they started watching rugby, that's a good feeling. This was what I wanted 10 years ago, to represent what South Africa
can achieve, to be proud of South Africa, to be part of a country that has so many cultural differences and can still say, 'It's not about colour, it is about the person '.

"It is a huge task, something I realise more and more each day. I appreciate how difficult it is, this path being laid before me, and I just hope I can continue to take it for a very long time."

So when the game is over, he waits and he signs every last autograph. Nobody is turned down.

Bernie looks at his 22-year-old son and worries that he is taking on too much. "You must learn to say no on some occasions," he tells him.

But Habana has a good memory. "Remember when I was young, dad," he said to his father, "and we would wait for the Springboks and you would tell me to look at the faces of the kids who didn't get an autograph?" He will get on with it; many miles to travel before he sleeps. Professional rugby meant his BSc university degree was not completed, and that is something he still wants to finish. In the past 12 months the team has moved from sixth in the world to second and although he appreciates the last section of the climb will be the toughest, he fervently believes it will happen.

What does it mean for the kid at the end of his first year of international rugby judged one of the five best players in the world? "To be listed alongside Dan Carter, Victor Matfield, Tana Umaga and Richie McCaw is for me as good as winning. I rate Tana Umaga as one of the most respected players to have played the game; Dan is one of the most exciting and yet one of the surest; Richie McCaw is one of the all-time great No 7s; and Victor has been doing it for a few years now, South Africa's outstanding player.

"I will only be successful if I can achieve the consistency that Victor shows in his game.

"To get the respect of your peers, you've got to do it again and again. Being nominated this year will be no good unless I get nominated again and again."

Bernie brought his son to Cape Town 10 years ago so that the boy could sense for himself the greatness of rugby and perhaps see a vision for a new, vibrant nation. He hoped it might spark something, and all along the way, he said it would only work if the young player was driven by a love for the game.

"Bryan is a professional, but he doesn't play for money. He doesn't need to. My business (the home improvements company Three By Four) has been successful and Bryan has a lot of shares. I tell him that I am working hard to make him wealthy. All the money that he has received in endorsements has
been placed in a trust fund and if he stopped playing now, then he wouldn't have to work again."

There are, though, things that he has to do, rugby and stuff just as important. Victories to satisfy his competitive streak, tries to quench his thirst for excitement, hearts to win over, mindsets to alter: rugby can be your game, South Africa is our country.

Did he choose this path or was it chosen for him? What does it matter? The important thing is that he keeps travelling.

The flying Springbok who went from obscurity to pin-up boy in the blink of an eye

BRYAN HABANA, the clean-cut, turbo-charged Springbok, is rapidly establishing himself as South Africa's Jonny Wilkinson minus the injuries, with his image on magazine covers and sponsors queuing at his door.

After helping South Africa win the Under-21 World Cup, he marked his full Test debut with a try against England within five minutes of coming off the bench at Twickenham in 2004. He raced over for two more against Scotland the next week, demonstrating his ability as a lethal long- range strike runner with an eye for the interception. The 22-year-old's electric pace has seen him scorch to 15 tries in 15 Tests, already making him his country's ninth- highest all-time try-scorer, yet Habana does not see himself as a wing.

He started his career as a scrum-half at King Edward Vll School in Johannesburg, where his talent was spotted by Jake White, the Springbok coach. Although Habana now plays on the wing, he says he would much rather play centre.

The winner of South Africa's player of the year award has just been named the world's best newcomer to Test rugby by the International Rugby Board - barely a year ago, many of his countrymen questioned Habana's right to be in the team.

Nicknamed Brock, Habana plays Super 12 Rugby for the Blue Bulls in Pretoria, scoring nine tries in 12 games since joining last season.

He comes from a close family, and his father, Bernie, is Habana's biggest supporter. The multi-millionaire owner of a successful home improvements business has travelled the world to support his son in every international match he has played so far
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Other Unions/ Teams: Precious little time to turn the All Black tide

By: Mick Cleary
Source: The Telegraph

Andy Farrell will not be the only one reaching for the erase button on any video review of the year. Jonny Wilkinson, Brian O'Driscoll, Sir Clive Woodward - memories are not made of this.

The pall of a wretched Lions tour hangs heavy, the bonfire of British and Irish vanities smouldering still. Scorched by inflated expectations, it was not a pleasant experience.

Perhaps, though, we shouldn't look to douse the embers. Perhaps we should leave the amnesia-inducing gadgets alone. The lessons from that summer trip should be etched in every coach's notepad.

The game in the home unions needs to look backwards if it is to move forward. It needs to take on board just how the Kiwis were so dominant, just how it was, and is, that New Zealand can play with such freedom of expression and be successful.

True, England did run them close at Twickenham. But consider that New Zealand were on their last legs after an arduous season; that England had home advantage; and that they were playing against 14 men for the best part of half an hour with three All Blacks in the sin-bin.

We can carp about Kiwi cheating, rail against their indiscretions, yawn wearily about their obsessive, one-eyed support. But these are mere gripes and sour grapes. The black tide was pretty much irresistible across planet rugby.

The game in England is at a key juncture. Its power-play inclinations will take it so far. On its own it will not be enough to win another World Cup.

It has somehow got lost amid the fug of extended Sydney celebrations that England did not simply bulldozer their way along Route One to get their hands on the Webb Ellis trophy. The Martin Johnson-fashioned victory had its origins in a far more complex, multi-faceted game than is now being acknowledged.

England spluttered through that tournament, causing them to go back to basics. In the six months prior to that night of glory, they played some quite breathtaking rugby, notably when dismantling Ireland to win the Grand Slam in Dublin and then doing a similarly impressive number on Australia in Melbourne.

Andy Robinson's England have to find an equally devastating range of abilities if they are to prosper in France in two years' time. The signs are not promising, for reasons not wholly in Robinson's control.

The Premiership over the last 12 months has not been an awe-inducing environment. Too much caution, not enough desire to explore new frontiers. The fear of relegation preys on the mind of at least six clubs. Someone needs to flick the switch and liberate the players.

Cast your mind back over the last year and it is difficult to lift too many gilt-edged memories from the domestic locker. Wasps have had their moments, so too Sale, blending might with sleight. Even Toulouse, though, failed to tickle the aesthete's buds, their Heineken Cup victory over Stade Francais at Murrayfield a triumph of pragmatism rather than adventure.

Wales, of course, did throw off the shackles and got their reward. They dared to fail and succeeded as a result. Their brand of rugby suits their temperament, their build and their resources.

The fact that the Six Nations opens with the Grand Slam champions coming to Twickenham is just the thing to whet the jaded appetite. That game will set the tone for so much of what follows.

So much for the collective. What of the individual? Hats tipped to Mike Ruddock and his close-knit band of brothers in Wales, with their unassuming ways. So, too, to Martin Corry, whose flinty, self-effacing style has given England the necessary inner core. They have the foundations.

Now they need the frills. Expect the Wasps flanker Tom Rees to become a fixture in the England back row and let's hope that Mathew Tait, the 19-year-old Newcastle centre, gets the chance to show that the scars of last year's Wales-England encounter have well and truly healed.

Gavin Henson picked him up that day and dumped him from a great height. Fate has introduced the spikey-haired one to the other half of the twin imposters since that day. Farrell would dearly love the chance to make acquaintance with even a distant cousin twice removed of triumph. He is desperate to play, to show what he has to offer.

The same is true, if for different reasons, of England. They have no obligation to win over hearts and minds. They need to impress the opposition, not their critics. That will be the best way of all to banish the blues of 2005.

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Other Unions/ Teams: Pumas in Spain spells seventh heaven in Europe


By: Eddie Butler
Source: The Observer

A final word, I promise, on the subject of New Zealand's sweep of the Pacific Ocean to keep her All Black rugby stocks brimful. And then, good cheer all round.

It was pointed out to me last week by no less an authority than Syd Millar, chairman of the International Rugby Board, that there is no point banging on about injustice for the islanders when they themselves do not seem to be harbouring many grievances on the matter. True, it's not as if the rugby players of Tonga, Samoa and Fiji are being taken down to NZ forcibly


Syd, none the less once as concerned as anyone on the Atlantic side of the globe about the improvement of one country's lot at the expense of several others', had raised the issue, only to be told at prime-ministerial level that the monies sent back by émigré players amounted to a not entirely insignificant ingredient in the islands' economic cakes.
So, that, it appears, is that. It is not a question of Kiwi piracy, but honourable redistribution of the Kiwi dollar. And the chances of anyone currently lying outside the traditional top eight making it into the quarter-finals of a World Cup recede further.

The only hope, dare it be countenanced, is to relax, not tighten, the regulations concerning eligibility. In such a way might, say, Joe Rokocoko and his cousin Sitiveni Sivivatu, once they have served the All Black paymaster, become available once again to the land of their birth, Fiji.

Syd, it must be said, didn't appear to think this was the answer to all his prayers. Something about a piqued Welshman hopping off to play for Scotland, or an Englishman ship-jumping to Italy seemed to offend his Northern Irish soul. But there must, surely, be something that can be done to increase the numbers in rugby's international elite...

I borrow the following idea from Scott Johnson, at the moment the skills coach with Wales, but who is being courted by appointment boards the world over, ranging from Leicester to Australia. Now here is a radical thinker on the game, only too happy, as a Parramatta boy, to look beyond the parish.

Why not, mused the bloke who prowls the touchline in his shorts when Wales play - a sort of rabble-rouser to the crowd and comfort blanket to the players - make the Six Nations seven? Invite Argentina into the old European championship and base them for its duration in Spain?

Most of the Argentine players already play club rugby in Europe. Putting them up for two months in Barcelona or Madrid or San Sebastian - or maybe making them peripatetic in all three - would provide them with the comforts of home language and could do wonders for the Iberian game. Would travelling fans from these parts shun the notion of a weekend in any of those cities?

Having seven in the championship would give each country three matches at home and three away, fairer than the current 3-2 or 2-3 split. And there would be a rest weekend for each country, never a bad thing in these congested times.

The inclusion of the Pumas would stretch the timescale of the Seven Nations. Another good reason, then, to move the whole thing down the calendar, to the end of the European season, where it would be an international showpiece in its own slot. No cup rounds in the middle, no tug-of-war between coaches. The clubs would have finished with the players and could hand them over without rancour to the countries. San Sebastian is nice enough in February; in April you could stick the cossie in.

I am trying to think of any drawbacks. Not having consulted the Union Argentina de Rugby is a bit presumptuous, but I just thought it might be better aired first than damned before birth by a blazer at the Belgrano club. The Pumas leave Buenos Aires over my dead body, and all that.

Argentina might resist the lure of Europe if they thought they were in with a chance of being invited into the Tri-Nations. South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby - SANZAR - are not, however, exactly tumbling over themselves to extend the hand of welcome. Perhaps they wouldn't know where to insert another A in their acronym. Theirs is an exclusive rugby club, in that they are very good, but they also do a mean line in exclusion.

Staging an annual Seven Nations would detract from the quadrennial World Cup. But, to be honest, ever since Japan were snubbed as hosts for the 2011 tournament, I am not sure the World Cup is going to stand the test of time, or whether we should even be that bothered.

The England victory of 2003 was a landmark occasion, as was the South Africa triumph of 1995. Neither, though, became the keystone that could support a skyscraper of development. England and South Africa rather fell apart after winning. The import of the Rugby World Cup may be overblown.

If human migratory patterns and the flux of money across the Pacific are beyond the control of the IRB, rugby's governing body could argue that the venue of the World Cup is similarly beyond its influence. The would-be host countries tender their bids, lobby the voting unions and subject themselves to selection by secret ballot.

In that respect, New Zealand won the 2011 raffle fair and square. And they will do a very good job. Splendid place. Lovely. But it said about as much about growth as a lawn in January.

We have only one thing to resolve in the World Cup, and that is France winning the thing. Once they have achieved that at home in 2007, we shall be back to square one: New Zealand won the inaugural World Cup in 1987 and they shall win in 2011. Australia, England, South Africa and France will take it in turns to give it a five-country veneer of global credibility.

Japan would not have won the World Cup at home in 2011. But at least staging it in Tokyo and Osaka and whizzing fans past Mount Fuji would have been a new experience. Something, heaven forbid, a little daring. But no, back we go. Backwards and inwards. Oh my. Bah, humbug.

It isn't all depressing. Wales - sorry, had to get it in - lit up the 2005 Six Nations and if there have been two better atmospheres than the night and day at the Millennium Stadium when England and Ireland came to play, then we have been truly touched by sport.

The All Blacks, with their three teams of world-class performers, from John Afoa to Tony Woodcock through all the Mealamus and Jacks and McCaws, played rugby as scintillating as has ever been seen. And the person who thought they might be vulnerable at the scrummage should be taking some strong pills. Carl Hayman and Woodcock have done for the New Zealand scrum what Dan Carter and Aaron Mauger have done for their backs: combined strength and skill and style with just a touch of law-bending.

Wales's 2005 win over England and the contrast in the neighbours' styles will ensure that the 2006 Six Nations will be off to a flying start. There is much in the small world of rugby to look forward to.

If there is not a Pacific Ocean of promise out there at least the game can still serve up drama by the large pondful. As we say in the newspaper business, perhaps we just have to downsize sometimes and say that smaller can be better. If you're a player take care. If not, go wild. Merry Christmas.

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International Teams: England's fourth November Test delays European tour schedule

"The IRB has yet to approve the initiative because the South African Rugby Union has not tabled an official request, and that is not likely to be forthcoming with the calendar for the next couple of years so tight."

Paul Rees
Saturday December 17, 2005
The Guardian

Next autumn's European tour schedule still has to be signed off because of England's decision to stage a fourth international at Twickenham in November to mark the opening of the new south stand, while the Pacific Islands, who are due to play Wales, Ireland and Scotland, are looking for financial guarantees.

The schedule should have been released earlier this month, but it will not be officially announced until next week at the earliest. England, who have two internationals against South Africa and one against Argentina under the International Rugby Board's tour schedule, have also arranged to play the All Blacks on November 4.

Under IRB regulations, unions are allocated three Tests in November which are given full international status, meaning that clubs are obliged to make their players available. In recent years, some countries, led by Wales, have arranged a fourth international, which has led to disputes with teams in France and England over the release of players which is at the discretion of the clubs for the extra fixture.
The board, appreciating that in the current climate of hostility between the Rugby Football Union and Premier Rugby there is no way the clubs will agree to release their players for a fourth Test next autumn, fears that England will decree the match against Argentina as the one which lies outside the international window, which could prompt French clubs to refuse to release their Argentinians for the fixture.

The growing use of the extra international in November has prompted the IRB to look at the idea of reviving the traditional end of tour fixture between the Barbarians and a major southern hemisphere nation. It will not happen until 2008 at the earliest as 2007 is a World Cup year, even though South Africa had agreed to play the invitation club for three years starting next autumn.

The IRB has yet to approve the initiative because the South African Rugby Union has not tabled an official request, and that is not likely to be forthcoming with the calendar for the next couple of years so tight. The Barbarians' major matches are underwritten by the lawyer and promoter Steven Berrick: his contract with the club ends next year and the Board, which recognises the commercial appeal of the Baa-Baas, said it would have no problem with Berrick continuing to be involved, though it would almost certainly look to hand over some of the profits from matches to emerging nations.

The Pacific Islands - Fiji, Samoa and Tonga - are also holding up the release of the schedule. They want a share of the income from television deals and gate receipts. Wales and France will play four Tests while Ireland - who take on South Africa and Australia - and Scotland, whose only major opponents will be the Wallabies, have three each.
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Other Sport: Call for life bans after Kaffir slurs


Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Picture: Touchline
By Alex Brown and Chloe Saltau
December 22, 2005

SOUTH African cricket's most influential figure, Ali Bacher, has called on the International Cricket Council to ban racist fans for life in the wake of the Perth Test, during which several Proteas players were branded "Kaffirs" and "Kaffir brothers" by sections of the WACA Ground crowd.

Bacher - who captained South Africa at the time of their exclusion from international competition, organised rebel tours through the apartheid years and was instrumental in leading the Proteas back to the world stage as chief executive - insisted racist crowd members deserved "no leniency" from cricket's authorities.

"With our background, and with all we have achieved in the new South Africa, this behaviour is abhorrent," Bacher told the Herald from South Africa last night. "One can only strongly suggest that in this situation, the strongest penalty should be handed out to those responsible. I don't think a life ban would be out of place."

Bacher's anger was echoed by South Africa's first black Test cricketer, Makhaya Ntini, who said he was deeply wounded by the racial taunts directed at him and four other teammates on Sunday.

Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Garnett Kruger and Justin Kemp were branded "Kaffirs" and "Kaffir brothers" on Sunday - derogatory terms used to describe black people and their white associates during the apartheid era.

The offending crowd members were not evicted from the ground - apparently because stadium staff were unaware the terms were offensive to South Africans - although security measures were tightened.

Cricket Australia officials later reiterated the body's zero-tolerance racism policy, warning that any similar crowd outbursts this season would result in automatic ejection.

Australia's captain Ricky Ponting, CA officials and International Cricket Council chief executive Malcolm Speed were among those yesterday to denounce the racist taunts. But none of their criticisms possessed the deep, personal anger of Bacher and Ntini, all too aware of their country's past sins and current efforts for reconciliation.

"When it comes to the racial point of view, that's a different story," Ntini told the Herald. "Those are the words we don't want to hear. It's absolutely uncalled for and it's unbearable. We are united now, we are singing one song and we play sport with one heart.

"You just look at the person and say … 'You can swear to me, you can tell me my mum is a so-and-so', but when it comes to those words, nobody can take it."

"We are very happy that Cricket Australia and the ICC are taking a stand."

Initial reports suggested the abuse came from Perth-based expatriate South Africans. However, the Proteas players are adamant the racial taunts emanated from a predominantly Australian section of the crowd.

Infuriated by the heckling, the players informed team managers who, in turn, approached the match referee, Chris Broad, and John Rhodes, the regional head of the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit.

Security guards were dispersed to the boundary to monitor the crowd and protect the players - measures that will remain in place at international venues for the rest of the summer.

Under ICC regulations, national boards are instructed to print the council's anti-racist statement on tickets and/or posters at stadium entrances. Additionally, stadium staff are instructed to take action at the first sign of racial abuse from the crowd and remind them that their "… comments and actions will result in ejection from the ground and possible further action".

"I would hope that all cricket fans in Australia will support Cricket Australia's efforts to avoid a repeat of this behaviour," said Speed. "The fact that this is an isolated incident by a small number of people in one country does not lessen the game's resolve to address the issue."

There was racial trouble on the first day of the match, too, when ground officials ejected a small group in the crowd who held up a sign that racially vilified the Lebanese community; an unwelcome reminder of the recent Cronulla riots. Those fans were ejected from the ground.

Ponting expressed dismay that an Australian crowd needed to be warned about racism, saying: "It's disappointing - neither myself nor any of the players knew anything about this matter until a fair while after the game last night, but it's disappointing to think that would have happened.

"It's something Cricket Australia certainly don't condone and the players are very much aware of this sort of stuff not happening, so it's disappointing that a small part of the crowd would ruin what was otherwise a pretty intense and a good day of Test-match cricket. There is no room for racism in sport whatsoever. The players are all very aware of that."

Gerald Majola, chief executive of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, was similarly disturbed by the Perth incident.

"We hope that this will not happen again, and appeal to all to abide by the ICC's anti-racism policy," he said.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

Other Sport: Security for Proteas stepped up

The safety surrounding the South African cricketers in Australia would be "tightened considerably" according to manager Muhammad Moosajee. Security personnel at Australian cricket grounds will also be coached to recognise slurs in Afrikaans and other foreign languages.

These steps are taken following the racial slants directed at Protea fielders on the third day of the first test match in Perth. The squad would now be joined by additional security guards everywhere and not just at the stadiums.

Using the same chant as "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie", several players, among them Makhaya Ntini, Ashwell Prince and Garnett Kruger were victims of the chants "Kaffir, Kaffir, Kaffir," while Shaun Pollock and Justin Kemp were told that they were "Kaffir brothers."

Australia has been in the news the past few weeks because of racial tension in Sydney. The team management acknowledged that the players were uneasy because of the prospect of travelling there.

"We will have to lie low and make sure we avoid areas where there possibly could be trouble," said UCB spokesperson Moabi Litheko.

Peter Young, public affairs manager for Cricket Australia, said staff in front of the Inverarity Stand in Perth were aware of the shouting, "but did not know what the words meant".


Sources: Christo Buchner (News24) and Michael Doman (IOL)
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RuggaWorld Humour: What Xmas gifts for SA Rugby?

Cape Argus rugby scribe Dale Granger has prepared a Christmas basket for SA Rugby. RugRats are encouraged to read through and then add their own Christmas wishes for whomever they feel are in need of one.

Once again, I've left my Christmas shopping late, the dilemma being: What to give South African Rugby? Here's hoping an e-mail to Santa or a visit to ebay will help find the goodies to bring some festive.

If all goes well, the Christmas box will contain these choice gifts:

Brian van Rooyen
A Hummer. The Saru president failed to procure a Rover through the aborted Cheetahs sponsorship and with all the flak flying in rugby, he'll need all the protection he can get. But the budget means he can opnly have a model SUV, which could be useful as a paperweight.

Jake White
What do you give a man who has a home in Steenberg and his own Bok team? Daniel Carter would be a perfect gift, but he's already been taken. Perhaps a flyhalf who isn't injury prone?

André Markgraaff
Never far from controversy or conflict, Markgraaff is one of those characters who ensures that there never is a dull day at SA Rugby. A copy of Dale Carnegie's 'How to win friends and influence people'.

Johan Prinsloo
It's been a tumultous season for the chief executive of Saru, so get him a personal assistant who doesn't run off screaming protests of sexual harassment every time they get a pat on the cheek.

Western Province Rugby Union
A trophy, any trophy, but particularly a Currie Cup replica. Old Mother Hubbard's been bare for some time now and this would the ideal gift to remind the blue blazers of the days of yore when Newlands shone with silverware.

Mick Mallett
An annual subscription to the Daily Voice and Son. OK, OK, just kidding, Nick.

Kobus van der Merwe
Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield and Gurthro Steenkamp, wrapped in blue and white striped jerseys, would be the ideal present for the WP coach. Unfortunately Loftus isn't putting any of their prized Bulls up for sale.

SA Rugby's lawyers
Renewed contracts. These guys did a roaring trade at SA Rugby's expense in 2005.

Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana
Being made available for more interviews in 2006. The three Bok stars were barely given the chance to market themselves, or their team this season after White said no player should be bigger than the coach.

The fans
A pledge from SA Rugby's administrators to bury selfish, personal ambitions and petty squabbles. Oh well, we all have our wishlists...

OK, RugRats, you are now free to add yours:
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Rugby Personalities: Looking back: Dr Bertie Strasheim


On the 28th of June 1998 the Sunday Times announced the death of Dr Bertie Strasheim. Strasheim doesn't have a high profile amongst South African rugby fans but he was one of the important cogs that kept the game rolling over the decades. He was the referee in the turbulent 1968 Currie Cup final between Transvaal and Northern Transvaal. Strasheim handled 8 tests in all, his full test record is provided below the Sunday Times article.

Strasheim one of the best

By: NEIL STEYN
Source: www.sundaytimes.co.za
Posted: 28th June 1998


THE recent death of Dr Bertie Strasheim, one of the legends of South African rugby, went to a large extent unnoticed as Bafana Bafana were eliminated in France, the Irish were creating a sensation in South Africa and the SA cricket team were on song in England. Was a respected official. Ask Frik du Preez, Thys Lourens, Mof Myburg and many others who was the best referee they ever played under and they would all agree there was only one - Strasheim.

Honesty from home-town referees in the days before mutual referees was debatable. All agree there was one honest man, Strasheim.

In an interview shortly before his death, Strasheim, a specialist, said he made many mistakes, but never favoured any side. It was against his principles.

"Rugby is only a game, not life. It was my duty to be fair. I made a point of knowing the laws and always did my best," he said.

Even when the man in charge made mistakes, the top players never queried his decisions, for he immediately said he was sorry.

A Currie Cup final between Northern Transvaal and Western Province was nearly not played because Province threatened to stay away if Strasheim was not appointed. In the end, they accepted the man Northerns had appointed.

Strasheim was regarded in all big rugby playing countries as the best in the world. He believed in controlling the game with a firm hand.

There was a lot of tension before the 1968 final between Transvaal and Northern Transvaal and the good "Doc" decided to take control. A great game developed, but Strasheim admitted later that it was one of the hardest he had handled.

Gys Pitzer and Piston van Wyk were two of the toughest hookers in the business. Both were Boks playing in the same era.

One day their club sides met and the players went for one another from the first whistle.

Strasheim spoke to them, threatened to send them off and then suddenly blew the whistle.

"OK, kill each other. We'll all stand back. The one who goes to court for murder must remember I will testify against him," he said. That was the end of the battle.

There are numerous stories about this giant whose father also handled international games. He will be fondly remembered.

26 Jul 1958 France Draw: 3-3 Newlands, Cape Town
30 Apr 1960 Scotland Win: 18-10 EPRFU Stadium (Boet Erasmus), Port Elizabeth
25 Jun 1960 New Zealand Win: 13-0 Ellispark, Johannesburg
23 Jun 1962 Britain Draw: 3-3 Ellispark, Johannesburg
04 Aug 1962 Britain Win: 8-3 Newlands, Cape Town
25 Jul 1964 France Lose: 6-8 P.A.M. Brink Stadium, Springs
15 Jul 1967 France Win: 26-3 Kingspark, Durban
27 Jul 1968 Britain Win: 19-6 Ellispark, Johannesburg
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Rugby Personalities: Happy Birthday

Rugga World sends best wishes to another two stalwarts of the Springbok game - Piston van Wyk, who turned 62 today and Gysie Pienaar, who turned 51. Piston was a genuine hard man of South African rugby who represented the Boks in 15 Tests at hooker whilst Gysie remains many Springbok fans first choice fullback in a 'Legends XV'.

Piston van Wyk
Full names: Jacobus Frederick Beatrix
Date of birth: 21 Dec 1943
Place of birth: Vereeniging, South Africa
School: John Orr, Johannesburg
Initial province: Northern Transvaal

Current age: 62

Test summary: Tests: 15 Tries: 0
First Test: 25 Jul 1970 Age:26 Hooker against New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Last Test: 18 Sep 1976 Age:32 Hooker against New Zealand at Ellispark, Johannesburg

Gysie Pienaar
Full names: Zacharias Matheus Johannes
Date of birth: 21 Dec 1954
Place of birth: Bloemfontein, South Africa
School: Dr Viljoen, Bloemfontein
Initial province: Orange Free State
Physical: 1.78m, 80kg
Current age: 51

Test summary: Tests: 13 Tries: 2
First Test: 3 May 1980 Age:25 Reserve against South America at Kingspark, Durban
Last Test: 12 Sep 1981 Age:26 Full Back against New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland

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Other Unions/ Teams: Vickerman on the mend


Source: www.southernspears.co.za/

Wallaby second-row Dan Vickerman is eyeing a return for New South Wales Waratahs at the start of the new Super 14 competition. He was ruled out for much of the international season with a serious shoulder injury. "All reports from the surgeon, physio and doctor are that it is going well and things are on the mend as they should be," Vickerman said.

"We are playing Queensland in Brisbane and that's always a fairly big challenge for us so I am definitely aiming for that game but we'll re-assess that closer to the time."

Vickerman played in the World cup final and was a integral part of the Wallaby tight five. In the second half of the year whilst Vickerman was out injured the Wallaby forwards struggled to find parity with most of the teams they played.

Vickerman said the entire pack needed to take responsibility when things went wrong. "I don't know if (the blame on the front rowers) was justified," he said.

"I'm a firm believer that the scrum is an eight-man unit and I think everyone has to be accountable if the scrum is not going well."

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Super 14: Painting the town RED!!!


Port Elizabeth: 15H00: SOUTHERN SPEARS INVITES 6,000 NELSON MANDELA METRO EMPLOYEES TO INAUGURAL GAME

In a mammoth display of solidarity and inclusiveness, that is becoming the hallmark of the Southern Spears Super 14 rugby franchise, today announced, at a media conference at City Hall, an invitation to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality and their 6,000 employees and families to attend the inaugural match on the 14th January 2006.

Mr. Aldy Meyer, Chairman of the Southern Spears Super 14 Franchise, declared, “This is an unprecedented offering in South African rugby, to offer over R400,000-00 worth of complimentary tickets to the Nelson Mandela Municipality. We feel it is time that the rugby passion in the region is ignited and that all rugby fans and their families in the area, are afforded the opportunity to watch the Spears at their inaugural match against the 2005 Currie Cup Champions”.

Already some 10,000 tickets with a face value of R65-00 have been taken up in response to the Southern Spears press and radio campaign on Algoa FM.

This early gift of Christmas cheer is also extended to all Port Elizabeth’s corporations and their employees to support the Southern Spears team, on condition that tickets are collected before the 7th January and that supporters wear red on the day of the match.

Another interesting incentive and motivation to supporters is that VIP parking for 1,000 cars has been set aside for all red, black and white cars, directly outside the stadium grounds in a specially cordoned off parking section.

The spontaneous response of the public has been so overwhelming, with families planning to spend the entire afternoon at the EP Rugby Union grounds to watch the curtain raiser and squad of SpearLeaders, that the Municipality’s Traffic and Disaster Management Division have already planned for a series of meetings in anticipation of a full stadium of 30,000.

In a further gracious gesture, the Nelson Mandela Metro Fire Department have been allocated prime parking and seating for their red fire engines and firemen and firewomen.

The much anticipated game of the Southern Spears against the Free State Cheetahs, the 2005 Currie Cup Champions is intended to be a huge baptism of fire for Peter de Villiers’ squad of 28 players, who represent the regions new crop of players. The Southern Spears will burst onto the South African rugby scene on the 14th January 2006 when they meet the Cheetahs in a warm up friendly in Port Elizabeth.

De Villiers’ acumen and excellent judge of rugby talent, has crafted a team of virtual unknowns into the Southern Spears, a formidable and exciting team of the People. Without any prescribed formula to develop a Southern Spears Team, de Villiers and his assistant coaches, Dumisani Mhani of Border and Johan Lerm of South Western Districts, have called up a squad of 28 talented and conditioned players that is representative of Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts and especially of South Africa.

The players have been assessed by the Sports Science Institute and SA Rugby’s High Performance Unit and have been rated in fitness, strength, endurance and stamina, as good as the best rugby players in South Africa. Tony McKeever, CEO of the Southern Spears said, “It is our objective to fill the stadium in a sea of red, on the afternoon of the 14th January 2006, to allow our players to draw off the passion and enthusiasm of the crowd of supporters, that have turned out to watch them play”. McKeever went on to add, “Our players are in peak physical condition but need to be so psychologically motivated to win, a full stadium, will enhance their mental toughness and desire to win. Can you imagine the shock waves that will reverberate through South African rugby if the Spears beat the 2005 Currie Cup Champions? It is possible and our team knows it. That is why we are calling for the support and turn out of the people of the Nelson Mandela Metro to support their team”.

The Southern Spears Super 14 campaign starts on the 14th January against the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth, the 21st January 2006 against the Cats in East London and the 28th January against the Stormers in Wellington.

Thereafter the Southern Spears are on an international campaign against the likes of Kenya, the USA Eagles, Uruguay, Madagascar and Argentina before they commence duty in the 2006 Currie Cup.

If anyone desires a ticket for their friends and family, they are to e-mail info@thespears.co.za before the 7th January 2006 and they have to wear red on the day of the match on the 14th January 2006.
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RUGGAWORLD HUMOUR: Father Christmas delivers for South African rugby

In true journalistic style, DavidS (that’s me) read the rugby365 Christmas wish list with some petulance and a decidedly green monster on his shoulder for not having thought of this sooner. So in true Darryl Bristowe Bovey style, here goes with the plagiarism and a distinctively South African rugby flavour to the Christmas wishlist.

Interpid reporter DavidS detoured from Namibia for his appointment to show Yvette the dreaded roundhouse on a urinating insectoid, and dropped in at the regional office of Antarctica’s greatest export to check the South African wishlist for Christmas. Sneaking past prowling security elves, DavidS (that’s me) managed to get to the letters before Father Christmas (Santa is something in America) used the letters for his ablutions. He managed to sneak some peeks at what South African rugby’s names and teams want for Christmas.



Jake White: (HAH! 365 was reading the wishlist of South African fans and not Jake’s – scoop) “Please let the rush defence work for one more year so I can keep my job”

Moaner Vd Merwe: “A tight Five”

Frans Ludeke: “Let paper strength become onfield performance”

The Sharks: “Please don’t let us get relegated. Please please please” – Father Christmas had made a note on this reading “Note to self: Pass onto God: This is beyond my power to grant”

The Boks: “Some rest please”

Percy Montgomery: “A book on how to field up and unders”

Freestate: “Another one of the same please”

Bulls Fans: “REVENGE!!!!!”

The Spears: “No litigation please”

SWD: “Some Dr Phil magic”

Gert Smal: “A book called: ‘Coaching Forwards: A beginners guide for school coaches’”

Johan Prinsloo: “A Personality like Tony McKeever”

Brian Van Rooyen: “”A book on: ‘The cover up: Do’s and Don’t’s’ by The Apartheid Regime”

Brian Van Zyl: “Please let this newspaper gimmick thingie work”

Jonathan Kaplan: “A pair of glasses and the IRB Rules book”

The Cats: “Let the S14 be decided on paper…cos then we’ll win.”

The Stormers backs: “Some ball from our forwards”

The Stormers forwards: “Help….and maybe a decent flyhalf”

SARU: “A communications department…….and Louis Luyt and corporate governance, a brain, an HR department, some intelligence, good management and…oh just replace us” – Unfortunately Father Christmas made a note here that said: “Note to self: Ditto: See Sharks”

Bok Fans: BEAT ENGLAND!!!!!!!

Joe Van Niekerk: “A coach that teaches me to run straight”

Schalk Burger: “A brain”

Os: “One more year please one more year”

Victor Matfield: “Some bulk so I can also get tough in the tight stuff like Bakkies”

Butch James: “A pass from hospital” – okay so I copied that one…..

Wikus Van Heerden: “Recognition”

Fourie Du Preez and Johan Roets: “Hearing aids so we can hear calls of ‘Mine’ on the field”

The Falcons: “Some money please”

The small unions: “Help from SARU please”

Hanyane Shimange: “Just some game time please”

Wpw: “Fur for his dashboard on the new car”

Pissant: “Gus Theron is arrested for being part of the Boeremag and exiled to Greenland for the rest of existence”

OO: “More of the same”

Also: “Revenge and the CC in its rightful place at Loftus”

Kandas: “Redbull, rest, no pressure and a good year for the Spears and SWD”

Donner: “A tight Five for WP”

DavidS: “Being there to watch PA eat his every one of his lines about the Lions/Cats being a paper team”

Province: “Passing the pencil test”

StP: “Some sun and the Bulls winning again”

St Michel: “A nice hairbrush spanking from Yvette” (Not gonna happen St Mick!)

The Spearleaders: DavidS (Sorry girls, I’ve already got a nice French girl who is all too grateful for some help I rendered to her…MAYBE NEXT YEAR)


DavidS (I) looked for something from the Kiwis, but saw a letter from them to Father Christmas saying: “Our deal with Satan still stands and we’re still the best in the world so we don’t need anything seeing as we’re pretending to be God’s gift to rugby till the next World Cup semi-final, when we have to renegotiate with Satan”. DavidS tried to find the one for England and came across the Aussie one which is long enough to fill a whole book. At this stage some pesky elf heard the sound of Yvette stocking inexplicably coming down and DavidS had to make a run for it and jet off to the diametric opposite of the world. Namibia for the urinating insect’s date with a roundhouse and an explanation of what paper can really do.
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Other Unions: Harrison in the dock again


Disgraced former Wallaby lock Justin Harrison has failed to comply with conditions of a sentence handed down to him by a SANZAR Judicial Committee earlier this year, following the racial slurs he hurled at Cats wing Chumani Booi in a Super 12 match between the Waratahs and Cats in Johannesburg in March this year.

Harrison, who has been involved in a number of on-field incidents this year and currently plays for Irish province Ulster, will also appear before an independent European Disciplinary Committee as a result of a citing lodged against him following the Round Four Heineken Cup Pool Four match between Saracens and Ulster at Vicarage Road last Saturday, December 17.

The veteran lock forward was given an "extension" to comply with the orders of the SANZAR hearing, according to a statement issued on Wednesday.

"A SANZAR Judicial Committee comprising of Chairman Terry Willis, Kim Garling and Mick Mathers, met in Sydney today [Wednesday] to consider an application from Justin Harrison relating to his compliance with orders made relating to a sentence imposed on 20 March 2005," the SANZAR statement said.

"The Committee granted Harrison an extension until 1 September 2006 to comply with the 20 March 2005 orders, having considered his commitments to playing Rugby in Ireland."

Back in March, following his racial outburst against Booi, the Judicial Committee suspended Harrison for three Super 12 matches.

Harrison was also fined AU$20,000 (US$14.600) to be paid on or before 31 December 2005. However, the Judicial Committee decided to suspend the payment of the fine upon the condition that Harrison completes his offer to attend an anti-discrimination course, run by the Anti-discrimination Board of NSW, and serve 30 hours community service delivering anti-vilification workshops to Academy Players of the ACTRU, NSWRU, QRU and the Australian Rugby Institute.

But Harrison joined Ulster soon after the completion of the Super 12 season, where the Waratahs lost 35-25 to the Crusaders in the Final.

It means he has not complied with any of the conditions, attended the anti-discrimination course or served his community service.

During the Super 12, following the racial incident in the Cats match, Harrison was again cited for on-field violence - after a bust-up with Highlanders lock Filipo Levi in the game between the Waratahs and the Highlanders on May 1.

Harrison was later cleared on a technicality, with the judicial committee stating that it "accepted that the pursuit of Levi by Harrison was a reaction to a high level of provocation and mistaken identity".

The latest incident involving Harrison came after he was cited for contravention of Law: 10.4 (a) - which states: "A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s)."

The independent European Disciplinary Committee will be chaired by Professor Lorne D. Crerar (SRU). Douglas Hunter and Iain Goodall (both SRU) will complete the independent Disciplinary Committee who will hear the citings in Glasgow on Friday, December 23.

Source: http://www.rugby365.com

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Rugga World Humour: All I want for Christmas...


Yeah so rugby news is slow this time of the year. But in true Rugga World style, we will go out and find the stories for you. This pearler I got off Rugby365, one of the better Christmas articles I read and this one is actually damn funny.

Visit http://www.rugby365.com for up to date rugby news and sports fun

All I want for Christmas...
Tuesday December 20 2005
Reporting from Lapland

In an act of journalistic derring-do not witnessed since the Watergate crisis, our crack team of reporters infiltrated Santa's grotto in Lapland and had a rifle through his incoming mail. Here's what some of rugby's finest are hoping to find under the tree...

Andy Robinson: Australia's backs.

Eddie Jones's successor: England's forwards.

Eddie Jones: Gainful employment and/or a soapbox.

Sir Clive Woodward: His very own scout troop, so he can keep up his preparations for always being prepared. Failing that, a time-machine.

Gavin Henson: A modeling contract - because he's worth it. Or an XXXXXXL hat for his XXXXXXL head.

Brian O'Driscoll: A hand-crafted wooden tribal spear, signed 'no hard feelings mate, Tana and Keven'. Also a DVD, 'NBA's finest slam-dunks'.

Mike Ruddock: A simple handshake from Scott Johnson will suffice.

Shane Williams: Blue suede rugby boots. Keep on dancing.

Jake White: A year's supply of verbal immodium tablets.

Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson: A time machine, to bring them back from the past.

Tana Umaga: A little souvenir Irish leprechaun gnome to stand in his back garden (on it's head).

Dan Carter: A flaw ... it would make the rest of us feel better about ourselves.

Perpignan: A copy of the IRB 'Laws of the game' with the pages on goal-kicking etiquette highlighted in bold Catalan crimson and yellow.

Mathew Tait: A kitbag in the shape of Gavin Henson, which he can pick up and carry around under his arm with one hand.

William Ryder and Waisale Serevi: A dozen pairs of long bri-white cotton socks.

Yoshiro Mori: A specially-modified Playstation rugby game, so he can play his very own Rugby World Cup in Japan's stadium for years to come. (Given the strengths of the Japanese team on the game, it will be 2011 before he can make Japan win it though - ed).

Percy Montgomery: A big red Christmas card, from Bryce Lawrence and Stuart Dickinson.

Bryce Lawrence and Stuart Dickinson: A 'tackling rights and wrongs' DVD, endorsed by Percy Montgomery.

Nigel Starmer-Smith: his old job back (this was a request from everybody who has watched European rugby on TV this year).

The Irish rugby commentators: A second eye with which to watch the game.

Gcobani Bobo: Eyes with which to look where to pass.

Luc Lafforgue, Julien Bonnaire and Lewis Moody: A six-day intensive Capoeira course (Bonnaire was suspended for fifty days for a Kung-Fu kick on Lafforgue in October after Lafforgue had punched Mickaël Forest to the floor, and Moody was suspended for a total of fifteen weeks for punching).

Alastair Campbell: The complete collection of John Le Carré mysteries, so he can see how professionals really go about letting people know what the professionals want them to know.

Gareth Thomas: A special pair of sparkly post-match trousers, so he stops doing post-match pressers in his underpants.

Jason White and Gareth Cooper: Bonus air miles, for travelling all the way to New Zealand just to watch the games they thought they would have been playing in.

Andy Sheridan: A new bench press, with weights up to 500kg so he can stop using Charlie Hodgson as excess.

Matt Dunning: A little pie-shop in the country and/or some acting lessons.

Adam Ashley-Cooper: A pre-match nutrition book, with the pages on how bad it potentially is to eat a pie before making your home debut for your country highlighted in gold and green.

Stephen Larkham: A pack of walnuts, so he can stop dreaming about Drew Mitchell's testicles as a delicacy, and Mitchell can sleep easy. (In Eddie Jones' team-building 'exercise', the Wallabies were asked to concoct feasts out of each others' bodies, and Mitchell's nuts popped up in Larkham's entrées.)

Jérôme Thion: A loud and booming voice with which to shout at John Smit next time they meet each other.

Bill Young: A mathematics course, explaining how a 300kg sledgehammer will be more effective if the striking surface is flat, rather than have 100kg of the weight about a half-metre behind the other 200kg.

Pierre Berbizier: An Italian with real speed, so maybe his team can fulfil its potential at last.

Michael Jones: A diagrammatic instructive DVD explaining the laws of tackling, to help his team forward in 2006.

Jonny Wilkinson: A 365-day pass from hospital.

Andy Farrell: A debut in Rugby Union.

Jean de Villiers: A bungy-jumping cord, so he can throw opposing wingers into a drop and then yank them back out with much less risk of injury to either him or his victim.

Rob Andrew: A dummy, a bonnet, a glass of milk, and some soft toys. All the ones he has spat, cried in, cried about, and thrown around are worn out and battered.

Mario Ledesma: Ditto.

The Scottish Rugby Union: Bums on seats.

Kees Meeuws: French lessons, because eventually, he will have to speak the language if he is to captain the Castres team. It is either that or the Tarnat squad gets down the tattoo shop.

The Argentina Rugby Union: A letter of acknowledgement from the IRB that Argentina is a Test-playing nation. (NB: Santa - this is the tenth time they have asked for the same thing.)

The Pacific Island: Help.

The IRB: A Victorian pile in Mayfair - or anywhere within waddling distance of all the other old boys' clubs.

The British & Irish Lions: Their history written in pencil ... and an eraser.

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