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Thursday, January 26, 2006


Super 14: Super 14 feeling the heat already

The New Zealand Herald's Chris Rattue ponders over South African 'quotas', the Sione Lauaki incident and the issue of heat in a longer competition.

By: Chris Rattue
Source: New Zealand Herald

With the Super 14 kicking off, albeit quietly, with trial games last weekend, a few footy matters.

* While it's easy to sympathise with the theory behind the quota system forced on South African Super 14 teams, in practice it must be a nightmare for the coaches at times. This year, four black or coloured players must be included in the starting line-ups, six in the match-day squad, and eight in the overall squad. If coaches play by the rules, you can see the problems. For example: what happens when a black player is ruled out on the eve of a match leaving just three in the starters. Presumably the coach has to pull a white player out to meet his quota requirements (I've had a sneaky suspicion in the past about coaches getting around the rules through the deft use of the bracket system). The quota might help rebuild South Africa and the game, but it wouldn't appear to be a great team-building exercise.

* Are the Chiefs for real? They went underground this week, closing down normal media access, blaming the drama surrounding Sione Lauaki's scheduled court appearance on an assault charge. Come on troops - surely you've got a bit more resilience than that. It's not the public and media's fault that a player has got into trouble. And it doesn't seem much of an ask to get on with normal transmission and deal with issues like that on the side. A gross overreaction, and another case of rugby's control-freak mindset in this country.

* ... and finally, could sweaty palms be a problem in the expanded Super 14? The competition starts two weeks earlier, pushing it deeper into the heat of summer, no small matter especially in places such as Brisbane and Perth. It hasn't caused much of a stir so far, although the Blues reported a lot of difficulty handling the ball - because of sweat - in their opening trial against the Reds.
It seems that Prinsloo has cleared up the numbers issue:
TWO black players in the run-on teams, not four.
With all this double-talk I suppose we'll have to wait and see.
No boertjie, they BACKTRACKED

The SARU press releases on their website say exatly what this guy is saying.

It's only now that Prinsloo is backtracking.
The other issue that Rattue hasn't covered is that should a black player be injured during the match you will often see the coach immediately substituting a white player in order to bring on a black sub.

Example, Eddie gets injured and is replaced by CJ, so coach pulls De Wet and introduces Wayne.

Frankly, that is just ridiculous.

I know how it came about though, some coaches were starting the match with sufficient black players but with no real confidence in them, this led to them being pulled early and replaced by a white player the coach had more confidence in.

Thankfully, we seem to be moving away from that scenario and increasingly there are sufficient black players of genuine quality.

I'm totally against quotas in any form of international sport but I can live with them for a while for the greater good. I do think however that coaches should be given another chance to exhibit their honesty and the farcical sub policy should be dropped.
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