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Saturday, January 14, 2006

 

Super 14: Warm-up Games: Bulls vs. Cats

The Bulls played with two teams against the Cats this afternoon in trials leading up to the Super 14 starting early February. According to Mr. Andy Turner, CEO of the Cats, the games went well and some concerns were raised about the injuries to both Cats flyhalves, Tiaan Snyman and Nel Fourie, in the first game. The Bulls won the first game 15 - 11 and were leading 30 - 14 seconds ago in the second game.

Final score in the second game: 30 - 14 to the Bulls. According to Mr. Turner, in an exclusive telephonic interview to Rugga World, goals set by the Cats for these trials were achieved and the team is looking forward to visiting the Eastern Cape next weekend. Mr. Turner might also contribute to discussions on this website in the near future!
Click here to read full article and comments.
 

SA Unions / Teams: Cheetahs 48 - Spears 0

We sincerely apologise for the problems with the live feed from Port Elizabeth, but, needless to say, please thank your favourite Telecommunications Company. The Cheetahs are leading 33-0 at halftime (5 tries and 4 conversions).

The Cheetahs opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a try by their wing Vuyani Dlomo, converted by Willem de Waal 7 - 0. Desperate defence by The Spears kept The Cheetahs from scoring on a number of occasions. However in the 18th minute, The Cheetahs flanker, Kabamba Floors went over in the corner for a try, from a maul. Willem De Waal failed to convert. 12-0. Two more tries by Kabamba Floors and Willem De Waal brought the score to 26-0.

An injury to Os du Randt saw Wian du Preez replacing him just before half-time.

On the half-time siren, Barry Goodes broke through The Spears defence to score under the posts with Willem De Waal converting 33-0.

Soon after the start of the second half the Samoan born hooker Trevor Leota, replaced the Cheetahs hooker Tian Liebenberg and Ollie le Roux came on for Jannie du Plesis...

In the 56 minute Kabamba Floors ran in his third try after constant pressure from the Cheetahs. Willem de Waal missed from far out 38-0.

And Kabamba is a boytjie from Oudtshoorn, SWD!!!! Damn man!!!

Next to score for Cheetahs, was Barend Pieterse - score 43-0.

By the way, the Stadium is packed and everything is red! I just had to add that! :)

In the 17th minute Giscard Peters scored in the corner for the Cheetahs, while Willem de Waal missed the conversion, 48 - 0. A yellow card to the Cheetahs Ockert van Zyl.

GAME FINAL SCORE 48 -0 TO THE CHEETAHS.
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Rugby Personalities: Bryan makes peace on the wing

Bryan Habana has previously made little secret of his desire to play in the midfield. Here he explains to the Pretoria News' Brenden Nel that he has come to terms with the wing position.

When Habana left the Lions to join the Bulls he insisted on a clause in his contract to play in the midfield, not be pushed out to the wings.

Subsequent international acclaim and sparkling performances for both the Bulls and the Boks have led to a rethink and when Bryan signed his latest 2 year contract, the clause was quietly left out.

Speaking to the Pretoria News and IOL's Brenden Nel, Bryan says, "It was something that was there before I become a Springbok, it is no big thing for me at the moment. I have enjoyed my time on the wing and understand that this is the position where I will be of most use to the team.

"To me it is more about where I can best contribute to the cause. I know that it has helped to be on the wing at this stage of my career, but I am looking forward to moving back to centre at a later stage."

Bryan goes on to explain how he has settled and is enjoying his rugby with the Bulls, "I have enjoyed my time here and there is nowhere else I want to play my rugby.

"The contract gives both sides an option to review it yearly, so if I'm not happy or the Bulls aren't happy, we can talk about it."

Bernie Habana, Bryan's father and agent, elaborates, "There were a number of reasons why he moved from the Lions a year ago and he has enjoyed his time here so much that it made good sense to stay.

"In South African rugby nowadays there is not much loyalty anymore and given the way Bryan has been treated and accepted as part of the Blue Bulls family, it is only natural to expect some loyalty back. That's why he signed," Bernie Habana said.

"Bryan is as much part of Loftus as the coaches, administrators and secretaries.

"In fact, if you ask him who the secretaries were at Ellis Park, he could name maybe one or two. Here he knows everyone and is part of the family."

So far, Bryan is best remembered for THAT solo try playing for the Bulls at Loftus but his international career has been equally stellar.

Whilst not yet the complete deal he is young enough to go on to become one of the genuine legends of South African rugby. Let's hope his feet stay firmly planted on the ground and we get to see years more of his corruscating breaks down the wing.

Many people still believe centre is where he'd best shine for the Boks and, no doubt, he'll probably get a chance in the future to revert back to his old favoured position.

Information and quote sources: Pretoria News, IOL.
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Super 14: Dick pulls the Full Monty


Dick Muir sprung some major surprises in naming his 30 man squad, the biggest of which is naming Monty as the only flyhalf of the Durban based team.

The Springbok fullback was one of two major surprises, the other being Brent Russel named as fullback with the exciting JP Pietersen as his back up.

Ruan Pienaar, who could also provide cover in the flyhalf position if disaster strikes, has been named as one of three srumhalfs.

Interestingly Tony Brown has not been named in the squad because Muir is apparently still waiting his arrival - something I found very interesting seeing past media reports almost had him as a dead certainty.

With all 5 franchises naming 30 man squads Dick can always fall back on players such as Dean Hall and Butch James who has been listed as 'injured'.

Other players not considered due to injury includes Jaco Gouws, Braam Immelman, Tsepo Kokoali, Dusty Noble and Scott Matthie.

Full 30 man squad:

15. JP Petersen, Brent Russell
14. Cedric Mkhize
13. Grant Rees, Waylon Murray, Adrian Jacobs
12. Gcobani Bobo, Andries Straus
11. Odwa Ndungane, Henno Mentz
10. Percy Montgomery
9. Craig Davidson, Sandile Nxumalo, Ruan Pienaar
8. Jacques Botes, Daniel Farani
7. Nico Breedt
6. Warren Britz, Solly Tyibilika
5. Johann Muller, Albert van den Berg
4. Johan Ackermann, Steven Sykes, AJ Venter
3. BJ Botha, Danie Saayman
2. Skipper Badenhorst, Bismarck du Plessis
1. Brent Moyle, Deon Carstens
Click here to read full article and comments.

Friday, January 13, 2006

 

SA Unions / Teams: Live streaming of Spears/Cheetahs game


Photo: Full of confidence before their Super 14 warm-up match game against the Central Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth on Saturday - and showing off their branded T-shirts yesterday - are Spears players from left captain Ashley "Johnny'' Johnson, coach Peter de Villiers, eighth man Pietie Loots and winger Luvo Shogidashe.

The Daily Despatch in East London is so psyched about the Southern Spears match against the Cats on the 21st January in East London that they will for the first time in over a Century change their Blue masthead to RED especially for the game.

The Daily Despatch will run a Pole Poster campaign each day for ten days advertising the warm -up game next weekend in East London against the Cats to its readers.

In another first the game tomorrow will be streamed live on the Net.

For those of you interested in the live streaming, you may proceed to download Yahoo Messenger at http://messenger.yahoo.com/superwebcam.php;_ylt=AtfnP3jMHL_VgYc_.To0os1wMMIF and install it. (You may uninstall it again after the game should you wish to do so).

1. Once you have installed it you will have to create an account (free) with yahoo like piet@yahoo.com.

2. NB!!! Then send an email to storm_lee1@yahoo.com requesting him to add you to his contacts for the rugby. You will have to give him your new yahoo mail address.

3. Open your Yahoo Messenger, click on "Contacts", then click on "Add a Contact" and then add storm_lee1@yahoo to your contacts.

4.The name Tony Foster should then appear on your contact list. If he is online, and the webcam is on, you will see "View my Webcam" appearing next to his name. Click on it and Voila!!!

5. You should be able to see the practices this afternoon. Have fun and enjoy!

Please do not expect the quality of a Supersport Broadcast - streaming will be via normal webcam!!!
Click here to read full article and comments.
 

General Discussions: Transformation in SA Rugby Part i

An article by Davids

This is the first of a three part series where we will look at rugby transformation. In this first part we look at the history of the transformation and quota systems in SA Rugby. In the remainder we will look at where we are now and where the best solutions lie.

In the 1999 World Cup semi final against Australia, South Africa fielded in all white rugby team. We lost an agoniser. The final, a week later was a let-down. The match was the end of an era of whites only international rugby for South Africa. Our next match featured a promising youngster on the wing called Breyten Paulse. In a scintillating display of individualistic talent, young Breyten proved why he should have been in the Bok side the previous week, as we demolished a dejected New Zealand team for the wooden spoon third spot.

But important things were taking place back home. Louis Luyt’s iron hand on rugby slipped when he tried to take on the government and specifically Nelson Mandela in acrimonious litigation. He lost. He won the case, but he lost everything else. In a coup, he was ousted from SA Rugby’s leadership. He also lost leadership of Golden Lions RFU. Louis turned his hand to politics and the Silas Nkanunu era started. Morné Du Plessis was brought in. Rian Oberholzer, originally a nepotistic Louis Luyt appointment, somehow kept his place. Vociferous enfante terrible journalist Mark Keohane became media spokesperson for the Boks. The rules changed. Nkanunu and his board sought peace with an angered government. Part of the pact was that no Bok team would ever be whites only again.

Within a season this extended to the Super 12 and provincial teams were also forced into accepting the idea that they needed to field a ‘quota’ of black players.

This new era ushered in one of unmitigated disaster for the Boks. The fractious administration was constantly at war with the unions. Then sports minister Ngkonde Balfour had no time for the white dominated rugby administration and he made his feelings very well known. Although an exceptionally talented lawyer, Nkanunu had two problems. The first was his complete lack of media and communication, and hence leadership skills. The second was his involvement in the law as he sat numerous stints on the bench as a judge. Running SARFU was his orphan job. The face of SA Rugby was Rian Oberholzer.

Oberholzer spoke of quotas at all levels to ensure representation of black people in rugby. New coach, Harry Viljoen followed the quota system with the desultory wing selections of Breyten Paulse. ‘Promising’ black players like Kaya Molatana and Wylie Human found their way onto the Bok bench. The unions and Super 12 franchises followed suit. With the notable exception of the Sharks, who generally appear to struggle to find black players, wing became the position of choice to ‘hide’ black players.

At first the Craven Week responded by insisting teams send their senior team and ‘development’ teams. But Government was not happy. At high school level United Schools Sports Association of South Africa (USSASA) imposed strict quotas on Craven Week teams. All the Craven week teams. The development teams disappeared.

Ngkonde Balfour threatened commissions of enquiry. The quotas increased. Now we had both wings filled with black players.

The Nkanunu regime plodded along. Nkanunu did not run SA rugby. He was its token black face. Rian Oberholzer ran the rugby. We fired Harry Viljoen. Then we appointed Rudolph Straueli. Things went down from there.

In 2003 about the only certainty in the Bok team selection was that Breyten Paulse would be on the wing. At the end of RWC 2003 the fans were fed-up with the poor performances. Government was fed-up with the one “black wing” syndrome. The media was fielding Kamp Staaldraad. The administrators were backed into a corner. Rian Oberholzer unwisely supported Rudolph Straueli to stay on as coach. The vultures were gathering. The media spurred them on. Brian Van Rooyen lead the coup with the support of almost everyone. Rian, Silas and Rudolph all fell on their swords before the axe could fall. Mark Keohane fled and published a tell-all book.

The new watchword was “Transformation”. “Quotas “ was banned in favour of the more politically correct word.

Ngkonde Balfour annoyed government. They posted him to the less influential Correctional Services. Makinkhesi Stofile became Minister of Sport. His brotyher, Mike, became Brian Van Rooyen’s deputy. Controversial André Markgraaf was the other. He made promises of a 14 team Currie Cup. He made promises of transformation. He made promises of change.

In the meantime and almost unseen, our Under 19 team, was selected for the IRB World Cup in 2004 in Durban. The team was majority black. And they won. The Under 21’s similarly representative, followed suit. In came Jake White, former coach of the junior team and a man with powerful credentials in transformation. He started off with two black players. By the end of the year he selected several up and coming provincial players for the Boks. Tim Dlulane, Solly Tybilika and Jongi Nokwe. The government moved the goal posts. “Coloured players” are no longer good enough. By 2005 he had played one match with six black players in the starting 22.

Transformation was firmly embedded. BUT problems were brewing at the top. Brian Van Rooyen found himself implicated in several high profile money scandals. The unions in the areas where black rugby lived, the Eastern Cape, all had massive financial and corporate governance problems. SARU moved away from their corporatisation drive under Oberholzer to a more staid bureaucratic one under Van Rooyen. Mike Stofile and André Markgraaf had a number of spats in the national media. Markgraaf resigned. Makhenkesi Stofile, himself a former rugby player, made unpleasant noises about the speed of transformation. The presidents of Griquas, SWD and Border were ousted. EP saw its president the victim of a probe and his union run through a SARU committee.

The time had come for change again.
Click here to read full article and comments.
 

Super 14: Young Cat will face big test


Young Jean Deysel will get the opportunity of a lifetime to carve a name for himself in the big time this Saturday against the Bulls at Ellispark.

With Bioplus van der Merwe being called up to the national sevens squad, Deysel has been included in the team to take on the Bulls on Saturday with Jonathan van der Schyff replacing the talented youngster on the bench.

In yet another admirable move by Ludeke by agreeing to a request from Sevens coach Paul Treu to release Bioplus, the University of Johannesburg's Player of the Year for 2005 will be faced with his toughest test yet, but those who know him rates him as a very mature player.

The battle between Deysel and recent Bulls convert Pierre Spies, will prove to be one of the more closely watched areas by both teams' coaches.
Click here to read full article and comments.
 

Rugby Administration: Rugby bosses take no-tolerance approach to transformation

Source: Business Day

In an attempt to fast track transformation of rugby SARU has issued a set of directives to the Super 14 franchises concerning the allocation of black players to the Super 14 yeams. As you will see the report in Business Day and their quotes from Johan Prinsloo differs markedly from what a popular rugby website claimed earlier today about the numbers of black players that Super 14 sides must have.

In an attempt to fast-track transformation in South African rugby ahead of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) has adopted a no-tolerance approach to teams that fail to further its transformation objectives in the Super 14 competition that starts next month.
Speaking after a meeting in Johannesburg yesterday, at which the five Super 14 coaches had to submit their final squads to Saru for approval, CEO Johan Prinsloo said it was essential that black players in particular, received adequate game time during the competition and that they featured in their respective teams’ starting line-ups.
Saru reinforced its commitment to transforming the sport by specifying that no fewer than eight black players had to be included in each Super 14 squad.
Six of these players would have to be included in the match 22 each week, while four of them had to be in the starting lineup.
Yesterday’s meeting followed a lengthy discussion on Wednesday between national coach Jake White, Saru’s manager of national teams Andy Marinos and the Super 14 coaches, in which they discussed issues of mutual concern in the build-up to the World Cup.
Prinsloo said one of Saru’s objectives in its strict approach to transformation this year was to help White and the national selectors to increase their pool of experienced black players for the international showpiece in 2007.
“The president, Brian van Rooyen, made it clear that we will not accept excuses and that the transformation process will be monitored carefully,” said Prinsloo.
“I admit that we (Saru) have not delivered on some of our transformation objectives in the past but the coaches now understand the significance of the process.”
Prinsloo said it was important that the public did not view their transformation process as a quota system.
Rather, it was a real opportunity to develop players.
SA’s five Super 14 squads will be announced today.
Meanwhile, three of the five franchises start their preseason campaigns tomorrow with the first of a series of warm-up games.
The Central Cheetahs play the Southern Spears in Port Elizabeth tomorrow afternoon.
The Cats and the Bulls, which have each been divided into two teams, will battle it out at Ellis Park.
Click here to read full article and comments.
 

Rugby Administration: Social responsibility vs Quotas



The term Social responsibility has been used widely since the publishing of the King II report on Corporate Governance. This is as a matter of fact not the result of the report, but something that a few companies in the early nineties realised to be an important factor while doing business. Referring to the paragraph I quoted from the King II report, the following displays how they incorporated it in the report:

The company must be open to institutional activism and there must be greater emphasis on the non-financial aspects of its performance. Boards must apply the test of fairness, accountability, responsibility and transparency in all acts or ommissions and be accountable to the company but responsive and responsible to the company’s identified stakeholders. The correct balance between conformance and performance must be struck.

What does this tell us? The company has a responsibility outside the traditional environment that it operates. It needs to seek more than just economic gain for itself, but also for the physical environment it operates in. In short the company must evaluate the influence it has on the communities it operates in. They need to be socially responsible.

What does Social responsibility entails?

Social responsibility is the involvement in developing and enhancing the lifes of the communities in the areas you operate in. We are not talking the building of houses, etc. This is the responsibility of the government, although it is not impossible to get involved there. I am referring to the development of skills and opportunities and thereby giving everyone a fair chance. At this stage I would just want to clarify that I am not only talking about the socalled previously disadvantaged groups, I refer to every person living in that area.

Very often we hear about companies donating money for the building of a sport facility or specific type of training facility and that is where it ends. This is not being socially responsible, this is window dressing. To be truely involved within the community you need to get involved. Throwing money around only clears your own conscience and does not uplift people to a better life. Companies need to get actively involved with projects, transferring expertise and skills. I can go on for an eternity on what the pros of such actions will be, but this is not the intention of the article. This is the reason why upliftment has not been successful in many a cases. People are given money or something of monetary value, but never the knowledge or ability to better themselves.

What does a rugby union need to do with regards to social responsibility?

For a rugby union the term social responsibility should actually be its mission. The sole purpose of any rugby union should be to develop, grow and build out the game in the areas that falls under its “jurisdiction”. What has happened however is that, since the game turned professional, the unions didn’t realise their purpose. The management of most of the unions thought the purpose to be profit orientated. With the way that unions are currently structured, I can’t believe that anybody ever thought this way. The result was that everybody was chasing after every cent of profit and focussing on what makes the most profit. The focus was thus in the wrong place.

When SA became a democracy almost 12 years ago, quotas in SA rugby circles was introduced to facilitate the even representation of all races in all teams except the national and provincial squads. Over the years it has become such a contentious issue that most people try to avoid discussing it. Players did not like being referred to as quotas and a lot of selections where made of as quota in total disregard for the players’ abilities, in the end hurting the players career. Looking back over this time and applying the knowledge we have now, anybody that look at it objectively, would realise that this issue was forced and did not offer the desired solution.

So where does the answer lie? The answer is obvious: Social Responsibility. The only way to get a fully representative team at all levels is to start building it from the root levels. Rugby needs to be encouraged at school level as low down as U11 already. I am not saying that every U11 player will want to become a professional rugby player, but to be socially responsible you need to give every one of them the option of becoming a pro rugby player. Just as our education system needs to give every student the quality of education that will provide them with options when they make the decision surrounding their careers.

Why hasn’t this been happening? The answer in my opinion lies with the coaching structures at school level. The majority of schools, especially in the rural areas, only coaching resources are the PhysEd teacher or other teachers willing to help out. Few of them have the expertise to really coach the players and it is more a question of fitness coaching and then telling the players to go play to their abilities. The fine tuning of these abilities are however absent. It is therefore imperitive for the unions to start focussing on their school base of players. The easiest way to do this is to train the coaches and develop their skills. That is what social responsibility entails and can even be linked to empowerment.

The next point of focus should be on the club level in the region. The same should apply to the coaching abilities, but at this level it should be less of a problem than at school level. The youngsters must now be groomed to take the next step up and be able to compete at provincial level. The players being selected at provincial level should actually be able to play with the minimum amount of coaching needed. The coach at provincial level should be enabled to concentrate on pulling these players together in a unit and the minimum amount of fitness and skills training will be required. Provincial teams should be the result of good coaching at lower levels not the beginning. In this way the representation dilemma will be much easier addressed than forcing quotas or just going out and identifying “talented” youngsters and focussing in on them. Teach the "teachers"!!!!

Every kid at school has the ability to become a “talented” rugby player, but he needs to be coached in the correct manner to bring those abilities to the fore. This is the least what needs to be done for a union to claim that they were socially responsible. These structures can then be complimented with for instance business schools where players can be taught the principles which can help them through their careers and after they reached the end of it. The basics boils down to one question that a union must ask itself: “How can I empower my players to enable them to empower themselves and the union?” The time of throwing money into window dressing projects is over. If a union keep on doing this, it is only paying for its own "funeral".

How does SARU get involved?

Like so many things SARU again missed the target by a mile, by shooting at the wrong target. Holding one day rugby clinics with some Springboks at all the previous disadvantaged schools, may be one hell of a treat for the kids, but the real need is to provide a structure of coaches that can teach them these skills everyday. This clinic concept might ease their conscience over social responsibility, but it sure as hell does not fall within my definition of it. The deveolpment of players is in the first place not SARU responsibility, but that of the union. They are closer to the ground and can make a better assessment of the needs. SARU should rather distribute the money earmarked for development to the unions. This way it will be appropriated where most necessary.

This concept as a whole would in my opinion nullify the need for quotas, for the players will come through the system and their abilities will never be questioned.
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SA Teams/Unions: De Villiers paints realistic picture


Source: Rugby365.com

The Southern Spears, South Africa's Super 14 team in waiting, will make their first class debut against the Cheetahs in a pre-season friendly in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. And coach Pieter de Villiers has painted a pretty realistic picture of what the expectations should be.

Sure, some would claim the team's warm-up match against an Eastern Province XV last week was their "debut". But that was no more than a practice run against what amounts to a lowly province's second-string outfit.

Most of Eastern Province's top players play for the Spears anyway.

It is thus not a surprise that the coach, De Villiers, is somewhat apprehensive ahead of Saturday's encounter with the Cheetahs.

The entire country is waiting to see how this collection of youngsters and leftovers from the South Eastern Cape will shape up - especially since the Spears are set to replace the lowest finishing South African team in the Super 14 next year.

"This is a new team," De Villiers told this website. "We are starting from scratch and everybody are uncertain about what the future holds for us.

"So yes, I am just as apprehensive as the rest," De Villiers added.

But what are his goals then for the opening match and the rest of the year ... as they slowly build towards their Super 14 debut in 2007?

"People should not expect too much first up," he said. "We want to build towards next year when we enter the big time.

"But we must also remember that the Cheetahs are not the Currie Cup champions for nothing.

"We don't have unrealistic dreams. We are looking at ways to contain them and how to be competitive.

"Rather than looking at the team and dreaming of victory, I will be realistic and look at how the individuals shape up.

"Maybe we can produce a future Springbok or two from this group.

"If I can produce another 20-odd quality players that can challenge for higher honours and broaden the base from which Jake White can make his Springbok selections in the future I would be happy."

It is obvious that De Villiers feels his team will be entering the "real world" on Saturday.

They want to see where they stand and measure themselves against the top teams in the country.

It will also be a good yardstick for when they play in the Currie Cup later this year.

De Villiers will have a good indication of how much work must be done to get the team competitive.

The most positive aspects for the coach is the passion with which the players are approaching it all and the team spirit.

Click here to read full article and comments.
 

Super 14: Bulls put on their poker faces



Source: Rugby365.com

Everybody thinks they know what to expect from the Bulls, the top finishing South African team in the Super 12 tournament last year. But will the side, minus veteran captain Anton Leonard, produce something new in the inaugural Super 14 tournament this year or will it be much of the same?


Bulls assistant coach Mike Bayly wasn't giving too much away, but he did hint that the Pretoria-based franchise might have a few aces up their sleeves.

"You always got to have an element of surprise," Bayly told this website.

But then came the rider.

"However, if you move away from your strengths it is a big danger. The key is to find a good balance between the two," Bayly said.

So the Bulls' probably won't move too far away from their forward-orientated game, but it would still be interesting to see what new moves they will come up with.

The first indication of what the Bulls really have up their sleeves will come at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday, when they go up against neighbours the Cats with two teams in the first round of pre-season fixtures.

Bayly said they will make the trip across the Jukskei River to Johannesburg with two teams of fairly equal strength.

"We'll look at some combinations, but generally it is an exercise to ensure the players get into the swing of it," Bayly said.

He added that the focus would be more on how the teams perform, rather than what individuals do.

"We are very team based and team orientated. We look to see where and how the individuals fit into the it in the team setup.

"The most important is the team aspect of our game," he added.

Apart from their two-team raid on Johannesburg (against the Cats), the Bulls will head to Cape Town next week to face the Stormers and will then launch another two-pronged assault on the Sharks at Sun City on January 28.

It is a tall order, facing three of South Africa's top teams (also their S14 rivals) in three successive pre-season weekends.

But Bayly feels it is necessary to get some tough games under the belt in order to be in the best condition possible when the tournament proper starts.

"We have a break very early in the competition. We've got three very tough games [against Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in Round One, the Brumbies in Pretoria and Waratahs in Pretoria] before we have a break.

"It is vital that we have a good start and we don't want to have early-season jitters and struggle in our first game," Bayly said.

At least the Bulls have the advantage of a very settled team.

Apart from having lost a couple of senior players - veteran captain Anton Leonard having gone into retirement and the death of stalwart centre Ettienne Botha - the Bulls have very much the same combination that has done duty for them in the Super 12 and Currie Cup the past few years.

"Yes, it is a very big advantage to have such a settled combination," Bayly said. "If you have that continuity the players know the systems and you know what to expect."

The only remaining question is how newcomers like Dries Scholtz and Rudi Coetzee will slot into the set-up.

Scholtz is actually a former Bulls player who returned to the Kimberley region, where he grew up, for a few years and now decided to rejoin his former teammates in Pretoria. "He knows what we're all about," Bayly said.

"Rudi Coetzee is a very skillful player and he shouldn't have problems slotting in," he added.

Click here to read full article and comments.
 

Rugby Personalities: My Sport: Philippe Saint-Andre


Source: telegraph.co.uk

Worst sporting moment? "Losing in the semi-final of the World Cup in 1995 in South Africa, where we were given no chance. We lost to South Africa and Ruben Kruger, their flanker, later admitted that he had not scored the only try."

Earliest sporting memory? I started to play rugby just after my fifth birthday, but I played a lot of tennis until I was 16. I can remember going to Roland Garros with my mother, but also watching the Five Nations with my brother and father. Jean-Pierre Rives was leading France and I remember the captain of Ireland (Ken Kennedy) who was a hooker, but also a doctor, and he was always the first on the scene when a player was injured. My brother and I would then play out the matches in the garden.

Sports played? Tennis, rugby, judo and athletics. I was in the top four in France for tennis, from 12 to 15. My mother was a tennis coach, and my father was the chairman of our local tennis club. I played rugby for the love of it, but I did a lot of training in tennis - about 10 hours a week. Rugby was just fun with my friends. I had an offer from the French Federation to go to a tennis academy, but I took the decision to play rugby because I liked the camaraderie.

Why a life in sport and if not, what would you have done? Sport was in the family and I studied it at university and started to play for France. The game was not professional so I set up a hospitality business with my brother at my first club, Clermont Ferrand. I also had a pub with a restaurant, and a bar with a disco.

Toughest part of your sporting life? Retiring was hard because I loved playing, but I had problems with injuries. With Gloucester, there was a lot of contact in training, even when the pitch was heavy. I was still enjoying the game but not so much the training. As a coach, I make sure players do very little contact in training. I experienced the change in rugby. When I signed for Gloucester I had 62 caps for France, but I had never done a bench press in my life. In France, we played rugby all the year, with four to five weeks off. At Gloucester, when I first went there, for five weeks I did not touch a ball. We went to the gym and there were young guys bench pressing 90-100kg. I could just about do 80kg.

Most memorable sporting moment? Winning two Tests in New Zealand in 1994, when I was captain of France. I have had so many great moments, and to have the opportunity to captain your country is something I treasure. My first game as captain was against Scotland at Murrayfield and we won there for the first time in 17 years. I intercepted to score the winning try.

Worst sporting moment? Losing in the semi-final of the World Cup in 1995 in South Africa, where we were given no chance. We lost to South Africa and Ruben Kruger, their flanker, later admitted that he had not scored the only try.

Sporting heroes? Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Tiger Woods, Zinedine Zidane. In rugby, Jean-Pierre Rives, Philippe Sella. It is funny, but that changes completely when your heroes become your team-mates and then your friends. What I loved about Sella was that once, when one of the young players in the team had hurt his shoulder, Sella carried his bag.

Favourite stadiums? Parc des Princes; I loved playing there. Twickenham was the worst for me because I was never on a winning French team. I scored three or four tries, but never won. I hope one day to win there with Sale - that would be a great moment.

What have you done since you arrived in March 2004 to transform them? There was great potential but the club needed a bit more balance. They knew how to attack but needed beef in front. Rugby is a balance: good set-pieces, good basics, and a good backroom staff. Jason Robinson is a great guy to work with - a serious man, but so grounded, and I love that. We are still outsiders, but we are in a good position at the halfway stage of the season.

Sporting event you would pay the most to see? The Olympic Games 100 metres final with Carl Lewis - a sprinter but also a great showman, and personable with it. As an old school rugby lover, any Six Nations.

And to miss? I am sorry for this answer but I am not a lover of cricket. I understand it is something very special for English people, but when it comes up on the television I will not follow it for more than one minute.

Question you are asked most often by the public? In fact, it is the same in England and France: 'Do you like living in England?'

And the answer? Yes. I like the culture, I like the people. My family are very happy. What is clear is that it is a very different game. In France there is more focus on the scrum and on the set-piece. As we say in France, the forwards carry the piano and the backs play it. In England, it is more one-to-one, face to face rugby. You can beat any team and lose to any team. In France, it is not so competitive with every team.

Greatest change you would like to see in the running of your sport? The game itself is quite healthy and in good shape, but the biggest thing I would like to see is less confusion in the structuring of the fixture list, with the championship, then the European competition, then the Six Nations. I don't like the current schedule.

How is rugby covered in the media in this country? Very well. All the broadsheet newspapers follow rugby in an intelligent, analytical way; the advertising and sponsorship is great; and the coverage with television is excellent, with Sky. I see it all as very professional.

Sporting motto? Win first. As a coach it is to try to optimise your squad and play the best rugby you can. To be a good coach, you have to be able to communicate your passion for the game. If you don't give, they won't give everything for you.

Who would you invite to dinner - and why? Nelson Mandela, a great man. I'd like a football manager there - either Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson, I'd be interested how they manage people and stay a long time at one club. Gerard Depardieu, who is great fun. Finally, and my wife would perhaps not be so happy - Sophie Marceau, a lovely French actress.


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Super 14: Cats vs Bulls



Source: iol.co.za

It's just a warm-up game ahead of another long season, but Saturday afternoon's clash between the Cats and Bulls will be a make or break affair for a number of men hoping to play Super 14 rugby this season.


With Cats coach Frans Ludeke set to name his 30-man squad after the weekend, a number of players will view the match as a mini trial as they look to impress their boss and find a place among the select group.

Ludeke has named two teams, of more or less equal strength, to take on two teams from the Bulls in two matches, 30 minutes each way.

In the Red team the focus will squarely be on promising prop Heinke van der Merwe (20), a stalwart at Under-21 level who with a solid performance against the Bulls front row could see himself thrust into taking on the best the southern hemisphere has to offer and be Lawrence Sephaka's deputy this term.

Another player in the Red team who'll be keen to show he's far from done with rugby is Springbok lock Jannes Labu-schagne. The big man has been plagued by injury ever since his red carding against England at Twickenham three years ago, but having enjoyed a lengthy break of more than a year out of the game, should add experience and venom to the Cats pack this year, fitness permitting of course.

The performances in the Blue team of fullback Earl Rose, signed from Western Province late last year, and forgotten scrumhalf Dave von Hoesslin will determine whether Ludeke opts for them as first choice back-up to Conrad Jantjes and Ricky Januarie or sends them to the Vodacom Cup ranks.

While there is relatively good depth in all departments in the Cats squad, as there seems to be every year, the one obvious weak link is at flyhalf.

First choice No 10 André Pretorius is still injured and unlikely to feature in the first few rounds of competition, meaning Ludeke will have to bank on the likes of Tiaan Snyman, Nel Fourie and Arno Coetzee.

The trio have had mixed experiences of Super 12 rugby with Snyman yet to convince as an international player and 20-year-old Coetzee yet to even feature at Currie Cup level.

The obvious back-up for Pretorius is Fourie, but Ludeke, somewhat surprisingly, only has him listed among the replacements for this weekend's matches.

It would seem, however, that the Cats boss knows exactly what Fourie can offer and is merely looking at his other options.

It will also be interesting to see if the work done by former Cats and New Zealand coach Laurie Mains - who assisted the team last week - has left its mark and whether Bok assistant coach Allister Coetzee's experience from the Test arena has rubbed off on the backline players.

Matches are at 2.30pm and 4pm. Adults and children pay R10 entrance.

Cats Teams
Red team: Conrad Jantjes; Wylie Human, Grant Esterhuizen, Wayne Julies, Dewey Swartbooi; Tiaan Snyman, Janno Vermaak; Schalk van der Merwe, Wikus van Heerden, Cobus Grobbelaar; Gordon Gilfillan, Jannes Labuschagne, Daniel Muller, James van der Walt, Heinke van der Merwe

White team: Earl Rose; John Daniels, Jaque Fourie, Jorrie Muller, Oginga Siwundla; Arno Coetzee, Dave von Hoess- lin; Pietie Ferreira, Gerhard Vosloo, Roland Bernard; Willem Stoltz, Trevor Hall, Bertus Smit, Lukas van Biljon, Lawrence Sephaka.

Replacements: Edrick van Tonder, Quintin van Tonder, Nel Fourie, John Cooper, Jean Deysel, Kleinjan Tromp, Ettienne Reynecke, Marius Hurter

Injured/undergoing rehabilitation: Ashwin Willemse, André Pretorius, Nicholas Eyre, Russell Winter, Ernst Joubert, Pietman van Niekerk, Heinrich Kok, Doppies la Grange, Ricky Januarie
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Rugby Personalities: Dallywaggles seeks the top again



"His presence in the back row is such that he makes New Zealanders, no slouches when it comes to quality among back-row forwards, pause for considerable thought, if not to tremble at the prospect of containing him."

Source: www.timesonline.co.uk

By Gerald Davies, former Wales & Lions great

LAWRENCE DALLAGLIO has occupied the shining uplands of greatness for most of his career, overcoming each of the challenging peaks in turn at London Wasps, with England and with the Lions in 1997; occasionally threatened by the scale of what lay ahead, as in 1995, when his club was denuded of players after Rob Andrew persuaded several to follow him to Newcastle; but rarely, if ever, when fit, allowing the slippery slopes that fame and celebrity encourage, and needling ambition demands, to defeat him.

It is the phrase “when fit” that has scuppered Dallaglio and may provide the reason that, at 33 and after declaring his retirement from international rugby 18 months ago, he seeks to regain the high level that was his proud domain. He wants to play international rugby again.

Injuries at critical times with the Lions in 2001 and 2005 and the resultant frustrating failure to make an indelible imprint on those tours may force him to try to prove himself one more time. He may feel that his CV is incomplete and that to end his career on a note of disappointment, however much out of his control, is not the way to close a famous rugby chapter.

Returning home after suffering an injury in the first tour match with the Lions in 2005 is hardly the fulfilment of his dream. He would have to live in retirement with the ache of an unsatisfying conclusion rather than bask in the praise of a glorious exit. Such things matter to a champion.

However, returning from retirement is a path fraught not only with potholes that might hinder the return to previous form but with a chasm so wide that it could swallow whole a sportsman’s reputation and so deny them their place in the pantheon. Of a hesitant last performance, a cruel assessment is made; a kind of apology for not being what he once so dominantly was. It is a step too far.

While his name may betray other qualities of his Italian heritage, Lorenzo Bruno Nero Dallaglio embodies, even with some Welsh blood in his veins, thoroughly English virtues: square jaw, a firmly planted stride on Twickenham’s turf, muscular strength and sense of service, tremendous effort and stoic deliberation. His character and willpower have helped him to come to terms with the death of his sister, Francesca, on The Marchioness in 1989 and to recover in 1999 from a controversial drugs accusation. There is unalloyed steel in his resolve. He is, above all, an honest player, letting his talent and his strength, of body and soul, do his will.

His presence in the back row is such that he makes New Zealanders, no slouches when it comes to quality among back-row forwards, pause for considerable thought, if not to tremble at the prospect of containing him. Clearly, so strong is his desire to play international rugby that he cannot rest. For all the visible outward composure, there is no inner voice of calm, only a restless energy and sense of endeavour — an unrelieved need to subdue the demanding and deep-seated longing to cement his fame and to confirm his enormous talent. There should be no equivocation.

It is the eternal dilemma that confronts the sportsman — when to call it a day. In the usual way there is the sin of commission and the sin of omission, while in between there is the fine line of distinction; the sense of timing to do the right thing. There is the matter of going on too long.

The sportsman’s muscles stiffen in time, the spirit may no longer be moved to eloquent display of his talents. His experience tells him that he has been here before, when he recognises repetition setting in and complacency taking over. When the fun stops, it is time to depart. And for sure, club rugby, however taxing, is not of the same strain as the international game.

And there is the equal dilemma of departing the scene too early, unaware that there is more to come, as the evening, like the sportsman’s career, progresses into a glowing maturity.

In each case, there is the flaw that allows for regret in the capricious moment before the chill of midnight, when the demons are ready to make their visit: of recognising the frustration of thwarted ambition in not having fulfilled enough the early promise or the miscalculation in attempting too much for too long and of the ultimate betrayal of the hard-won reputation, so easy to evaporate.

Only Dallaglio knows. If the choice is not natural, as it had become for Martin Johnson, and is hard to come by, then the sportsman must play the game out of his system and acknowledge finally that it is, indeed, over. We must hope that he makes the right decision and does not dilute our vision of him.


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Other competitions: Pacific gets a "High Five"


Source: News24.com

The International Rugby Board (IRB) on Thursday announced the format of the Pacific Five Nations tournament that will involve the national teams from Tier 2 Unions Fiji, Japan, Samoa, and Tonga plus a NZ representative side.

The tournament will kick-off in June 2006 and the initiative is part of the $50m strategic investment programme for the game that was launched in August 2005.

"The IRB strategic investment programme involves high performance, tournament and infrastructure initiatives across the 17 Tier 1 and 2 Unions that are designed to increase the competitiveness of international rugby.

The establishment of an expanded Pacific Nations tournament represents one element of the provision of enhanced competition platforms for Tier 2 Nations," said IRB Pacific Island Advisory Committee chairperson Bob Tuckey.

"The tournament will kick off in 2006 and will involve five teams - Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and the Junior All Blacks. Each Union will play four matches, two home and two away, during the traditional June/July Test window. "

"An initial three-year programme of fixtures has been confirmed among the five Unions and the IRB believes it can develop a viable commercial programme for the competition. The tournament schedule will be announced in mid February."

Availability of players


"Australia were asked to be a part of the new competition but they are currently reviewing their domestic playing programme and the possible establishment of an inter-provincial competition.

"This would obviously have a bearing on the availability of players for the Pacific Nations tournament in the June/July period and therefore Australia will not participate at this juncture.

"While this is disappointing the competition promises to be a high quality one giving the Tier 2 Unions much needed additional matches leading into the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

"That said the format of the tournament is not set in concrete and the format could be changed in the future to accommodate teams from other member Unions.

"This would create additional matches for the Tier 2 Unions to provide them with even more competition."

In addition to the new Pacific Five Nations tournament the IRB is working with the Pacific Island Unions to establish a Pacific Triangular Championship that will provide regular competition for emerging players in the Islands. The tournament will involve two representative regional teams from each of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga and it will kick-off on April 15 this year.

The tournament will be played on a home or away basis over five rounds with one final. The coaches and team management are presently being appointed by the Unions and the draw and team names will be formally announced in the near future.

This Tournament will follow on from the conclusion of Fiji's Colonial Cup, Samoa's National Provincial Championship and Tonga's Datec Cup Provincial Championship. It will be from those competitions that the six representative teams to compete in the Triangular series will be selected.

"This new competition presents a marvellous opportunity for the 60 best locally-based players in each Union to gain experience in a higher level competition and press their claims for National selection", Tuckey added.

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Super 14: What a "Naas" Surprise


Source: News24.com

Naas Olivier just could not believe it when he heard the Stormers rugby squad needed his services.


"It was quite a surprise when I heard the news," Olivier said.

The Leopards flyhalf arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday and started training with the Stormers on the same day.

"I went from the airport straight to the training field. However, I fitted in quickly with the other players because they made me feel very welcome."

Olivier, 23, finished fifth on the top points scorers list in the Top Eight phase of the Currie Cup series last year. With his 71 points he was just eight points behind Peter Grant, the other Stormers flyhalf.

Grant is probably the No 1 flyhalf in coach Kobus van der Merwe's squad, but Olivier is excited in being involved in Super 14 rugby and sees it as a chance to be grabbed with both hands.

"It's always nice to get acknowledgement for good play," the young flyhalf said.

The youngster from Potchefstroom says it is his aim to take the step up to top level competition. After playing in the Craven Week, Under-21 rugby and Currie Cup, the Super 14 series is definitely the next logical step.

Van der Merwe said he had to get another flyhalf in his squad.

"In the absence of Gaffie (du Toit) and Chris (Rossouw) I need extra cover at flyhalf."

The coach has a pretty good idea who will be in the team to play the Bulls at Newlands in the Stormers' first warm-up match on Saturday next week.

The other warm-up match will be against the Southern Spears in Wellington the following weekend.

"I'm going to use the Springboks in my squad sparingly, because they had a longer season than the other players.

"The match against the Bulls will be very physical and I'm not going to take a chance with players.

"I'll rather use the Boks against the Spears, because I know their quality. I'll include the other players I want to experiment with in the warm-up against the Bulls," Van der Merwe said.

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Other teams/unions: Spears is vlymskerp


Source: Die Burger

Jy kan ’n stad rooi verf, jy kan rooi sien as jy kwaad is en jy kan bloedrooi bloos as jy skaam kry, maar die Sentrale Cheetahs kan dalk môre met ’n bloedneus hier van die veld stap ná hul wedstryd teen die bloedrooi Southern Spears.


Die Spears, Suid-Afrika se nuutste toevoeging tot die Super14-reeks, pak die sterbelaaide Cheetahs, met Springbokhelde soos Os du Randt en Ollie le Roux in hul geledere, om 15:00 in die OPRU-stadion. Vir toeskouers wag daar ook ure se vermaak voor die hoofwedstryd.

Die hekke open om 09:30 en in die voorwedstryde, wat om 10:45 begin, pak die OP se A- en B-spanne hul Griekwa-eweknieë.

Die spelers begin om 14:20 vir die hoofwedstryd op die veld opwarm, terwyl die skare vermaak sal word deur tradisionele dansers en die tuisspan se eie rasieleiers, die Spearleaders.

Ná die sing van die volkslied sal die handskoene afkom en die spanne sal inspring en behoorlik koppe stamp.

Volgens mnr. Tony McKeever, uitvoerende beampte van die Spears, word meer as 26 000 mense by dié geskiedkundige stryd verwag.

McKeever het bevestig dat toeskouers wat in rooi geklee is en die advertensies vir die wedstryd in koerante uitgeknip het, gratis toegang sal kry.

“ ’n Spesiale Spears-bus, wat vanaand van Johannesburg in die Baai aankom, sal die Spears-spelers om 13:40 van die kampus van die Nelson Mandela Metropolitaanse Universiteit na die veld bring,” het McKeever bevestig.

Mnr. Makhenkesi Stofile, minister van sport en ontspanning en oudpremier van die Oos-Kaap, sal in die stadion wees om die Spears toe te juig.

Mnr. Brian van Rooyen, president van die Suid-Afrikaanse Rugbyunie (Saru), en Jake White, Springbok-afrigter, sal ook die geleentheid bywoon.

“Ek het vir hulle gesê om rooi te dra, anders sal ons hulle nie in die stadion toelaat nie,” het McKeever grappenderwys gesê.

Vir getroue lesers bied Die Burger die geleentheid om die stadion met meer as net goeie rugbyherinneringe te verlaat.

’n Skopkompetisie tydens halftyd raak nou al ’n tradisie in Suid-Afrikaanse rugby en die eerste vyf mense wat vandag tussen 12:00 en 12:15 by Die Burger se Pryslyn-kantoor aanmeld, sal môre die geleentheid kry om na die pale te mik vir ’n prys van R1 000.

Die Burger sal ook 3 000 plakkate uitdeel en die toeskouer wat deur ’n fotograaf met ’n plakkaat betrap word, sal ook ’n volle R1 000 wen.

Mnr. Gideon Botha, woordvoerder van die verkeersdepartement, het gister gesê Le Roche-rylaan tussen Humewood en Strandfonteinstraat sal môre gesluit wees vir verkeer. Slegs inwoners sal die pad mag gebruik.

Volgens Botha sal die pad tussen Schaeffer- en Strandfonteinstraat ook toe wees.

Busse sal toegelaat word om hul passasiers daar af te laai. Minibusse en toeskouers mag op die gras langs die stadion parkeer.

Mense sal ook op die B-veld en op die hoeke van Blackthorne- en Strandfonteinstraat kan parkeer. Alternatiewe parkering word by die NMMU-kampus en Koningstrand aangebied.

Die Cheetahs kom vanmiddag in die Baai aan en sal omstreeks 16:30 by die OPRU-stadion oefen.

Intussen het rugby in die Oos-Kaap nog ’n hupstoot gekry toe mnr. Herman Muller, algemene bestuurder van Bushman Sands op Alicedale, gister bekend gemaak het dat ’n bekende Super14-span binnekort ’n oefenkamp op dié reservaat se nuutgeboude rugbyveld sal hou.

Die veld is van internasionale gehalte en Bushman Sands beoog ook om ’n groot gimnasium, stoomkamers, hidro-baddens en konferensielokale hier op te rig.

Volgens Muller het drie internasionale rugbyspanne reeds aangedui dat hulle in die toekoms ook oefenkampe op Alicedale wil aanbied.

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Other Unions / Teams: Get your applications in today

If you were considering it, you only have until today to apply, but it might be a waste of time because according to media reports, it has now become a one horse race.

The man who will take charge of the most difficult position in Australian sport might only be appointed in a couple of weeks time, but all reports indicate that it is basically a done deal that John Connolly will be appointed head coach of Australian rugby if reports by The Australian newspaper are anything to go by.

The Australian reported that the only other candidate to challenge Connolly for the position, Ewan McKenzie, will announce today that he has officially pulled out of the race.

McKenzie expressed interest in taking over the job as national coach but looks set to remain with the Waratahs. Strangely enough, his contract with the finalists from last year comes to an end in May.

In an advertisement campaign launched by the ARU just before Christmas, it stated that candidates interested in the job must have at least “7 years experience as an international coach or a professional coach, preferably as head coach at senior coaching level.”

This effectively ruled out ex-Brumbies and now Auckland boss, David Nucifora.

It was also learned that foreign coaches will not be considered, which rules out Clive Woodward, who is speculated to have applied for the position, and John Mitchell, Western Force and ex All Black coach.

Bob Dwyer, former Wallaby coach who lead the team to a successful World Cup in 1991, and had input in the search for Jones’ successor, was surprised by the advertisement and the conditions.

"I didn't know that seven years of coaching was going to be in the ad for the job," he said. "I would have thought that Nucifora would still have been considered, and that foreign coaches would have been considered. I'm not concerned about looks, it's results that count."

Interviews with short listed candidates are set to take place next week with the coach being appointed in February.


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Thursday, January 12, 2006

 

Brannasnacht: Golden Globes



Well it is Thursday and yes you guessed it, it is time for Brannasnacht again. Seeing that last week’s theme was such a huge success I only thought it appropriate to see if we can better that.

The 63rd Annual Golden Globes awards event will take place on the 16th of January 2006. Brannasnacht is therefore going to hang with the stars this week. The list of all the nominations will follow later in the article and the idea is to choose a nick as one of the nominated actors/actresses. Some of the RugRats and Board members seemed to have been focused on other things last week and I promised that we will again request the RugRats to at least say what their real name is and also why they chose the specific nick. (Kandas, sorry Robert Downey Jnr is not on the list. He still needs some rehab after overdosing on Red Bulls in December.)

Sir Anthony Hopkins will receive the Cecil B DeMille Award for lifetime achievement. If you want to read more about the history of this award, you can go to http://www.hfpa.org/cecilbdemille/index.html. You can also read the history of Sir Anthony Hopkins’ career at http://www.hfpa.org/news/id/2.

Nominations for the 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards

(Please note that a South African film was again nominated for the Best Foreign Language film award. We will be holding our thumbs.)


Best Motion Picture - Drama
A History Of Violence
Brokeback Mountain
The Constant Gardener
Good Night, And Good Luck
Match Point


Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Maria Bello – A History Of Violence
Felicity Huffman – Transamerica
Gwyneth Paltrow – Proof
Charlize Theron – North Country
Ziyi Zhang – Memoirs Of A Geisha

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Russell Crowe – Cinderella Man
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Capote
Terrence Howard – Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger – Brokeback Mountain
David Strathairn – Good Night, And Good Luck

Best Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride & Prejudice
The Producers
The Squid And The Whale
Walk The Line

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Judi Dench – Mrs. Henderson Presents
Keira Knightley – Pride & Prejudice
Laura Linney – The Squid And The Whale
Sarah Jessica Parker – The Family Stone
Reese Witherspoon – Walk The Line

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical Or Comedy
Pierce Brosnan – The Matador
Jeff Daniels – The Squid And The Whale
Johnny Depp – Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
Nathan Lane – The Producers
Cillian Murphy – Breakfast On Pluto
Joaquin Phoenix – Walk The Line

Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Scarlett Johansson – Match Point
Shirley MacLaine – In Her Shoes
Frances McDormand – North Country
Rachel Weisz – The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams – Brokeback Mountain

Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
George Clooney – Syriana
Matt Dillon – Crash
Will Ferrell – The Producers
Paul Giamatti – Cinderella Man
Bob Hoskins – Mrs. Henderson Presents

Best Foreign Language Film
Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas) - France
Kung Fu Hustle - China
Paradise Now - Palestine
Promise, The (Master Of The Crimson Armor) - China
Tsotsi - South Africa

Best Director - Motion Picture
Woody Allen – Match Point
George Clooney – Good Night, And Good Luck
Peter Jackson – King Kong
Ang Lee – Brokeback Mountain
Fernando Meirelles – The Constant Gardener
Steven Spielberg – Munich

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Match Point - Written by Woody Allen
Good Night, And Good Luck - Written by George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Crash - Written by Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco
Munich - Written by Tony Kushner, Eric Roth
Brokeback Mountain - Written by Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Syriana - Composed by Alexandre Desplat
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe - Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams
King Kong - Composed by James Newton Howard
Brokeback Mountain - Composed by Gustavo Santaolalla
Memoirs Of A Geisha - Composed by John Williams

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"A Love That Will Never Grow Old" – Brokeback Mountain
"Christmas in Love" – Christmas In Love
"There's Nothing Like a Show on Broadway" – The Producers
"Travelin' Thru" – Transamerica
"Wunderkind" – The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

Best Television Series - Drama
Commander In Chief - Touchstone Television; ABC
Grey's Anatomy - Touchstone Television; ABC
Lost - Touchstone Television; ABC
Prison Break - Original Film/Adelstein-Parouse Productions/Twentieth Century Fox Television; FOX
Rome - HBO Entertainment/BBC; HBO

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Drama
Patricia Arquette – Medium
Glenn Close – The Shield
Geena Davis – Commander In Chief
Kyra Sedgwick – The Closer
Polly Walker – Rome

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama
Patrick Dempsey – Grey's Anatomy
Matthew Fox – Lost
Hugh Laurie – House
Wentworth Miller – Prison Break
Kiefer Sutherland – 24

Best Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Desperate Housewives
Entourage
Everybody Hates Chris
My Name Is Earl
Weeds

Best Performance by an Actress In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Marcia Cross – Desperate Housewives
Teri Hatcher – Desperate Housewives
Felicity Huffman – Desperate Housewives
Eva Longoria – Desperate Housewives
Mary-Louise Parker – Weeds

Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Musical Or Comedy
Zach Braff – Scrubs
Steve Carell – The Office
Larry David – Curb Your Enthusiasm
Jason Lee – My Name Is Earl
Charlie Sheen – Two and a Half Men

Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television
Empire Falls
Into The West
Lackawanna Blues
Sleeper Cell
Viva Blackpool
Warm Springs

Best Performance by an Actress In A Mini-series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Halle Berry – Their Eyes Were Watching God
Kelly MacDonald – The Girl In The Café
S. Epatha Merkerson – Lackawanna Blues
Cynthia Nixon – Warm Springs
Mira Sorvino – Human Trafficking

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Kenneth Branagh – Warm Springs
Ed Harris – Empire Falls
Bill Nighy – The Girl In The Café
Jonathan Rhys Meyers – Elvis
Donald Sutherland – Human Trafficking

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Candice Bergen – Boston Legal
Camryn Manheim – Elvis
Sandra Oh – Grey's Anatomy
Elizabeth Perkins – Weeds
Joanne Woodward – Empire Falls

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Naveen Andrews – Lost
Paul Newman – Empire Falls
Jeremy Piven – Entourage
Randy Quaid – Elvis
Donald Sutherland – Commander In Chief


Should you wish to get more information on any actor, movie, director, etc please visit http://imdb.com/.

Till tonight then


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Super 14: Latest from the Stormers camp


Vodacom Stormers lock Rob Linde successfully underwent a Cervical Fusion due to a ruptured cervical spine disc at C6 C7 yesterday (11 January 2006). The Vodacom Stormers Team Physician, Dr Ryan Kohler, reported that the 3 and a half hour operation, performed by Dr Gerrit Coetzee and assisted by Dr Kohler at Milnerton Medi Clinic, went very well and was technically successful.

“Rob’s injury has been developing over 3 to 4 years, due to forces to the head at rucks and mauls. There was no way that we could have predicted it and it is unfortunate that it decompensated now,” explained Dr Kohler.

The Vodacom Stormers medical team have already put Rob’s recovery plan into place. He will be out of rugby for 6 months, but will start jogging in 8 weeks and start weight training in 12 weeks.

Rob will be returning home from the hospital today.

If you would like to send your good well wishes to Rob, please email lrayner@wprugby.co.za or send a fax marked for his attention to 021 659 4601.

Joubert ready to take on the Bulls


In other news from the Stormers camp it has been reported that Marius Joubert will be considered for the teams warm up match against the Bulls next weekend.

Unfotunately, his fellow Springbok, Joe van Niekerk, will miss the first four matches of the new Super 14 competition. The No 8 has still trouble from a wrist injury.

Joubert had a disappointing season last year, due to a loss of form and injuries. The explosive centre missed the Springboks' end of year tour because of a shoulder injury. He has recovered from surgery though and is raring to go, said Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe.

The Cape regional team starts its campaign with an away match against the Cats at Ellis Park on February 11.

More good news is that promising Western Province lock Andries Bekker is another on the comeback trial from injury. The tall youngster missed the crucial last part of WP's Currie Cup campaign last year with a hand injury.

His return in time for the first match is a real bonus, particularly with the recent news that Rob Linde would miss the entire Super 14 campaign because of a neck injury.

"Andries could not have returned at a more appropriate time," commented Van der Merwe. "Rob is going to miss all of the Super 14 and that is a massive setback to us."

The coach added that the was fortunate to have Boland's Henk Eksteen and WP's new recruit Duimpie Theron to fall back onto at lock.

Joubert is expected to start on the bench in the Vodacom Stormers' two warm-up matches. The second one is on 28 January against the Southern Spears at Wellington.

"Marius is hungry to play again. He didn't have a good Super 12 last year and I believe he wants to use this opportunity to prove something. He will get a chance in the warm-up games, because we need to work at his match fitness."

In more good news, it seems that prop Neil Fullard's injury was not as serious as first feared and the prop should be fully fit within the next 2 weeks.


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Super 14: Bulls' big guns back for Cats clash


Good news for Bulls and South African fans looking to catch their hero’s in action on Saturday is that Big Vic, Bakkies, Pedrie Wannenburg and Bryan Habana will all be in action this Saturday in the warm up match against the Cats, but Gary Botha won’t take any part in the game this Saturday.

There is still some speculation on who Botha’s backup will be for the Super 14, but the Bulls management team and fans should get a glimpse of who has the inside lane with the SA U/21 hooker Adriaan Strauss, who will be wearing the number 2 jersey, and the Falcons’ Deon Strydom, who will be on the bench, doing duty for the Bulls this Saturday.

Apart from Botha, players on the injury list that won’t take part in Saturday’s game includes Johan Roets (knee and hamstring strain), Kennedy Tsimba (knee), Richard Bands (knee) and Hennie Daniller (knee).

It is believed Bands will get some game time against the Sharks.

Bulls team(s) will be announced on Friday.
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Other discussions: What creativity can do for you



Seeing that quite a few people around here has been much more creative over the past month, I thought this might enable you to gauge just how creative you were. Did any of you all of a sudden get more interesting to the opposite sex, made or received any funny phone calls? Maybe this will explain it.


Source: Health24

Creativity fuels sex life

An active sex life and creativity may go hand-in-hand, according to a new British study that finds professional artists and poets have about twice as many sexual partners as other people.
While writers and artists from Byron to Picasso have perpetuated the notion of the amorous artist, the new study may be the first to offer up some real proof, according to the researchers.

"Creative people are often considered to be very attractive and get lots of attention as a result. They tend to be charismatic and produce art and poetry that grab people's interest," study lead author Dr Daniel Nettle, a lecturer in psychology at Newcastle University's School of Biology, said in a prepared statement.

His team's study of 425 British men and women included a sampling of visual artists and poets. The study participants were interviewed about how much poetry and visual art they created, their psychiatric history, and their sexual encounters since age 18.

More sexual partners for creatives


The average number of sexual partners for poets and creative artists was between four and 10, compared with an average of three for non-creative people. The more creative a person was, the higher the number of sexual encounters, the researcher reported in the November 29 issue of The Proceedings of the Royal Society (B).

The artistic personality may encourage sexual exploration, Nettle speculated.

"It could also be that very creative types lead a bohemian lifestyle and tend to act on more sexual impulses and opportunities, often purely for experience's sake, than the average person would," he said. "Moreover, it's common to find that this sexual behaviour is tolerated in creative people. Partners, even long-term ones, are less likely to expect loyalty and fidelity from them." – (HealthDayNews)



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Super 14: Showing South Africa how it's done


In yet another admirable gesture from a New Zealand coach on what it means to put national interests first, Robbie Deans, the coach of the most successful Super 12 team the Crusaders, has agreed to rest some of his key All Black players for the inaugural Super 14 kicking off in February.

In a country like South Africa where we constantly question the merits of decisions administration and unions make for the good of the game and the players, it comes as no real surprise why New Zealand leads the way in world rugby and why South Africa will always play catch up rugby with the current mentality of our decision makers.

Speaking to The Press newspaper Deans said the Crusaders share the views of All Black’s coach Graham Henry, simply because they always believe the players best interests should always come first.

"We're not poles apart in our thinking."

"Essentially some of the initiatives that they are taking are initiatives we have been implementing for a while anyway. We have always acted in the best interests of our players and we will continue to do so.

"It's just a matter of what detail they put around that."

What is more amazing is that with no less than 8 All Blacks in the Crusaders team, they will be the hardest hit by such a move. Something I cannot see happening in a team like the Bulls and the Cats where many of our first choice Springboks come from.

Deans, ever the optimist, believes this will not impact negatively on his teams chances in the extended competition.

"I don't think so, no ... We are more than happy to work with them [the All Blacks]. At the end of the day they are seeking our co-operation and as long as it doesn't compromise us totally, I don't see any reason why we won't be supportive."

The Crusaders resumed training this week even though they are officially on leave until the 23rd of January.
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General Discussions: The Power of the Game - NZ vs. SA -1981


In one of the most famous tours in our game's history, we at RuggaWorld take a different look at the infamous "flour-bomb" test series of 1981 between New Zealand and South Africa, and the impact it had on the game and the people, of these two great rivals.

Background

The Springboks and New Zealand's national rugby team, the All Blacks, have a long tradition of intense and friendly sporting rivalry.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the South African apartheid policies had an impact on team selection for the All Blacks: the selectors passed over Māori players for some All Black tours to South Africa.

By the 1970s public protests and political pressure forced on the New Zealand Rugby Union the choice of either fielding a team not selected by race, or not touring in the Republic. However, the South African rugby authorities continued to select Springbok players by race. As a result, the Norman Kirk Labour Government of 1972 - 1974 prevented the Springboks from touring during the mid 1970s. In response, the Rugby Union protested about the involvement of "politics in sport".

It is well established in New Zealand that the Government can prevent non-nationals from entering the country (so allowing the government to stop tours by opposing teams), but does not limit the freedom of its citizens to leave the country (so for example, after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan the government was unable to force all NZ Olympians to boycott the Moscow Olympics).

In 1976, the then newly-elected New Zealand prime minister, Robert Muldoon, "allowed" the All Blacks to tour South Africa. Twenty-one African nations protested against this breach of the Gleneagles Agreement by boycotting the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, due to their view that the All Black tour gave tacit support to the apartheid regime in South Africa. Once again the All Blacks failed to win a series in South Africa (they would not do so until 1996, after the fall of apartheid).

At a time when New Zealand was re-examining the history of its own race relations, the issue of All Black tours and apartheid was picked up by many on the New Zealand political left - for example becoming a central theme of Greg McGee's hit play Foreskin's Lament.

The Tour

By the early 1980s the pressure from other African countries as well as from protest groups internal to New Zealand, such as HART (Halt All Racist Tours), reached a head when the New Zealand Rugby Union proposed a Springbok tour for 1981.

This became a topic of political contention due to the issue of the sports boycott by the other African nations. Activists asked New Zealand Prime Minister Robert Muldoon to cancel the tour, but he permitted the South African team to come to New Zealand in mid-1981, arguing that New Zealand was a free and democratic country, and that "politics should stay out of sport". Muldoon's critics, however, felt that Muldoon really allowed the tour to go ahead in order for his National Party to secure the votes of rural and provincial conservatives in the general election later in the year.

Some rugby supporters echoed the separation of politics and sport. Others argued that if the tour were cancelled, there would be no reporting of the widespread criticism against apartheid in New Zealand in the controlled South African media. If the tour proceeded, the racially integrated All Blacks and New Zealand crowds would undermine the apartheid system.

The ensuing public protests polarised the New Zealand population as no other issue has in the nation's history. While rugby fans filled the football grounds, sizeable protest crowds (including other rugby fans) filled the surrounding streets, and in some cases succeeded in invading rugby pitches in order to halt games.

The New Zealand authorities strengthened security at public facilities after protestors disrupted telecommunications services by taking out a TV microwave station. At first protests were predominantly peaceful. A small minority of the protestors saw the opportunity to force a confrontation with authority, and came wearing motorcycle helmets, home-made shields and a variety of weapons. Others adopted defensive armour against police batons. "Patches" of criminal gangs such as traditional rivals Black Power and Mongrel Mob were also evident, (interestingly enough, the Mongrel Mob were Muldoon supporters).

After early disruptions, the police created two special riot squads (the Red and Blue Squads), to control protestors. They also required that all spectators assemble in sports grounds at least an hour before kickoff, after protestors surrounded grounds and attempted to invade pitches early in the tour.

At Rugby Park, Hamilton, about 350 protestors invaded the pitch after pulling down a fence. The police arrested about 50 of them over a period of an hour, but were concerned that they could not control the rugby crowd. Reports that a light plane piloted by a protestor was approaching the stadium was the last straw, and police cancelled the match. The protestors were ushered from the ground, with enraged rugby spectators lashing out at them. A bloody encounter took place between protest marchers and police in Molesworth Street in Wellington. And at Eden Park, Auckland, a low-flying light plane disrupted the final game of the tour by dropping flour-bombs on the pitch. The scenes that appeared on television made the country look on the brink of civil war as the evening news broadcasts replayed running battles between helmet-clad protestors, the police and enraged rugby fans.

There were, in fact, many peaceful protests around the country, but sporadic violence attracted the press and led to the impression of a nation at war with itself. The police on the other hand, prevented the release of 'provocative' images, (such as a officer on fire after being hit by a molotov cocktail). These images were however shown to 'motivate' policemen before the Mt Eden test, during which street-fighting broke out with the police. Perhaps because of this, the tour remained a bizarrely civilised break down of order. Neither side used firearms or tear gas. There were no deaths, and no serious injuries. Some of the more violent policemen were quietly disciplined. Protestors who might, in another country, have faced unreasonable charges of attempted murder or treason, were charged and convicted of relatively minor and unimportant disorder offences - or acquitted after defence by pro bono lawyers. Leaders of both sides went on to fill important roles in public life.

Aftermath

Supporters argued the African National Congress was encouraged by signs of opposition in the outside world; opponents that the scenes of fighting held back reform by strengthening the hand of the security forces. It may be that events in New Zealand had little effect in South Africa, and the protests and response were more an argument about the future of New Zealand society than apartheid. The Muldoon government was re-elected in 1981 partially as a backlash to the tour protests.

The NZRFU constitution contained much high minded wording about promoting the image of rugby and New Zealand, and generally being a benefit to society. In 1985 the NZRFU proposed an All Black tour of South Africa. Two lawyers sued the NZRFU, claiming such a tour would breach the NZRFU's constitution, which it clearly did. The High Court duly stopped the All Black tour. The 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand could have been stopped by the courts. It is interesting that protest groups did not attempt such a remedy within the "system" in 1981. The All Blacks did not tour South Africa until after the fall of the apartheid régime (1990 - 1994), although after the official 1985 tour was cancelled an unofficial tour did take place in 1986 by a team including some but not the majority of All Blacks players. These were known outside South Africa as the Cavaliers, but advertised inside the Republic as the All Blacks.

For the first time in history, rugby in New Zealand had become a source of embarrassment rather than pride. The sport fell into a six-year decline, arrested only by the country's victory in the first Rugby World Cup in 1987.

Public respect for the police also took a battering as a result of The Tour, with protestors filing a number of high-profile brutality complaints against officers. Many felt that the authorities had set up the Red and Blue Squads for the purpose of suppressing dissent, as opposed to by-the-book law enforcement.

Merata Mita's documentary film Patu! tells the tale of the tour from a left wing perspective. Commander of the police "Red Squad", Ross Meurant published Red Squad Story in 1982, giving a defensive conservative view. In 1984 Geoff Chapple published The Tour, a book chronicling the above events from the protesters' perspective. In 1999 Glenn Wood's biography "Cop Out", covered the tour from the perspective of a frontline policeman.

New Zealand leftist Tom Newnham's book By Batons And Barbed Wire is one of the largest collections of photos (and general information) of the protest movement during the tour itself.

References
• Chapple, Geoff (1984). 1981: The Tour, Wellington: A H & A W Reed & Wikipedia


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General Discussions: Trouble Logging On

We are aware that some of you are struggling to log in. We are genuinely sorry about this.

Unfortunately we underestimated how popular the site will be and we are currently being overwhelmed with the public response. Please read on to see what exciting developments the increased traffic has forced us into.

Okay, thank you for reading on. Firstly, we are sincerely dismayed at any trouble you might be experiencing to get into the site.

It is a direct result of an overwhelming demand to access our stories.

It took us by surprise but we are reacting instantly to it. We will be migrating the site to another massive server that will eliminate the problems you may have been experiencing

Without you the site would be an irrelevance and we would like to ensure you that, all six of us, will be working overtime to present those quirky, unusual and ground-breaking stories.

As usual, you are quicker than us at 'breaking stories', KEEP IT UP and send us a mail so we can get it online!
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General Discussions: Canadian Rugby Fan Awestruck at Loftus Versfeld

We first published this back on the 8th December, considering how our visitor numbers have increased I thought it would make for a nice read for readers who may have missed the original.

It emphasises the responsibility the administrators in South Africa have to present our rugby in a dignified and unified manner, especially bearing in mind our historical role as one of the two strongest rugby playing nations in history.

It is incumbent on us to set the example and present a hard working, united face to the world. A face in which all South African fans can rest assured that decisions are made in the best interests of South African rugby.

By Chris Bjornestad

October 19, 2005

On the weekend of Saturday, October 15th, one of my dreams came true in Pretoria, South Africa. Along with the Canterbury Crusaders from New Zealand, my favourite professional team in all of rugby, the Blue Bulls, which compete in the Currie Cup competition (and Super 14), played in a nail biting, bone-crushing semi-final against long time rivals, the Lions from Johannesburg. Much to my delight, a friend of mine from Pretoria managed to get tickets.

Though I’d watched Canada play international matches against formidable opponents over the years, including the June encounter in Toronto against Wales, this was my first opportunity to attend a high calibre show-down in a truly rugby-obsessed nation. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect introduction to live pro rugby. Four days later, as I sit at my sister’s flat in neighbouring Mozambique, I can’t help but relive one of the greatest weekends of my life. I decided some rugby fans in Canada, who may just love the greatest game ever invented as much as me, might like to read about the experience.

My dream visit to Pretoria began on Friday afternoon. I was scooped up from the Joberg airport by Shaun, a South African currently visiting family in his hometown, but who now calls Montreal home where he coaches St. Anne de Bellevue RC. We made the short drive back to Pretoria, which is South Africa’s capital for you geographically challenged people. We passed by several large billboards along the highway promoting the Blue Bulls. The local radio stations talked about nothing but the upcoming showdown between the home team and Lions.

As rugby players and fans, you’ll not be shocked that Shaun and I first decided to have a beer on a patio instead of visiting the local cultural sites and attractions in Blue Bull land.


We hadn’t taken two sips from our Castle lagers when one of my favourite players, Victor Matfield, showed up for a quick bite of lunch. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Matfield is one of the premier lock forwards in the world today and possibly the top lineout option out there, though the Kiwis and some others would zealously dispute this. As a relatively short second row, I must have looked like England’s Neil Back without the muscle (nor the rugby skills) standing beside Martin Johnson as Matfield walked past me. I simply wished the #5 good luck in the match and he responded kindly.

I’ve lived in Canada most of my life and also spent a few years living in the USA. From time to time as most of us have experienced, I would see a professional athlete out in public in various cities across North America. In truth, I was almost indifferent to seeing these athletes who are worshiped by sports fans back home. The big sports in North America are not my cup of tea, though I appreciate the talent, skill and commitment required to play them. Seeing Matfield up close was special. I almost felt like a South African on the inside who was mistakenly born in a country where rugby struggles to keep its head above water among tidal waves of hockey, football and even soccer and basketball. I felt strangely at home where the white population, and increasingly black population, simply love rugby, though soccer is still the most popular sport overall.

Shaun then brought me to Loftus Versfeld where the Bulls would host their opponents the following day. This stadium is holy ground for ruggers in Pretoria and indeed throughout South Africa, and recognized as a bastion of rugby in every top tier nation around the globe. Quite simply, if you want to win in this stadium against the Bulls or the Boks, you’d better bring your A-game, wherever you’re from. Loftus holds about 58,000 fans at capacity, which is inconceivable to a Canadian used to watching international matches at Fletcher’s Field or York University in Toronto with only a few thousand loyal followers. Shaun, who played for the Pretoria RC once upon a time, a club which consistently fields seven or eight sides, actually had the privilege of playing on the main field a few times in his career. He will never forget the experience. We toured the stadium and my eyes were as wide as saucers and filled with wonderment. I saw the Currie Cup up close (behind glass of course). The Bulls won the cup last year so for now it belongs to Loftus. The cup has engravings from top to bottom with the names of winning clubs dating back to the late 1800s. Seeing it made me think of the NHL’s Stanley Cup, which unfortunately hasn’t lived in Canada since 1993. Rugby history, tradition, and pride drip from this stadium. The changerooms are so large that teams can warm up in them and flyhalfs and fullbacks can practice their kicking into nets. Sean told me the field actually slopes downwards gradually (or upwards depending on which direction you’re running). A little known fact to outsiders.

Saturday was game day, as it is in Canada. Tens of thousands of fans from Pretoria and Lions fans who made the trek from Joberg got an early start on the festivities. If you think our neighbour to the south is the only country to have tailgate parties, think again. The tailgater outside Loftus was of a massive scale. I’d never seen anything like it. For kilometres, cars and trucks parked along both shoulders of the winding road leading to the stadium. Hordes of screaming Bulls supporters - young and old, men and women - barbecued sausages and burgers, drank copious amounts of beer and brandy and cokes, chatted with friends and strangers about all things rugby, and heckled Lions fans as they walked defiantly towards Loftus in their red jerseys, proudly waving their own flags. As the ‘visitors’ walked by, Bulls fans yelled: “Are you lost!? You must be in the wrong city!” Cars and trucks carrying excited fans waved blue flags as they passed by. I observed one flatbed truck with a massive paper mache blue bull in it, surrounded by screaming children. The truck passed by us honking several times and the tailgaters went wild with cheers (and a few boos). Though the Lions and Bulls fans are intensely loyal to their teams (and many were three sheets to the wind), there were only smiles on their faces. I didn’t witness any incidence of hooliganism or fighting.

After consuming a few too many Castle lagers myself, we made our way to the stadium. As we entered Loftus, the atmosphere was electric and I knew I was in for a real display of rugby excellence. The match was not quite sold out but an amazing 47 900 fans were in attendance. There was a sea of blue encircling the field with a few pockets of red. There were so many blue flags that they appeared to be floating in the stands, and the cheering was deafening as the opening whistle was about to blow. I was in awe as the Bulls took the field. How often can you see at least ten current and former Springboks in a line-up up of a club team with twenty-two players. Three or four of the Bulls are candidates for IRB Player of the Year – unheard of! The likes of Gary Botha, Bakkies Botha, Richard Bands, Jurie de Preez, Victor Matfield, Bryan Habana and several others. Sadly, one of South Africa’s finest centres who played for the Bulls, Etienne Botha, was killed earlier in the season in a car crash. Botha was an extraordinary talent but somehow never got the nod from the Boks selectors, which I find puzzling.

I won’t devote much space in describing the match because you can read about it on Planet Rugby or other websites, or maybe it was televised back home. I can tell you that I’d never contemplated that a match could be so physical. The commitment to uncompromising tackling was beyond impressive. In the second half, IRB Player of the Year Candidate, Bryan Habana, laid out one of the Lions’ backs in what is undoubtedly the biggest tackle I’ve ever witnessed – live or on television. I’m sure there were more than a few players popping painkillers shortly after the final whistle blew.

Though I’m naturally biased, watching Matfield and Botha in the second row was inspiring – this duo is hard to beat. There was also a memorable ten-point play involving a converted try by the Bulls’ open side flanker, followed by a penalty against the Lions for trying to injure the flanker after he dotted down. The fullback was right on the mark from 50 metres out. In fairness, the Lions played a valiant match – they led at half time and kept the fans on the edge of their seats right to the end. The Lions have a very strong pack and backs who play an expansive game with lots of flair and incredible speed and versatility. It was impressive seeing the Springbok’s fly half, Andre Pretorius, in action for the Lions. He distributes the ball brilliantly, though he had a relatively lack-lustre performance kicking for points. The final whistle confirmed a 31-22 victory for the boys in blue. Needless to say, the local fans were ecstatic.

I won’t describe the post-game festivities and shenanigans out of fear that my parents may read this. Let’s just say I wasn’t the only Bulls supporter who saw the sun rise on Sunday morning. I had the privilege of speaking with a cauliflower-eared man in his seventies outside Loftus who recounted stories from his rugby days as a boy and young man. I also met up with a friend I’d not seen in several years, a Pretorian rugger who played for then North Transvaal years before. ‘Soon’, as he’s fondly nicknamed by friends and family, coached me when I played for Potomac Athletic Club in Washington, DC. Soon played with a lot of legends who suited up for the Boks and he remembers everything about their games. Both men played during an era where referees seldom sent a player to the ‘cooler’ for foul play. When savvy, dirty hookers put Vics Vapour Rub on their eyebrows and ears so the opposing #2 would be virtually blinded in the scrum. They reminded me of ageing and aged Canadian hockey players with whom I’ve had pints in Ottawa pubs over the years. They played in arenas, outdoor rinks and on frozen ponds and lakes many moons ago. Locals who can quickly name their top and toughest players from the NHL, and rhyme off scoring, assist and penalty minute statistics spanning back several decades. Canadians are equally knowledgeable and passionate about our game on ice as the Pretorians are about their rugby.

On Sunday afternoon in my hung over stupor, I had a bit of an epiphany – which is rare for a tight five player who’s sustained a number of concussions. For years I’ve had a dream that rugby will one day become a Tier 1 sport in the Great White North. In my mind, this would be accomplished through developing the game in every sense of the word – providing more opportunities for our young players to take up rugby at an earlier age; increasing expertise and capacity for coaching; investing substantial amounts of money into the sport; forming a professional league when the time is right; determining a strategy for marketing and advertising to get existing and new fans out to local, regional and national matches; tapping into the Canadian media and corporate sponsorship for support. In other words, developing a ‘Culture of Rugby’ in Canada far above and beyond the current fringes.

In reality, we occasionally have our own Currie Cup Semi-Finals when one or more of our Canadian teams go the distance. They’re called the NHL Eastern and Western Conference Finals. I feel proud that we call hockey OUR game, even though I’m not the biggest fan. We have a ‘Culture of Hockey’ that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world. Fans from Victoria to Halifax experience elation when the Canucks, Flames, Oilers, Senators, Leafs or Canadiens go to the conference finals or the ‘Big Dance’ in the Stanley Cup Finals. As adults, we feel and often behave like excited school children in the playground the day of a playoff game and talk about little else, just like in Pretoria during Currie Cup season. We jam our arenas with tens of thousands of people for games as well, wearing our jerseys and waving flags and banners, and celebrate or commiserate over beers at the pub afterwards, depending on the final score.

I will always support the game of rugby in Canada and our national teams – both men and women. The sobering reality is that rugby will NEVER be as big as in South Africa. Will Canada’s Senior Men’s team join the IRB top-ten ranks over the next five years, ten years, even in my lifetime? Possibly, though I have my doubts. My experience in Pretoria last Saturday tells me we will never compete with the South Africans, Englands, Australias, Frances, Wales and New Zealands of the world. Not because we don’t have tremendous athletes, not because we aren’t doing some (not all) of the right things to develop the game. We simply don’t have the necessary rugby culture. I understand that now.

While South Africans live, breathe and bleed green and gold, Canadians bleed red and white. We just bleed for another game, another tradition, another obsession.

In Pretoria, they also bleed BLUE.

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