The Spammers have been SPAMMED, is back online!

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Super 14: Warm-up Games: Stormers 73 - Spears 5

Our man Donner, with his trusted cellphone, is ready at the Wellington Stadium in the Boland to bring us the latest scores and updates from the Stormers' warm-up game against the Southern Spears. Whilst Donner is settling comfortably into his seat in the stands, myself will spent the time behind the PC to make sure that you can share in history in the making.

The teams are:

Stormers: Werner Greeff, Rayno Benjamin, Piet van Zyl, Jean de Villiers, Jonghi Nokwe, Peter Grant, Bolla Conradie, Adri Badenhorst, Schalk Burger (c), Luke Watson, Andries Bekker, Ross Skeate, Eddie Andrews, Hanyani Shimange, JD Moller.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Attie Winter, Henk Eksteen, David Hendricks, Neil de Kock, Naas Olivier, Joe Pietersen.

Southern Spears: Baldwin McBean, Gershom Ramazan, Basil de Doncker, Vusumzi Mbulali, Reinhard Gerber, Isma-eel Dollie, Warren Malgas, Ashley Johnson (c), Davon Raubenheimer, Maurice Reid, Jaco du Toit, Lean Combrinck, Eugene Maqwelana, Gavin Williamson, Petros Methula.

Replacements: Wayne Bennett, Marius Mostert, Hein Potgieter, Pietie Loots, Daniel Philander, Spencer Wakeling, Ashwin Scott, Brood van der Westhuizen.

No score after 10 minutes. Spears just lost a chance to score when the ball was knocked. First two line-outs went against the throw. Both Dollie and Malgas are not playing. Were replaced by Wakeling and Philander.

Ashley Johnson yellow-carded in 14th minute. According to Donner, the Spears are impressive and running at every opportunity.

After 20 minutes still no score. Stormers making a lot of mistakes whilst Spears backline looks very impressive although they are on the backfeet as the forwards are suffering in the scrums.

Shimange scores in corner in 30th minute after kick was dropped by Spears' left wing. Conversion not over. 5 - 0.

Try by Luke Watson. Converted by Greeff. 12 - 0.

Fight broke out in 33rd minute. Red Card to Eugene Maqwelana, prop of Spears and yellow card to JD Moller of Stormers.

Score by Skeate in corner. Conversion by Greeff. 19 - 0. (Grant is having an off day with the boot).

Half-time and score is 19 - 0.

Second half on the go and Spears took off their Left wing in order to field 8 forwards.

Try by De Viliers after De Kock (who is on the field in place of Conradie) broke. Another try by Benjamin. Conversion by De Kock. 33 - 0.

Another try by Watson. Converted by De Kock. 40 - 0.

Eksteen on for Bekker and Gus Theron in place of Van Zyl.

Score by Wakeling for Spears. Conversion missed. 40 - 5.

Score by Schalk Burger and converted by De Kock. 47 - 5.

Brits and Olivier on for Shimange and Grant.

Second try for Benjamin after 70 minutes converted by De Kock. 54 - 5.

Spears down to 13 men after another yellow card by referee Marius Jonker.

Score by Nokwe. Conversion missed by De Kock. 59 - 5.

Nokwe breaks on own 22 and scores. Conversion by De Kock. 66 - 5.

Score by Pietersen converted by De Kock. 73 - 5.

End of match. 73 - 5.

Donner's match report to follow tomorrow.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Super 14: Results

Crusaders 36-19 The Force
Waratahs 28-21 Blues
Sharks A 13-10 Bulls A

Bulls 17-3 Sharks
Cheetahs 52-11 Benetton Treviso

The Crusaders fielded a number of their All Black stars in overcoming the Force, who also used the opportunity to give Nathan Sharpe and Brendan Cannon their first hit-out of the season.

John Mitchell will be happy that his team managed to put 3 tries past the Saders.

The Scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Tries: Yates 2, McCaw, Mauger, Hamilton, Taylor
Cons: Carter 2, Brett

For the Western Force:
Tries: Staniforth 2, Scott
Cons: James, McKay

The Blues have slumped to their second consecutive loss against the Waratahs.

In a scrappy match typical of early season encounters, the Tahs outscored the Blues by a converted penalty and conversion, with both teams running in 3 tries.

The Scorers:

For the Waratahs:
Tries: Turniui, Elsom, Hoiles
Cons: Hewat, Donnelly
Pens: Hewat 2, Donnelly

For the Blues:
Tries: Senio, Rokocoko, McAlister
Cons: Ward
Pens: McAlister 2
Click here to read full article and comments.

General Discussions: Springbok arrested


Johannesburg - Golden Lions and Springbok rugby player Andre Pretorius was arrested and charged with drunken driving on Saturday.

Pretorius was behind the wheel when his car collided with another vehicle on the Main Road in Bryanston, Johannesburg, after 1am.

Pretorius, 27, was arrested and charged, as was the other driver.

Police spokesperson Captain Schalk Bornman said the two men were taken to Randburg police station and later released on R500 bail each.

He added that both drivers have been booked for drunken driving and will appear in the Randburg magistrate court on Monday.

Bornman said it was likely their cases would be postponed pending the finalisation and receipt of blood tests taken after the accident.

Click here to read full article and comments.

Super 14: Stormers being polished

Source: News24
Herbert Pretorius, Die Burger

Wellington - Supporters watching the match between the Stormers and the Southern Spears on Saturday will have a preview of the Stormers team that will face the Cats in a fortnight's time in the first round of the Super 14 rugby competition.

The coach of the Cape-based team, Kobus van der Merwe says with the exception of one position, this will be the team he will take to Ellis Park.

De Wet Barry, the Stormers captain for the series, is still recovering from knee surgery, but he should be able to take his place against the Cats.

In his absence, and that of the injured Marius Joubert who may well be ready to play again by the second or third week of the series, Piet van Zyl will get more opportunity to stake his claim for a more secure spot in the side.

The Cats will no doubt send some spies to the winelands to gather some valuable video material of the home team's final dress rehearsal against the Southern Spears.

How much they will learn about the Stormers from the game against coach Pieter de Villiers' team which was thrashed 48-0 in Port Elizabeth a few weeks ago, remains to be seen.

Van der Merwe watched that game and expects the new team of the south-eastern Cape to play champagne rugby.

Training camp in Swellendam

"Our biggest challenge will be to stick to our structures from the word go and to avoid being drawn into an unnecessary mess," he said.

"That means we'll have to win good first phase ball and keep our lines of defence intact."

Van der Merwe said he was not afraid that the game would not be good preparation for the game against the Cats.

"It does not help that you play some tough games now and reach your peak within the first two or three weeks. This series is not going to be a sprint - it will be a marathon. You have to conserve gas."

The last phase of the pre-season preparation will start on Monday when they leave for a three-day camp at Swellendam.

The teams are:

Stormers: Werner Greeff, Rayno Benjamin, Piet van Zyl, Jean de Villiers, Jonghi Nokwe, Peter Grant, Bolla Conradie, Adri Badenhorst, Schalk Burger (c), Luke Watson, Andries Bekker, Ross Skeate, Eddie Andrews, Hanyani Shimange, JD Moller.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Attie Winter, Henk Eksteen, David Hendricks, Neil de Kock, Naas Olivier, Joe Pietersen.

Southern Spears: Baldwin McBean, Gershom Ramazan, Basil de Doncker, Vusumzi Mbulali, Reinhard Gerber, Isma-eel Dollie, Warren Malgas, Ashley Johnson (c), Davon Raubenheimer, Maurice Reid, Jaco du Toit, Lean Combrinck, Eugene Maqwelana, Gavin Williamson, Petros Methula.

Replacements: Wayne Bennett, Marius Mostert, Hein Potgieter, Pietie Loots, Daniel Philander, Spencer Wakeling, Ashwin Scott, Brood van der Westhuizen.

Kickoff: 18:00.

Click here to read full article and comments.

Rugby Personalities: “We won because we had outstanding players and leadership,”

“We lost our experience, leadership, and we lost direction off the pitch,” he said. “We didn’t understand what was going to happen off the pitch and we all have to examine our desire to be part of that."

By: Matthew Pinsent, 3 times gold medal winner at consecutive olympics.

The England head coach talks about the task of trying to emulate the nation's finest moment

ANDY ROBINSON is in a difficult situation — he spans two eras of rugby. The first is now universally recognised as England’s shining moment, the fulfilment of every rugby fan’s dream — an away win, in dramatic style, against the much-feared Australians to clinch the Webb Ellis Cup.

If Hollywood writers produced a sports movie script about rugby union, even they might have said: “No, it really can’t finish with an open-top bus tour round London and a trip to the Palace, where everyone has tea with the Queen.”

The curse for anyone, player or coach, who was not prepared to move on is, how can that be topped? So pity poor Robinson, now the head coach, for he was in the cast for the epic and he has the challenge of trying to keep the audience interested long after the titles have rolled.

He knows exactly how the World Cup was won in 2003. “We won because we had outstanding players and leadership,” he said. “We would have shot ourselves if we hadn’t won, to be honest. I think we had a belief we could win whenever England took the pitch. It was fortress Twickenham at home, but we had it away, too.”

Many outsiders saw the dip in form that followed Sydney as just the normal cycle of sport; that once the heights had been scaled, the aftermath was bound to be less successful. But Robinson is blunt with his riposte. “We lost our experience, leadership, and we lost direction off the pitch,” he said. “We didn’t understand what was going to happen off the pitch and we all have to examine our desire to be part of that. Look at the cricketers now. Part of our culture in England is we are not great when we win something. In rugby we had to start again and get the foundations right.”

He is refreshingly honest about his appointment to succeed Sir Clive Woodward. “I felt a little out of control,” he said. “Clive left and suddenly it was, ‘Wow, it has happened’.”

I look at his deep-set, narrow eyes to see if he really means it, but nothing makes me think that he wants to swallow the statement. “Last year there were games we lost and should have won — I’d rather be blown away than that. We gave cheap scores away,” he said. “I think we had it in parts of the Six Nations, just not the belief to finish it off. In the autumn internationals it was real belief, except in the last ten minutes against New Zealand. We didn’t have it then, nor the skill to beat them, and I take responsibility for that.”

Robinson talks passionately about rugby. His predecessor was more delicate with his words and was more sure of himself, but Robinson is more likeable. If you talk off the record to an England World Cup winner, he will tell you that if Woodward had 100 ideas, 99 of them were almost certainly hogwash, but the last one was worth hearing.

“I don’t think we’ve had 100 ideas, but we are looking at some new lenses to help the players with sight and glare,” Robinson said. “We have been working on our hydration strategy and that has helped with our consistency, but you can have too many ideas. If you have the core skills, you can develop from there.”

He seems to have a firm idea of what kind of player he wants. “We have to select the consistent performers,” he said. “When we don’t know what we are going to get from a player — whether it’s a great day or a poor day — it’s difficult to coach that. Some of the experiences we’ve had with players . . . one minute a world-beater, the next he wouldn’t get picked for your second team. The player who is as good and more consistent — he’ll get picked.”

There is one theme that keeps cropping up, that of resting players from their club responsibilities before international matches. Woodward left because he could not get such an agreement and one of the reasons that the autumn internationals were so good, according to Robinson, is that, for a while at least, he did. But ask him one simple question — what is the hardest part of having his job — and it comes rushing out of him like lava.

“The frustration of not having the players,” he answers. “I love club rugby — the players have to be playing for the clubs — but for me to be negotiating all the time is damaging for the sport.

“If we get it right we could be successful for years, because the players are there. When you look at the opposition, they have enabled their players to do it (with the exception of France). That is why it has become more of a level playing field. We’ve lost the edge. We had it, but we’ve given it away.”

Of course, no film gets eclipsed by its sequel and the campaign to hold on to the World Cup, no matter what happens, is not going to be more famous than 2003. That is not going to stop us going to see it, though — expect the queue at Twickenham to be as long as ever.

But the audience is likely to be more judgmental of the products on display and the RBS Six Nations Championship of 2006 may be Robinson’s only chance to stop his critics writing it all off as a flop. In the next two months they will see if his ingredients are right. If they are not, it will not be worth watching.

Powerade is the official sports drink of the RFU and the England rugby teams
Click here to read full article and comments.

International Rugby: Injuries mounting.

Medical statistics in England and France demonstrate that rugby union is now a more intense game. The RFU’s research shows that 72 per cent of injuries occur in what is called the high-contact areas, 51 per cent in the tackle but only 6 per cent as a result of violent play.

Source: The Times
By: Gerald Davies (Former Welsh and British Lions international)

BEFORE Toulouse played Llanelli Scarlets last weekend, the French club had to travel without five of their backs, while Gareth Thomas, the Wales full back now resident in France, was carrying a heavily strapped leg. Thomas may be added to the growing list of players who are unavailable for Wales for the RBS Six Nations Championship. It is not an unfamiliar tale. Rugby is beginning to make unreasonable demands on the body.

The transition of rugby into being an “open” sport has not been without its confusion or two off the field, but the revolutionary change has achieved much in the way of creating a more dynamic sport. This has had its price.

51% of injuries occur in the tackle

Medical statistics in England and France demonstrate that rugby union is now a more intense game. The RFU’s research shows that 72 per cent of injuries occur in what is called the high-contact areas, 51 per cent in the tackle but only 6 per cent as a result of violent play.

An analysis carried out by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) in France and presented in L’Equipe, the sports daily, points out that, after the tenth round of the French championship, 108 of the 578 professional players in the two divisions were unavailable. What evidence there is from the archives suggests that whereas in the amateur days three or four players m ay not have been available to a team on any one weekend, now there are five or six. This may not present a substantial difference, but injuries nowadays are more serious.

34% of injuries occur during training

Training accounts for injuries, too. In England, 22 per cent of all training takes place before the season proper begins, with 34 per cent of all injuries occurring during this period, each injury accounting for 24 days of lost time. Recurrent injuries would mean 35 days of absence. There is little time during an intense season to recover and little respite as the close season, too, gets shorter.

Another LNR study showed that an incredible 36 per cent of injuries occurred during training in France. Thanks to a reduced workload, this has been cut to 28 per cent. The attritional nature of club training in France, according to Thomas, is a significant difference between what happens in Toulouse compared with what he has experienced on this side of the Channel.

Players are bigger, stronger, faster

The statistics prove what can be observed at every game. Players are bigger, stronger and faster, and with space to gather momentum there is greater force of impact when the bodies collide. Compared with pre-professional days, forwards are now 9kg (19lb) heavier, while the backs are 7kg (15lb) heavier. It is equally clear that there are many more tackles. What is less clear, but the analysis indicates, is that there is more “game time” today.

This means that the ball is in play for longer. The research in England shows that the ball is in play for close on 40 minutes during a full game, which is twice as much as it was in the 1970s, when rugby began to achieve a higher profile. A statistic supplied by Bourgoin indicated that the game time for the 2002-2003 season added up to 1,447 minutes, while this had increased the next season to 1,859.

12.5% chance of injury at club level, 29% at Test level

The farther up the ladder, the more likely it is for an injury to occur. There is a 12.5 per cent chance of injury in a club game, while at international level there is a 29 per cent chance. On average, a club will have 18 per cent of players unavailable for selection.

France intends to organise a World Medical Congress in 2007, the year it hosts the World Cup. It will be the third such tournament since 1995, when professionalism came into being. In that time, training and preparation have grown increasingly more sophisticated.

The present analysis has been conducted by those nations that have been able to afford to embrace the concept of fully professional players, with the time, the advice and the facilities at their disposal. The power and physique of one team is more or less matched with the other. In the World Cup, a discrepancy will exist between the finely tuned leading countries and those who are less prepared. This imbalance is not an encouragingly wholesome scenario.
Click here to read full article and comments.

International Teams: Self-analysis shows why Wallabies are struggling

Source: Mail & Guardian

A statistical analysis of the Wallaby performance in 2005 shows that the side "remains numer one in defence" but are deficient compared with their rivals when it comes to restarts, offloads, lineouts and - of course! - scrummaging.

Picture: Gary Flowers, ARU Chief

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief Gary Flowers said the review of the past season, in which the Wallabies lost eight of their nine last matches, was nearing completion
and had already influenced selectors tasked with picking a replacement for sacked coach Eddie Jones.

Jones had frequently declared that the injury-plagued Wallabies were close to overcoming their weaknesses, but Flowers said the review had found otherwise.

The ARU statistics showed the Wallabies ranked just 10th in winning their own lineouts and fifth in stealing their opponents' lineouts. They ranked sixth in getting quality ball from scrums, seventh in restart receptions and sixth in offloads.

On the other side of the balance sheet, the Australians ranked first in creating line breaks and in tackle contest dominance in both attack and defence.

Flowers said the ARU was confident the new Wallaby coach -- due to be named next month and widely expected to be former Queensland Reds coach John Connolly -- would be able to sort out the team's problems.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Six Nations: 'Triple Crown' is now a trophy

Source: RugbyHeaven

For the first time this season the winners of the Six Nations's Triple Crown will receive a trophy. The Triple Crown is 'won' if one of the Home Nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland) beats all the others during the course of a Six Nations (previously Five Nations) Championship.

The competition kicks off next weekend.
Up until now it has been something of a mythic prize. However this season, in addition to the Six Nations trophy itself, a new silver dish will be on offer during a tournament which starts a week on Saturday when Ireland host Italy and world champions England entertain Six Nations title holders Wales.

"For such a long-running and much contested prize in rugby, it may seem quite surprising that no physical trophy for the Triple Crown has ever been adopted by the Home Unions," Six Nations chief executive John Feehan said on Wednesday.

"To now have something that is tangible and so impressive will add greatly to the already ultra-competitive environment of the Six Nations Championship."


Wales can beat the odds again, says coach
Wales coach Mike Ruddock is confident his side can repeat last season's stunning Six Nations grand slam even though their first match of the tournament is away to world champions England at Twickenham, where they have not won in 18 years.

Scots brimming with belief, but fans skeptical
Scotland coach Frank Hadden has insisted that better days are ahead for the team's long-suffering fans.

Grand slam a big ask: O'Driscoll
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has written off Welsh chances of a Six Nations grand slam repeat and warned that an unbeaten run is a near impossibility for any side in this year's competition.

Italy aims for one win from five
Italy coach Pierre Berbizier has set his sights on the modest target of one victory in this year's Six Nations tournament.

Injured Castaignede faces Six Nations battle
French international centre Thomas Castaignede faces a Six Nations fitness battle after suffering a thigh injury in Saracens' 43-13 European Cup defeat at Biarritz on Saturday.

Dallaglio back for England
World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio has won a return to international rugby when he was named in England's Six Nations training squad.


Saturday, February 4
Ireland v Italy Landsdowne Rd, Dublin 13:30 GMT
England v Wales Twickenham, London 15:30 GMT
Sunday, February 5:
Scotland v France Murrayfield, Edinburgh 15:00 GMT

Click here to read full article and comments.

Other sports: FIA greenlights Super Aguri

By Alan Baldwin

London, England - Formula 1 will have 11 teams this season after the sport's governing body confirmed Japan's Super Aguri as a new entrant on Thursday (January 16).

The Honda-powered team's application was initially rejected after a $48-million (about R293-million) bond was not paid by a November deadline; its arrival now puts 22 cars on the starting grid for the first time since the demise of Arrows in late 2002.

The last newcomer, in a sport where the top teams spend well in excess of $200-million (R1.2-billion) a year, was Japanese car giant Toyota in 2002.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement: "The FIA has accepted the late entry of the Super Aguri F1 team to the 2006 FIA Formula 1 world championship, following receipt of the necessary financial guarantee and with the unanimous support of the competing teams.

Former Japanese racer Aguri Suzuki, the team principal and founder, welcomed the news.

"I am thankful for the support we received from all of the other F1 teams and we look forward to seeing them soon," he said.

"Our team members are doing their best to make sure that we are on the grid in Bahrain - and I am confident that we will make it."

Super Aguri has taken over the old Arrows factory in Oxfordshire, in central England, and is racing against time to be ready for the start of the season on March 12.

It has yet to name any race drivers, although one of the two is certain to be Japan's Takuma Sato after he was dropped last year by BAR - now renamed as Honda Racing F1.

Suzuki himself started 88 Grands Prix and was the first Japanese to stand on a Formula 1 podium; he said last year his goal was to build a team that Sato would want to drive for. A number of other Japanese drivers have been linked to the fledgling team and Suzuki said an announcement would be made soon.

Suzuki's partner Fumio Akita said: "Final negotiations are still under way, but Sato will probably drive in the team's No1 car."

Akita said the team was also in negotiation with several other drivers from Japan, Europe, and North American.

Honda's British test driver Anthony Davidson could be an eventual option, although Honda wants him as its Friday tester at grand prix weekends.

Super Aguri is working on a new car but intends to start the season with old Arrows bought from ex-Minardi boss Paul Stoddart. Japan's Bridgestone have been approached for tyres.

Team managing director Daniele Audetto said: "Of course we do not expect to be on the pace straight away.

"We will use the first GPs to train the team before our definitive car reaches the track."

Honda engines

Honda is providing the engines but will otherwise concentrate on its own team.

Honda team boss Nick Fry said in Wednesday in Barcelona: "They share an engine - but at the moment we are focused on doing the best we can and can't be distracted from that."

Suzuki has in any case ruled out being a Honda "B" team: "We are a Japanese team, that's very important," he said, "but we aren't Honda's B team by any means.

"Our goal is to see the Japanese flag raised above the podium." - Reuters
Click here to read full article and comments.

General Discussions: Carpe Diem.

As harsh as it must seem, there is no point crying over what might have been. In sport, the imponderables are so numerous that to let them prey on the mind would drive an athlete insane. It is how we react to these twists of fate that determines greatness.

Source: The Daily Telegraph
By: Will Greenwood, England and Lions centre.

Where is the other you right now? The you that made the tube, not the you that sprinted and arrived as the doors slammed shut. The you that went left and avoided the M25, not the you that is stuck at junction 15 in the world's largest car park.

We all do it, wondering what life would be like if we had made different decisions at key moments. Sport is no different. What would have happened last summer if Brett Lee had smashed Steve Harmison's full toss for four instead of a single, only to watch Michael Kasprowicz get out in the same over, losing the match and levelling the Ashes series. Would a million people have welcomed Steven Gerrard's Liverpool home with the European Cup if the referee had judged that Luis Garcia's goal had not in fact crossed the line against Chelsea in that pulsating semi-final? And, on a personal note, would I have ever won a Lions Test cap if Brian O'Driscoll had not gone into 'that' ruck?

The sporting commentator labels them 'what ifs', the unanswerable questions that prey on the mind for those who end up on the wrong side of those decisions. Such turning points can give victors the confidence to go on to great things, but only if they refuse to dwell on the fact that it could so easily have been different.

The Heineken Cup has thrown up many of these conundrums, not least now with Perpignan and the split-second decision that forced them to travel to play Munster, possibly in the impenetrable fortress that is Thomond Park. And how did the French end up with the unenviable task of a quarter-final in Ireland, rather than finishing as top dog and earning the right to play in front of thousands of Catalans in Barcelona as they had planned?

It is all down to twists of fate and split-second decisions that would have even the most hardened sadist wincing in sympathy.

Just before Christmas, Perpignan were six points up at Headingley and well into injury time when Leeds grabbed a lifeline by scoring a try wide out on the right. The Leeds fly-half, Gordon Ross, was presented with a tough conversion to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. He settled himself, went through his usual routine and promptly pulled his attempt so far off target that it almost flew over midwicket and into the adjoining Test match arena.

It seemed like glory for Perpignan and the important home advantage in the next rounds had been all but secured. Well, not quite, and up popped one of those decisions that have the French muttering darkly about Anglo-Saxon conspiracies. Ross was to get another chance at becoming a hero, because the referee decided there had been an infringement as Perpignan charged the conversion. It's not that different to football, when a referee judges the goalkeeper to have moved before a penalty has been taken. The only thing is, in rugby this does not happen every other game. In fact, I am not sure I have ever seen it happen before. It is one of those decisions that a referee is well within his rights to make but very rarely does.

Perpignan by now must have sensed that they would have been better off staying in bed. Ross went through his preparations a second time, but you could have blindfolded him and tied one leg to the other, he was never going to miss. In that instant the 'other' Perpignan stepped forward, the team who could see how much greener the grass was on the other side of the fence.

As harsh as it must seem, there is no point crying over what might have been. In sport, the imponderables are so numerous that to let them prey on the mind would drive an athlete insane. It is how we react to these twists of fate that determines greatness.

The cricket boys saw the opportunity they had to win the Ashes and snatched it with both hands. Liverpool showed their class by going 3-0 down in the final and still bringing home the trophy. And O'Driscoll? He has bided his time and put in the groundwork. He has trained away from the big crowds and the flashing lights, and reappeared on the European stage last week in the most emphatic of ways, playing brilliantly.

Martin Johnson's boys of 2003 had their own moments, not least when, seconds from glory in normal time, Australian fly-half Elton Flatley stepped forward and converted a penalty that many claim should never have been given. Argue the point for as long as you want, it made no difference at the time, and we had no choice but to play on and send the whole nation behind the sofas for the last 20 minutes.

Forget about ifs, should haves or coulds. They are an irrelevance. It does not matter what the other you is up to. In sport when an opportunity comes along, grab it with everything you have, do not let go and enjoy the moment wherever it takes you. For Perpignan, the journey is to Ireland and, as with the other teams in the quarter-finals, destiny will be in their own hands. Fail to concentrate on the here and now, and there is a good chance that, come May, the other you will be wondering about what might have been.
Click here to read full article and comments.

International Rugby: RIP Maurice Colclough

Source: The Daily Telegraph
By Mick Cleary

The former England and Lions lock, Maurice Colclough, has died aged 52. He had been ill for some time, fighting a brain tumour that was finally to lay low one of the most powerful men ever to play rugby.

Colclough, a central figure in the 1980 Grand Slam side, made his England debut in the 15-0 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield in 1978.

"I remember him sitting there beforehand with a pair of scissors in his hand," said former prop Fran Cotton, a colleague at both Lancashire and England. "His calf muscles were so flamin' big that he had to cut the side of his socks to get them on. He was without doubt the strongest scrummager I ever came across. He wasn't the most co-ordinated, mind. He broke my nose on a couple of occasions, those elbows and knees going everywhere as he piled in.

"Maurice was a character, one who lived life to the full. I'm not sure the modern game, with its uniform ways, would have suited. He was a real free spirit. It's all very sad, it really is. Maurice had been suffering for some time. A lesser man would have gone a while ago but he fought like hell."

Colclough had a rover's inclinations. He played for Sussex and Lancashire, as well as East Grinstead, Wasps and Swansea. Cotton remembers him pitching up for his first game wearing a bedraggled RAF greatcoat, suitable garb for the Liverpool University student that he was.

"All the gossip was about how he might end up in jail," Cotton said. "The Dublin police were after him for having dived into the Liffey stark naked when on tour. The thought of the Gardai waiting to apprehend this ginger-haired monster as he emerged had us in stitches. I think he got off with a fine and the Gardai with their lives."

Myths of mad moments and dangerous deeds followed Colclough around. There was talk that he helped dig the Mersey tunnel when a student. There was a story, too, of him doing his damnedest to make a Sussex game against Eastern Counties, only to miss the flight and be found hitching a lift at Spaghetti Junction.

He had a varied CV, upping sticks to go to Angouleme, where he ran a bar, Le Liverpool, also overseeing a boat and slot-machine business. He ran a similar operation when he moved back to Swansea. In recent years he had lived in South Africa before returning latterly to Cardiff.

"Maurice should have been a wild, colonial boy from another age," said another former England Grand Slam team-mate, Roger Uttley. "He was a rough diamond but a really good bloke. He was an entrepreneur, rugby's Arthur Daley. Top man."

Colclough won 25 caps for England in an eight-year career. He played eight Tests for the Lions, in South Africa in 1980 and New Zealand three years later. His captain on that first trip was Bill Beaumont, who packed down alongside him for England.

"Maurice made a massive contribution to all the teams he played for," Beaumont said. "He had a huge heart and will be greatly missed."

Colclough is survived by his wife, Annie, and five children.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Rugby Personalities: Fancy a Schalk Burger swimming costume?

Young Schalk Burger, the Western Province, Stormers and Springbok sensation has revealed that he will be releasing a designer pair of rugby boots.

According to Lucille Botha of Die Burger and , Schalk has been sitting down with a team from Puma to conceive, design and plan the launch.

Die Burger reports that the boots will be Puma trade marked.

Schalk, like other instantly recognisable international stars of their own sports, such as Michael Johnson, Ian Thorpe and Thierry Henri, is taking advantage of his meteoric rise to cash in on the commercial opportunities available in the relatively short career of an international rugby player.

He has been quoted as saying he has a "few more things in the pipeline."

So, don't be surprised to be pestered by your son for a pair of Schalk Burger Pumas boots for his birthday!
Click here to read full article and comments.

Friday, January 27, 2006


Rugby administration: Brian defies rumours

Article by Jan de Koning

'I am determined to go to the polls'

Controversial South African Rugby Union (SARU) president Brian van Rooyen has taken the extraordinary step of issuing a formal statement to deny that he is quitting the presidency race ahead of the union's general meeting next month.

Apart from the challenge of KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union (KZNRU) president Oregon Hoskins, who will oppose him in the battle for the SARU presidency at the union's general meeting on February 24, Van Rooyen is also facing a government driven enquiry into allegations that he is guilty on numerous charges of maladministration and breaches of SARU's code of conduct.

Despite making it clear in several media interviews in recent weeks that he will "fight to the bitter end", Van Rooyen on Thursday felt the need to issue a formal statement.

In the statement Van Rooyen strongly denied "recent speculation" that he is no longer available to stand for the position of President of SARU in the upcoming election on February 24.

"It is completely unfounded and untrue. I am determined to clear my name of all allegations," Van Rooyen said in the statement. "I will be standing for the presidency and I will not be entering into any deals with people.

"There is a democratic process that we have to adhere to and respect. I am determined to go to the polls," Van Rooyen added.

The statement did not make it clear what the source of this "recent speculation" is and whether it is just in reaction to recent reports.

Van Rooyen did not answer his phone and did not return any of this website's calls, thus making it impossible to determine what "speculation" he is referring to.

A couple of phone calls to informed sources at SARU suggested new rumours about "secret deals" started to do the rounds on Thursday, but none of these could be confirmed.

* Meanwhile it is reported that Sharks CEO Brian van Zyl and other senior officials at the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union (KZNRU) will meet with a SARU delegation next week in an attempt to find a solution in the stand-off between the two organisations over internationals fixtures.

The Sharks feel they are being penalised for opposing Van Rooyen and have been denied the right to host a prime Tri-Nations Test against the All Blacks.

Durban has been awarded the right to host a Test against Scotland, while officials feel they should - according top an informal rotation policy - be awarded an All Black Tri-Nations Test.

That Test (against the All Blacks) have instead gone to the Leopards - who have in James Stoffberg a known supporter of Van Rooyen.

The Sharks CEO and other officials are to meet with four members of the SA Rugby board to discuss the decision to shift the All Black Test away from Durban this year and the lop-sided Super 14 draw.

The Sharks delegation (including Van Zyl) will meet with SA Rugby board chairman Dolf van Huysteen, Ali Bacher (representative of the sponsors), board member Mpumelelo Tshumi and managing director Johan Prinsloo.

The Sharks have hinted at taking legal action in the matter and the meeting next week is to broker a piece deal.

Click here to read full article and comments.

Other sports: Donald stays!!!!!!!

Submitted by wpw

Allan Donald has withdrawn his application for the post of England bowling coach after being assured of his place in South Africa's hierarchy.

The former fast bowler, 39, had blamed his application on his frustration with the South Africa structure.

But he said in a statement: "I have given much thought to the matter, and have withdrawn my application.

"My heart lies with South African cricket, and I want to do everything I can to make us the best in the world." Troy Cooley finishes his contract as England bowling coach on 1 May to take up a similar job with Australia.

The closing date for applications is Friday and interviews will take place on 11 February.

Lancashire coach Mike Watkinson and Somerset's academy Kevin Shine are thought to be leading candidates.

Donald's change of heart came after what was described as a "full and frank discussion" with Cricket South Africa bosses Gerald Majola and Vince van der Bijl.

"I will also be writing to the board of Cricket South Africa to apologise for making a public statement about my England application before discussing the matter," added Donald, who is under contract until May 2007.

"I want to put the whole matter behind me, and carry on working with the high performance structures in South Africa."

Donald's current job as specialist bowling coach involves identifying and grooming promising young fast bowlers, and to assist established bowlers if they lose form.
He will also be available on request to help out with the national team.
Click here to read full article and comments.

General Discussions: The Magic Whistle Blower

Source: The Times

Today is the 250th anniversary Of Wolfgang Mozart's birth date.

Salzburg gets wild about Wolfgang

The Austrian city made famous by Mozart is gearing up for a year-long celebration of it's prodigal son's music. Tim Hames is your guide

IT IS NOT unusual for a city to have a favourite son. It is, though, rare for a city to become virtually a shrine to a single individual. Yet that is the relationship between Salzburg and Mozart. This part of Austria is so devoted to the composer who was born, raised and lived much of his life here that it seems almost impolite to note that he spent his final years, and then died, in Vienna.

Other figures have lived here, and it is acceptable to mention Johann Michael Hayden. But suggest that The Sound of Music, much of which was filmed in and around Salzburg, might represent an alternative claim to fame and there is the risk of being run out of town. Salzburg wants to be remembered for The Magic Flute, not Edelweiss.

Yet even by these high standards of homage, next year will be exceptional. The 250th anniversary of the great man’s birth will be marked by Salzburg with intensity and style. If there is ever a moment for anybody who is remotely interested in the man to take a trip to this musical centre, then it will come in 2006. There will be nothing like it again until, well, the 250th anniversary of his death in 2041.

Salzburg is not an in-your-face sort of place and the mood is one of discreet enthusiasm rather than brash showmanship. The branding for Mozart 2006 is everywhere, but in the form of modest logos across a range of publications — not on vast posters or hoardings. It is as if those running the London Olympic bid had decided to press their case by printing their message on the back of matchboxes rather than putting up banners across the capital.

In a sense, Salzburg’s proud obsession with its musical genius almost gives the impression that the city has nothing to offer but the memory of the man himself. But this is hardly an accurate picture of one of the most beautiful places in Europe. Even if Mozart had, heresy of heresies, seen the light of day somewhere else, Salzburg would be well worth the effort to visit.

The city is neatly divided by the River Salzach. On one side is the historic older part, dominated by the staggering Hohensalzburg, the largest completely preserved fortress in Europe, which dates from 1077. This can be reached by a testing climb involving several hundred steps — and preferably a private oxygen supply — or via a swift cable railway journey.

The section of the city is also the home of the Residenz — living quarters of Salzburg’s archbishops — state rooms and art gallery, an exceptional cathedral, museums, concert halls and, for those of a less cultured bent, the Stiegl’s Brauwelt (the world of beer).

The other Salzburg, comparatively modern and racy (there are cars), is on the other bank of the river. Most of the major hotels are clustered here, many around the enchanting gardens of the Mirabell Palace, which featured in the film whose name it is unwise to mention loudly.

Cleanliness and convenience are as apparent as in the more traditional half of the city. And although Salzburg has what appears to be an admirable public transport system, two legs remain the best way of seeing what is on offer.

There is much to do, even if one has little interest in classical music. But it is the presence of Mozart that dominates. He even manages to unite what is otherwise a sharp divide between the two sections of the city. His birthplace is on one bank of the river (in the old town), while the more spacious set of rooms that his family acquired once he had become a sensation is on the other. Both are open to the public.

Neither is remotely tacky. The Mozart Geburtshaus (birthplace) is, in reality, a display about his early years located in a cluster of rooms in front of the university area, respectful to the point of deferential. The Mozart-Wohnhaus, his base when not on the road between 1773 and 1780, is similarly informative.
Enthusiasts for Mozart are rather different from teenage fans of a here-today, gone- tomorrow boy band. Those I saw were knowledgeable and fascinated to glean what they could about what in his surroundings might have influenced the man and his music. Strangers would strike up quiet conversations about their observations of the exhibits. Madame Tussauds this is not.

This would be a lot of Mozart at the best of times, but the composer’s two homes, the concert halls and the Mozartplatz will compete for visitors during the anniversary celebrations. The Salzburg Provincial Museum will open the grand rooms of the New Building of the Residenz on January 27, the anniversary of his birth, and, for 12 months, will stage what promises to be the most extensive exhibition on the life and work of Mozart ever put on by any institution anywhere.

Salzburg next year is expected to attract two or three times the number of tourists that it normally receives, but the extra visits will be spread evenly across several months and will not make high summer an unbearably busy experience. Those who book within the next three months should still be able to stay at the hotels they want at the time they desire. I would not leave it much later than Christmas to secure a firm reservation.

If next year is anything like the success that Salzburg hopes and expects then the longer-term consequences for the city could be considerable. This is a place that is barely 90 minutes from London, packed with more than enough to do for a long weekend, but which has not yet become an established part of the short-break scene for the British. My bet is that anyone going to visit for the anniversary will be tempted to visit again — just so long as they don’t mention Julie Andrews.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Rugby Administration: Probe into Van Rooyen gathers momentum

Reportedly the Minister of Sport, Rev Makhenkesi Stofile, has been getting briefings over the last two days into the scope of the investigation of SA Rugby and it's President, Brian van Rooyen.

As you will no doubt recall, Judge King was initially appointed to lead the investigation but withdrew. His position being taken by retired Judge, Joos Hefer, after a request from appeal court judge Lex Mpati, who serves on SA Rugby's disciplinary committee.

The president of the Golden Lions Rugby Union, Jannie Ferreira, has been tasked with briefing the Minister and it is reported that agreement has been reached about the nature of the investigation.

One of the Minister's gripes about the previous investigation was over not being kept informed on the progress of the probe.

Ferriera has said, "An agreement has been reached about the ground rules for the investigation. The investigation can start when both parties decide they're ready."

"SA Rugby has asked advocate Nick Treurnicht to compile a charge sheet and hand it to judge Hefer. This is in conjunction to the investigation completed by advocate Jannie Lubbe last year.

"All that documentation forms part of the investigation."

"The minister has not insisted on anything, apart from a request that he's kept informed. All the necessary documents will also be at his disposal. He was previously not kept informed, but it was my duty the past few days to supply him with all the details."

Professor Ferreira is the President of the Golden Lions Rugby Union, the union at which Brian van Rooyen was previously a vice-President. The GLRU Chief Executive at the time of Van Rooyen's election was Johan Prinsloo.

It is not a certainty that the investigation will be complete by the time SARU's election is held.

Van Rooyen will be opposed by the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union (KZNRU) president, Oregan Hoskins, a lawyer by profession, who is believed to have the support of government, the sponsors and the bigger unions. The election will indicate whether he has the vital rugby support required from the smaller unions.

Like Van Rooyen, Hoskins was a lock and flank in his playing days, as was Louis Luyt coincidentally, however it would appear that the similarities end there. Hoskins has been quoted on IOL as saying, "This shouldn't be about a personal battle but rather about rugby," and, “There is too much negativity surrounding our rugby,” he told the Cape Times. “Rugby cannot prosper if it is rocked by one scandal after another. My motivation for standing is to do what I can to improve rugby’s image.”

Van Rooyen has been quoted in the Cape Times as saying, "I'm ready for a fight, Meneer!"

The question is, does South African rugby really need any more fighting?
Click here to read full article and comments.

Super 14: Focus on Waratahs

Article by Lee Grant

NSW had their best season in professional rugby last year, and Sydneysiders will be expecting much the same in 2006. But the Waratahs will miss experienced players more than people think.

NSW had the 2nd best lineout in the 2005 S12, but Harrison will be sorely missed there this year. Cannon’s absence will be regretted also, because when Freier started things went wrong at scrum time.

MacKay played some good flyhalf footie at the Super12 level last year and coach McKenzie was pissed that he went west, but either Norton-Knight or Donnelly should do the job well enough unless Link opts for Rogers there, despite his not having a wide pass.

Grey will be missed because his reading of defensive play in the midfield was so important to the NSW 2005 season. His missing leadership, plus that of Cannon and Harrison will bring NSW back to the pack.

This season we Sydney fans will be getting our first Super viewings of hooker Polota-Nau, no.8 Houston and scrummie Holmes, who are all looked upon as future starting Wallabies; in fact, TPN has already played for Oz from the bench. The other two won’t get a lot of game time, but it will be interesting if they do.

Backline Depth: Despite losing MacKay and Grey, NSW will have, arguably, the best backline depth of any team in the Super14 because of the acquisition of Sailor, Sheehan, Holmes and Norton-Knight, the discovery that Tuqiri can play 13 and Rogers 10, plus the availability of Academy players like Halangahu if injuries occur.

Back row: The cover for 6 and 8 is as impressive as backline depth with Elsom, Hoiles, Houston, Lyons, Palu and Caldwell all vying for 2 spots. Waugh is the only specialist fetcher but hooker Freier is a de facto fetcher anyway and if Waugh is absent, Freier will start and one of the 6s will play 7.

Coaching: The NSWRU breathed a sigh of relief when McKenzie said he wouldn’t apply for the Oz job and signed up through to 2008 the other day. Sometimes I don’t think his game plans are appropriate but there is no doubt that he lifted the Waratahs to another level in 2005, nor is there any question whether or not the players are behind him.

Lineout: Harrison, last year's NSW lineout leader, has gone offshore and if Vickerman is not fit to start the season, or gets injured, it will be ugly. Kanaar or Caldwell will do their best but they are not elite lineout men.

Lack of depth: Like a lot of Oz teams, the tight five lacks depth and although their best 5 will hold their own most of the time at the Super14 level, the backups are very raw.

Rustiness: 9 of the Waratahs likely starters were Wallaby regulars on the EOYT and so were constrained from doing early S14 training or playing in the first 2 trial matches. They will be over-training to get fitness back so there will be some leg-weariness in the first few games.

Not a particularly good or bad draw.

Will the Waratahs tight five forwards stay healthy to disguise their lack of depth there? Who will play where in the backline?

Look out for
Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau We have seen his ball-playing skills in cameos on the Wallabies EOYT, but look forward to see the young man put on some hard hits. Also look for: Lote Tuqiri as outside centre and Mat Rogers as flyhalf.

NSW will be the Oz team least affected by defections to the WForce and overseas but the likely deterioration in leadership and at lineout time might see them dropping a couple of places, but still making the finals. 4th
Click here to read full article and comments.

International Rugby: Splinters attract no moss, or experience.

A few days ago Rugga World brought you the story of Australia's difficulties in capturing a coach. One of the nascent issues facing any aspiring coach would have been the 'problem' of what to do at scrumhalf. It looks like that issue has gone halfway to solving itself.

Waratahs captain Chris Whitaker will join a European club after the Super 14 rugby season, and is unlikely to play for the Wallabies again.

The decision by the veteran of 31 tests and two World Cup campaigns, will have major implications for Australia's 2007 World Cup plans.

It could increase the chances of veteran Wallaby skipper and halfback George Gregan being retained . Whitaker, 31, will become the Waratahs' most capped player if he plays all Super 14 matches.

Information source: New Zealand Herald.
Click here to read full article and comments.

International Rugby: Play golf, win the Webb-Ellis Trophy. Simple.

HERE is England’s secret weapon for the next rugby union World Cup: a seven-iron. And the golf club will not be used to cause an injury to Dan Carter, New Zealand’s star fly half.

By Patrick Kidd
Source: The Times,

Our correspondent finds a specialist coach driving kicking standards on to a higher level with a novel method

HERE is England’s secret weapon for the next rugby union World Cup: a seven-iron. And the golf club will not be used to cause an injury to Dan Carter, New Zealand’s star fly half.

Next week, before their first match in the RBS Six Nations Championship, the man at whose feet England’s hopes are placed will be hitting ball after ball across the Twickenham pitch. Not large oval rugby balls, but the small white pellets normally associated with sportsmen who have less muscle and worse fashion sense. Working on his players’ golf swing is the new tactic of Dave Alred, England’s kicking coach.

“It’s the same fundamental principle as kicking a ball, you’re trying to get your power through the ball in the direction that you want it to travel,” Alred said. “In the same way that a golfer who hits off the back foot will be more erratic, we’re working on transferring the weight properly to eliminate mistakes.”

So Charlie Hodgson will be given his seven-iron and told to work on his follow-through. Whether his efforts are up to scratch will be seen against Wales. Alred certainly believes that Hodgson has come on immensely since last season, when he kicked poorly, particularly against France.

“Charlie has been really flowing,” Alred said. “He’s put a lot of work in and I thought he played sensationally on the Lions tour and was metronomic during the autumn internationals.”

Alred is grateful for the support that he has been given by Hodgson’s club, Sale Sharks, particularly Philippe Saint- Andre, the director of rugby. “Philippe is fantastic at letting Charlie have his head,” Alred said.

This is more than Bath have done for Olly Barkley. The 24-year-old centre, first capped for England in 2001 before he had made his debut for his club, had an erratic start to the season and, egged on by his club coach and his mother, ditched the Alred style of kicking, saying: “Tiger Woods isn’t letting down 14 other blokes when he swings a golf club.”

It is perhaps just as well then that Barkley will not be joining in the golf at Twickenham this week, having dislocated his thumb, but Alred insists that there are no problems in their relationship. “It’s a shame that criticism about his work with England affecting his play for Bath was levelled through the press,” he said. “For some people to try and hang on to the status quo was to the detriment of the player, but Olly was always clear on what he wanted to do with me.”

Alred will be in Trafalgar Square today as people try to show off their kicking skills to win a ticket to a Six Nations game. He has travelled a long way from the days when he used to coach Stuart Barnes and Jon Webb at Bath while wearing a balaclava. Having spent time as a rugby league player and an American footballer with the Minnesota Vikings, Alred was twice banned by the RFU for professionalism and he had to do his coaching in secret.

Now he is flavour of the month and he owes it all to a dropped goal in a World Cup by an England fly half against Australia. No, not that one. The kick that made Alred’s name was Rob Andrew’s in the 1995 World Cup quarter- finals. It knocked Australia, whom Alred had been coaching a year earlier, out of the competition.

Later that year, Andrew introduced Alred to a shy 16-year-old called Jonny whose parents drove him from Surrey to Newcastle every week for rugby training. What happened next has been mentioned in these pages before, but Alred says that it was not obvious Wilkinson would become a star. “All a coach can do is enable someone to practise more effectively,” he said. “I’ve watched dozens of talented players but can count on the fingers of two hands those who have gone away and worked hard at their game, as Jonny did.”

Who knows what future Wilkinsons, Barkleys and Hodgsons will catch his eye in Trafalgar Square today?
Click here to read full article and comments.

International Rugby: They are smart, they are wealthy and they are growing.

82% of this union's members over 21 are University/College graduates. 70% are in the higher percentile of the nation's income bracket.

A recent article from The Business Journal of Jacksonville (Florida) was written specifically about British Super League teams who train in Florida, however it also offered some intriguing details about the state of Rugby Union in the United States.

In 2004, USA Rugby had 64 718 registered members, a number not including many who used to play the game. Of those members, approximately 25 000 are men and women playing in the 679 College Teams affiliated with USA Rugby.

In comparison to the major traditional American sports their numbers are small but it is a very powerful demographic. A survey undertaken by Rugby Magazine in 2003 revealed that 82% of registered members over 21 are University or College graduates and that 50% of collegiate players attend graduate school.

More tellingly, the poll revealed that 70% of households involved in rugby have an annual income over $65 000.00.

Anecdotal research tends to reveal that if registered USA rugby players didn’t attend University, they do tend to have some formal qualification, like plumber, electrician etc.

It’s a sport that requires relatively little capital outlay, unlike sports such as ice hockey, yet attracts the socially and financially secure.

It would seem that rugby’s reputation as a game for hooligans played by gentlemen holds sway, even in the United States.

Information Sources: The Business Journal of Jacksonville, Rugby Magazine.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Super 14: Gilbert launches new jersey

Buy it for your child, buy it for your girlfriend, buy it for your Dad, just BUY IT! It looks super, it's worn by supermen, and c'mon, it's down right sexy!

Gilbert South Africa, the worldwide brand synonymous with rugby, confirmed its sponsorship agreement to provide rugby apparel and equipment to the Blue Bulls Company and unveiled a new-look Vodacom Bulls rugby jersey for the 2006 Vodacom Super 14 season at the official launch at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria today.
Custom designed by Gilbert SA, the new jerseys were created from Xactive, a modern moisture management (MM) fabric which has fibres within the core of the yarn which expands and contracts depending on the body heat of the player.

Players will gain optimal performance benefits from the new jerseys which offer breathability and greater air flow keeping players cooler, improved comfort, durability and a performance fit.

“As a leading rugby brand, Gilbert is proud of its partnership with one of South Africa’s most prominent rugby teams. The jerseys were developed to meet with the player’s requirements and conditions in which Vodacom Super 14 matches are played, and include an exciting combination of progressive detailing and technological innovation to withstand the rigours of the game,” says Eric Ichikowitz, Managing Director, Gilbert SA.

“We would like to thank Gilbert for extending the sponsorship agreement from the Vodacom Blue Bulls to include the Vodacom Bulls. Their commitment to rugby and development is immense and has remained consistent over the years,” says Stephan Pretorius, CEO, Blue Bulls Company.

The logo of the main team sponsor, Vodacom, will remain emblazoned across the chest in white on both the home and away jerseys.

“The progressive identity of the new squad will be evident through the new Vodacom Bulls jersey. It is imperative for the team to feel proud of wearing the jersey that enhances their performance and will further motivate them during the hectic Vodacom Super 14 season,” says André Beyers, Managing Executive, Advertising and Brand Management, Vodacom.

The all inclusive sponsorship agreement between Gilbert and the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls teams for the next five years will see Gilbert generating maximum revenue from the brand exposure through commercial activities. Some of the activities include amateur rugby, active development programmes, coaching clinics and other events to further promote rugby in the region.

Finishing third on the Vodacom Super 12 2005 log, the Vodacom Bulls team are looking forward to kicking off their 2006 season in the new improved and redesigned jerseys.

Providing a more figure hugging profile and a major technological innovation, the design of the new jersey is two-fold. Firstly, the tighter fit of the jersey will assist in quicker evaporation of moisture and will also reduce the chance of a grab tackle as a player squeezes through a gap in the defence.

A more noticeable change to the previous seasons jerseys are the actual graphic designs of the jerseys. Gilbert has invested in a new technology that allows High Definition Printing (HDP) on a wide range of performance fabrics.

“The HDP technology has allowed a very unique design to be used and is a first for Vodacom Super 14 rugby. The design features a fading pattern that is only achievable using the HDP technique which not only creates a stylish look, but is virtually impossible to replicate,” says Jamie Hassard, Business Development Manager, Gilbert SA.

Counterfeit products have been an issue for the Blue Bulls Company and its sponsors for many years. Gilbert has taken a huge step to eliminate this problem through the use of HDP technology.

Further to Gilbert’s sponsorship of the Vodacom Bulls jerseys, they will supply twenty-three players of the current squad with footwear, shoulder protection and head guards. The range of Xact rugby boots and protective wear is considered to be the ultimate rugby specific on-field wear.

The Vodacom Bulls players will don their new jerseys for their first Vodacom Super 14 game against the Vodacom Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday, 10 February 2006.

The new home and away Vodacom Bulls replica jerseys will be available from all leading Gilbert retailers from Thursday 19 January 2006.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Super 14: Rogers to sit out Waratahs openers

Source: Rugby Heaven, Sydney Morning Herald
By: Ben Kimber

We urge you to visit the Sydney Morning Herald for your daily dose of Australian rugby. In the interim, Mat Rogers, still understandably suffering the loss of his Dad, will most likely not be participating in the first rounds of the S14.

Rugga World offers Mat our deepest sympathies.

A NUMBER of the Waratahs' Wallabies stars will return to the field this weekend against the Auckland Blues, but fullback Mat Rogers will not be among them and is not likely to be available for the opening rounds of the team's Super 14 campaign.

A grief-stricken Rogers attempted to return to training on Monday, but has now, in consultation with coach Ewen McKenzie, delayed his return to the side as he continues to mourn his father, Steve, who passed away just over three weeks ago.

"It's not surprising," a sympathetic McKenzie said. "He was there the other day but I could tell he was there in body but not in spirit. It was courageous, but he and I had a very good chat and we both agreed that we want him at 100 per cent and he wants to be at 100 per cent. We agreed that it wasn't a day-by-day proposition. We've set a day for the future and if it happens inside that then great."

That date appears to be the fourth-round match against the Sharks in Sydney on March 4, as the Waratahs start their campaign with a three-week road trip including matches in Brisbane, Cape Town and Pretoria.

With Rogers yet to return to full training since his return from the Wallabies tour, McKenzie indicated there was no point in the player attempting to rush back into the side.

"I think there's two issues," McKenzie said. "Obviously emotionally he's not right and physically he's off the pace. We'll definitely start doing some one-on-one stuff with him shortly so he's on top of that. He's definitely off the pace at the moment and he knows that and I can see that so there's no point in trying to get him to play at anything less than 100 per cent. So I think it's a fairly objective decision."

If Rogers does begin those one-on-one sessions McKenzie has not ruled out an early return. But the coach is happier this season with the depth he has to cover the significant loss of Rogers, particularly compared to the previous two seasons.

"I felt my first year we definitely suffered when he wasn't available [through injury] and I think the wins and losses probably proved that," McKenzie said. "I think we took a step forward last year and we've continued to recruit to make sure we're not solely reliant on one player in any position. So I'll just use these next couple of games to have a look at the options."

That starts this Saturday against the David Nucifora-coached Auckland Blues in Gosford, with the Waratahs yesterday naming a 29-man squad that includes seven Wallabies making their first appearances of the year.

Wendell Sailor, Morgan Turinui and Al Baxter will start the match, while Chris Whitaker, Lote Tuqiri, Matt Dunning and Tatafu Polota-Nau will all play off the bench.

The match will be Sailor's first in the blue jersey, with the former Queensland Red donning the No.11, but the players are expected to embrace McKenzie's policy of rotating through positions during the game.

"I might come into 12 [inside-centre] in defence and in attack sometimes," Sailor said. "Sometimes I might be out wide so I'm pretty open this year to playing another position and that's something I'll have to have a look at. Especially to fit into this team."

The big winger also indicated yesterday that he may have found a less turbulent home at the Waratahs. "[I've found] everyone pushing in the same direction [at NSW]," he said. "Certainly it's something that's different for me in the last couple of years."

The match kicks off at 7.30pm at Central Coast Stadium and will be played in four quarters.

WARATAHS: P Hewat; W Mafi, M Turinui, T Carter, W Sailor; S Norton-Knight, B Sheehan; D Lyons, J Campbell, R Elsom, W Caldwell, A Kanaar, A Baxter, A Freier (c), B Robinson. Reserves: A Broughton-Rouse, M Dunning, T Takiari, T Polota-Nau, W Palu, L Houston, S Hoiles, C Whitaker, T Donnelly, D Halangahu, S Berne, L Tuqiri, B Jacobs, C Siale.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Super 14: The Spears

Yeah, I know the story, you don't feel the Southern Spears deserve to be remotely considered as a Super 14 franchise.

Well, as it happens, I agree with you. Read on.

The thing is, whether anyone agrees with it or not, they are now a part of Super 14 history.

They will be the first Super 14 team to be promoted into the competition.

Will there not be squads of legal teams out to oppose the introduction of the Southern Spears when the eventuallity rocks round? Of course there will! This IS South African rugby we are discussing!

However, nothing will change the inevitability of the Southern Spears getting their day in the sun. It is far too cast in stone for that, there are far too many politicians who've hung their hat on the finality of the process. It will happen.

So, we may not like it, we may not support the concept or the deviousness that got them into the position but that is surely no reason not to support the CEO, Coach and young squad, who never put themselves into this melting pot in the first place.

These guys, from top to bottom, are busting a gut to prove themselves. Every match they've played has emphatically shown they hold their own in the last 30 minutes. This proves that they may not be the most naturally gifted team around but they've worked overtime to be as fit and well conditioned as their better paid, better equipped, better resourced and better known, opposition thus far.

Do yourselves a favour, visit their website, , get on their Fan Forum, explore what they are trying to introduce into South African rugby and you may very well come away pleasantly surprised. These guys are not hanging around, they seriously mean to establish themselves in the firmament of South African rugby.

Whether you agree with the political machinations that got them a spot, or not, open your minds and judge them on their full-hearted efforts to date.

They may not win any trophy but it certainly won't be for the lack of innovation, energy and team spirit. May I remind you, with very limited resources.

Go on, I dare you, explore their website, at least give them a chance.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Brannasnacht: Origin of Klipdrift

Yip, you guessed it. It is time for Brannasnacht again. Tonight is going to be a theme less one. It seems some people get so confoesed they don’t want to post and certain others just go to the bathroom and never return. Anyway, remember your favourite beverage whilst we enjoy each others company.

I heard a rumour that StPetersburgBok will be giving us one of his world famous recipes. Oh and by the way Reinhardt, I am trying to get Sparletta to sponsor you.

Please refrain from any cat fighting (we prefer to see that live in a mud pit) and flirting (we prefer not to be involved). Enjoy reading the rest of the article.

Photo: Major Marais aka “Oom Kosie”

The dream of a new cellar started in 1994 when the Louw family bought the farm Klipdrif. Unlike the majority of the wine farms in the Robertson Valley, which had been passed on from generation to generation in the same family, this portion of the Klipdrif farm had been owned by at least four different families before 1995.

A previous owner, Major Jacobus Petrus Marais, also known as "Oom Kosie", started the cultivation of grapes on this farm and built one of the first cellars in the Robertson valley. His Southern Liquor Company developed the now famous Klipdrift Brandy and also used the Klipdrift brandy as a base for a variety of liqueurs. He was buried in a favourite spot of his, a hill from where he used to look out over his lands. Unfortunately the farm was sold a few years after his death and the Klipdrift brand sold to Distell.

With the spirit of one of the oldest cellars in the Robertson Valley still being the source of many stories and memories it was inevitable that the revival of the cellar was contemplated by the new owners. The architect was instructed to incorporate the old cellar in his designs for a modern cellar complex in which the grapes and wine would be handled as naturally and as little as possible. Winemaker and shareholder Alkie van der Merwe was given a free hand for producing the best wines possible.

Oom Kosie or Major Marais was commemorated in the name Major's Hill Winery.
The spirit of the old cellar can now dwell peacefully in every bottle of wine made with utmost care and devotion.

Majors Hill is situated in the Robertson Valley. For more information on them please visit You can also visit for information on other wine and brandy producers in the area. Please remember to drink responsibly and only when you are older than 18.

Till tonight then.
Click here to read full article and comments.

Other Sport: Cricket - Prince made vice-captain

Ashwell Prince, South Africa's middle-order batsman, has been named vice-captain of the side following Jacques Kallis's departure home due to a shoulder injury.

Prince, 28, has been a regular member of the South African one-day side for over a year now, contributing key knocks apart from being a superb asset in the field.

He has played 15 Tests and 33 one-day internationals, and included in his resume is the fact that he captained South Africa A and the former Western-Boland franchise on the South African domestic circuit.

Haroon Lorgat, the convenor of South Africa's selection panel, said today that these two factors were an important factor in Prince getting the nod. "Ashwell is now well established and respected as a senior member in the Proteas' squad. He will provide excellent support to Graeme Smith in the absence of Jacques Kallis," Lorgat said.

"He has also played representative cricket at all levels from Under-13 to the national team, and so is fully conversant with the ethos of South African cricket."

Kallis, the third South African to return home during the tour to Australia, flew back in order to ensure his full fitness for the return series against Australia, which starts at the end of February.

Article and breaking news courtesy of regular RugRat JJ
Click here to read full article and comments.

General discussions: Conditioning tests – What and why?

Over the past few months people asked what are tested when the Springboks do their conditioning tests and in some cases the need for these tests was questioned. The following will shed some light on what is tested and why it is needed.

Source: Health24

Measuring explosive power

Vertical jump test

The vertical jump test measures leg power. One common way of performing this test is to stand side- on to a wall and reach up with the hand closest to the wall, keeping the feet flat on the ground. The highest point the fingertips can reach is marked. The athlete then jumps vertically as high as possible to touch the wall at the highest point of the jump. The difference between the reach height and the jump height is the score.

The Springbok locks obviously need to be able to jump high in the lineout, and thus their vertical jump figure should be at least 65cm. This test doesn’t just test the ability to leap up, however – it also gives an indication of explosive power, which is very important for the backs.

Springbok Rugby fitness norms (cm)

Inside backs, 65
Outside backs, 68
Loose forwards, 62
Locks, 65
Hookers, 60
Props, 55

Very good explosive power, indicated by the vertical jump, is in the 61-70cm range for men and 51-60cm for women. More than that is excellent. The average is about 41-50 for men and 31-40 for women.

10m Sprint

Similarly, the 10m sprint, which is done on a rugby field, tests explosive power – specifically, the ability to accelerate rapidly and powerfully. This is particularly important for the backs, but most of all for the inside backs when they make a dash for a gap in the opposition’s defence. Thus, their maximum time to run the 10m is only 1.65 seconds.

Springbok Rugby fitness norms (sec)

Inside backs, 1.65
Outside backs, 1.68
Loose forwards, 1.72
Locks, 1.75
Hookers, 1.75
Props, 1.80

How do you measure aerobic fitness?

Aerobic fitness is the body’s ability to perform exercise for sustained periods – such as the length of a rugby game. These tests give a general indication of a player’s overall fitness. The figures the Boks are expected to achieve here require very good levels of aerobic fitness, but are not as high as would be expected in sports where running is more of a specialised skill, such as track athletics.

Bleep test

The bleep test is also known as the multistage fitness test, shuttle run test or beep test. It is a strenuous test that involves continuous running between two lines. These are placed 20m apart and the players run in time to recorded ‘bleeps’.
The time between the bleeps decreases with each minute (also called the ‘level’).
There are several versions of the test, but one commonly used demands an initial running velocity of 8.5 km/hr, which increases by 0.5 km/hr each minute. The player’s score is the level and number of shuttles they could reach before they could no longer keep up with the ‘bleeps’.

Springbok Rugby fitness norms (Level)

Inside backs, 13.5
Outside backs, 13.5
Loose forwards, 13.0
Locks, 12.5
Hookers, 13.0
Props, 11.5

3km run

The 3km run test checks the ability to maintain a moderately high level of effort for sustained periods: 3km represents the total distance covered during a game of top level rugby. Quite simply, player is timed to see how long it takes him to run 3km in tackies on a track.

The required times (from 12 minutes 45 seconds for a prop to 11 minutes 5 seconds for a back) are quite hard going, but should be within the capabilities of a fit young amateur sportsman.

Springbok Rugby fitness norms (min/sec)

Inside backs, 11.15
Outside backs, 11.15
Loose forwards, 11.45
Locks, 12.15
Hookers, 12.00
Props, 12.45

Measuring anaerobic fitness

Repeat sprint ability

Anaerobic fitness is the ability of the muscles to repeatedly perform short bursts of vigorous exercise. In rugby, with its successive phases, a player needs to keep performing in repeated bursts of activity, with little or no recovery in between. This test measures the player’s ability to maintain a high level of effort during sprints or successive periods of contact work during the game.

For the test the player runs back and forth over a 125 metre distance marked on the rugby field. He attempts to cover as much distance as possible in 30 seconds, then rests for 35 seconds. This is repeated six times, and the total distance covered is calculated in metres.

The difference between the required score and the test score indicates the amount of fatigue experienced by the athlete, which gives an indication of his anaerobic fitness levels.

Springbok Rugby fitness norms (m)

Inside backs, 780
Outside backs, 780
Loose forwards, 760
Locks, 750
Hookers, 750
Props, 720

Measuring speed

40m sprint

The 40m sprint or speed test, like the 10m, is done on the field. The main aim of the 40m is to measure maximum running speed, which is of greatest importance to the speedsters in the back. A wing or fullback should be able to do the 40m in 5.10 seconds with ease. New-generation forwards are not allowed to be laggards though; even the props must make the distance in 5.65 seconds.

Springbok Rugby fitness norms (sec)

Inside backs, 5.25
Outside backs, 5.10
Loose forwards, 5.30
Locks, 5.50
Hookers, 5.50
Props, 5.65

Click here to read full article and comments.

Brannasnacht / Recipes: Seeing as it's Thursday, a wine review for you

As it is a Thursday, our traditional Brannasnacht, I thought a wine review might be in order. It's a South African wine I am unfamiliar with and it is supplied by a fellow blogger. Are there any wine buffs out there? Why not pitch at Brannasnacht with your favourite tipple tonight and give a rundown of it's qualities?

Is there any demand for a weekly wine review? Let us know in the comments section. Perhaps we could all buy the same wine before Brannasnacht and have a group comparison?

Thursday Night Wine Blogging

Once again people it is time to sacrifice the health of my liver for your entertainment and education! Quite the public servant, wouldn't you say?

So, tonight we have a South African selection that I think I may have blogged about before. If so, sorry, but the wine cabinet is getting low and I didn't want to drink white tonight. I was going to stop by the wine store on the way home, but things ran late, I had to take PD1 to high school orientation tonight, and I didn't even get my workout in.

So, if I've blogged this one before, apologies, but on the other hand it might be interesting to compare my notes.

Enough blather you say? I couldn't agree more. Lets pop the cork on this baby and see what we've got. Oh, yes, as I was saying it is South African. To be specific it is a Ken Forrester 2001 Grenache/Syrah. More on this wine in a minute but lets give it swirl, shall we?

The nose is nice. The Syrah is a little more pronounced than I remember so there is a good scent of fruit. Kind of a berry, perhaps a cross between raspberries and blue berries. There is some cherry too. The Grenache comes through as tobacco and earth. A very nice balance between the two. In any case, a very full nose that extends to my mouth after a couple sniffs.

On the mouth the raspberry is more pronounced, with cherry in the background. Very nice fruit. The tobaco really comes through.....some chocolate to, and something else. I'm tempted to say "earth", but that isn't quite it. Maybe a little cedar?

I have to say I really enjoy this wine. I met Ken at a tasting last fall and ended up buying a case of this wine. It was 18 a bottle, and for my money an excellent value. I'm always warry when I'm at a store and meet the man or woman behind the wine, that I might be enjoying the experience and translating that appreciation to my opinion of the wine.

In the case of Ken, this would be easy to do. A big South African he was a forceful personality full of life and good nature. Quick story. I ask Ken about where he sells most of his wine in the U.S. and he give me the run down. Boston, Chicago, and of all places Detroit. I asked him, "Detroit, why Detroit?" "Because I'm willing to go there and so many aren't my friend!" Which cracked me up, but the best was yet to come. "Oh I also sell a decent amount in L.A." he tells me with a gleem in his eye. I mention that this is right in the back yard of his competition, and like some old rugby player he firms a fist thrusts it upwards and says, "we're stickin' it to 'em!"

I died laughing.

Anyway, as I was saying, I worry that I'm over valuing the wine when I meet these guys, but in Ken's case this wasn't true. Bottle after bottle I've found the wine to be consistent, well structured and just a real delight to drink. An excellent value.

Lets try another drink. The fruit has settled down a little bit now, and the tobacco and chocolate are a tad stronger. Still a great taste, and if anything the mouth seems to be lasting a bit more. There still is that other taste...its kind of cedar, perhaps with a little mint and pear.

Ok, now I'm going crazy....but that is the fun of it isn't it!? Definately mint and cedar though.

Lets talk a little about the grape combination because it is interesting. As I've mentioned before, a traditional Rhone region (France) blend would be Syrah and Grenache. However typically it would be somewhere around 70% Syrah, 30% Grenache. This wine is 50%-50%. I think I know why this is. First it does give the wine a bigger earthy taste than a Rhone, but I don't think this is the real reason.

My guess is that in South Africa, with warmer temperatures, the Syrah is stronger and fruitier than would be the case in Rhone. So, to even it out, and give the wine more depth, Forrester increases the percentage of Grenache. I don't know if this is true, but after two glasses and starting my third, it really is making a lot of sense to me!

So, another Thursday another good wine.

Quick note. Amazingly to me, this feature seems to be enjoyed by some of you out there, and of course it does seem to have some benefits for me. Up until now I've done a half assed job of it, and I'm thinking it might make sense to put together a bit more formal approach. Instead of just pulling something out of my wine cabinet, it might make sense to focus on one country, go through the regions and see if we can't learn something in the process.

So, this will be the plan. It may go out the window tomorrow, but I suspect not. I'm headed to Spain in March, so this might be a good place to start. I'll begin some research, and lets see where it goes.

Over and out.

Posted by Pursuit

Click here to read full article and comments.

Super 14: Jake to plea to Japan for Jaco

Source: Die Burger

Springbok coach Jake White feels so strong about Jaco van der Westhuyzen that he will plea in person to the Japanese club authorities to let the flyhalf play in the Super 14 in preparation for the upcoming Tri-Nation series.

The injured Springbok flyhalf told Die Burger that White was accompanying him to Japan in two weeks time to hold talks with his club NEC.

"Jake is going to ask NEC's permission to allow me to play for one of the South African Super 14 teams so that I can be match fit for the Tri-Nations series.

"In accordance with my NEC contract, I'm not allowed to play for any team in South Africa, except the Springboks, but I'm optimistic they won't stand in my way to play Super 14 rugby."

The 27-year-old player says he is recovering well from the knee injury that kept him out of the Bok team that toured Argentina and Europe last year. He hopes to be fit in six weeks, which can see him in action in the second half of the Super 14.

Stormers favouring Peter Grant

I will depend on White for which franchise he plays. As things stand, the Sharks are keen to play the former All Black flyhalf Tony Brown, whilst the Central Cheetahs, Bulls and Cats have established flyhalfs under contract.

That leaves the Stormers, although coach Kobus van der Merwe is on record that he sees Peter Grant in this role.

"We believe in him and we think he will succeed at Super 14 level. His performance last year should be seen in perspective. Remember it was his first season playing Currie Cup rugby."
Click here to read full article and comments.

General discussions: Rugby fitness in the professional era

Source: Health24
Compiled by Professor Y. Coopoo, University of Durban Westville, Medical Committee SARFU.

The face of rugby has changed. What should the skills and abilities of a perfect player be?
They are professional, earning thousands per month. They’re idols and sometimes even icons. If they keep on winning.

They’re earning huge incomes playing the game they love, but the game is very competitive, and their period of fame limited and insecure. They must be in the best physical condition possible to coin in as long as they are able. They are professional rugby players.

The face of rugby has changed. The modern game of rugby requires more skilful utility players with extremely high levels of all around fitness, yet requiring specific fitness for specialist positions, writes Professor Yogo Coopoo, head of the Sport Science, University of Durban Westville and member of the Medical Committee of SARFU.

No more overweight forwards

Long gone are the days of overweight, fat forwards. They must be mobile and agile, but strong. The backs must be stronger to tackle well, must survive the more physical game better and must be able to stay on their feet.

The rules of the game have changed, the players are more professional, and there is a greater risk for overuse injuries and staleness, writes Prof Coopoo. The rule changes have resulted in a more flowing game, which results in longer periods of play without stoppages.

Changes to the rules have lead to:

• More ball in play during the game – fewer scrums and lineouts.
• More power play required in rucks and mauls.
• Play is at a higher work intensity – almost throughout the game.
• Players' anthropometric profiles have changed because of the changing demands of the game. More imploding forwards and backs are required – players with more muscle than fat.

The level of professionalism has changed and has lead to:

• Most national rugby players are full-time professionals.
• More time for players to get fit and skilfull.
• However, fine balance between optimal performance and overtraining.

The greater risk for overuse injuries and staleness, may lead to:

• A greater reliance on the advice and wisdom of the medical team.
• For game preparation a team approach is required in the modern game – expertise from various professionals is required.

The fitness requirements and match demands

The fitness requirements and match demands for Forwards and Backs are:

• All round muscular endurance and strength for jumping and lifting in line-out, power loose-play, held positions and pushing in scrums rucks and mauls and for tackling/blocking

• Speed/power to overcome inertia, for short powerful sprints, ability to sustain speed power, jinking movements, fast break-aways and for exploding through a tackle.

• Anaerobic power for the ability to run and play rugby at the highest intensity for short periods of time.

• Aerobic power for the ability to run and play the game at the highest intensity for prolonged periods of time.

• Agility for the ability to suddenly change direction or body position and for good lateral movement

• Flexibility for the ability to move the joint freely through full range of motion, during tackles and unusual body positions in loose rucks,

• Co-ordination: Hand-eye co-ordination in anticipation of interceptions, passes and tackles,

• Balance for maintaining balance after emerging from a tackle, ruck or maul.

Click here to read full article and comments.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?