If there is one saying by Piet Helium that remains true, then it is his advice to those who questioned the physicality of rugby to buy themselves a tutu and take up ballet. The Easter weekend came and went without a breather for most of the teams, and this week it is the turn of the Sharks to have their jaws seen to after 9 gruelling weeks on the trot.
We join the spy ranks and see what the overseas pundits have to say about the games where our teams are involved in round 10. The Lions and Brumbies game promises to be a spectacle, while the Cheetahs have a tough home game against the Highlanders. In between these two, the Stormers face the Force in Perth, in what they have pencilled in as a five pointer.
Ewen McKenzie, coach of last year’s Super 15 champions, made some interesting comments in the Sydney Morning Herald regarding factors influencing the current position of the teams in the competition. His focus was obviously on the Australian sides, but there is a lot of food for thought in what he says.
“I was asked on New Zealand radio yesterday about the relative strength of the Australian conference compared to the rest. Everyone has their thoughts but I have found this year’s competition to be one of the tightest in memory and this is more of a reflection on the strength of play from all teams as opposed to any perceived weaknesses.
It’s also difficult to compare the conferences because at this point there have been vast differences in each team’s campaigns – and this has a direct impact on the perception of progress.
Use the Queensland Reds, for example. At this point we have not played any New Zealand sides and we have played five of our eight matches against Australian opposition. We have also finished the major parts of our travel to South Africa and Perth, all with an unusually high injury toll.
On the other hand the Brumbies, who are now in South Africa, have played only three of their eight derby matches, and are still required to play us again and the Waratahs twice. The conference situation could still change dramatically.
The example above isn’t to discredit the Brumbies achievements but to point out that drawing too many conclusions based on ladder position at the halfway mark of the season can be dangerous.
In fact it’s worth noting to all the critics just how well the Brumbies are faring. They have played some strong rugby. Everyone loves a surprise and they are doing really well. Their efforts are similar to our run last season.
Contrary to popular opinion, there are a bunch of teams who have improved greatly. If we listened to the naysayers then the Chiefs, Highlanders and even Cheetahs shouldn’t be in the positions they are. However, it’s clear these three teams have been doing some great work and are stepping up to the standard of the traditionally strong teams such as the Bulls, Stormers and Crusaders.
In the past, each conference has always included two or three very strong teams while the rest have been playing catch-up. The positive news for the competition is that some of those teams have caught up and it’s making each game interesting and unpredictable. This is great for fans.
The history of Super Rugby shows that every team has struggled at some point – even the Crusaders. There are always reasons behind this but if history has told us anything it’s to analyse and judge what happens in the long term before being too critical.
Our competition is now long enough for teams to find form, get injured players back, and I think that makes for an exciting finish to an exciting season. Maybe we should examine the relative strengths of the conferences when the round robin stages are finished playing out – I think there are a few twists and turns to go.”
Dit sou maklik wees om bostaande af te skryf as retoriek om sy span se sukkel vertoning te verduidelik, maar ek glo die klein punteverskil in so baie wedstryde beaam wat hy sê. Die melkkoeie is reeds geïdentifiseer, en die aanspraakmakers moet hul geleenthede teen hierdie spanne in die res van die eerste rondte uitbuit om hul posisies in die volgende rondte te maksimaliseer.
Die Stormers moet Saterdag 5 punte kry (klink bekend né?), met die Bulls se loslootjie vier- punter wat hulle sal inspireer.
Die Cheetahs het ‘n groot, dog haalbare uitdaging teen die Highlanders, wat soos Land Rovers, groot belofte getoon het, maar nou begin olie lek en rook uit die uitlaatpyp blaas. Met Johan Goosen terug, en by die huis, is alles in plek vir die Vrystaters om hul posisie te verstewig.
Die Lions sal waarskynlik nie die pyp rook teen die Brumbies nie, maar dit behoort minstens ‘n aanskoulike wedstryd te wees.
Wat ou Manie herinner aan die aand wat hy by die huis gekom het met ‘n blou oog. Op ‘n vraag van sy pa oor waar dit vandaan kom, antwoord hy: “Ek het net vir die meisie gesê sy is nogal dik, toe klap sy my.”
“Nee”, sê sy pa. “Jy moet taktvol wees, my seun.”
Volgende aand is die ander oog blou. “En nou?”, wil sy pa weet.
“Ek het gemaak soos pa sê, maar dit het ook nie gewerk nie.”
“Nou wat presies het jy gesê?”
“Ek het pa se raad gevolg en baie taktvol vir haar gesê: Vir ‘n vet meisie sweet jy verbasend min.”
Manne, julle moet konsentreer! Onthou, brandewyn het nie brieke nie, al is hulle die Bokke se amptelike borge.
Lekker laaang naweek, ou Grote.