Trying too hard?
The New Zealand Herald updates statistics on a weekly basis. The ones on tries scored makes for interesting reading.
The Hurricanes top the list with 34 tries, followed by the Chiefs on 31 and the Cheetahs and Blues on 29 apiece. The Stormers (19), Sharks (18), Bulls (17) and Lions (12) all lie towards the bottom of the log.
The fact that the overall log leaders, the Sharks, are twelfth on the list, and the bottom team, the Cheetahs, third from the top seems to indicate that tries are far less important than we as fans like to think. This also possibly explains why rugby, for the most, has become such a dour sport.
The list for individuals, headed by Israel Folau with 11 tries, contains only two SA players – Damian de Allende and Cornall Hendricks with four tries each.
The grubber is back
In my student days, Doc Craven referred to this as “’n k@k skoppie”. The grubber and cross kick almost disappeared during the 1980’s and 1990’s, but has become a major factor in tries being scored. The All Blacks once again lead the way in applying this very effective counter for shallow defence, and the Aussies have also cottoned on to this.
A SA captain remarked over the weekend that several of the tries scored against his side came from grubbers: “… but there is very little one can do about that.”
A little far fetched
The return of Heinrich Brüssow to the Cheetahs had a major impact on their ability to compete on the ground. His performance against two of the best fetchers in the business, Bismarck and Marcel Coetzee, showed that he is the best we currently have in this department.
Apparently, Heyneke Meyer did indicate that he would like to see how Brüssow fares in European conditions, although this is where Flo Louw currently plies his trade, and I really do not see the Bok coach breaking up a very successful loose trio.
Brüssow’s lack of height is often bandied about as the reason for him not being chosen. Do you really need another beanpole when you already have Alberts and Vermeulen in addition to the line-out specialists?
Khanyiso Tshwaku writes in City Press: “Heinrich Brüssow and other world-class fetchers will always operate on the fringes of rugby law.” The All Blacks acknowledge this, and will never use this as a reason to exclude Richie McCaw from the side.
It should also be the rationale behind picking the Buksie from Bloem.
Where are the rising stars?
Dan Retief is my favourite rugby writer, and his columns in City Press are adequate proof of this. In this week’s column, he laments the fact that very few new players are showing signs of becoming the next generation of superstars.
Click here to read his views.
Will the Super 18 work?
The single biggest flaw in the new format is that we will see far less of New Zealand and Australian teams. While the Kiwi crowds love derbies, I must admit that I find it far less thrilling watching local teams battle it out and prefer the thrill of beating a top NZ side every time.
Whether we like to admit it or not – the Australasians are currently the innovators who keep coming up with new ideas to counter staid tactics by, mostly, SA sides. Whether we will be able to learn from watching, rather than pitting our skills against them, is doubtful.
My prediction is that this is the beginning of the end of Super rugby. Supporters and viewers will lose interest, and with money from TV rights and ticket sales dwindling, this spectacle will cease.