This may very well be the lament of both the Stormers and the Sharks, after the weekend’s disappointing losses. Neither team should have lost their respective matches, yet suffered self-inflicted defeats. The Kings suffered the kind of defeat that was predicted before the start of the season. The only SA side able to hold its head high is the Bulls, who crunched the Hurricanes in Pretoria, and now lead the SA conference.
The Blitsbokke made up for the string of disappointments by beating the English in the semi-final, and then the All Blacks in the final, despite being behind at half time. With three victories in finals against the arch rival, they have now shifted the bug bear they had onto the team from New Zealand. The latter would rather face Fiji than us, I am sure.
Like the Proteas, our Super 15 rugby teams are better at staying ahead than catching up. After an error-ridden first half, the Stormers nearly managed to pull back the match. Jean de Villiers led by example, but the error of judgment from the current Springbok captain in not taking the points on offer when available, ultimately led to a narrow loss, rather than the other way around. Eben Etzebeth made a most welcome return, but unfortunately, one swallow a summer doth not make. The Blues managed to at least minimise the impact of the driving mauls, and thus countered what is possibly the strongest weapon of the Stormers. They are currently 10th on the log, having used both their “get-out-of-jail-free” cards for byes. Whether they will make the play-offs now depends on other teams – a very unsatisfactory position to be in. A serious concern for the Cape team should be that they have only scored two points more than their opponents managed to rack up against them after 9 games.
The Sharks lost to a highly motivated Highlanders side that only had pride to play for. With a packed stadium, they did not disappoint their faithful followers, and contributed to an outstanding game of rugby. The tries in the match were of the highest quality, and somehow, softened the blow of the loss for the Sharks. This is a serious setback for the Banana boys, though, as far as the log is concerned. They are now 8 points behind the Bulls, and six behind the Cheetahs, with an equal number of games played. A 50% success record after 10 games does not reflect the potential of possibly one of the top three teams in terms of talent.
What can one say about the Kings? Perhaps Nick Mallet’s comment at half time sums it up best. “They may be called the Kings, but they play like paupers.” In fairness, the Waratahs were outstanding in their execution of all facets of the game, and their Wallaby pack played like internationals for the first time this season.
The Bulls delivered their best performance of the season against the Hurricanes. Dean MacGyver Greyling’s man of the match award was no doubt due to the support of the winning team’s pack that outmuscled the visitors. The fact that five of the six tries for the Bulls were scored by their backs, shows that they are not the one-dimensional team many people think they are. They have now secured four victories in a row, and are only four points behind the log-leading Brumbies, with one match less played. With a bye next week, they are ideally placed to make one of the top two spots when we reach the play-offs.
Two Referee Experiment
Alex Bax, the man who keeps me on my toes when it comes to rugby rules, received a response from André Watson regarding the question we posed about why the experiment at Maties was never put in place. Watson responded as follows:
The long and the short answer to your mail below as follows:
The two referee system has been used at the hostel (koshuis) rugby at the University of Stellenbosch for more than 20 years. Dok Craven swore high and low that it should be the way to go.
We experimented with it last year for global new laws and I have changed my view – more about that later.
The advantages, in a nutshell, are as follows:
- Better off side control from a prevention point of view.
- Better adjudication on ‘blind side’ of tackle, ruck, mauls and Scrum.
- Players take less chances as they are being watched from both sides.
- More accurate at adjudication of exact spot after late tackles.
- Players can take less chances
- Referees differ in advantage adjudication.
He Blew it!
And finally, the following video clip about botched tries reminded me of Robbie Fleck’s casual stroll under the poles to score a try, only to be upended, very unceremoniously, by Deon Keyser. This blooper, in my opinion, actually deserved inclusion on this list.
Click here to enjoy some more trip-ups at the try line.