From the Top Down

The future of South African rugby looks very exciting, judging from the last three outings by the national side, and the sides at the top of the Currie Cup log.

The massive crowd at Ellis Park in the last Bok match is testimony to the fact that running rugby is king. The corresponding match last year drew an even higher number of spectators, and the quality of rugby produced on that day is still very vivid in the memories of fans in both countries.

One of the strengths of All Black rugby is the synergy between what the national coach wants to do, and how the “provincial” coaches support him in this regard.

Here, one sometime gets the impression that coaches are more concerned with winning matches, or securing their own precarious positions when their teams lose, than national interest. Some of the Springboks were exhausted by the time they joined the national squad, resulting in inferior performances.

It is difficult to establish whether the new approach was planned, or resulted from injuries to key players, particularly Fourie du Preez and Ruan Pienaar. What is certain is that we will expect nothing less adventurous in the future from our national side, even in conditions possibly not suited to all-out running rugby.

It is very exciting to see that the two Currie Cup sides topping the log are also the two who played by far the best running rugby this year. Are we going to see the rest follow suit?

While size will always play a role in modern rugby, there is no doubt that the buzz created by a player like Cheslin Kolbe is electric. Who will ever forget the “loop-en-val” try scored by Brent Russell against the Wallabies?

If the resurgence in Springbok rugby can be ascribed to exciting halfbacks, then we are indeed well stocked for the future. Almost each of the top five teams in the Currie Cup has excellent number nines and tens capable of playing the new Springbok style of rugby. Sarel Pretorius, Piet van Zyl and Nick Groom are just three scrumhalves that come to mind, while Marnitz Boshoff, Demetri Catrakilis, Fred Zeilinga and Kurt Coleman have all shown potential to play a running brand of rugby, given the opportunity to do so.

Many of the other unions have a Willie le Roux lurking in the wings (no pun intended), just waiting to be discovered. The new format of the Currie Cup competition will allow them to show their skills on a bigger platform than in the past.

Running rugby will draw the crowds back to the stadiums, even if a win is not achieved on every occasion. I, for one, will be giving up my comfortable seat in front of the TV to join the buzz at Newlands again. It’s just not the same game, screaming on my own at the screen.

Imagine being in Dublin, sipping a Guinness, when the Boks play Ireland on 8 November, and England a week later?

At Sixes and Sevens

The T20 version of rugby started on a promising note this weekend, then fizzled out into a series of errors not befitting a team with aspirations of winning the crown. I hear all the excuses given by the coach, but there was enough time to get the nucleus of the team up and ready for the challenge.

And did my heart not bleed for Paul Treu when his side got hammered by his former protégés? He is such a scholar and a gentleman.

Overseas Boks

The latest update on SA players, including how Bakkies earned a yellow card on his return,  can be found by clicking on the link below:

Werk hard, ou Grote, dan breek die naweek gouer aan.

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