Who should "Front" the onslaught?

The tight five chosen to represent South Africa against England in next month’s three-test series will play a major role in the outcome of the series. Starving the English of possession will nullify their supposed advantage in terms of speed at the back.

I read last week that you first select your tighthead, and then the rest of the team around him. In our case, Bismarck du Plessis chooses himself as hooker, with the rest of the team to follow.

Despite a number of contenders, I cannot see the number one jersey not being filled by the Beast. Coenie Oosthuizen would be my man on the bench. Dean Greyling provides another dimension to this position, so we are well catered for here without having to fall back on those nearing the end of their careers.

Competition at tighthead is a lot more fierce. While the favourite candidate at the moment appears to be Jannie du Plessis, his discipline is a problem at times. Possibly Dean Greyling’s “ambidextrocity” makes him the ideal man on the bench, sou Jannie se kop uithaak.

The Stormers combination at lock deserves to be chosen for the national side. After Saturday’s game I would go so far as to say that Etzebeth deserves to be in the side more than Bekker does. My impartial colleague, the Bulls fan, muttered something under his breath that sounded very much like Bakkies, but luckily I forgot my hearing aid at home.

Heinrich “Jack Russel” Brüssow is a must as fetcher. He is not yet back to his best after the long lay-off, but you will remember how he performed at the world cup after a similar lay-off.

CJ Stander, Siya Kolisi, Marcel Coetzee and Jacques Potgieter all have the makings of replacing Schalk Burger and Juan Smith in the future, but are they ready now? Possibly a place on the bench, with some game time in the series against England, will be the best option. Coetzee and Potgieter are the abrasive kind of players that traditionally fill this position for the Springboks. My choice would lie between these two, given their ability in the lineouts as well.

The lack of stand-out contenders for the loose forward positions is really a grave concern.

In terms of the need for speed, I would opt for Keegan Daniel at flank and Ryan Kankowski at number eight. Piere Spies is the man in possession, but has not been the force lately that saw him become the first choice in the past. His defensive lapses also count against him, as does that of Willem Alberts.

If the strategy is to soften up England up front, the team could look a lot different. I would opt for players whose record in the Super series shows discipline, yet effectiveness in their positions. And speed, rather than brawn.

Law Changes to be Trialed

A media release from the International Rugby Board contains details of a number of changes to be trialed. All of these are aimed at speeding up the game. We discuss one of these which has been a personal bug bear for years.

Council also approved the referral by the Laws Representative Group of one potential Law amendment that was successfully trialed at Cambridge and Stellenbosch for further consideration by the specialist Scrum Steering Group (overseeing scrum force project) to be considered alongside the ongoing review of the scrum. 

The amendment that will be considered by the Group relates to the engagement sequence and will see the referee call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch then touch and using outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then set the scrum.

Regular readers may recall us suggesting that the referee counts to four, rather than the current four word set-up which has no rhythm, and discriminates against referees who stutter. (Just my bit of political correctness for the day, that last comment.)

Replacing “engage” with “set” and omitting “pause” is already a step forward. The team reacting to “en” always had a split second advantage over those who waited for “gage”. A single syllable will address this issue.

What will not be addressed is the issue of slippery material used to make rugby jerseys, particularly that of front rankers. Until this is changed, there will always be a slip of the hand, and the instinctive hand on the ground to prevent one from falling. To paraphrase the old saying: there is many a slip between the grip and the ground.

Which brings me back to another law currently used in koshuis rugby at Stellenbsoch: two referees. These gentlemen should be able to distinguish between a genuine slip and the intentional use of the hand for support.

As long as one of them is not called Bryce.

Lekker droom, ou Grote.

PK the DJ.


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