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Time to shelve the Lambie experiment

November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

How many more chances must Pat Lambie get to prove himself worthy of a spot in the Springbok team and how many more excuses must one wade through about how it isn’t his fault that he’s not performing to expectations.

For someone who has 28 Currie Cup caps, 50 Super Rugby caps as well as 30 Springbok test caps Pat Lambie’s performance in the test against Wales was shocking. Well, with Morne Steyn possibly out injured Lambie will have probably get two more chances to “prove” that he belongs at international level rugby.

With the number of opportunities Lambie has been given the time for excuses are over, and there were excuses a-plenty after the Wales match. None of his supporters and apologists are prepared to accept that he has to take responsibility for his performances. No, they shift the blame:

- His cross kicks were actually good, it was the other players who were out of position
- Fourie du Preez was to blame for contolling the game when Lambie prefers to do the controlling
- He didn’t get the ball enough (see point 2) to make an impact
- He hasn’t had enough game time at flyhalf
- Heyneke Meyer didn’t prepare hime for playing flyhalf in this game
- Heyneke Meyer isn’t giving him the chance to settle in a position
- John Plumtree didn’t give him the chance to settle in a position

OK that was just one game, which the Boks won despite Lambie, but let’s face facts, in 30 tests he hasn’t been able to convince the Bok coach that he deserves a regular starting berth and that he’s nothing more than a bench utility player. Not even during Super Rugby did he deliver a convincing performance at flyhalf.

In the end it is not about potential but about taking your chances and this is where Pat Lambie has failed. Playing over 1000 minutes of test rugby in 30 tests he is still only there to fill a gap while first and second choice players are injured or rested. Playing over 1000 minutes of test rugby in 30 tests he has yet to take a game by the scruff of its neck and make a statement.

Many Springbok legends made their names in less games than Lambie has played and I can think of no other player who has been given so many opportunities to “prove” himself.

The time for excuses is over. It’s time for Lambie to dropped from the Bok squad.

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The Springbok EOYT Squad

October 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Instead of building a Springbok squad coach Heyneke Meyer has decided to apply some white wash and Polyfilla over the cracks as he “builds” for the 2015 RWC. A few more geriatrics from 2007/2011 who ply their trade in the overseas money markets have been pulled into the EOYT squad.

And with a third of the players playing overseas the message Meyer is sending cannot be clearer.

Is this an indication that Meyer doesn’t plan on renewing his coaching contract past the 2015 RWC, leaving his successor with a massive problem?

Not everyone will agree with me I’m sure but with two years to go until the RWC the time is to build not to plaster over the cracks.

The Springbok EOYT Squad:

Name Position Test Caps Age Team
Gio Aplon Fullback / Wing 17 31 WP
Willem Alberts Loose forward 27 28 Sharks
Bakkies Botha Lock 76 34 Overseas
Marcell Coetzee Loose forward 14 22 Sharks
Jean de Villiers (captain) Centre 93 32 WP
Bismarck du Plessis Hooker 54 29 Sharks
Jannie du Plessis Prop 51 30 Sharks
Fourie du Preez Scrumhalf 65 31 Overseas
Pieter-Steph du Toit Lock 0 21 Sharks
JJ Engelbrecht Centre / Wing 10 24 Blue Bulls
Eben Etzebeth Lock 20 22 WP
Jaque Fourie Centre 69 32 Overseas
Johan Goosen Flyhalf 4 21 Cheetahs
Bryan Habana Wing 92 30 Overseas
Zane Kirchner Fullback 28 29 Overseas
Siya Kolisi Loose forward 8 22 WP
Pat Lambie Flyhalf / Fullback 29 23 Sharks
Willie le Roux Fullback / Wing 9 24 Cheetahs
Francois Louw Loose forward 25 28 Overseas
Frans Malherbe Prop 0 22 WP
Tendai Mtawarira Prop 50 28 Sharks
Scarra Ntubeni Hooker 0 22 WP
Coenie Oosthuizen Prop 11 24 Cheetahs
Ruan Pienaar Scrumhalf 71 29 Overseas
JP Pietersen Wing 48 27 Overseas
Louis Schreuder Scrumhalf 0 23 WP
Jan Serfontein Centre 9 20 Blue Bulls
Gurthrö Steenkamp Prop 46 32 Overseas
Morné Steyn Flyhalf 51 29 Overseas
Adriaan Strauss Hooker 30 27 Cheetahs
Flip van der Merwe Lock 31 28 Blue Bulls
Duane Vermeulen No 8 13 27 WP
Ave Age 26.59

 

Per Team:

Overseas 10
WP 8
Sharks 7
Cheetahs 4
Blue Bulls 3

 

Heyneke Meyer’s projected 2015 RWC team:

15 Zane Kirchner 31
14 JP Pietersen 29
13 Jaque Fourie 34
12 Jean de Villiers (captain) 34
11 Bryan Habana 32
10 Morné Steyn 31
9 Fourie du Preez 33
8 Pierre Spies 30
7 Willem Alberts 30
6 Francois Louw 30
5 Flip van der Merwe 30
4 Bakkies Botha 36
3 Jannie du Plessis 32
2 Bismarck du Plessis 31
1 Tendai Mtawarira 30
16 Adriaan Strauss 29
17 Gurthrö Steenkamp 34
18 Coenie Oosthuizen 26
19 Eben Etzebeth 24
20 Duane Vermeulen 29
21 Ruan Pienaar 31
22 Johan Goosen 23
23 Jaco Taute 24
Ave Age 30.13
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The Springboks for RWC 2015

October 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

Heyneke Meyer’s apparent intent to pull as many of the old players as possible back into the Springbok team leaves us with the interesting situation that the core of the RWC 2015 Springbok squad will be the same as that of Peter de Villiers’s 2011 RWC Springbok squad. You remember Peter de Villiers? The coach most South Africans loved to hate because he was playing with Jake White’s players?

So instead of building a team with younger players Heyneke Meyer is looking to retain the core of geriatrics leaving the problem of rebuilding to the coach that comes after the 2015 RWC.

What makes him think that the squad that couldn’t progress past the quarter finals in 2011 will do any better four years down the line in 2015?

Peter de Villiers’s 2011 Springbok Squad:
(with Heyneke Meyer’s possible replacements)

Willem Alberts
Gio Aplon Willie le Roux/Jaco Taute
Bakkies Botha
Heinrich Brussow Marcell Coetzee
Schalk Burger
Juan de Jongh JJ Engelbrecht
Jean de Villiers
Bismarck du Plessis
Jannnie du Plessis
Fourie du Preez
Jaque Fourie
Bryan Habana
Francois Hougaard
Butch James Johan Goosen
Zane Kirchner
Pat Lambie
Francois Louw
Victor Matfield Eben Etzebeth
Tendai Mtawarira
Johann Muller Pieter Steph du Toit
Odwa Ndungane Bjorn Basson
Ruan Pienaar
JP Pietersen
Chiliboy Ralepelle
Danie Rossouw Duane Vermeulen
John Smit Adriaan Strauss
Pierre Spies (Don’t worry, he’ll be back)
Gurthrö Steenkamp
Francois Steyn
Morné Steyn
CJ van der Linde Coenie Oosthuizen

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Weekend Rugby Impressions – 18/19 October

October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

This weekend there will be three important rugby events in South Africa – WP will defend their Currie Cup title against the Sharks at Newlands, Griquas will try to stay in the top domestic competition after a lucky win at home against the Pumas and Heyneke Meyer will announce his EOYT Bok squad.

For the rest, the teams are taking a bit of a break until mid November before starting on their Super Rugby preparations for the 2014 season that kicks off mid-February.

WP vs Golden Lions:

With Gio Aplon and Cheslin Kolbe more elusive than two Cape pickpockets and the Lions attack breaking against the Stormers … um … WP defence like waves against the harbour wall Province recorded a comfortable win to take them through to the final of the Currie Cup.

Barring injuries the Stormers look to be in a good place for next year’s Super Rugby while the Lions have four months to get their bunch of no names ready to make another step up in the world of professional rugby.

Match Review: WP vs Golden Lions Semi Final: A bridge too far

Sharks vs Cheetahs:

The Sharks may not be firing on all cylinders but the Cheetahs spluttered along like they have the whole season. Lambie had his best game since the 2010 Currie Cup final while Frans Steyn, for all his size, was only invisible during the half time interview. Bizzie did his normal thuggy thing which may see the Sharks without their whole Bok front row for the final.

Meanwhile the Cheetahs will be cheering for Griquas in the promo game against the Pumas, hoping they can keep the Griquas players from deserting their Super Rugby franchise partner.

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Springbok Factory

August 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Liz McGregor wrote a book, Springbok Factory: What it takes to be a Bok, in which she discusses the factors that impact on a player becoming a Springbok.

Last week she also wrote an article on BDlive, Rugby needs professional managers and fewer unions, in which she not only took SA rugby to task for the unprofessional way rugby is managed in the country, something few people would argue with given the string of recent fiascos, but she also wrote off the value of the smaller unions in the production of Springbok rugby players and proposes that the six smaller unions be incorporated into the eight bigger unions and their SARU funding be allocated to Springbok rugby development.

“One argument for the retention of minnow unions such as the Potchefstroom-based Leopards and the Witbank/Nelspruit-based Pumas is that the best players come from the platteland. This is no longer true. It is certain schools that produce Springboks — since 1992, 40% have come from just 21 schools.”

This argument may be valid if one agrees that the sole purpose of rugby in South Africa is to produce Springboks and that unions and schools that don’t produce Springboks don’t have a right to existance as rugby playing institutions.

This argument may be valid if one accept that in the process you will lose talent from these lesser unions and schools but that it will be okay as we will produce other players in our “factories” to make up for this loss.

Consider some the players we might have lost in recent years:

Victor Matfield – Polokwane (Limpopo)
Bakkies Botha – Middelburg (Pumas)
Os du Randt – Elliot (Border)
Francois Pienaar – Vereeniging (Valke)
Johan Goosen – Burgersdorp (Border)
Duane Vermeulen – Nelspruit (Pumas)
Arno Botha – Nylstroom (Limpopo)
Trevor Nyakane – Tzaneen (Limpopo)
Ndungane Bros – Mthatha (Border)
Lwazi Mvovo – Mthatha (Border)
JP Pietersen – Witbank (Pumas)

Gold mines need to take out about 5 tons of ore for one ounce of gold, finding Springbok rugby players are no different. Rather than reduce SA rugby to a few elite unions and “Springbok factories” SARU and SA’s rugby administrators would do better to work on expanding the player pool, to find ways of keeping more of the thousands of school boys playing the game in rugby after school.

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Springboks vs All Blacks – Ellis Park, 5 October

July 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Golden Lions Rugby Union announced that tickets for the test between the Springboks and the All Blacks at Ellis Park on 5 October will go on sale through Computicket from Monday 15 July.

Ticket prices start at R350

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Lambie to England? (April Fool)

April 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

The UK home unions have been targeting young Southern Hemisphere rugby players for a while now and their national teams are filling up with Saffer and Kiwi players. In the past they were quite happy with players qualifying through the residency route but their latest strategy is to target young players who qualify through their ancestry.

Recently New Zealanders Sean Maitland walked into the Scotland team due to his grand parents being Scottish and the home unions are said to be targeting a number of South African youngsters too.

Young Tuks lock Mike Williams, who holds a British passport, has been lured to an English club to continue his career.

Timo Swiel, who also holds a British passport and has declined selection to the 2013 Under 20 Springboks, South Africa’s designated second team, as it would affect his chances to be selected for England.

Handre Pollard, who qualifies for England through his grand parents, played for the U/20 Boks last year but as he was still under 18 he is exempt from the IRB regulation and can still qualify for England without going through a residency period.

Patrick Lambie also holds a British passport and with both English and Scottish grandparents could qualify for either England and Scotland. Moves are afoot to get IRB exemption for Lambie as he first played for South Africa when he was still a minor and the Bok management might not have explained his options to him on reaching majority and therefore prevented him from making an informed decision.

This is just a tip of the ice berg and one can expect this onslaught against SA rugby not only to continue but to escalate.

Edit: I hope you enjoyed my attempt at an April Fool’s joke. Till next year,

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RWC 2015 – A Walk In The Park

December 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

Something will have to go seriously wrong with Springbok rugby for the Boks not to end top of the table in their Pool during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Unlike the “Pool of Death”, Pool A where Australia, England and Wales have to fight it out for two spots in the final 16, South Africa was drawn in an relatively “easy” pool with Samoa and Scotland in Pool B.

Pool A

Australia
England
Wales
Oceania 1 (Fiji?)
Play-off winner (Europe 3/ Africa 2/ Americas 3/ Oceania 2/ Asia2)

Pool B

South Africa
Samoa
Scotland
Asia 1 (Japan?)
Americas 2 (USA/Canada)

Pool C

New Zealand
Argentina
Tonga
Europe 1 (Georgia?)
Africa 1 (Kenya/Tunisia/Uganda/Madagascar?)

Pool D

France
Ireland
Italy
Americas 1 (Canada/USA)
Europe 2 (Spain?)

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ABF for Lambie?

November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Bok EOYT has primarily been used as a trial for Pat Lambie to show that he has what it takes to be a Bok #10. After failing quite spectacularly in the first two tests to play to Heyneke Meyer’s preferred kick and chase game plan he is now, according to news reports, given the opportunity to play his natural game against the English.

And the time has come for the youngster “to put up or shut up”.

For the first time in his senior career Pat Lambie has been playing under real pressure. Oh, I know he has played in tight matches and in pressure situations on the field, but he has had an easy run off the field throughout his career.

When he started playing senior rugby he was immediately ensconced as the Sharks’ blue eyed boy and was always assured of game time, hero worship and blind devotion. Even after poor performances he was above criticism amongst Sharks supporters and the media. Any criticism, however mild, was immediately met with a barrage of scorn, abuse and excuses. On Sharksworld, the Sharks fan site, any criticism of Lambie might very well lead to a ban from the forum.

For three years he has been above criticism but now suddenly, on this EOYT, the youngster was asked to prove himself and he has been given ample opportunity to do so as the other two flyhalves were relegated to holding tackle bags.

This year must have been a very difficult year for the youngster. This is probably the first time in his life that he is not the coach’s favourite. Where, under Peter de Villiers, he was always assured of sufficient game time, either off the bench or with the occasional start, under Heyneke Meyer he picked up more splinters off the bench than kicking tees off the park.

Until this EOYT that is.

During the first two tests he seemed uncertain and withdrawn, never really grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and stamping his authority on the game. He just cannot afford to do the same against England if he hopes to remain in contention for the Bok #10 spot and it will do no good afterwards for people to blame the game plan, Ruan Pienaar not passing or Jean de Villiers killing the ball.

It is all up to Pat Lambie. It is his time to shine or to go down in flames.

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The ideal traditional Bok team

November 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

With so many people defending the so-called “traditional” Bok game plan of forward driven, bash it up rugby I think it’s time for Heyneke Meyer to select a team that should be able to do this to perfection.

The Boks’ one dimensional ball crashing approach reminds me of the Little Red Riding Hood joke

LRRH: “My, what big teeth you have, Granny”
Wolfie/Grandma: “The better to EAT you with!”
LRRH: “Eat, eat, eat. Doesn’t anyone want to RUCK anymore?”

Possible team:

15 Zane Kirchner
14 Pierre Spies
13 Marcell Coetzee
12 Brok Harris
11 Andries Bekker
10 Morne Steyn
9 Ruan Pienaar
8 Duane Vermeulen
7 Willem Alberts
6 Francois Louw
5 Eben Etzebeth
4 Flip van der Merwe
3 Jannie du Plessis
2 Bismarck du Plessis
1 Beast Mtawarira

16 Adriaan Strauss
17 Coenie Oosthuizen
18 Pat Cilliers
19 Rynhardt Elstadt
20 Siya Kolisi
21 Ryan Kankowski
22 Josh Strauss
23 Wynand Olivier