Super Rugby 2017

A Thought For The Week:

Week One

Don’t you find it interesting how some people like to blow their own trumpet?

No sooner was there speculation about the future of Allister Coetzee’s tenure as Springbok Coach when Jake White (remember him?) stuck his hand up and said that he would love to come back to South Africa and coach the Boks. I am not sure whether this sudden desire has anything to do with the fact that his coaching contract with Montpellier expires in June and has not been renewed, but Jake has thrown his hat into the ring whenever a national coaching job is vacant.

He was available for Australia, South Africa, England, South Africa again, France, and now put his hand up for South Africa, again. It is obvious he desperately wants another high-profile coaching job!

In a TV interview on the 12th of February he said: “I would like to be involved in international rugby again, any guy who has competed at the highest level will tell you that’s where you measure yourself,” he said. “And as a guy that’s been involved in the Boks and more importantly measured in test rugby, it’s something that I’d like to get back into.”

When the news broke that Allister Coetzee would continue as Bok coach, White conceded that he would probably not get the job. He said: ‘It would be a dream of mine to get back into the Test arena, but SA Rugby have confirmed they will stick with Allister and are bringing in a few other coaches, which is their prerogative. So that opportunity seems it is no longer there.’

Meanwhile, Allister Coetzee will continue to head up the Bok coaching squad. He will be getting some help from new assistant coach Franco Smith, who will oversee the backline. A new defence coach will be announced soon, there are still some contractual issues to be sorted. Rumour has it that Brendan Venter will fill this position.

Mzwandile Stick has been given the boot as backline coach. He will go off to learn about coaching as the new backline coach for the Junior Boks. He has much to learn.

On Monday Allister Coetzee announced the first extended training squad for the Springboks in 2017.

The squad includes Seabelo Senatla, the current World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, as well as fit-again Handré Pollard, Siya Kolisi, and Frans Malherbe. The camp takes place from the 5th to the 7th March and is the first of three camps the Springboks will undertake as part of their plans before the start of the international season in June.

A couple of interesting new names will be found in the squad, including Tshego (Ox) Nche, Joseph Dweba, Hanro Liebenberg, Warrick Gelant and Wilco Louw.

No Sharks or Kings were considered for this camp, as both teams are out of the country on Super Rugby duty. Lions players will leave after Monday the 6th as their team travels to Argentina the next day.

Injured players such as Juan de Jongh, Roelof Smit and Howard Mnisi were not considered for this camp.

South Africa training squad: Nizaam Carr, Uzair Cassiem, Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager, Faf de Klerk, Ruan Dreyer, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Joseph Dweba, Eben Etzebeth, Warrick Gelant, Lizo Gqoboka, Hanro Liebenberg, Travis Ismaiel Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Elton Jantjies, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Jesse Kriel, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Teboho Mohoje, Franco Mostert, Ox Nche*, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Trevor Nyakane, Rudy Page, Sergeal Petersen, Handré Pollard, Raymond Rhule, Seabelo Senatla, Jan Serfontein, RG Snyman, Jamba Ulengo, Armand van der Merwe, Piet van Zyl, Francois Venter, Warren Whiteley.

In other news: One time Wallaby regular James O’Connor continues on his wayward journey through life and rugby. His misdemeanours are many, and ongoing! This time he has been caught with some nose candy in his pocket. The cocaine bust included ex-All Black Ali Williams, who apparently bought the powder found in O’Connor’s pocket. They were caught with 2,4 grams of the illicit stuff in their possession.

Both have spent a couple of days in police cells in France, and we will watch developments, not so much with interest as out of morbid curiosity! If ever a hyper-talented individual has imploded (several times) it is young Mr O’Connor. What a waste!

It seems that Eddie Jones does not like being out-thought by any other coach. When the Italians decided to stop contesting rucks by ensuring that none of their players were actually in the ruck, they had found a way of using the laws to their (temporary) advantage. And Eddie was dummy spitting, toy throwing broken garden gnome furious! He did not like the idea that someone had out-thought him!

You see, the law says that a ruck is only formed when one player from each side is in contact, above the ball, and on their feet. If that does not happen it is just a tackle, and then there is no off-side line! Italy could stand wherever they liked, as long as they were more than a meter from the breakdown. That is what the law says! So they did it! And England were very confused!

Clever Italians! And it was a perfectly legal plan to disrupt the England team. And they succeeded!

It took Eddie’s men until half time to figure out that they simply had to keep the ball in hand and charge straight at the non-existent Italian defence ahead of the “ruck” – The Italians had spread all over the field, but that left a great big hole where the ruck would have been. They Italians did not have the defensive players “on the fringe” as there was technically no fringe, and they had to be more than a meter from the breakdown.

Once the Poms had figured it out during their half-time deliberations, they knew how to counter the tactic, but it showed that they were a bit slow thinking out on the field of play. And that slowness of thought will make a couple of other teams sit up and take note!

A final bit of news from the past couple of days: Cheeky Watson has finally realised that nobody wants him around as kingpin of Eastern Province and Kings rugby. After resisting numerous attempts to depose him, using the rules and bylaws to avoid ballot after ballot at union special general meetings, he has finally fallen on his sword and resigned.

Injury Time:

Super Rugby is one week old, and the list of injured players has started to grow. In South Africa Lood De Jager, Damian De Allende, and Sergeal Petersen are all out of contention this week with injuries, and they might be joined by the likes of William Small-Smith, Michael van der Spuy who both will be assessed later in the week. Cheetahs scrum half Shaun Venter has a hamstring problem.

Over in New Zealand we await word on the recovery of Ben Smith after he landed on his head after jumping for an aerial ball.

I have not yet received injury updates from the rest of the franchises, but will keep you posted.

Bill van Zyl circa 15 Feb 2017