What a disappointing week
What a disappointing week. The game in Addis Ababa was a magnificent contest played in an atmosphere that, even via TV, was electric. We lost, unluckily...
Do we want to get another crack via the rulebook? Not especially but that is why we have rules isn't it? If Ethiopia cheated, and that is what we are talking about, then they must be punished. Regardless, let Gordon Igesund get on with it and for goodness sake, give him some input and influence into our soccer, from youth to senior level and let's start really going for it. After 1996 we are fed-up with failure.
What can you say about the cricket? Yes, we lost a bad toss but to be staring at a sub hundred until Miller and Kleinevelt showed us how to do it, was not just poor but embarrassing. We have now choked in eight semi-finals with only that one win in Bangladesh to show for our efforts. The fact that we seem to care more about the shortened version of the game makes our failure here even more regrettable. Gary Kirsten is an honest man and, surely, should be asked now to help redesign our cricket with a primary emphasis on creating excellence rather than making money.
Unlike Bafana Bafana, in the end we went out with whimper. We should also be asking why Jonathan Trott was wearing a red rather than a green shirt. Regardless of all philosophies and arguments both he and Kevin Pieteerrson were allowed to slip through our net.
I was at the rugby in Mbombela and watched it from behind the poles and close to the pitch .These are supposed to be the worst seats in the house but in fact are the best for watching rugby as you see numbers and space and the all-important angles. Boy, was it revealing on Saturday. A second after each set piece finishes the field is totally covered. There is simply no room in which to operate in space. This means teams have to set up contact points to "go through the phases" if I may be allowed to use that irritating term. Each time a player makes what looks, from the side, like an innocuous pick and drive, from behind the poles you realise it is an act of extreme bravery. He is inevitably met by a crunching, simultaneous; double tackle, high and low. You can hear the slap of contact when if you re close.
Away from the tight loose it is even worse as a head of steam has been built before the crunch. No wonder Jean de Villiers was crocked. Mark my words, more and more players are going to get crocked until amour or new rules are made available. At one stage the field was like an ambulance station at Passchendaele!
The key to successful attack is pace and, from the cheap seats, you see why. With quick ball there is still a brief window before the defence has quite settled. Any delay kills this and this is why the policing of the breakdown is so vital. In the first half we were over-confident and sluggish but Scotland defended brilliantly and got quick ball themselves. The only good thing we did was to keep at it. Finally, in the last quarter, the pressure told and the Scots lost their shape. Ten more minutes and we would have been out of sight. Add to this the excitement of seeing tries to our new generation and there was something positive to take from the game.
I thought also that Adriaan Strauss was a giant.
However, what has happened to our scrummaging? For a hundred years the Boks terrified all comers but now we seem to have slipped back to average at test level but, more worrying, at junior level we seem to be lacking. We know that players must be mulri-skilled and be able to run but in test rugby the few scrums we see these days are even more vital than they used to be. With defence from the loose now so tight, unless ball is instant, soon we are going to see first phase ball becoming regular scoring ball. Think about it. From set pieces there is only one tackler per man as opposed to row... Quick ball, a clever set move at pace and an off-load in the tackle can be a better prospect than facing that savage wall of death over and over.
Watch a top game of rugby from behind the posts and you see the real questions posed to attackers, only then can you start looking for answers.