What SA rugby wants for Christmas


What would the country’s five Super Rugby franchises wish as main presents in their stockings on December 25?

Rob Houwing, Sport24

BULLS: A new pair of world-class locks

Has any rugby side – ever! – suddenly surrendered not just two but three proven world-class locks all in one go? It’s hard to think of an instance which remotely matches the Bulls’ fate in losing the services of all of Victor Matfield (retirement), Bakkies Botha (Toulon) and Danie Rossouw (Suntory Goliath) after the 2011 season.

The trio, admittedly with Rossouw often operating as a loose forward although his versatility was a sublime asset, contributed hugely to a hatful of Bulls trophy-grabs in either Super Rugby or the Currie Cup over the course of 12 generally glittering years at Loftus for Botha and Rossouw and 10 for lineout juggernaut Matfield.

Fortunately Flip van der Merwe and Juandre Kruger are no slouches as the likely start-out second row pair in Super Rugby 2012, although the former has sometimes shown disturbing signs of trying too hard to emulate Bakkies’s penchant for collecting cards … and no, not of the Christmas kind.

SHARKS: A quality midfield

This has been an Achilles heel for the Durbanites for some time, with the centre shortage not exactly helped by evergreen Stefan Terblanche’s exit for Ulster (mind you, at 36 it’s questionable how much more the adaptable ex-Bok might have offered Super Rugby anyway).

They were too porous through the midfield in 2011 – remember, particularly, the 32-12 trouncing by the conference-topping Stormers at Newlands? – and it may be optimistic to expect former Newlands-based fringe player Tim Whitehead to be the key to turning their woes around in this department. Meyer Bosman and the 32-year-old Marius Joubert are still part of the furniture, although “supersub” Adi Jacobs has been pursuing new pastures.

Perhaps with Riaan Viljoen having arrived to beef up the Sharks’ fullback ranks, wonder boy Pat Lambie will be asked to pull the strings at No 12 from early next year? It seems one constructive method toward regaining a midfield Midas Touch …

STORMERS: A tight five finally with the grunt to secure trophies

When all is said and done, it’s in the uncompromising boiler room where key matches at business ends of tournaments still tend to be won or lost. And is it any coincidence that the Cape-based outfit continue to come up short in semis or finals at either Super Rugby or Currie Cup level?

Re-run the recordings of some of those games featuring Schalk Burger’s side and you will notice a common pattern: their being “munched” at the set-piece. Yes, under the guiding hand of hefty forwards coach Matt Proudfoot, the tight five at Newlands is certainly better than it was three or four years ago … they can’t have been too bad; the Stormers won the SA conference in 2011!

But they continue to be more workmanlike than pure quality as a unit – something exposed when the Crusaders had them backpedalling at a rate of knots at scrum-time in the heavy, heartbreaking semi-final reverse in Cape Town. The lopsided reliance on Andries Bekker for good lineout ball is unhealthy, too … expect further injury snags to the unusually lanky customer if he is overplayed once more.

And if “Dries” goes down, so might the entire front five, in many respects … even if fit-again lock partner Rynhardt Elstadt and exciting teenage loosehead Steven Kitshoff might just be global forces to be reckoned with two or three years up the drag.

LIONS: The financial stability to continue their renaissance

The rumour-mill has been abuzz with gossip that the Currie Cup-winners are back in the cash-flow dwang, after their much-publicised bust-up with supposed tycoon saviours Robert Gumede and Ivor Ichikowitz.

Of course Kevin de Klerk and company moved swiftly and angrily to reject such suggestions, but in a broad climate of economic hardship there is bound to be some nervousness among Lions supporters about the prospect of being able to genuinely build on the glory of October 29 when the Sharks were inspiringly (depending on your point of view) taken to the cleaners.

Next step upward, surely, has to be a far better showing in Super Rugby 2012 – the Lions were only “deprived” of the wooden spoon on the overall log earlier this year by the ineptitude of the rookie Rebels franchise. Now, can they comfortably pay the salaries of Jaco Taute, Elton Jantjies, Josh Strauss, Derick Minnie and company to ensure priceless continuity under John Mitchell’s astute tutelage?

CHEETAHS: An electric fence to keep predators away

They always have such a fantastic nursery down Bloemfontein way, don’t they? Er, to eventually serve hawk-eyed other franchises, or course. It’s simply a fact of life that the Cheetahs will churn out massively promising young talent across the park and then have to regroup once more as the brightest of those gems invariably get plucked away by more cash-flush or high-profile rival unions.

Who’ll be next to head for Durban (an old prime destination), Cape Town (where one Rassie Erasmus doubtless still monitors Free State rugby trends keenly) or Pretoria, where a potentially vulnerable new chapter of life in the Bulls corral is about to begin?

Touch wood, the Cheetahs – an improved force in Super Rugby 2011, remember – will stay relatively intact for the next few months, but it may be only a matter of time before the likes of Johan Goosen, Robert Ebersohn, Coenie Oosthuizen and others are coaxed over the razor-wire and toward more dazzling lights …

Facebook Comments


  1. Bulls

    Fokken hell Houwing…

    Are you forgetting the small matter of Fourie Du Preez?

    The whole of South Africa needs new locks… there is no heir apparent to the Rossouw / Matfield / Botha threesome.

    The whole Flip Van Der Merwe think was an invention created by simple dint of one fucknut Robbie Deans casually mentioning in a media interview after Bakkies was suspended that he “knows all about his type” suggesting VD Merwe was a loose canon… after that the SA media took up the cudgels and followed suit… instead of attacking Deans some dumfucks in a certain part of the country of a certain lingual persuasion decided to agree…


    No financial issues except in the minds of certain journos who listen to “sauces”. This is the kind of thing that makes the public want the government to implement the Information Bill. One c**nt says based on “sauces” that there are issues… it gets denied… media reacts and says… ah but such a strong denial indicates you have something to hide… if they union does not the media says “silence means they agree”. That said they DO need decent players.

    A good lock set would help as well as better scrummaging AND IMPORTANTLY a scrumhalf to replace the little sniper who went to the Bulls Janno Vermaak…


    A midfield partner for De Villiers. Locks, props, replacement for Flo, flyhalf that is settled. A faster scrumhalf.


    Ja I agree, but they still have critical staff shortages for a long campaign… an issue that will plague the Lions too. No squad depth.


    Young everything, starting with a new coach.

  2. Reply to DavidS @ 10:51 pm: Flip isn’t good enough to be a Bok. So it doesn’t matter what category certain people put him into. He’s shown sweet F.A to suggest he has what it takes to succeed at Bok level.

  3. SBW on Top 500 Muslim list

    NZ Islamic leaders are pushing to have All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams listed among the world’s 500 most influential Muslims.
    Nie geweet hy is een van hulle nie.

  4. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 2:55 pm:

    What I read there:

    While rumours of the 25-year-old sporting superstar’s religious beliefs have circulated for some time, the Herald on Sunday can reveal he made the leap of faith two years ago.
    He has since become the first Muslim to wear the All Black jersey, and requested halal food during the Northern Hemisphere tour last year.
    Are tattoos acceptable, or will they get him
    to remove those tyre tracks on his arms?

  5. I just could not resist….

    “Durban has become an unfashionable place for South Africans, of all varieties, in recent times. It is seen as the cheap and cheerful answer to having a good time but as a third-rate holiday destination (behind Cape Town and the bush) and these days it may even attract some raised eyebrows when people mention they are headed there.

    Over the festive season, its quaint shabbiness is exposed as grubby. Over-crowding and bad service prevail. The South African team were so put off by what Durban had become that they asked to stay up the road in the Sandton-by-the-sea town of Umhlanga. Ever since they did that, they have started losing at Kingsmead. Perhaps it’s a tenuous link or perhaps it’s a wider illustration of how easily the team is taken out of its comfort-zone and how badly it reacts when that happens.

    Cape Town, by contrast, is their happiest hunting ground where they have not lost to any team besides Australia. Its South Africa’s own corner of Europe, with street cafes and over-priced everything. It’s also where the team seem to be at home the most, and Smith alluded to it when he said, “Maybe in general guys are happier here.” He quickly tried to pad the statement with some sprinkled details but the toothpaste was already out of the tube. “The guys enjoy playing at this stadium, with the support we get and maybe because of those good results, there’s a feel-good factor and we’ve got some of those things to fall back on.””

    The full article here


  6. No not really.

    As you rea

    People prefer the bushveld and Cape Town…

    If you look at the amount of development happening in towns like Hazeyview, Sabie, Hoedspruit, Phalaborwa, White Rivier, not to mention Leydenburg and Dullstroom, it is clear that Valies are opting for the beauty of the bushveld…

    Cape Town appeals to a particular kind of person..

    And I have always said…

    Cape Town would be a wondeful place if it weren’t for the Capetonians…

    As for Durban?

    That place sucks in every possible way….

    That is why so many Durbanites are opting out and moving to Hillcrest, Pietermaritzburg, Umhlanga and even as far as the Midlands…

    One can understand why…

  7. Hehehe Dawie

    What a wonderfuLLy sane coMMent this side of New Years Eve!

    Yip It seems that consumer trends are achanging people think more for themselves now adays….it sEEms

  8. Middag makkers ek sit in Maxis in Grobersdal en recharge my BB en Canon batterye.

    Voorspoedige Nuwe Jaar !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Ek het geen sein/koms op die wildsplaas en moet berg-op so 3 km vir enige sein Is al hele Des daar en mik tot 15 Jan – flippin beste Des in 25 JAAR.

    My kids was laaste week van Des by my en ek was dankbaar om hullle ten minste EEN – zero hype Nuwe Jaar te kon gee in hul lewens!!! Brand jr het ewe rustig die 1ste gese dis ‘net nogge dag’ HeeeeHaaaaa – les geleer !!!

    Ek lees ook SA-Rugby arti oor X-factor en bekak my toe dat daar na 6 jaar se artikels en comments deur myself STEEDS idiote is was GLO dat:
    “Attempts have been mad to define it and capture its essence. Undoubtly it can’t be learnes, honed or taught; it may be connected to skill, but it is different – a skill can be learned, the X factor can’t. It is the raw material that is mined at birth; it is what you start with and end up with – that which you have no control over.”

    Ek het net HIER besluit ek gaan myself in die toekoms in Sport as : X-Factor Coach bemark en NOEM !!!

    Eniger span wat my dienste wil benut sal R250K per maand moet betaal – net sodat hulle die waarde besef en nie rondfok met my coaching nie !!!

    Fokkit die kak maak my moerig !!!

    Maar dis ander kak . . .

    Voorspoed aan almal hier op RW !!!

    Baie dankie vir 6 jaar se voorreg en vreugde !!!

  9. O ja, en ek het geen krag op plaas. So dit is 26 km tot naaste pub of 40km tot Groblersdal om te recharge. Daarom skakel ek net elke 2de dag of so aan bo-op die berg – vir sms checks en bbm’s en boodskappe van Brand jr en Prinses EJ.

    Sien weer vorentoe – een of ander tyd

    Ai die plesier van ‘simplistiese’ Lewe !!!

  10. Reply to DavidS @ 1:00 pm:

    Glad to see there is development in small
    towns SOMEWHERE north of the Orange.

    Judging by what I hear, Dirtbin deserves its name.
    But is Joburg and Tshwanetoria CBD any better?

    As for CT: I’ll start 2012 by agreeing with
    you: CT is not for every Tom, Dick and Harry.

  11. Jis en bo-op die berg in Grobbies die tyd van die jaar kak jy AL DIE PAD!

    Ek’s bly jy geniet dit Brand maar jinne nie vir my nie…

    Pretoria CBD is die bste van die lot Boertjie.

    Jhb hang dit maar af… meeste van dit is ‘n disgustiung hool, maar sekere gedeeltes is okayerig waar die groot corporates hulle kantore met armies van sekuriteitswagte beskerm… soos om FNB en Standard Bank… en natuurlik die gedeelte tussen die M1 en die middestad het ewe skielik baie belangstelling uitgelok, en die klein gedeelte om die JHI gebou waar die ou gaswerke was het nou ontaard in ‘n klein tikkie Boheemse karakter tussen vreemde industrieele geboue…

    Maar enige iets oos van Rissik en noord van Pritchard is kak…

    Was nog altyd onder die huidige regering en sal altyd wees…

  12. Reply to DavidS @ 10:40 pm:

    Pretoria CBD is die bste van die lot Boertjie.
    Njannies? Ek dog dis ‘n Nigeriese stalletjie
    hool en een groot taxi rank. Vuil en vervalle,
    die plek wat wit mense vermy?

  13. Timeo

    Every member of my family has been subjected to violent crime.

    And when you tell people they say such inane crap as

    “At least they didn’t kill you”


    “What a f___king outrage every one of the bastards should be strung up from the nearest township lamp pole to serve as a gruesome example”