Many people defined a great team by the players they have in their system, but how many people define a great team by the coach and his team working behind the Saturday hype of the eighty minutes on the field?
Jimmy Stonehouse is one of those coaches that can make the difference between a winning team with players that is playing for each other and a team with well known stars.
I was one of the lucky players to play under Jimmy and I am sure all the players that he coach from his days at Ermelo High School to Waterkloof in Pretoria and especially the Pumas, will confirm just how much this man can influence a player to play far above his ability and skills.
Just the sure passion of the man for the game is still clear in my mind when I think back to 1999 as a young school boy dreaming of playing the game I love at the highest level. The way he brings a team together is most properly one of the things that stand out for me in my playing day under him.
He would pick up each player at his house on a Friday before the game and we would talk, sing and plan for the game together. No players in the team is greater than another and no one is bigger than the game and I am sure it is still the same when you play under Jimmy Stonehouse.
Friday night 25 October 2013 is now history for one of the greatest win for the Pumas union as the returned to the ABSA Currie Cup Premiere league. They outplayed a Griquas team on the night through some determent defence and great skills on attack were they were able to hold on to the ball for long periods on attack. The Pumas also kept scoring points when they got into the Griquas twenty two area, something the Griquas could not do on the night.
Throughout the game I felt that Griquas was looking at Willie Le Roux the whole time to spark something out of nothing to get back into the game which put themselves under huge pressure and gave the Pumas the changes to0 turn over balls too easily.
With the Griquas still much in control in the set pieces you always through that they will come back in the second half but the men from Nelspruit had other ideas. A total turn around in the scrums gave the Pumas even more believe that they can win this game. In the first half the Griquas demolished the Pumas in the scrum to a stage that the Pumas almost took 34 minutes to win their first scrum feed.
I can not explain what happen after half time as the Pumas started to dominate every aspect of the game. The turned the scrums around and were the once who did the demolishing in the second half.
It is really sad to see a great union like Griquas going out of the ABSA Premiere League but in the same breath it is inspiring too see a team who worked so hard the past two years achieving their dream and making it possible to give their union a return the top league. This Puma team only lost one game against the Griquas last week the whole season and deserve to be promoted to the next level.
Griquas will hope that sanity will prevail in the SARU meeting at the end of November to make the decision to expand the Currie Cup Premiere League to eight teams so t hat they can still be involved in the highest level in South African domestic rugby.
For the Pumas:
Tries: Watermeyer, Penalty try, Specman
Cons: Roos 2
Pens: Roos 3
Pens: Prinsloo 5
Yellow cards: Renaldo Bothma (Pumas, 23 – foul play, dangerous tackle), Jean Stemmet (Griquas, 52 – professional foul, deliberate slap down)