It’s tough to put down in words how much I admire Jean de Villiers. I remember watching him jamming for Maties back in the day – which was a Wednesday by the way – and thinking to myself this chap can play rugby! It took some time before the world saw the talent he possessed, but once given the chance he soon establishing himself as one of the premium inside centres in the world. He has always had captain written all over him and it was only a matter of time before it got offered to him. He was my choice to pick up the mantle once The Race Pig retired and I was chuffed for him. I talk about JdeV as if he is one of my mates simply because that’s the impression he gives. Jean seems to be another one of the mates around the braai talking rugby. Except this mate is about to become only the fifth South African to play 100 Test matches for his country.
I cannot put my finger on why I’ve avoided writing about the Springboks during this years Rugby Championships. Perhaps it’s because I have felt uninspired by them. Or perhaps, with all due respect to the Pumas, I first wanted to see what they could do against those
wankers chaps from Australasia as the true test of any team is how they perform against the Wallabies and most importantly the All Blacks. This weekend’s result was a tough pill to swallow and whilst it would be far easier to lambaste the team, I wouldn’t consider that to be constructive. Alternatively, I feel there are a few questions which Heyneke Meyer has yet to answer and the fact that these questions are still being asked a year outside of the Rugby World Cup is of a far greater concern than losing by a whisker to an average Wallabies team.
Bryan Habana is on the eve of becoming only the 4th South African to play 100 rugby Test matches for his country and in the process truly cement himself as a Springbok great. He’s already the leading try scorer for the Boks, is revered around the world as one of the fastest wings in Rugby Union and his 56 Test tries places him fourth on the list of all-time international try scorers. There is no denying the brilliance of the man as he epitomizes the saying “form is temporary, class is permanent” and below is a tribute to the man with jet-shoes. Forgive the soundtrack and enjoy the tries.
What better way to understand the intricacies of defending the midfield than by listening to Irish rugby legend, Brian O’Driscoll talk Austin Healy through it on Rugby Tonight? Brian runs through three different scenarios which may occur on a rugby field and what his responses would be to each. It’s interesting hearing what he has to say and is quite apt considering the fresh meat the Springboks have picked at 13 for this weekends clash against the Wallabies. I hope that Jan Serfontein has watched the clip. Whilst listening to Brian, I noted two things: Firstly, he regards defending at 13 to be the toughest defensive position on the park; and secondly I get the feeling that I want to hear him speak about rugby for the rest of my days.
On the eve of the 2014 Super Rugby final we look back at some of the biggest hits the season has given us. The season itself has thrilled from an entertainment point of view and in my opinion there is nothing more exciting than a big hit or two. I’m referring to the type of hit which sees the poor bastard on the receiving end rolling on the floor in pain and the momentum swing in the defending team’s favour. It’s one of the reasons why we play and watch the sport, isn’t it?
The 2014 Super Rugby season will be better forgotten sooner, rather than later, for most Stormers supporters. The season’s results were indicative of a team low on confidence who were playing an outdated style of rugby, which had seen numerous questions being raised over the coaching staff’s aptitude. Although marred by injuries, the team’s positive run of form toward the end of the season – barring perhaps their most recent match against the Sharks – has shown that perhaps a corner has been turned and therefore a glimmer of hope for the future is somewhat, encouragingly, visible. The question is, however, where to for the Stormers and WPRU from here?
The International window saw a welcome break from Super Rugby as the lads from up North made the trek to their Southern rivals. One Hemisphere in the process of finishing off their season whilst the other raring to get it started. Bless the Northern Hemisphere sides, for they tried their best, yet came up second best. Again. The English put up a decent fight in all but one of their Tests against the AB’s, the Welsh tried their best in both Durban and Nelspruit, the Scots were outclassed and the poor French were simply dreadful. Looking back at the month, some fantastic rugby was played by the three Southern Hemisphere heavyweights and the entertainment which awaits us during this year’s Rugby Championships is mouth-watering. All in all, the three Southern Hemisphere teams outscored their Northern counterparts by 303 points to 143. Check out some of the month’s highlights.