Robust or foul Boks?
The Currie Cup season has come and gone and now the Springboks are preparing for their year-end tour to Argentina, Wales and France. But the first Test is more than a week away (November 5) and Rugby365 editor Jan de Koning felt maybe now is a good time to reflect on what has transpired on the domestic scene.
Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio – one of the most feared and respected competitors in world rugby – provided the alto backing vocals for one of Tina Turner's greatest hits.
From the outset I must say that the 2005 Currie Cup competition never really reached the same heights as previous years. Maybe it had something to do with the bizarre and convoluted system thought up by the country's brainstrust.
But enough has been said about officials' conduct and their puzzling thought processes.
This column is about the players' conduct.
Apart from the fact that we saw only glimpses of the true talent available in South Africa, the entire season was soured for me by the boorish behaviour of some of the country's most respected players in the Final – between the Blue Bulls and the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld last Saturday.
Two of the country's star players, Bulls lock Victor Matfield and veteran Cheetahs prop Os du Randt, have been fingered as the main culprits in a spiteful Final – won 29-25 by the Cheetahs.
They will appear before a disciplinary hearing this week and regardless of the outcome – guilty or not – I feel they should be joined in the dock by a large number of other participants in that Final.
I'm not going apportion blame on any individuals or any team. But it was clear that some of the acts in that game were premeditated.
Cheetahs captain Naka Drotske was clearly heard telling referee Jonathan Kaplan: "They are trying to intimidate us and we are not going to stand for it."
This was very early in the game and Kaplan had already spoken to some players about "over robust" play.
I want to pause here for a minute.
What is "robust" play and what is "over robust" play?
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary tells us that robust is: "… having or exhibiting strength or vigorous health; having or showing vigour, strength, or firmness; being strongly formed or constructed."
Dictionary.com describes it as: "Full of health and strength; powerfully built; sturdy; requiring or suited to physical strength or endurance."
But you can also get a "robust claret" or an experiment can yield "robust results".
Nowhere does this describe trying to punch somebody's lights out or striking them with a forearm.
Those acts are dealt with in the International Rugby Board (IRB's) laws under LAW 10 – FOUL PLAY!
The IRB's definition of foul play is: "… anything a person does within the playing enclosure that is against
the letter and spirit of the Laws of the Game. It includes obstruction, unfair play, repeated infringements, dangerous play and misconduct which is prejudicial to the game."
Falling under law 10 is issues such as obstruction, unfair play, repeated infringements and dangerous play and misconduct.
I just want to deal with Law 10.4 – which is the law that governs what happened at Loftus.
This include (a) Punching or striking; (b) Stamping or trampling; (c) Kicking; (d) Tripping; (e) Dangerous tackling; (f) Playing an opponent without the ball; (g) Dangerous charging; (h) Tackling the jumper in the air; (i) Dangerous play in a scrum, ruck or maul; (j) Retaliation; (k) Acts contrary to good sportsmanship; (l) Misconduct while the ball is out of play; (m) Late-charging the kicker.
Go watch a re-run of the Final and tell me how many of these offences you spot.
member, these are all paid professionals and they should know better.
While watching some of the players' shenanigans I had visions of Twickenham, November 2002.
For the uninformed, it remains one of the darkest days in South African rugby history.
Not only did the Boks lose by 50 points against a rampant England team, Bok captain Corné Krige was guilty of so many acts of foul play a local TV station made an entire programme out of it.
Some may say it was over dramatised and that England and other teams are often also guilty of foul play.
Yes they are, but surely we should rise above the mire of treacherous and violent actions that marked some of our games since the turn of the century.
Under Jake White the Boks' discipline showed a marked improvement. Lets not degenerate into hooliganism again.
Do you agree/disagree with Jan?