I love it when a plan goes... Beep! Beep!
SuperWrap 6, 2017
We’ve all been taught that failing to plan means planning to fail. We’re all convinced our own plans are fool-proof, but only ever until we hear that dreaded “Beep! Beep!”
Picture the scene: our hero Wile E. Coyote (Carnivorous Vulgaris) is hiding behind a boulder with his eyes gleaming in anticipation. He has a plan to knock out the Road Runner (Acceleratti Incredibilis). Literally.
On the other side of the rock that he is hiding behind he has attached a giant spring-activated boxing glove that will punch the lights out of that dastardly bird as it tries to speed by. Genius!
“Beep! Beep!” Here comes the feathered dust cloud now. Time for action…
“Boink!” goes the spring as it releases its energy - but instead of the glove, it launches the rock backwards and straight into our hapless protagonist. Now all of a sudden the glove decides to retract, punching the stunned Coyote right in the face. Disaster!
Never in the history of entertainment has one character suffered so much pain purely for our enjoyment. Or, on second thoughts, let’s change that “never” to “rarely”. I almost forgot about the Bulls.
The Pretoria outfit (Bullshideous Infinitae) can make some handy cash by having their Hamilton match of this past weekend animated and selling it to children.
They also had a fool-proof plan. They knew well that the Chiefs had a weakness in the overlap between the 10 and 12 channels, and by bombarding that with different varieties of power and pace they could cross the gain-line almost at will.
They weren’t wrong. The New Zealanders missed a whopping 27 tackles, allowing the Bulls to run an impressive 488 metres in that match. A guy like Burger Odendaal managed to beat his marker seven times.
The Bulls’ eyes were gleaming in anticipation as they lead 9-3 on the 50-minute mark while enjoying a sizable advantage in contact situations.
They dominated in contact because, on defence, they rushed up in unison on the opposition and met their ball-carriers violently behind the advantage line. It seemed to be genius for a long while until the home side figured out that no one was covering the space in behind the charging defensive wall.
“Beep! Beep!” came two kick-and-chase tries, and against a fitter team the South Africans had no way back in the last quarter.
Come to think of it, it was not the last time we heard that noise.
The Sharks were playing the Lions off the field in the first half-hour of their match in Johannesburg on Saturday. They were celebrating a try that would move the score to 18-3 in their favour when it reached our ears again.
“Beep! Beep!” came the sound from the TMO’s box. Our screen-scrutiniser wanted to have a look at potential foul play, and then duly disallowed the try because lock Ettienne Oosthuizen made contact with an opponent’s neck while clearing out at an earlier ruck. This happened despite both the TMO and the on-field referee turning a blind eye to almost identical offences during the rest of the match.
You could be forgiven if you mistook Jaco Kriel for a feathered dust cloud as he sped down the right-hand touchline to score the try that would seal a come-from-behind 34-29 win.
But the hunter soon became the hunted.
“Beep! Beep!” went my inbox on Monday morning as a press release landed that officially announced that the Lions will part ways with talisman coach Johan Ackermann at the end of this Super Rugby season.
The had just vanquished the Sharks and had mostly only games against teams from the weaker African Conference and the weakest-of-all Australian Conference standing between them and a spot right atop the overall log. Now everything is up in the air as they run the risk of mistrust or distractions derailing their campaign.
And that brings us to the million-dollar (probably already R16m by the time you read this) question. Will we ever catch that infuriating fowl?
The good news is that, at Springbok level at least, we are no longer failing to plan.
On Sunday news broke that the esteemed Brenden Venter’s services have been acquired to take charge of our national team’s defence and exit strategies. Alongside Franco Smith looking after our attack, it is heartening to see us finally employing experts in areas that require real expertise.
Remember, this time last year we had nothing. Not even a clue.
It is also encouraging to see that we’re no longer relying on only one Super Rugby outfit to provide us with impetus. The Lions have been joined in terms of Super Rugby performances by the equally impressive Sharks and Stormers, meaning the bulk of the Bok squad this year will have some confidence and form going into the international season.
But there is still a long way to go before we can begin to believe that the Springbok’s downward spiral has stopped. You can’t help but be concerned that both Venter and Smith have not committed to the national team on a full-time basis. Head coach Allister Coetzee also remains as ambiguous as ever about how he expects his team to play.
But there is a plan, and that gives us hope. Even if we know plans can backfire.
I’ll have you know that the heroic Wile E. Coyote did actually catch the Roadrunner once (in the episode Soup or Sonic). He may have been too small to actually eat the bird, but he caught it.
For now, us Bok fans will settle for doing that to a Kiwi.
That’s All Folks!
Here is our team of the week, based purely on this past weekend’s performances:
Bok Barometer for week six:
15. SP Marais (Stormers), 14. Kobus van Wyk (Sharks), 13. Francois Venter (Cheetahs), 12. Burger Odendaal (Bulls), 11. Dilyn Lleyds (Stormers), 10. Curwin Bosch (Sharks), 9. Rudy Paige (Bulls), 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Stormers), 7. Jean-Luc du Preez (Sharks), 6. Jaco Kriel (Lions), 5. Lood de Jager (Bulls), 4. Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), 3. Coenie Oosthuizen (Sharks), 2. Malcolm Marx (Lions), 1. Thomas du Toit (Sharks).
Best of social media:
THE WEEK THAT WAS
One of the stories that caught our eye last week was a column on Brendan Venter penned supposedly by a World Cup winning coach, which wished him luck.
But every line after the good luck was like sticking the knife into Venter on his credentials, and reminding everyone what his critics say about him.
"Some people will disagree with his appointment. They’ll say he’s been floating around from consultancy to consultancy for years, and has never been anywhere long enough to really prove his credentials," wrote Mr White on alloutrugby.com.
"They’ll say he’s been fortunate to get the credit when the team he’s consulting with does well, and he’s escaped criticism when they don’t.
"His critics will also raise concerns that Brendan intends taking on the Bok job in a part-time capacity, so that he can continue consulting to Italy while also running his medical practice."
Some people? They'll say? His critics? That's a lot of ways to describe one man....
The veiled attack left a bad taste in the mouth, especially considering Venter was later appointed defence coach for the Springboks, and whatever his shortcomings, deserves a chance to prove himself in the job.
The coach critic ironically has been phoning everybody in rugby lately to offer his services, but keeps forgetting how he burnt his bridges with those in charge.
May the Force be with ewe?
With their four active sides losing to NZ teams last weekend, and with Australian rugby at its knees, we were wondering just why Sanzaar feels two South African sides may need to be cut from the competition?
After all, a measure of how far Australian rugby is really down in the dumps at the moment is that their top side – the Brumbies – has less points than every single New Zealand side and four other sides in the competition.
#StrongerAsFive?? #LessIsMore lads, less is more.