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Q&A with Gavin Rich

Our senior rugby correspondent Gavin Rich joined us for a Q&A session on Thursday.

Thanks to all who participated, you can read Gavin's answers to all your question below.

The question and answer session has closed.

Questions and answers
rayno asked:
Hi Gavin. What to you think about the Zane Kircher? I really feel the bulls need an attacking fullback.who would be your pick at 10? morne or pat?
Gavin Rich answered:
I think Zane is a better fullback than people give him credit for. Certainly does the basics of his position extremely well. But I do get what you are saying about the strengths that a different mould of No15 could bring. When it comes to flyhalves, both have done well so far this season but I would consider Pat the incumbent and I still feel that he offers more on attack than Morne does. It is good though to see Morne back in form.
Gerhard asked:
Hi Gavin
Best nr 10 (past or present), to ever play the game of Rugby?
Gavin Rich answered:
I can only go on the players that I have seen, and the one that excited more than any other that I have watched was Hugo Porta. Had he played for a nation other than Argentina he would have been the biggest match winner the game has seen. My reasons are that he had everything - he had a strong kicking game and was also one of the best attacking players around. I well remember a match he played for SA Barbarians against the British Lions at Kings Park in 1980 - wow!!
Hotstepper asked:
Couple of questions, what is the real reason Newlands dont get All Blacks tests anymore, will the Stormers ever move to Greenpoint, do you think Heyneke will play scrumhlaf Hougaard at wing and fullback frans Steyn at 12 for the Boks despite their disappointing performances at 9 and 12 for their Super Rugby franchises?
Gavin Rich answered:
Firstly, on the Heyneke questions, my hunch is that he will base his selections more on what happened in test matches towards the end of last season than on what happens in Super Rugby. So I think Hougaard will play scrumhalf and Steyn will play centre. Unless of course Frans does something really special in Super Rugby as a fullback, which is possible. Personally, I do think No15 is his best position. I don't know for sure what the reason for Cape Town being denied All Black tests is but I reckon WP president Thelo Wakefield was probably on the money yesterday when he said that it's probably because of the support New Zealanders get in Cape Town. And if that is the case, I can't disagree - when you have a home game rather play it somewhere where it will definitely be a home game rather than in a place where that advantage is eroded. Having said that, the national body should also have a duty to take the Boks to all the major centres so that the brand is spread over the country. Greenpoint will be the Stormers' home ground in a couple of seasons. I've travelled around the world to cover rugby and Newlands is like a relic of a bygone era, definitely one of the three most antiquated Test venues I have visited (Athletic Park, now knocked down, and Lansdowne Road, now replaced by AVIVA Stadium and completely refurbished, were the others).
Doron asked:
Gavin hi,

Thanks for answering all the questions. My biggest concern with the SA sides is the lack of concern towards bonus points. Our highest bonus points come from the Bulls & Stormers with 3 and the rest of the teams average 1 or 2. Looking at the NZ teams, 2 have 5 bonus points and 1 has 4. The Highlanders who have yet to win a game are on 2. To me, every 4 bonus points equates to a game won and this is where the biggest difference comes at the end of the tournament. Do our teams consider the bonus point or are they just too concerned with winning a game? Your thoughts thanks, Doron
Gavin Rich answered:
Hi Doron, I think your concern may be a bit out of date. Not scoring bonus points was a problem for the Stormers last year, this year their problem is that they may not be winning enough games. You have to remember that four tries gets you just one bonus point, whereas a win gets you four. And the Stormers finished top of the log last year, for the first time ever, so obviously they won enough games. I think bonus points come into it if you're losing a lot of games. Last year the Stormers lost only twice. This year they've already lost three. So the bonus points may become more important later in the competition than they were a year ago, and in that regard, they scored three tries against the Crusaders and four against the Brumbies. That's seven against the two best defensive sides in Super Rugby. So I don't think there's a concern with their attacking game.
Jan asked:
Hi Gavin

I''m a huge Cheetah follower, however this season has made me realise how unfair the draw is. I''m not complaining at all but surely the Cheetahs have one of the easiest draws, next year might be the opposite.Surely all teams must be playing the same opposition.The Western Force is hardly the Brunbies if you know what I mean
Gavin Rich answered:
Jan I agree with you about the draw for Super Rugby being far from perfect. Yes, the Cheetahs have had a better draw this year than say the Stormers, who have played really tough games every week and have two more coming up before they tour.
Tumelo asked:
Hi Gavin,

I think the Cheetahs locks have been the most consistant do you think they might be in line for a call up?I am impressed by PSDT he is gelling nicely in a star studded team and think if a hooker can''t perform basic duties of a hooker he shouldn''t play as it puts the team under pressure
Gavin Rich answered:
The Cheetahs locks are progressing nicely but their chances of making it into the Boks will depend on injuries and the status of the players heading overseas.
louis asked:
Hi Gavin
Just want to hear what is your thought on players been selected and played out of position .like at the bulls JJ on centre and Mapoo on the wing .
Gavin Rich answered:
I don't like players being played out of position but if players are versatile and can play other positions that the team needs them to play, then the team always comes first. My only concern would be in an instance like Francois Hougaard. I think that his development as a scrumhalf was seriously retarded by playing so much on the wing. He was needed on the wing at the time by the Bulls, but maybe a bit of forward thinking and proper succession planning was required as we all knew Fourie du Preez wasn't going to stay in Pretoria forever.
JM asked:
Hi Gavin
Just a general question regarding the importance the structure of a team has on selection of players.Case in point: Willie Le Roux has been exceptional this season being allowed to play a "free" role.However would he fit in at a more structured team e.g the Stormers and would he be allowed to play his natural game?
Gavin Rich answered:
Willie le Roux was at Boland and never got a look-in at the Stormers when he was there (in other words, in the region) so maybe that's your answer.
Monray asked:
Hi Gavin just wanted to know if you have any idea when Peter Grant is coming back? I think we really need him, as Elton is not really finding his feet at the Stormers yet.
Gavin Rich answered:
We won't be seeing Peter Grant until after the tour. In other words, towards end of May.
Dave Burger asked:
Can young Stef du Toit succeed against Whitelock where Bekker failed?
Gavin Rich answered:
Hi Dave, at least the way I understand it Stef doesn't have the pressure of calling the lineout and he also isn't yet in Bekker's bracket when it comes to opposition targeting him and devising specific plans to combat him, which is what the Crusaders did very well last week. In a nutshell, Stef has the advantage of being a bit of an unknown quantity to the New Zealanders. So on that basis the answer would be yes.
Kobus asked:
Hi Gavin,

In your view, irrespective of the results so far, what SA team has got the right balance in their game plan at the moment? I know it''s still early days, but with the Cheetahs having a great season, are the Kings doomed for the relegation spot or are there any other teams in danger of getting dragged into trouble? Thanks
Gavin Rich answered:
If there is going to be a relegation game, and I would argue there shouldn't be as it is quite ridiculous to give a new franchise only one season in Super Rugby to find it's feet, then it will be the Kings. No argument about that. On the game-plan issue, I think the Sharks and Stormers are finding the right balance.
Parushin Naidoo asked:
Given the sharks are not at full strength currently and honestly speaking our rugby up until the Rebels game was pretty predestined even thou we won all games except the Brumbies clash its not been great to watch. Am not sure if our big ball carrier Alberts or our fetcher ''Bis'' will be fit for this weeks game against the Crusaders which will be a HUGE clash. Even thou we found form against the Rebels our game against the Brumbies showed off all our weaknesses and showed we have not hit our stride as yet , Brumbies are a class team in all respect we havnt faced a team with the same quality as them prior to that. What are your thougths going into this weeks game and what must the sharks improve on?
Gavin Rich answered:
The lineouts will be the crucial area for the Sharks against the Crusaders. The Crusaders scrum wasn't so good last week because Owen Franks went off and it meant Wyatt Crockett ended up at tighthead, so they will be better this week - but the Sharks have a good scrum so I don't foresee problems there. The Sharks are an unknown quantity at this stage because as you say, the Rebels were just horrible against them, and against the Brumbies they just never pitched. I do believe that the Sharks are disadvantaged a lot by having to do all their training early in the year in the KZN humidity. I go for a run in Durban early in the morning and for the rest of the day I feel like I took a sleeping pill. But the season is changing - I am in Durban today - and that humidity is no longer around. That is normally when the Sharks start getting their game together in the sense of spreading the ball and starting to off-load etc. I think they will beat Crusaders because Crusaders probably targeted one tour win and they got that last week. They also had to dig really deep to do it. But it will be tight - it always is when these two teams play each other at Kings Park.
Colville asked:
Hi Gavin, have it from sources that most of the top 10 ranked rugby schools had about all their grade 12 players signed retainers with provinces even before the Easter weekend festivals. That is a lot of players - what happens to them? Does retainer mean that the province has 1st option or that the player will join the province after school? Quite frankly I find this ridiculous as most of these boys are just not good enough and seems like the provinces are trying to sign up as many players as they can and also to make sure that their rivals do not get such players....... . What is your take on the school boy rugby poaching?
Gavin Rich answered:
Hi Colvill, sorry there have been technical issues but hopefully they've been resolved. I agree with your comment completely. I don't like the fact that so many youngsters get denied possible top level exposure and thus advancement because they sign up with a rich union where there are just too many other players in the queue.
Travis Head asked:
Hi Gavin

I think its important that Sharks supporters come out in numbers to support on Friday night as it will be a very different welcome for the crusaders than the open arms they received when arriving in C.T from the cape Crusaders and the crowd support will definitely help the to sharks secure a victory.

How do you think the death of Brett Williams will impact the turnout at kings park on Friday? Do you know the current ticket sales number stands at?
Gavin Rich answered:
I don't know the ticket sales at this stage but will find out. It has to have some impact.
solomon asked:
why is the stormers playing the kick game,and they know they cant play it.the last 2min of the game they have the crusaders under pressure,because they run the ball.brok harris is not good any more.and why take off kolisi he was the best defender.
Gavin Rich answered:
I don't think the Stormers' tactics were wrong against the Crusaders. You play what is in front of you. They just never had ball last week, particularly in the second half. That said, there kicking game was poor - but it all started with the lineouts. If you are getting a hiding in the lineouts the opposition can do what they like with their kicking as they will be confident they can win the ball back if it goes out.
Brandon asked:
As i frustrated Stormers supporter who ages by 10 years everytime they play, i would like to get your opinion on why you think the Management insists on starting Jantjies, he continuosly makes silly unforced errors which puts us under alot of pressure, 2 mistakes last week leading to tries.
Very sad that Van der Heever got injured though, he was finally looking like he was fitting in and gave 2 great performances in a row.
Gavin Rich answered:
I thought Jantjies was very good against the Brumbies. And with Peter Grant injured, and Gary van Aswegen only just coming back from a long lay-off, there isn't really much alternative.
Jack asked:

A question around gameplan etc. Coetzee has this week selected Rhodes at blindside flank as ''he can run over people (news24)'' and with Jantjes potentially out Van Aswegen is lined up leaving natural talent like Swiel why down the pecking order.

Do we have any coaches in SA that can see a different gameplan to ''structure'' and ''kick for field position'' or is it time to fly in coahces like Joe Schmidt and Vern Cotter?

p.s. Is Swiel leaving for the UK?
Gavin Rich answered:
No idea what Swiel is doing. He may get his chance on Saturday as he will be on the bench if Jantjies doesn't play.
Johan Fourie asked:
Hi Gavin. How are you?

My question/statement is about our flyhalfs – I think the MAIN reason why NZ has been the best for the past few years (10+) is because of 1stly their structure, and secondly they have long term key players. Example Carter has been the no 1 flyhalf for what – about 10 years more or less? They had Donald, Brett, Mc Alister, and currently Cruden and Barett. BUT they are all 2nd or 3rd choice and was only used when DC was rested (structures) or injured. We had (and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few and also have the timing wrong) over the last 10 years – Gaffie du Toit, Braam van Straaten, Louis Koen, Jaco van de Westhuyzen, Percy Montgomery, Butch James, Brent Russell , Andre Pretorius, Derick Hougaard, Meyer Bosman, Ruan Pienaar, Peter Grant and Morne Steyn, and last year, Johan Goosen, Partic Lambie and Elton Jantjies. Yes becoase of injury but still – that is 17 flyhalfs (if you can give me correct ones that will be great) in 10 years…Don’t you think that we need constant key players? I know we have 3 or 4 great flyhalfs. But if we choose 2 (e.g. Goosen and Lambie) and focus and coach and MANAGE them for the next 10 years, WE will be the best. And I know during the time there will be other up and coming players and that will be great if they can be used to give our main guys a rest and to keep them in the game plan etc. But those 2 guys has MORE than enough talent to be the very best in the world for very long time…Carter is what he is today not just because of talent – they made him and coached him and PROTECTED him…Brett and the others could also have been the best but they chose to make Carter THE BEST 10 in the world…I think we should do the same. With other positions as well…Your thoughts?
Gavin Rich answered:
Firstly I think that the New Zealanders tend to play more off their flyhalves than we do in SA, where we play a lot off the No9. The NZ coaches give the flyhalves over there more options within the structure, in other words, they do play a structured game but the flyhalf has a bigger say in the decision making than here. At least that is the way I read it. On your point about developing two guys, I think Heyneke is intending this year to choose two guys that he will play with through to the World Cup. But what happens if one of them gets injured, like Johan Goosen just has? I'm not sure that rugby is a sport where you can bank too much on a narrow field of individuals. There are too many injuries.
Gordon asked:
Hi Gavin. Just a short question - Who would your loose forward pick be for the Boks and why? Thanks in advance!
Gavin Rich answered:
Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Duane Vermeulen. I think that combination has the best balance. Louw plays the role of fetcher but he is also big and does other things like carry etc, Alberts is just unstoppable when he gets momentum, and Vermeulen is the best No8 in the country. This trio played together at the end of last year and did well. Maybe a question mark over Duane on the harder fields but it wouldn't stand in the way of me retaining him as the starting No8.
francisco asked:
they say injuries are part of rugby but the attrition rate is atrocious. the stormers seem the most afflicted of this and i see a real problem with depth in the future what with alistair coetsee taking on the double mandate will WPRU realise this in time?
signs of the leaks are already showing. Jaque fourie left. andries bekker is leaving. nick koster and the list goes on and on.
Gavin Rich answered:
I most emphatically don't agree with Allister Coetzee both being the head coach and the director of rugby. I think as Stormers coach your hands are full enough just getting from one game and week to the next without having to concern yourself with succession planning and worry about players who might be unhappy and thinking of leaving. I don't think the WPRU realize it, and it will be their undoing. Someone like John Dobson should be given the other mandate, and quickly.
francisco asked:
thanks for your time i really question the descision to play frans steyn at fullback. what are your thoughts on the matter?
Gavin Rich answered:
The problem is that Frans is overweight at the moment and not as sharp at centre as he should be. I also do like Frans as a fullback. I thought he was excellent when the Boks won the Tri-Nations in 2009. But time will tell whether John Plumtree intends keeping him there long-term. I think with Louis Ludik on the Sharks' books they're better served with Frans in the midfield when he is in his best condition.
Jo asked:
Hi Gav. I think that Jake White is a great loss for our future rugby well being. While I am not a great fan of the man, I do admire his rugby genius. He may well contrive to rob us of the next RWC if the ARU have any sense. What are your views?
Gavin Rich answered:
I wrote a newspaper column about it on the morning of the Brumbies/Stormers game and apparently there was quite a backlash in the SMS feedback column, people telling me I am wrong. But I don't worry about that - if people can't see what Jake's brain offers whatever rugby outfit he is involved with, then maybe they just don't want to see it or they have their reasons for not seeing it that may not have anything to do with rugby. Big mistake letting him leave the country. I agree with you most emphatically. I'm not saying he should be Bok coach, but the role he appears to be playing at the Brumbies so well is the one of co-ordinator, and that was where we should have employed him after 2007.
anton roelofse asked:
Hi Gavin,
Firstly thank you for your correspondence on this platform and great insight of your coverage ....

My question is simple ...but perhaps a "touchy" subject The Kings, Despite the predictions of there performance, the political blah blah blah (*my only real political opinion) as I am not going into that. Fact they are playing Super Rugby The Lions not.

I ask myself based on performance do they deserve to be there ..I consider the poor show of the Lions in this competition ...The Force how long have they been in the competition / do they merit there place ..and I can draw the same questions over other franchises

THE ACTUAL Question ...should the top franchises from SA NZ o yes and the Walla''s not be playing ...taking into consideration then The Kings & The Lions Should be there and maybe The Force out ?????

....and Lastly to the Cape-Crusaders get a ticket out of here please Ons vir jou Suid Afrika !!!!
Gavin Rich answered:
Anton, I agree with what you are saying. It shouldn't be the Kings OR the Lions. It should be the Kings AND the Lions and no Rebels or Western Force. New Zealanders would argue that Taranaki should be included too, and maybe they're right. But to answer your direct question, I think we have the depth now to sustain six Super Rugby teams. The various provincial Academies, the age-group system, Rassie Erasmus and his Mobi-unit, the Varsity Cup ... this country is veritable gold mine of rugby talent that is at last being effectively tapped into and I think it's going to start showing in the years ahead.
Paul Hills asked:
Hi Gav

Well done on your Oceans, you must be chuffed with your time!

Can you give me your predictions and winning margins on these Games please:
Cheetahs vs Stormers
Sharks vs Crusaders

Gavin Rich answered:
Thanks Paul, the best way to tackle Constantia Nek is to get it over as quickly as possible so you're over the top before it can beat you... I think the Stormers will win by about 7 and the Sharks by pretty much the same score.
Afikile asked:
Good day Gavin.
What is your feeling on the role of the fetcher in SA rugby? since Brussouw came back for the cheetahs he has been magic, then you look at the stormers who lack an out and out scavenger. Is this contributing to the performances?
Gavin Rich answered:
I think that Heinrich has more than proved his point, and his value, at the Cheetahs this season. That said, we mustn't forget how well Francois Louw did last year, and he emphasizes Heyneke Meyer's point in that he does the same thing as the specialist fetcher does and yet adds more in other areas because of his extra weight and height.
Rob asked:
Hi Gavin

Is there any hope of the Super Rugby format changing? Any murmours from the powers that be? As is stands, the Brumbies have the best chance of winning this competition. Their chances aided by having, by far, the easiet run in. They stand to benefit from rest and home advatage by finishing in the top two. While the SA and NZ teams destroy eachother in brutal home conference fixtures.
Gavin Rich answered:
The way I understand it there will be no change until 2015, which is a pity because I agree with what you say about it being unfair. The Stormers would be unbeaten now if they were playing in the Australian conference...
Raymond Stanley Weitz asked:
Why would SA Rugby be all over the Kings over team selection? I agree that local talent should play. Looking at all Islanders in NZ teams, we are on the back foot. Aus. are heading the same way and Kings need players in their 1st season to be competitive.
Gavin Rich answered:
It's a difficult one and unfortunately we do live in a country where sometimes people are reactive, and react without thinking. The Kings need to find their feet, and the situation they faced, where they only finally got the guarantee they would be playing Super Rugby in August last year, was an extraordinary one. It should, in my opinion, have allowed them to be treated as an extraordinary case regarding overseas players etc. It's when the Kings start to win on the field that you will see the other benefits, like Eastern Cape schoolboys staying in the region rather than heading away, taking hold.
Alex asked:
Hi Gavin
What do you think of the performances of the SA teams in Super rugby? And who do you see making the Springbok squad for the June internationals?
Gavin Rich answered:
The performances have certainly been a lot better than they were a couple of years ago. The Cheetahs winning nearly all their games on tour was a particular revelation. At the same time, the Stormers losing at home to a depleted Crusaders and the Sharks getting smashed at home by the Brumbies is a reminder that while there is progress, we are a long way from invincible and need to keep the eye on the ball...
Francois Le Roux asked:
Why does everyone think that the Kings are playing and defending well.Last time I checked if a team scored 45 point against you, you can hardly call it good defense.
Gavin Rich answered:
It is if you don't have any ball.
Deon asked:
Good day Gavin. I know its still early days, but just want to hear your thoughts on our fullbacks and who in your opinion should get a Bok call up on current form. I think Zane Kirchner''s positional play is good, but that is where it ends for me. Willie le Roux might be an exciting prospect and Louis Ludik is also playing some consistently good rugby in my opinion. We''ll also have to see how Frans Steyn performs this weekend.Your thoughts, thanks.
Gavin Rich answered:
Frans Steyn is an interesting one. A few years ago I thought fullback was his best position. And if Jaque Fourie was available for the Boks, in other words solving any potential midfield problem, I would probably still go for him as my fullback. The man I want to see more of is Jaco Taute. He seems raw but has a lot of potential. The World Cup is still a few years away and he could be a really good player by then. I do like Ludik but twyfel, to use an Afrikaans word, over whether he would be a top international player.
Marcus asked:
Hi Gavin,
Will SANZAR reconsider the playing format anytime soon? I would prefer each team playing each other once a season. I don''t see how the travelling should effect SA teams in this professional era. Would it not benefit the Boks to have players who are constantly used to touring? Thanks
Gavin Rich answered:
I don't like the double round of derbies either. For several reasons. One is the injuries, the other is how ratty I start to get by the time the Currie Cup season arrives and I end up watching the Sharks play WP/Stormers another three times to go with the three times in Super Rugby to make it six times in one season. Sorry, that's just way too much.
Jaques asked:
More of a statement than a question Gav, over the past few seasons ive noticed local coaches not making the grade along with our australian counterparts, the likes of Allister Coetzee in my opinion has benifited immensely from Rassies tutelage and structures without contributing any origal ideas, Frans Ludeke may be a good man manager but not tactically astute enough to coach at this level, we have the talent to be out and out world dominators, why is this not happening?
Gavin Rich answered:
I think with Rassie running the High Performance department at SA Rugby that might start changing. I know I'm being hopeful. Otherwise I struggle to answer the question.
Lambert asked:
Hi Gavin,

Who would you choose as Springbok fullback for the upcoming tests?
Gavin Rich answered:
There's a bit of fluidity in the position at franchise level so I am undecided. I thought Kirchner played well at the end of last season and would struggle to drop him if Pat Lambie is now playing as a flyhalf and if Heyneke considers Frans Steyn to be a centre and not a fullback. That said, I do recognize that Zane might be a better soft field/wet weather/northern hemisphere type of fullback than what we would be looking for in the Castle Rugby Championship where there is more accent on a faster game on, usually, harder and faster fields (certainly in Australia and SA).
Darryl asked:
Hi Gavin I trust your fine
have to say I''m a Big supporter of elton J........but Morne steyn has to be the first choice now dont you agree?
Gavin Rich answered:
Hmmm, to me there are two - Pat Lambie and Morne. And Johan Goosen when he's fit.
John asked:
Hi Gavin - your opinion of Rhodes as a player?
Gavin Rich answered:
Never rated him when he was at the Sharks but in his years with the Lions I started to change my mind. He's a good replacement for Elstadt.
Christo asked:
Hi Gavin,

I don''t know what to say about the Capetonians and their behavior on the stands the last weekend. What is the reason for this? I always thought Capetown supports are right up there when it come to supporting Province how is it that they grew to love the Crusaders more?

And then when do you reckon we will see Burger doing what he does best again? This continues postponing makes me scared that it might be a Juan Smith return/exit scenario playing out.
Gavin Rich answered:
Firstly let's just hope that Schalk recovers fully from the bacterial meningitis. It's not a disease to play around with, and frankly, if Schalk comes back within six weeks of coming out of hospital, like last week's statement said, then he is even more of a freak of nature than I already thought he was. For Schalk there is a life beyond rugby and I just want to see him well again, and whether he plays again is less important than him just being healthy again. On the Cape Crusaders issue, I'm not convinced the whole thing hasn't been a little blown out of proportion by the media. The one fight that I saw, which happened just below the press box, wasn't between a Stormers fan and a Crusaders fan - they were both wearing Stormers jerseys. That said, while I agree with those who say people should be free to support whoever they want to support, there is no excuse for stupidity - and booing the home team bus when it arrives at the stadium is just stupid and can only cause trouble. I have seen people pointing out that there are many Sharks and Stormers supporters at Loftus when those teams play the Bulls. I doubt very much though that it would be tolerated by the Bulls fans at Loftus if those Stormers and Sharks fans started abusing the Bulls players when they came off the team bus before the game. As for where it all started, I think I should refer you to the end of Tony Johnson's column that is up on the site at the moment. He explains it perfectly down towards the bottom of his piece, and then finishes off with a good point that everyone should take note of.
ephraim sekese asked:
which sa team do you think will go far this season. do you think pat lambie is ready to take over at flyhalf at the boks?
Gavin Rich answered:
I think Pat Lambie can play and at this stage the Sharks look like the team most likely to go far but as I wrote in a column this week, I wouldn't write the Stormers off yet. There's still a long way to go. The Bulls are also playing most of their season on the Highveld from now on. But sorry, enough sitting on the fence, if you're looking for one team, my gut says the Sharks are due.
JC asked:
Good day,
Looking at current form, who is leading the race for the bok no. 10 jersey? I think Steyn is back to his old self again, his goal kicking is spot on and so is his tactical kicking...Elton looks like he isnt coping well with the pressure.
Gavin Rich answered:
I think Elton is a better player than I thought he was but in my view he isn't in the frame for Bok flyhalf ahead of Pat or Morne.
Leon asked:
Do you think Lappies Labuschagne,Robert Ebersohn should be considered for BOK Selection based on their performance this season? As in my opinion they are the best in the their respective position comparing to the rest of SA teams this season so far?
Gavin Rich answered:
Not sure they're the best but they should certainly be considered. Allow me to be honest though - I don't go for small centres. It's what counts against Paul Jordaan in my view, and also Juan de Jongh. Just a personal preference. My perfect team would always have a big midfield.
Leon asked:
Do you agree that if the Cheetahs beat the Stormers Saturday that the can feel optimistic about their chances to reach the play offs?
Gavin Rich answered:
I think they can feel they in the running regardless of what transpires on Saturday but I think Naka Drotske would probably agree with me that the moment you start becoming optimistic in Super Rugby is the moment you disappear down a mineshaft.
Gareth asked:
Howsit Guys.
With the return of Bizmarck in the near future who is going to be Plum''s second choice hooker? Burden or inform Kyle Cooper? We seem to have quite a selection for the SA spot in the number 2 jersey, who do you think will be selected ?
Gavin Rich answered:
If you're referring to Bok hooker, and talking post-Bismarck recovery, then the two hookers have to be Bismarck and Adriaan Strauss. No doubt about it.
Chad asked:
Do you think that Sergeal Peterson has a future at the Kings, or will he be better off playing for one of the bigger unions?
Gavin Rich answered:
He has a future at the Kings, if the Kings have a future (which they should have).
Dumo asked:
Gav, do you think that the Kings can get a couple of wins during the course of the season? and when playoffs get underway at the end of this season what chances do you think the Lions will have of actually playing super rugby next year?
Gavin Rich answered:
Phew, it's one I struggle with. The Lions obviously do have a good chance of beating the Kings in a promotion-relegation game, but if the Kings don't suffer too many injuries, they might have continuity which the Lions will lack if they re-absorb the players who are playing for Stormers, Sharks, Bulls etc. Can the Kings get a couple of wins? Yes, I think they can. But it won't happen overseas, it will have to happen at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. I hope I'm wrong about the overseas bit - in case anyone has not noticed this, I'm really taken with the Kings. To me the support they've had in their home games this year already justifies their place in Super Rugby. And as the second most diverse union behind WP, there's a big transformation argument.
Bk asked:
please help me understand the fuss/obsession with our coaches more specifically H.Meyer always picking "brawn over brains". i mean you get guys like Aplon, W.Le Roux that don''t shy away from tackles yet they offer so much more going forward. i don''t believe that bigger is better. what are your thoughts on this? if anything this will allow our talented backs to play to their strengths,run into space which is very pleasing to the eye. i''ve really had it with this kick and hope game plan employed by you know who!!!
Gavin Rich answered:
I think the key word, in answering all tangents of your question in one go, is balance. You can have small guys if you have big guys with them. A team of small guys is just going to get destroyed, finish and klaar. And you have to mix up your game, and not just do one thing. Too much running is suicide, too much kicking (unless you have a massive pack of forwards and Goliath at fullback) is also suicide.
Jarryd Barnard asked:
Hi,when Schalk Burger returns will he captain The Stormers and will that effect the Springbok captaincy of Jean?
Gavin Rich answered:
Jean's the best captain in the business by a country mile and I think Heyneke knows that. As I said in an earlier answer, I just hope Schalk gets well again. Let's not worry about whether he captains or not right now. We just have to hope he plays again.
Lee asked:
Why would SA want to field six super rugby teams? Wouldn''t five teams with match winning quality players be a better strategy? With a long season, partial rotation of quality players in each position seems to be the sensible way to go! My opinion: Quality over Qunatity.
Gavin Rich answered:
I don't think the argument in SA is abut quantity or quality, it's about having a lot of rugby supporters who want a team to support. The people who normally support the Lions won't care much about South Africa doing well in Super Rugby if they're not included in it, and ditto the people of Port Elizabeth for these past few years. In fact, there's an interesting point to be made regarding the whole Cape Crusaders debate when it comes to the Kings: On a recent visit to PE I was told that there was a lot of support for the Sharks when they played against the Kings from Eastern Cape people on the basis that they (Sharks) were the team those people identified with when the Kings weren't in Super Rugby. The All Blacks are supported in the Cape because they were the team that was supported when it was impossible to support the Boks because of apartheid.
jasiem asked:
hi Gavin ,whats your take on Zane kirchner role at the Bulls .he''s a chap i really feel sorry for .he gets a lot of stick from the bulls supporter even hailing his latest injury as a blessing in disguise ,yet always gives 110% .he is one of the fittest ,most consistent players .yes ,i know he hasn''t got the xfactor but he does the basics right and is always there and about doing the hard work .he is criticized for kicking the ball away to often but so does half of the Bulls players .how do u rate him and is there a future for him in the Boks squad ?
Gavin Rich answered:
I think I've answered the question earlier but I do agree with what you say about sympathizing with him. A more honest and hard working player is hard to find and he does the basics of the job so well. The problem is, to use cricketing parlance, he's very much a line and length player and we appear to be living in an age where the line and length approach is less valued than it used to be...
Tommy asked:
Hi Gavin,

Since you are constantly surrounded by Rugby and the people involved therein, I am hoping you can answer this simple question.

Why do the Bulls persist with this kick and chase game and why are do they play such predictable rugby? Why do they only start to attack through their backs once they are behind on the scoreboard with 5 min left. Why do they give possession away with aimless kicks when they have such exciting and talented centres and wings who can attack? Why haven''t they adapted to the changes in the laws of rugby that now favour attacking teams with the ball in hand. I am not anti-bulls, I am anti-watching SA talent being wasted.
Gavin Rich answered:
Tommy I think you might find the Bulls release the shackles a bit now that they are back in South Africa.
Michael asked:
Hi Gavin

What do you make of the Sharks loose forwards for the Crusaders match.I always get the feeling that we require at least one strong ball carrier like Alberts or Deysel to get us over the advantage line. Keegan is an excellent link between the forwards and backs but lacks a little in forward momentun when the game is tight. With Kanko on 8th man we can get a bit more size and a good option at the lineouts. What Im basically asking is what do you think the best balance is for the Sharks at the moment.
Gavin Rich answered:
The best balance for the Sharks is always the one that has a big hulking ball carrier at No7.
john asked:
Hi Gavin,

What is the rule for the T.M.O can the captains ask for a replay or does it soley rely on the on field ref shoulders to refer. For example the brumbies penalty should not of been awarded due to the blatant offside that happened one or two phases before.
Gavin Rich answered:
Onfield ref's all.
Louis van Wyk asked:
When did the Stormers score three (!) tries against the Crusaders?
Gavin Rich answered:
Not since 2010 when they won 42-14 at Newlands. I can't remember how many they scored that night, but they did pick up a bonus point so it was at least four.
Bheki Sidu asked:
Hi Gavin

just a quick one, when it comes to Bok selection, does size of a player really matter? @super rugby level players like Aplon and W.Le roux face the same players at national level that they face during the super rugby competition. my point is if Aplon for example is good enough @super rugby level and tackles the same big opponents week in and week out, why is suddenly small to be considered for Bok selection? its not like the opposition turn into incredible hulks the moment they put on their national jerseys. this comes from a Sharks fan
Gavin Rich answered:
There is a difference between Super Rugby and International level. It depends on the players around him. You can maybe have one small player in the back three, you just can't have three. Gio, Brent Russell and Breyton Paulse for instance are all individually fine players, but playing them all together in the same back three would be a disaster.
Dylan asked:
Has Willie Le Roux done enough to get a springbok call up, being one of the most creative back lie players in the country? And how would you play him?
Gavin Rich answered:
He's done enough to come into the reckoning but I would want to see more of him in different situations. This weekend's game in Bloemfontein will be a good test for him.
Jo asked:
Hi Gavin, I am surpriced with the performance of the Southern Kings, How do you think will the rest of their campign go and do you think the factor of having so many different captains can affect their form in matches?
Gavin Rich answered:
Yes, having too many captains can affect form, and the Kings would probably be better off now had Luke Watson played all the games this season. That said, they've played with great character if you consider the different leaders. In fact, that is one of the big positive stories of the Super Rugby season in my opinion.

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