So, the first week of Currie Cup action has come and gone! And WOW!!! Apart from a few disgruntled fans (those more towards the middle and southern side of the country...), I don't think anyone can complain about the quality of rugby dished up. All the fears of the Currie Cup losing its sheen turned out to be unfounded. There might have been a few handling errors and such, but it should be expected seeing as that plenty of the players haven’t played for some time.
I really like the strength versus strength format of this year’s edition. Sure there might be negative some impacts on the smaller unions by being excluded, but from a pure supporter’s point of view, the format is perfect! And the current format just might be what's needed to keep the Currie Cup alive!
Let's look at the positives I feel came from the weekend: Youngsters!!! The amount of Varsity Cup players who turned out this weekend is amazing! This, in the bigger picture of things, has huge benefits to SA Rugby in a whole. And man, can some of these guys play! Jurgen Visser, Arno Botha, JP du Plessis, Clayton Blommetjies, Cobus Reinach, Andries Coetzee, JR Esterhuizen, Raymond Rhule, Jacques Coetzee, Willie le Roux (although I like the way he plays, I do have some reservations about him, will get back to him). Now guys, I just mentioned a few names, please don’t bite my head off if I neglected to mention someone who you think played well too. Let’s not forget some of the 'older' players who had impressive games. Butch James, Waylon Murray, Dewald Potgieter and Willie Wepener were sublime to say the least. And what impresses me even more, is that these guys play for the team, unlike we have seen other players do the past weekend (and in S15 for that matter) they did not once hesitate to make a pass to a supporting player instead of trying to go for glory themselves. Then, let us not forget to congratulate all the new Captains firstly for being selected as Captain to their respective Unions, and secondly on making winning starts to the season. On the refereeing side of things, it mostly went well; Rasta Rasivhenge I think really had a good game. I’m really for the extended duties of the TMO (foul play, and moves leading to a try). I am all for this!
Moving on to the not so positive things I have gathered from the past weekend... Attitude. Sure, it’s a good thing showing a bit of aggression and attitude is a good thing, but blatantly chucking a ball straight into a players face at point blank range (yes Deon Fourie, I’m referring to you), is just not on. How he managed not to get carded or cites baffles me. This kind of thing has no place in rugby and should be stamped out as soon as possible! We still have players who would rather gave away a penalty than concede a try, EXTREMELY negative play and doesn’t belong in our game either. Shouting at your teammates if things aren’t going your way (ala Willie le Roux) just shows that you are a spoiled brat, the same way you pumped up your bottom lip to about 25 Bar for getting sent off. Although the TMO duties have been extended, can’t they be extended a bit further for the TMO to interfere in cases were certain things go unsighted by the Referee and the RA’s? I’m directly referring to the Fourie/Prinsloo incident. Other incidents I noticed were Dewald Potgieter being ‘cleaned out’ by Lourens Adriaanse (I think) with a stiff arm, and Rocco Jansen stepping on the white wash at least twice without it being picked up, the ensuing lineout leading to Martin Muller’s try. But to add to that, the commentator even acknowledging that Jansen was merely waiting for the defence to arrive in order to chuck the ball against his opponent in the hope of winning the lineout. Negative play? I think so. I used to be a big Andries Strauss fan, but he seems to be making a habit of trying to drive players into the ground when making a tackle. Last negative thing, still see alot of player ‘cleaning out’ opposition players around the neck. Not good at all.
To my very last point – CJ Stander. I didn’t mention his name earlier on purpose, because I am of opinion that he needs special mention. The bit of game time he did get on Friday he impressed me so much yet again! It’s a huge pity and an even huger loss to SA Rugby that this boy is heading to Ireland later this year. If I was Mr. Meyer, I’d call him up to the Bok squad, and hand him a few caps, just to keep him from turning out for Ireland in a couple of year’s time!
Hoping to make this a weekly thing, so until next time, keep well!!