Comrades and rugby what a mixture!

2016-06-01 06:00

BEFORE anything else let’s pay tribute to the truly moving Comrades Marathon battle between two women – winner Charné Bosman and the leader for most of this intense duel, Caroline Wostmann, in this year’s “Down Run” from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.

Drama galore as woman’s winner Charné (6hr 25min 55sec) slowly but surely hauled in Caroline (6hr 30min 44sec) who had led for most of the unforgiving race. This, of course, took nothing away from North-West Province’s overall winner David Gatebe’s record-breaking time of 5hr 13min 19sec.

What a race this women’s dual produced, keeping one and all on the very edge of their seats. Long live the Comrades and those who year after year flock to the start awaiting the report of the starter’s gun.

A leap now from straight forward running to a sport that demands a special kind of bodily speed, namely rugby football. By the time you read this you will either be chuckling or spitting blood. It’s always this way come Test rugby team announcements. You belong to one of two camps: either you are content and satisfied with most of the players chosen to wear the Green and Gold. Or you belong to the camp who believe the Springbok coach – in this case Allister Coetzee – badly needs some kind of therapy.

Taking a quick look at what Coetzee has announced as his 31-man squad for the three-Test series against Ireland in June you should on the whole be well pleased, though some no doubt will be scratching their heads at “that fool of a coach” and demanding to know how he could possibly have included so-and-so while leaving out his favourite centre, halfback pairing, lock, prop, loose-forward, etc.

For the record here are the names: Garth April, Ruan Combrinck, Damien de Allende, Lood de Jager,Faf de Klerk, Peter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etsebeth, Nick Groom, Elton Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Jaco Kriel, Jesse Kriel, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Lionel Mapoe, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Scarra Ntubeni, Trevor Nyakane, Rudy Paige, JP Pietersen, Julian Redelinghuys, Jan Serfontein, Adrian Strauss, Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley.

In all there are nine uncapped players. Some experts are criticising, unjustly one feels, the likes of 24-year-old Garth April’s inclusion. Just 18 months ago he was playing club rugby in Cape Town. Another youngster whose inclusion is being viewed with some trepidation is scrumhalf Faf de Klerk. But here again few players have come on in such leaps and bounds in recent months. Will Elton Jantjies be over his finger injury? Would Patrick Lambie be picked ahead of him anyway? These are early days, give the coach his head.

Meanwhile, taking a swift look at Super Rugby clashes last weekend: Stormers 31, Cheetahs 24: except for one crazy moment when the Newlands clash threatened to turn into an ugly street fight, produced some really fine rugby. At Loftus Versfeld, what a game, Johan Ackermann’s Lions emerging worthy 56-13 victors over Bulls. Pick the right team, Mr Coetzee, and Ireland will be made to sweat blood, big time. If the Boks can produce this standard of play in the Tests, Irish eyes may find it very hard to smile!

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