Jake gets away with silly pick

2007-09-18 08:55

Tank Lanning

Awesome!

It's the only word to truly describe the Bok performance against the Poms last Friday.

Fourie du Preez was just earth shatteringly good, Butch's kicking provided his most tactically astute performance for the Boks, JP Pietersen seemed to come of age, and the defence, lead, quite amazingly, by Frans Steyn, could only have been bettered by Fort Knox itself.

Now a lot has been written on all of the above, so I won't harp. And without being the punk seemingly out to only seek out negatives, I would like to touch on something that did not go that smoothly for the men in green and gold. The scrum.

Last week, in my Front Row Grunt blog on Sport24, I did question Jake's decision to play BJ Botha ahead of CJ van der Linde.

Given that Steyn and Wikus van Heerden were changes forced upon White, the change at prop was the only unforced one, and to my mind, a very strange one as CJ has proven himself to be without question, the better tighthead.

Strain

Now because of the Boks' demolition of this abject English side, the fact that we really did struggle come scrum time has kind of been overlooked. So to my mind, Jake got away with a bad selection, but this will certainly not be the case against the All Blacks.

Credit to the Boks, who have traditionally folded when they have not dominated the set phase, for sticking to their guns. But BJ Botha took an enormous amount of strain against Pommie loosehead, Andrew Sheridan, which then put pressure on both John Smit and even powerhouse, Os du Randt, which is the reason these two were not their usual destructive selves in the tight loose. A front row forward's all-round game is without doubt influenced by their performance in the scrum.

Now, the fact Sheridan is known as a notoriously destructive scrummager, and has done the business against the Boks before, makes Jake's selection of Botha even more silly. I really hope he has learnt his lesson.

Personal agenda

And then to finish, a personal bugbear. Club rugby.

Sure, I might be accused of having a personal agenda, given my involvement as an assistant coach of the UCT Under-20 'A' side, but I state that up front so that at least I cannot be accused of having a hidden agenda!

As it stands, this truly talented and very hard working side is the only unbeaten side in the Western Province club rugby leagues, and while not a first XV, it's not exactly Hands and Hearts' Under-15 'F' side either.

We play Maties in our final game of the season this weekend, and given the long standing traditional rivalry between the two varsities, it's a classic and fitting game to end on.

So you would think the union and host club, Stellenbosch, might do something a little special for the fixture.

Perhaps schedule it as a curtain raiser to the Maties v Ikeys first XV season finale on the main field at Coetzenberg? Not our lot.

Coetzenberg D field, which you need to take a taxi to from the main field, at 13:25 to coincide with both the Twenty20 semi-final at Newlands and the SA v Tonga RWC pool game is the allotted time!

I mean, why not just take a jagged spear and stick it straight into the heart of the future of club rugby? It's certainly not the only reason, but the slow death of club rugby, a direct responsibility of the union's, is certainly one of the major reasons for the very public and very embarrassing demise of a once proud Western Province and Stormers rugby side.

  • Tank Lanning is Sport24 editor and author of the blog, Front Row Grunt.

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