Who do you fancy to win the July?

2015-07-01 06:05

WELL, it’s that time of year again: time for change. Who, after all, on our side of the globe gives a fig which Australasian side wins the Super Rugby Championship? So let’s take a look today at the country’s greatest test of thoroughbred giggies, the Durban July Handicap at Greyville, come Saturday.

Which of the 18 nags lining up awaiting the starter’s “off” of the classic race will arrive first at the winning post? A friend whose wife bets on names, irrespective of form, looks or breeding, took one look at the field and pronounced the following: HOT TICKET (“how can a horse with a name like that get beat?”), then the opposite, ICE MACHINE, and (“seeing everyone’s talking about this one”) MAJMU for third place.

She’s so confident she’s taking the combination for the Trifecta as well. Okay, so good luck – and if this comes to pass you must promise to tell everyone where you first got the tip: the PE Express, of course.

Meanwhile, last weekend Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer, announced his 30-plus group of players for the immediate challenges facing the lads in the Green and Gold: against the World XV at Ellis Park this Saturday, to be followed by the Tri-Nations Championship between ourselves, Australia and New Zealand, and the one-off Test against Argentina. Then comes the big one, the World Cup, starting in England in September.

There are no real surprises in the group named by Meyer. Though there’ll be plenty of debate about the chosen group, all of them naturally hoping for a crack at the Cup the late Kitch Christie’s team won at SA’s very first attempt in 1995, the Boks winning again under Jake White in 2007 in France. Can the Boks make it a third triumph in England? Talk about a Trifecta – this is the Big One!

World Cup rugby is a special kettle of fish. It’s not just tough. It’s tough to the nth degree – nail-biting. Former Bok skipper, Morne du Plessis, was always a protagonist of the exciting open game. “What I’d like to see is another element – some excitement, a new form of rugby, full of running and tries. I’ve got a feeling,” he adds, “it’ll be different this year. As is so often the case, the All Blacks will set the pace, running with the ball to score tries. If we want to beat them, we’re going to have to do the same.” A final word from the canny former captain and No. 8, who was team manager when the Boks resurrected SA’s rugby pride and did wonders for the fledging nation: “Plenty rests on Meyer’s shoulders, but I’m sure he has a plan. If ever there was someone who is methodical, Heyneke’s your man.”

Wing James Small, who hit his peak as a player in that 1995 team, says: “I’d like to see more complete rugby, with greater emphasis on a more expansive game.” Finally Mark Andrews, who admits to being terrified going into that 1995 final in the unfamiliar position of No. 8, says: “If Heyneke can get the combination right between experience and form, we’ll have a great chance at the World Cup!”

WORLD CUP SOCCER: Here’s a thought. Is Blatter about to Splatter? Most, it seems, feel he oughter!

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