Saracens cancel Cape Town game

November 17, 2011

In a truly embarrassing state of affairs … infighting between WPRU and the City have seen Saracens cancel their proposed match against Biarritz …

Below the statement issued by Saracens …

“Now that all discussions between various stakeholders have been concluded, Saracens has decided the Heineken Cup match against Biarritz on Saturday January 14th will be played not in Cape Town, but in London.

The innovative English champion club was eager to host the first Heineken Cup match ever played outside Europe, to stage a special, spectacular rugby event and to project brilliant images of Cape Town and European rugby around the world. However, we have no wish to be a catalyst for conflict between the City of Cape Town and the Western Province Rugby Union.

Saracens looks forward to playing a competitive match in Cape Town as soon as local circumstances allow.

Supporters who have bought tickets in South Africa will be fully refunded by Computicket, and Saracens will engage with UK-based supporters who have already booked air tickets and accommodation, and ensure they are appropriately compensated.”

And in further bad news for the boys in Cape Town …

The full home Test schedule was announced by SARU and Newlands got the least exciting home Test of the year:

Castle Incoming Tours

9 June: Springboks vs England – Kings Park, Durban
16 June: Springboks vs England – Coke Park, Johannesburg
23 June: Springboks vs England – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

The Castle Rugby Championships

18 August: Springboks vs Argentina – Newlands, Cape Town
29 September: Springboks vs Australia – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
6 October: Springboks vs New Zealand – FNB Stadium, Soweto

Must be a tough job selling season tickets for 2012 …

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Let the people speak

November 17, 2011

There has been much talk about the hosting of the Heineken Cup match between Saracens and Biarritz set to take place in Cape Town in January next year …

Announced to be taking place at the Cape Town stadium, the WPRFU decided during the week, using the South African Rugby Union Constitution ruling that a final decision regarding the match venue lies in the hands of the host union, that Newlands would stage the historic match.

Well the bloggers and tweeters went mental … So lets get some clarity via a poll …

WP get spiteful …

November 15, 2011

So the WPRFU woke up today and issued a statement with regard to the hosting of Heineken Cup match between Saracens and Biarritz in Cape Town next January …

Saracens told Die Burger (and thus Sport24) that the game would be taking place on January the 14th at the Cape Town stadium, with ticket sales having already begun … BUT …

“The WPRFU Executive Committee decided that the home of rugby, Newlands, would stage this historic match. According to the South African Rugby Union Constitution the final decision regarding the match venue lies in the hands of the host union.

The Committee unanimously agreed that Newlands is currently the home of rugby in the Western Province, and will be treated as such for the foreseeable future. Newlands is one of the oldest rugby stadia in the world, with excellent facilities and currently boasts some of the highest attendance levels in world rugby.

The decision to agree to the hosting of the match at Newlands was made in the best interests of WP Rugby and once again shows loyalty to its suite holders and fans who regularly attend matches at Newlands” said the WPRFU statement …

So instead of listening to the people (tweeters, bloggers, friends and Sport24 commenters welcomed the idea of a balmy summer evening visit to the new stadium to take in some pre- season rugby), WP have called on the draconian amateur era law in the SARU Constitution that gives them the final decision regarding the staging of the game, to stay in the dark ages and play the game at Newlands.

And this “Home of Rugby” spin is not worth the bandwidth it uses … WP saw that tickets sales were brisk, took into the account that they were to again only get a shoddy Argentinean Test in 2012 (good on SARU for giving Tests to the unions using the new stadia), and hauled out the old “Loyalty to suite holders” line …

Loyalty, my butt … Without this game, suite holders will rightfully start questioning the reason they actually have suits in the dank old dame of rugby …

Speaking of the commercial side of the game … A quick look at the official Heineken Cup website confirms not only the green beer as a top tier tournament partner, but also courier company FedEx. Last time I looked, not much of Newlands had been left untouched by the Red and Yellow paintbrush brought in to appease new sponsors DHL … And as the official beer partner at newlands, Castle owns most of the said leftover space …

Good luck providing a clean stadium (free of any advertising) …

Yes I know the union owns Newlands, and I know they have 300 hundred revenue generating suites that the Cape Town stadium lacks, but this so called home of rugby needs to have a view of the ocean … Along with ample parking, access to the fanwalk and waterfront, good public transport, fantastic facilities, awesome lighting, and the many, many other things that come with a world class structure built less than 18 months go …

As they say in the clichés … Where there is a will, there is a way … And instead of will, I see spitefulness …

Saracens could easily just walk away from this deal, meaning that no money (or goodwill) comes in at all (talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face), but in a way, I hope Johan Rupert decides that Edward Griffiths should see this one all the way to court. This is an amateur era rule that needs challenging …

Cape Town Stadium

Newlands

BUTCH – An extract

November 14, 2011

Below is an extract from Butch James’ biography, BUTCH, which goes on sale this week …

The extract deals with the Boks first 2011 Rugby World Cup game against Wales, their game against Samoa, and his non-selection for the latter …

Old Bill comes knocking again

There was healthy respect for Wales. They had beaten England and Argentina in World Cup warm-up matches and they were a settled combination. They were a young side that had come close to beating us in Cardiff in 2010. We were taking nothing for granted.

I knew I would not be starting against Wales. Morné Steyn had started against the All Blacks and kicked 18 points. There was an emphasis on the need for a goal-kicker of his quality and it bugged me that there was doubt I could deliver as a goal-kicker. I had kicked two from three against Australia in Durban and the one that I missed probably cost me my starting place at flyhalf in the World Cup. We were leading 6-0 in that match and as I was about to kick the wind blew over the ball. Everything went wrong with the kick after that. It was rushed and it wasn’t ideal that the ball had to be kept on the tee by the finger of a player because of the wind. I am not excusing the miss, but trying to put it into context.

Wellington, as a city, is notorious for strong winds and the Westpac Stadium is one of the more difficult for goalkickers. We beat Wales 17-16 after trailing 10-16 with 20 minutes to go. I played the last hour as a centre replacement for Jean de Villiers, but could never do as good a job. He is world class and one of the best international No 12s. I have never been keen on playing No 12. As with any Bok you play where the coach wants you, but my position has always been No 10. I feel comfortable there and in control. I never doubt myself as a flyhalf but I am not confident at centre, and I never have been.

It was great to be part of the win, but we didn’t know that night that beating Wales would mean us playing Australia in the quarter-finals. With no disrespect to Ireland, who have beaten the Boks a couple of times in the past decade, we expected Australia to beat Ireland, which would mean we played Ireland in the quarter-finals. We obviously had to win all our matches to finish first but we never doubted our capacity to do so.

I was gutted not to play Samoa. I really thought my style of play at No 10 and the physical nature of my game was ideal to negate the Samoans, but it didn’t help that there was doubt over my groin.

The coaches went with a five forwards and two backs bench split and I couldn’t realistically expect to be on the bench. I don’t offer that kind of versatility. My wife Julia arrived before the game, which made up for the disappointment of not playing, but the truth is that it isn’t the greatest feeling being at a World Cup and not being involved in the match 22. You have to work hard to make sure you remain positive but it is easier said than done.

I knew it would be tough and that there wasn’t going to be a lot in the result. We all did. We also knew how physical the game would be but I don’t think any of us expected so much off-the-ball play. The last 20 minutes was frantic.

They threw everything at us. It was hard but it also got quite dirty. Welsh referee Nigel Owens lost a bit of control in that period and there was plenty going on off the ball.

Our discipline was outstanding and Smitty’s yellow card for a professional foul was ridiculous. I don’t think Smitty could believe he nearly got the intercept, let alone have a premeditated plan to knock down the pass.

I felt very frustrated watching the game and I wasn’t impressed with the way the Samoans conducted themselves on the field, and even more so off the field.

A lot was being said after the match that Owens favoured us. I thought he made some poor calls against Samoa but I felt we got the worst of the calls. As I have already said, I think he lost control of the game in that last quarter. I have always had respect for how the Samoans play the game and especially for how they interact after the contest. All the bitching and bad blood after this one meant I lost a lot of respect for those particular Samoan players.

BUTCH is published by Highbury Safika Media, who recently added books to its publishing programme. Among these have been Champions of the World, about the Springboks’ successful 2007 World Cup campaign; Monty, the biography of Bok fullback Percy Montgomery; Captain in the Cauldron, the bestselling biography of Bok captain John Smit, pictorial celebrations of the Cape Town Jazz Festival and most recently Butch James’ biography.

The Butch James book signing schedule:

Cape Town
Sat 19th Nov 10:30 – 12:30 Cavendish – Claremont Exclusive Books
Sat 19th Nov 14:30 – 16:00 Tygervalley Exclusive Books

Johannesburg
Fri 25 Nov 17:30 – 19:00 Monte Casino – Skoobes
Sat 26 Nov 12:00 – 14:00 Clearwater Mall – Exclusive Books

Durban
Sat 10 Dec 12:00 – 14:00 The Pavilion – Exclusive Books
Sat 10 Dec 17:30 – 19:00 Gateway – Exclusive Books

Pietermaritzburg

Sun 11 Dec 11:00 – 13:00 Liberty Midlands Mall Exclusive Books

Coaching the coaches …

November 14, 2011

Somewhat under the radar … A few emerging young coaches took part in the first ever IRB Level III coaching course to be held in South Africa last week.

Robbie Fleck, Pieter Rossouw, Vuyo Zangqa, Jimmy Stonehouse and Oersond Gorgonzola were part of the first intake on a pilot project to introduce the IRB’s top coaching qualification to South Africa.

They attended an intensive three-day course run by SARU and will be assessed during the first half of next year before a second residential course to conclude the qualification in June next year.

“This course is designed to give coaches a planning framework and the advanced organisational skills to structure the way they plan their seasons and matches,” said Hilton Adonis, SARU’s manager of coaching.

Adonis explained that SARU had invested time and expertise in preparing a panel of local educators to deliver the course in conjunction with Mark Harrington, IRB Manager of Training and Medical.

“The guys are technically and tactically very knowledgeable but where this course will have helped is in terms of coaching methodologies. This course doesn’t mean they automatically become better coaches but what it does do is give them a head start, technically and tactically, but after that it is up to them in terms of their personality, their style and how they address the needs of their team,” said Harrington.

Coaches from 12 different provinces as well as schools and representative age groups teams attended the course.

On the one hand it’s very exciting to see SARU putting this together and making it happen, but it’s also pretty damn scary for this to be the first time ever that the course has taken place in SA. As a so called “Leading light” in world rugby, one would have hoped that this had been taking place for a while.

No wonder our coaches have been heading across to New Zealand to take in the Murray Mexted coaching course …

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Anyone spot Stanley Raubenheimer?


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