Callers to Supersport were blaming the referee for the Bulls humiliation against the Crusaders. The calls were more disgraceful than the Bulls performance.
Naas Botha famously said Cowboys don’t cry and as Manie from Port Elizabeth reminded those sad sacks who were pointing fingers at the referee, Cowboys don’t cry.
This website predicted a Bulls win. Home ground advantage, the Crusaders indifferent form … the absence of Richie McCaw. They were all factors that influenced the call. But if you are a lover of the game and not just a particular jersey, you could only admire that opening hour at Loftus. The Crusaders were absolutely brilliant. They outthought the Bully Boys. They outmuscled them. They outplayed them. And most importantly they outscored them.
You are only as good as the opposition allows you to be and in the first hour the Crusaders allowed the Bulls to be nothing but a spectator. The visitors kicked intelligently. They attacked intelligently. They defended superbly, mostly in twos and with one making the tackle and the support tackler robbing the isolated Bulls attacker of the ball. They did not want to get into a kicking contest or a lineout brawl. They knew their limitations and they also knew their strengths.
They did not try and play the game at an outrageous pace in the opening 15, as some teams have, and risk intercepts or scores against the run of play. They played rugby chess, looked for field position and asked a few questions of the Bulls attack. Very quickly it became obvious that the Bulls wanted a quicker pace and they wanted to rely on offence from defence. The Bulls offered nothing in attack.
The match showcased the limitations of the Bulls all-round game when their pack is isolated or not allowed to dominate or intimidate. The touch judges and not the referee made mistakes, but it was against both sides. Caleb Ralph should have got a yellow card for a professional foul, but then so too should Jaco van der Westhuyzen have been binned for a dangerous tackle on Dan Carter. Those decisions evened out.
The Crusaders were superior in the technical and tactical aspects of the game. They gave the Bulls a rugby lesson and as a Capetonian I can only say thank goodness they left their ‘A’ game at Johannesburg international airport and only picked it up on Friday afternoon. Thank goodness they never arrived at Newlands with this game.
Even in New Zealand the Crusaders credentials were being questioned. Had the champs turned to chumps? New Zealand’s media were asking the questions. The answers were emphatic in the toughest of environments.
To blame the referee is to belittle the quality of the Crusaders performance and insult their performance. South Africa needs a few more Manie’s from PE, who can pick up a phone and tell a nation that a world-class team taught our best a lesson on the night. How hard was that to do?
Clearly for some ignorant idiots it is very hard. Hopefully they remain in the minority because if you appreciate rugby, then you had to appreciate what the Crusaders did in Pretoria on Friday night.