Clinton van der Berg gets a few things off his chest in SA Rugby magazine.
Despite the naysayers, rugby has much to commend. South Africa has magnificent players, fantastic stadia, Wynand Olivier’s hair and the best domestic competition on the planet. But the game isn’t perfect and complacency has no place. These are my 10 biggest gripes about rugby today:
1. New Zealanders and their facial hair. What’s this all about? It’s as if the blighters are stuck in a ’70s porno shoot with dodgy moustaches and exotic sideburns. Take a bow, Cory Jane (right) and Ma’a Nonu, the chief culprits this year among the heaps of others. Not to mention the Kiwis’ ghastly mullets …
2. Daft rugby-speak. What exactly is a ‘low centre of gravity’ except a nonsensical euphemism for being short and squat? Why are players condemned for ‘running away from support’? Erm, should they instead run towards their support?
3. Spectators who smoke. Is there anything more inconsiderate, especially with kids around? It’s true that games are tense and dramatic, but smoking is a refuge for the weak-willed and selfish. South African rugby’s refusal to clamp down – ostensibly because bylaws don’t allow for legal sanctions – is maddening and a blatant cop-out.
4. Don’t you just hate it that some of the best rugby is produced after the full-time hooter? Often this period produces sweeping movement through eight or nine phases and the most dramatic action. In many instances, it barely compensates for the stale previous 80 minutes.
5. The Western Province media gang. What’s up, boys, gone soft? Time was when the team was a big, all-powerful gorilla. Now, for gorilla read poodle – and the obsequious Cape media lap up the tired, lame excuses for mediocrity. Extraordinary.
6. Western Province paranoia. It’s easier to interview the Pope than a Stormers player. The Stormers’ management would prefer you to jump through hoops to get to their players. And don’t try to attend a training session. These are blokes who kick a ball around (and drop it a lot), not demi-gods.
7. Peter de Villiers, Eddie Jones, Luke Watson – bless ’em. No trite soundbites from them. We might not always like what they say, but they’re never boring, unlike so many other personalities in the game. This was Eddie’s take on the duffers who dreamt up the ELVs: ‘They definitely stuffed up the laws. There was a lot of wine drunk by old coaches in Stellenbosch, which has been wasted’. And Watson in defence of Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus: ‘Sometimes we play like idiots’. Beautiful.
8. Citing procedures. They’re shot through with inconsistencies and unfair rulings. Some of the sanctions in this year’s Super 14 were scandalous. As ever, the players were the ones who never knew where they stood. An unadulterated mess.
9. Bloody ELVs. All they did was pollute the game, spoiling it for players and spectators in the process. Two years of these yielded nothing but frustration and confusion.
10. With few exceptions, local stadium announcers offer pure schlock. It’s nauseating and downright irritating to hear some of the drek that passes for ‘entertainment’.