we will never know

I was 15 years-old when I realised I was better suited to play Shortstopper than Pitcher.  This was not because I couldn’t pitch.  On the contrary under-16 (or 18) provincial was already on the cards.   However two years of bad technique had finally taken its toll on my young shoulder and my vision of myself making it as a Pitcher heavily rested on that.

promising arm..

promising arm..

Back up a bit;

Way before dirt was invented; a very young Kate reckoned – given a shot – she could make it as professional baseball player, in South Africa (nogal). I know. I know. As you can see that did not happen; injury and other factors killed that dream before you could say ‘S-A-F-E’.

So, back to that pivotal day when I switched positions;

It all started in the second inning of our second game, where a victory would more than guarantee us a semi-final of a ‘big tournament’.  However, it was at this untimely moment that my shoulder gave in and coach forced the switch that was to change the direction of my career. I moved from first to the 6th position.

It was a game where our opponents were the favourites, and the most successful team of the tournament. A draw would not be our demise, but a loss would have us playing the “if so and so lose, and then we could…” No sportsman likes that game, not even a 15 year-old.

As the newbies of the event we were in way over our heads. And therefore needed something special to gain the upper hand. We our chances and hopes depended on dismissing three experienced 17 year-old provincial players would be key:  the first two gave us trouble, but the third helped us complete our most successful double play.

Backed into a corner of a full house (three balls and two strikes), she had to take the shot; and she did. A brilliant catch from first base sent her packing; from shot stopper I got my foot on third base, taking out the most lethal player on the pitch.  But our premature celebrations were cut short as the umpire screamed ‘safe’.

That was a game changer in more ways than one; ironically that’s the day Border Province selectors finally made that call. But not before we lost the game and umpire had the last say.

Despite what players, coaches or spectators may say at any given time or game, there is only one final opinion that can sway any game, which is exactly what the Springbok’s head coach, Heyneke Meyer boldly proclaimed following the Boks 15-29 loss to the All Blacks on Saturday:

“The ref is always right…..  If you start making excuses for your team then they start to make excuses. There were a lot of things that weren’t good enough even when we had 15 men on the field”.

In the short space of time that he has been in charge of our favourite sporting heroes, what have we learnt about Meyer? He’s a gentleman who refuses to take credit for anything.

Without fail, he will quietly shift any praise to the next man; and will not let another person take criticism when he can ‘gladly’ accept it, just as he did when commenting on Saturday’s game.

In what promised to the greatest contest of our time – the top two nations, fought with more heart and passion than ever seen before. One looking to end a 76 year-old monkey; the other doing whatever it took to keep the status quo unchanged.

However, the former fell victim to human arrogance, when in the 17thminute Bismarck du Plessis’ perfect tackle on Dan Carter denied spectators any hope of witnessing history, with the referees citing:  no arms. If it weren’t so dire, it’d be laughable.

A game changer – in more ways than one.

Since the incident, I’ve come across conflicting reports. The ‘loudest’ being the” Kiwis were the better side, anyway. And they were guaranteed a victory.’

From where I was sitting, I beg to differ. The SAffers’ dominating physicality could not be matched; at breakdowns they were supreme and the scrum contest was one way – Boks’ way.

The ‘victim’ tweeted “Nothing wrong with the tackle. Fell awkwardly and popped my AC joint which I’m pretty gutted about but proud of the boys getting the win” – Dan Carter.

IRB have since conceded defeat and admitted Romain Poite’s decision to issue the first yellow card to Bissie was incorrect.Their statement read “Just as players and coaches make mistakes, the decision was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials, who, having reviewed the match, fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake in the application of law.”

In addition SANZAR has removed a red card from the disciplinary record of the hooker. This helps no one, let alone the Boks.

If anything, these outcomes show that the rugby body needs to evaluate how the same set of rules does not apply to everyone.

For way too long Ma’a Nonu has gotten away with rugby murder. And Saturday was no different. He received a slap on the wrist for shoulder charge on Captain Jean de Villers.

Unfortunately this human error is within the confines of this magnificent game, only.  In 2010 World Cup Fifa President Sepp Blatter had to apologise to the Football Association over Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal in England’s World Cup defeat by Germany.

Just like my legitimate but unaccredited removal of that youngster in my little league game, Lampard’s disallowed goal shifted momentum and had a fundamental effect on how the game ended, much in the same way that Bismark’s legitimate tackle was not only unacknowledged but unfairly judged.

Although my baseball team made it to the semi-finals by the skin of our teeth, unfortunately that disallowed goal forever altered England’s chances and they crashed out of the World Cup.

That is the sad outcome of these unjust judgements; it is not just the decision taken in that particular game, but rather the ramifications of the decision in terms of the overall tournament, as witnessed by our rugby squad on the weekend.

Forget history not being on our men in green and gold’s side.  Even World Rankings should not be taken into account. If ever there was a side to break this record, it was that outfit on Saturday.  But the point is that now we will never know for sure.

Nick Mallet summed it up accurately with his words, saying “this is an utter disgrace”. And unfortunately this is true when unfair judgements turn a game on its head. Like the umpire in my youth, Poite, despite his added advantage of having all the technology at his disposal, put the final nail in the historical Bok coffin, making an irreversible error in a decision that changed the outcome of a game which held the potential to make history.

We will just never know.

you have gone too far

England Rugby players should be safely tucked up in their comfortable beds by now, following a brutal Three-Test series in South Africa, which like all test series ended with its casualties on both sides.

A day after the Baby Boks were crowned World Junior Champions, cementing a bright future of SA rugby, our senior chargers walked on that wet floor, slipped.

With a 2-0 series victory over England, the third in PE on Saturday was a mere technicality. Only it was not. Stuart Lancaster’s men needed redemption. Heyneke Meyer needed validation. Certain players needed recognition – a recipe which was to make this match a tougher challenge than anticipated.

That still doesn’t justify sharing a 14 all spoils, which may be acceptable when certain English football clubs face each other; that can never fly when the Boks face anyone. Least of all the Poms. Yet, here we are….

winning boot

winning boot

When the stuff that hits the fan, hits the fan, we are a country that will not be satisfied until we find a reason for the cause and even better if we can single out a single culprit: enter Morne Steyn.

Usually the darling of South African crowds, Steyn was booed by some spectators at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium after a second-half drop-goal effort drifted wide.

Avusa Media Sport Writer Sbu Mjikeliso tweeted ‘#MorneSteyn deserves a lot of things (death, torture, getting dropped from the squad), but not getting booed by South Africans’. While Sbu has propensity for the dramatic, he makes a valid point: we have gone too far.

I have witnessed this ethos at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Golden Lions Rugby Union. My commitment to go to as many (Lions) home games as possible has become a regrettable vow each time an opposing kicker steps up.

Lions’ supporters (apologies to the few that don’t fit this coming description) in my opinion have very little sportsmanship. And the biggest disappointment of all is the Union Management’s somewhat ‘encouragement’ of this behaviour.

Without fail when Elton Jantjies or Jaco Taute take their kicking duties, spectators are reminded to be silent, while Brumbies’ Christian Leafliifano didn’t stand a chance. Neither did Beauden Barrett or any other number 10.

I have never been to Newlands, but I am told the crowd there is no better. In fact 20 year-old Ihaia West, a (young) Kiwi fell victim to this treatment only on Friday during their finals against South Africa. Despicable!

The Poms avoided a whitewash simply because the Boks were utterly poor. There is no getting around that. They made poor decisions, failed to execute well-grounded advantage. Saw the 9m mark a number of times only to be turned-over. Desperate and simply dire circumstances, with Steyn even worse than Jerome Boateng of Germany against Greece.

Having missed 12 of 22 kicks at goal and several drop-goal attempts during this series has undoubtedly given Meyer enough headaches. I shall not add to that.

Meanwhile, at 27:

• Fastest 100 points by a Springbok (8 Test matches, 3 as a replacement)
• Fastest 200 points by a Springbok (16 Test matches),
• Fastest 300 points by a Springbok (24 Test matches),
• Fastest 400 points by a Springbok (33 Test matches),
• Most drop-goals in a Super Rugby season (11),
• Most points scored against the All Blacks for a Springbok (31),
• Most points in a Tri Nations match (31),
• Most drop goals in a Super Rugby game (4) (in the 2009 Super 14 semi-final against the Crusaders),
• Most drop goals in Super Rugby (22),
• Most drop goals in a Super Rugby season (11 in 2009),
• Most penalties in a Super Rugby season (51 in 2010),
• Most points in a Super Rugby season (263) – Beating Dan Carter’s record of 221 set in 2006,
• Most points by a Bulls player in Super Rugby history (1,157),
• Most points by a South African and first South African to reach 1,000 points in Super Rugby (1,157),

These do not exonerate Steyn, just a reminder of who’s head you’re a calling for. While you may be inclined to say ‘drop him’, he has a number of times settled the arguments of who should wear the No. 10 jersey.

Sure, maybe this time, it should be re-opened. Patrick Lambie? Considering HM’s style he is well suited at 15, then there’s Peter Grant, Johan Goosen and even Elton Jantjies. This however is why you and I are not the coach.

Don’t get me wrong I do believe something needs to be done, maybe not as drastic as Sbu’s suggestion, but booing him is not the answer. No man or woman in green and gold should ever be subjected to such utterances by their fellow country man. This has gone long enough.

Once golden boy Bryan Habana was the recipient of such, with many putting pressure on those in charged to get rid of him, not so long ago. How soon we forget, because Habs seems to be on his way back to that sparkly status.

Funny, how the stalwart is on the receiving end of this again. I’m sure he hoped he’d gone past it, for he responded in the best fashionable way (last time); came back to win a game for the Boks against the All Blacks. This too was in PE.

Now there’s got to be a word for that.

irb gets it right in craig joubert


The word’ ‘gutted’ will forever be an understatement when one thinks of the Boks bowing out of the 2011 Rugby World, following that ‘lack of balls’ defeat at the hands of the Wallabies.

Many may have felt something similar when the Proteas failed to take down the Black Caps earlier, but this day reminded me of 1999 when one Alan Donald dropped his bat and forgot how to run…altogether. The look of disbelief on Victor Matfield’s face vaguely reflected Lance Klusners that fateful night in England.

Like many SAffers, hearing the news that our very own Craig Joubert will take charge of the final contest between New Zealand and France excites me (God knows the last thing the game needs is the likes of Bryce Lawrence). Provided we don’t ‘pretend’ this is a Boks final, like we did Proteas when Gary Kirsten led India to gold.

My last work for Varsity Cup was one of my favourite interviews I’ve ever conducted, a chat with – yes, you’ve guessed correct – Craig Joubert, before he was to jet off to New Zealand. I didn’t know anything about him, apart from what was online, therefore; didn’t know what to expect. However, by the time he put down his phone I had dubbed him ‘the favourite’

Here’s ‘Whistling while he works’

its in the rule book mate

Craig Joubert is a name extremely familiar in world rugby. This professional rugby union referee initially spent five years in corporate banking, following his graduation in Business Finance. He holds a B.Com and Honours degree in the financial field, completed at UKZN, but – of course – it’s all about refereeing for him at present.

The 33-year-old has an incredible record: he was a touch judge at RWC 2007, he has handled over 20 Tests – including the Tri- and Six Nations – and he will be at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand later this year.
Last year was a memorable rugby season for him, having been handed the double – reffing the Super Rugby and Currie Cup Finals in one season.

varsitycup.co.za caught up with the former UKZN student to chat about Soweto, Jonathan Kaplan, time-zones and, as one would imagine, all things rugby:

(1) Good day, Craig. A huge thank you for taking time out of your super busy schedule. To kick things off, please tell us about your time at UKZN?

“Good afternoon Kate, only a pleasure. Well, after being schooled at Maritzburg College I went to UKZN with mates. What I can tell you is, like most students, I had a helluva ‘jol’! The typical varsity stuff. Last-minute work… while the social life was taking the major priority. I mean, I passed and did my work; but that was all in between having a great time.”

(2) [Ha, ha ha.] Yeah, that sounds awfully familiar. When did you decide you wanted to officiate full-time? Did anyone influence that decision?

“My late dad was a referee actually, and that was the main influence. I started officiating at school through him. Then I went to Maritzburg College, as you know, a highly sport-oriented institution and they gave me the freedom and opportunity to continue with this passion. The teachers there were very supportive. I would travel overseas often and they would arrange make-up tests for me, ensuring I wasn’t behind on any work. From then on I never looked back. I went to the bank for years before going pro, but I started international games in 2003, doing Super Rugby, then Super 12.”

(3) So what does the life of a world-class referee entail?

World-class, huh? [More laughter.] Traveling, traveling… and more traveling. It’s managing the travels. I do travel a lot. I’m in Europe about three times a year. Australia and New Zealand two to four-times, maybe Argentina once or so. It’s the best and the most challenging tasks in my line of work. The different cross-zones often mean early travels. It’s great to be involved in the game, but I’m hardly ever home and that’s difficult.”

(4) You were in charge of the Bulls-Stormers Super 14 Final in Soweto last year. What did you take out of that game? And how big was it for our country?

“It’s, by far, one of the highlights of my career. For so many reasons… It was my first Super Rugby Final (of course), but also an historic event that involved two SA teams, which meant that the whole country was involved. The atmosphere was something else: vuvuzelas blaring the entire 80 minutes, something most of us never experience. It was noisy, communication with the captains was a challenge at time, but man was it special! It was also a reminder of what Nelson Mandela did, allowing the country to embrace rugby. People who have never been and probably would never go to Soweto… lives were changed. That game meant greater things for SA!”

(5) You are one of the three SA officials to be invited to this year’s IRB World Cup, who was the first person that you told of this news? And what about your relationship with fellow RWC ref Jonathan Kaplan?

“I was in Oz [Super Rugby duties] and my wife, who never travels with me, was there. So it was really special to share that with her. On Jonathan, we’ve been good mates over the years. When I started he was here in Durban and he became a mentor of mine.”

(6) Coming back to more local rugby. Briefly give us your overall views of the Varsity Cup competition… how big is it for South African rugby?

“It’s definitely a magnificent tournament. I work closely with guys, mentoring the officials. It’s a great platform for the youngsters, an opportunity to get out there. And this is evident in the number of these lads in Super Rugby and Currie Cup already. It is a great platform not only for the players, as we also use it to recruit officials. I love the different initiatives, like the Pinks Shorts campaign. It embraced the student vibe with the Monday Nigh Lights advantage. The universities have embraced it; it’s well-supported and looks great on TV.”

(7) For the first time this year a first division – the Varsity Shield – was introduced. Do you think such tournaments should have more than one division?

“I think teams like UKZN would’ve looked at the Varsity Cup some time ago and thought, ‘Hey that looks great! Geez, I’d love to be there, participating.’ The Shield provides this opportunity. It means more teams will get into it, putting pressure on the main tournament as they strive to get there. This will ensure growth in the Varsity Cup as a whole.”


(8) What are FNB UKZN’s chances of making it into the Varsity Cup (proper)?

“I would like to believe they’ll get there soon. If you look at the great players produced by the varsity, there’s a great chance. The university may not be as big on rugby as say Cape Town (with UCT and Maties), but they definitely have the resources to foster progress into the premier division.”

(9) Teams like FNB Tuks, FNB UJ, etc have shown they have what it takes to go all the way. What does this mean for powerhouses like Maties and Ikeys – the only two winners thus far?

“It’s great for the contest. Each year a new team steps up. This is great because it has that element of surprise; you never know what’s going to happen, who’s going to lead the pack. It benefits the so-called ‘powerhouses’ too. Their players move onto Stormers/WP rugby, which means that they get an opportunity to groom more youngsters, which introduces new talent into the game.”

(10) Thank you Craig, I have taken enough of your time, but I can’t let you go before I know what do you miss most about your UKZN days?

“That’s easy. On a sunny day you would have a choice between a golf course and a boring finance class. [Laughter from both ends.] No really, during your varsity days, you are only just starting out; the only responsibility is doing enough work to pass. I miss that flexibility and time spent with my mates – just dreaming, with no cares in the world. I have great memories of those days, although these days I get to enjoy the privilege of living my dreams and creating great memories on the rugby field.”

By Kate Nokwe: a product of Varsity Cup

crossing the line

The Springboks saved face to the delight of a nation whose ‘ego’ could not afford any more bruising. The stands at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in PE roared. Much like a small sports club situated at the heart of the Border Bulls dogs home in East London did in 2007, after a mere 15 points proved enough to own the rights to lifting the much coveted Webb Ellis Trophy.

At long last our men in Green and Gold gave us something to smile about (if only for a weekend). ‘Restoring’ the pride of a nation that has this elusive thing called pride in all sort of bags.

For many South Africans this country, this over-sized – yet communal community, these men running on these fields – whether it be a cricket, a white elephant stadium, a swimming pool where young hearts’ pride carries them through. Let it be a track field where the word obstacle is just another motivating fact to keep fighting. Yes, to many SAffers the pride of this nation is a prized possession.

Oh never mind the ‘special cases’ who bodily place their pride in a black jersey (it’s their decision). The ones who trash and tarnish our name at every corner.

Do excuse the ignorant souls who fully embrace ‘the ends justifies the means’ approach. That is all minor compared to the SAffer who celebrate Bok Day, misses Football Fridays (because the new kit is just kak).

Look at the ones who welcomed Graeme Smith with opens arms even after ‘deserting’ them. That’s the SAffer who has your back.

The long-suffering stranger that knows where this country has been and thanks the Lord for what it could be. That’s the brother who will paint a stranger’s house to honour a man he has never seen anywhere other than his TV screen and would probably never meet.

That’s the one whose pride for South Africa will never waver. That’s the one to look at.

The one who raised his glass an notch higher when George Clancy blew his Irish whistle signalling a ‘no whitewash’. That SAffer exists in many households. That’s me.

I didn’t raise mine (not right there and there anyway for I was working) but I did jump out of my chair half-way to the ceiling, screamed my lungs out in celebratory manner that on an average day would’ve had the neighbours rushing in, only not today because they had just caused ear-drum damage themselves.

However, I couldn’t ignore the terrible taste in my mouth left by Bismarck du Plessis as he made his way to the bench, after John Smit was called to sub him. I have never been less impressed with a pro-athlete.

As I tweetted I’m a huge du Plessis’ brother’s fan. That said, I have always and will forever raise the sportsmanship flag first and foremost (that is why Indian skipper MS Dhoni is one of my favourite people).

In his Front Row Grunt blog Sport24 publisher Tank Lanning took the words out of my mouth saying

“Bismarck du Plessis’ reaction to being hooked for John Smit, no matter the situation, was despicable.

Sure he had enjoyed an excellent game, and had just been instrumental in sneaking a tighthead against the All Blacks, but what was he expecting – a full 80 minutes? 

That smacks of disharmony in the team, and management are going to have to sort that out quickly”.

While Tanks’ blog (read HERE) goes into a bit of detail on who the better hooker is, this is not about that.

Please understand I am not disputing that the youngest du Plessis had an incredible run, and is arguably the best hooker we have (if not in the world) he does however needs a serious attitude adjustment…..and fast!

You may join the number of sport lovers on Twitter who have done everything but slay me for the above statement, saying he was justified, kindly accept that I have to disagree.

I do admire and appreciate his passion for play and to want to win. But when passion is placed before respect it is useless. Best hooker in the world or not, his attitude did not honour that status.

It didn’t serve the game, disrespected management who made the call. Undermined his long-standing captain and it most certainly didn’t honour the sportsmanship code which I value beyond any talent.

I have been a ‘below-amateur’ athlete since primary school and today most of my Saturday are spent at a volleyball court in University of JHB colours, while on Sunday afternoons I don my soccer boots for NCC.

My (volleyball) captain has never warmed the bench while I’m on court (thank God). But we have butted heads when she pulls a look of disappointment to her players.

I’ve missed training and coach punishes me by putting on someone else in my spot. I don’t always approve, and sometimes throw my toys. But at the end of the day in team-sport no one is bigger that the code, and no one should be allowed to think they are.

With the weight of criticism (already) sitting heavily on his (massive) shoulder, dare imagine how learning that his own team-mate has no faith in him must’ve made him feel.

He’s the captain. Whether we choose to question, accept that or not. Fact is he IS the captain. The one given the responsibility to lead. Placed in authority by people who trusts in his leadership. Oh never mind that it was his last (ever) test match on home soil!

Jannie  received the same fate, only the older du Plessis was a good sport about it.

I can only hope big brother can remind Bismarck that sport – especially team-sport – has no room for unprofessional, immature brats, regardless of ‘standings’

Rugby pundit Morgan Piek summed it up nicely when he said

“Bismarck reaction was nothing less than pathetic and immature. I have never seen John Smit react like that when he (Bisie )replaces John Smit on 60 minutes.

That is why John Smit is our super captain and that is why John Smit is the starting hooker

In pride, there are just some lines one doesn’t cross. And in my eyes (whether intended or not) Bismarck jumped over this one and that should not be unacceptable.

happy ending. someone’s pissed off

November is an interesting month I would say. Never mind that it is my birthday month and that I put my student card away for good, but it has brought some interesting occurrences.

You probably had to (or know someone who had to) make-out with someone with more facial hair than Bruce Willis’ cranium. Thanks to Movember I have to wonder what would have happened if we were in the state of Taxes, with no gun permit.

Don’t get me wrong, some could have been worse; while I was embarrassed to know certain people, the cause was the only reason that kept me next to them, I am (still very much)glad it is over (though). I’m no prude, but I do like clean species especially within meters of my existence.

I’m tempted to say “I cannot believe its December already”, but I have been following the calendar, so this is not so astonishing. But if you haven’t -2010 is over!

The fairly-tale year for us South Africans has drawn to close. We hosted the biggest tournament in history and did it successfully. When many (England) questioned our competence to making a success out of the tournament of this caliber, we rose to the challenge, stood tall and our boys even climbed the FIFA rankings.

Yeah we had a few glitches here and there, but made a killing. Not to mention the many ‘firsts’ including 14 cards in final (13 yellow / a red) and Sepp giving us a 8/10 – not too shabby there mate. Question arises though – did we get our happy ending?

I mean with Louis Oosthuizen winning the British open and the success in the Commonwealth games (interview with Mark Randal). The Boks campaing. Then there was Graeme Smith who handed over the reins (well, some) to Johan Botha; Makhaya Ntini’s
retirement, Gibbs’ controversial book and CSA boot. Let’s not forget Kevin Pietersen’s…. Wait – he is English.

Speaking of which; England can probably answer that ‘happy ending question’. What’s with the atrocious World Cup campaign and now losing the 2018 bid to Russia?

Yeah you’d be forgiven for assuming they are happy to see the backside of 2010 but they might be able to redeem themselves in The Ashes (I’m sure I will blog about this in the new year). But did we have a good year?

We are still reaping the fruits of the 2010 World Cup (white elephants and all). We had a SA Super 14 final as well as a pacy, gripping Currie Cup. The world ‘parked’ at our shores for the Airtell Championships. Would you say we had the year we hoped for? Did you?

And me – well I’m graduating soon and as I type this (that was two days ago) I am off to Plettenberg Bay to live-out Matt 28:19-20.

Yes. It is that time where ‘Road LessTraveled’ comes to motion.

We didn’t have the ‘perfect’ start. One of our six cars wouldn’t start, later it over-heated only to break down after the head gasket blew up after Kroonstad to be towed to Bloemfontein. To which one of our dads had to drive to Bloem to give us a different car. We thank God for him. Lost time but no lives.

Was 2010 a great year? You bet! I’ll give you my ‘Happy Ending’ after this mission trip. Best be sure though -we have pissed Satan off!

a constant change

There comes a time in everyone’s life where things need to change – a new chapter to be opened. But the thing about new chapters is that the previous ones needs to be closed – completely. It really is just logic. It doesn’t matter how ‘big’ your legs are, it’s really not possible to have a foot in one door and one on the other. Or maybe it is possible, but it’s never the greatest of ideas.

Once Upon A Time

I wrote what I’d like to call my ‘very last exam’ this month and I am not as ecstatic as I thought I’d be.

It is a big deal – don’t get me wrong. If you know my middle name you know exactly just how much. A few in my family have crossed this path and hey look at me I almost stumbled but I’m still standing.

Reminds me of Liverpool really – a team destined for glory, stumbled and almost crumbled, but it is still standing (one leg will do). Lions rugby can attest to this; a new chapter is unfolding and the world cannot wait too see its manifestation. Manchester United are going through a chapter of their own – the draw chapter.

I can’t help but wonder what this means for our beloved Boks though. Two World Cup trophies later and hasn’t escaped scrutiny…all with valid percipience.

Slowly diminishing are moments when the men in green and gold posed the ‘to-be-feared’ factor. Times where the stands roared with confidence for their side will provide a spectacular performance worth their wallets (win or lose);

When the Haka was just another ‘song’ a tad shorter than the ‘Ole Ole’ from the stands; an era of Sharks and Stormers supporter stood tall, united behind the 15 with no reservation; a season I put my Bulls chirps away for my Cheetahs boss; a long period when our hearts no longer bled for Bafana, for the Boks have mended; a long forgotten era of convincing victories.

The richest history channel ever created.

SA has produced two Super 14 finalists, one can assume we should be unstoppable, for we have the best players all round. Pacy. Grippling. Coupling, with the greatest boot skills ever seen.

Currie Cup is one of the greatest tournaments in the world and yet today our national team scraped past Wales, failed to pay spectators with a ridiculous win against Ireland.

Yes, you can say something has shifted in the past three years. At this rate our boys are doing wonders for alcohol sales as you cannot watch a game without consuming a whole case of beer or bottle of brandy. Netcare 911 is probably on call outs for near heart attacks.

Blame the weather. Blame the system. Blame fatigue. Blame domestic tournament. Blame the line-up. Blame quotas. Blame it on methylhexaneamine (ah. my favourite new word)!

Put it on government’s interference. Oh wait… How about PDivvy? Oh yeah; there is the man (along with his staff team) who has been on the receiving end of this stick for his questionable decision.

With so many ‘once upon a times’, one thing remains – our love for this game. These men. This country. These colours. This flag.
Though the question stands – with less than a year before our World Cup title is contested. Will we scrap it or will the tails between our legs grow longer?

Right, pass me my Bok jersey

as it were

Let’s face it – Sport as we know it is gone. The love we have for the game is tainted by so many reactions and choices from individuals we’ve idolised.

What’s with our soccer heroes gracing the pages of Rolling Stones more than Brangelina or our political leaders crippling the motivation to fill up Rugby stadiums? Yeah, sport as we’d like to remember is dead and buried.

Be it as it may, we still take our vuvuzela’s, brace the cold and give the ‘Ultimate Fan’ thing a go. Superbru is sky-rocking. Hell, Vodacom is still making as much money out ‘Player 23’ as with BlackBerry contracts.

Yes, we put aside the grating political influence, proudly put our replicas on and chirp the next person for not supporting same team. No one knows this better than me and my sport loving boss, who celebrates Football Fridays in blue, with a big Chelsea grin, while I (and the rest of her family) insolently proclaim ‘This is Anfield: I Will Never Walk Alone’.

And when we return to the office on a Monday conversations begin with Cheetahs vs Bulls. Yes we bury the hatches, forget Tiger’s infidelity, and stand oblivious to Micheal Phelps, Marianne Jones’ or even Bakkies’ stupidity.

We swear at government for their meddling, scream our lungs out at having to wave goodbye to the Super 14 only for a (long) while and will eventually forgive the Boks for their poor Tri-Nations campaign, because as exasperated as we may be by these, at the back of our supporting mind, the game is still as it should be. At least would be.

That is more than I can say for cricket, however.

The most popular game in the Eastern and Western Cape. A discipline that sees 7/10 Indian or Pakistan households fed is forever lost. Its credibility belongs only to the History Channel.

A land where 666666’s are the miracles of the game; The splendour of hat-tricks. A museum of super-overs. Sheer sanctuary of clashes between giants like SA, Australia, Pakistan, India or England that guarantee a spectacular heartache, but money’s worth for the avid lover of the game.

A history of unsung heroes ordained by roars of crowds with what seems to be more passion than from the ones in batting helmets. Yeah. That era has ceased with a vinyl and in its place are carbon copies of broken cd’s worth the bottom of a street kid’s shoe.

While some parts of the world have joined SA for the exciting Airtel Champions T20, trouble began to brew in England, who is busy with a series against Pakistan.

The series has produced allegations of match fixing by now suspended Pakistanis. Last week a cloud began to descend upon the English when injury-prone Andrew Flintoff hung his bat up for good.

This week assembled an even greater distress, when reports that they (England) are not above match-fixing. Of course this sent Andrew Strauss and his cronies over the edge.

However, we in SA know a thing or two about smokes and fires. Whether the allegations are legit or just that, allegations is another blog, but what this means is the series is now farce that needs to be scrapped.

Cricket is not cricket but rather a massacre of greed and lies killing dreams of many around the world. Hansie Cronje (R.I.P), it seems planted a seed that is growing like unwanted weed, producing a generation that has undermined the value of the game, paving a way for endless uncertainties.

Will we ever grace cricket stadia without questioning the legitimacy of the game? Will the great Tendukar be above our scrutiny? Is Rusty Theron’s great bowling a result of his form or a lost bet?

Can Shahid Khan Afridi reach a century and claim a MOM award without raising an eyebrow? Will James Anderson ever be allowed to have a ‘bad’ game? God forbid Mark Boucher misses a run-out.

May the Great Almighty have mercy on Graeme Smith in 2011, for we will raise more than a flick of an eyebrow should the Proteas emulate the Boks’ Tri-Nations Campaign.

legendary feet. legendary heart.

They say a legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do; that his accolades best describe him and gives his audience a reason to remember him. For years, and to no end, the Real Steven Pienaar will enter the book of class greats.

The past weekend was one of legends (at least what can be classified as legendary moments), and a few step-up to the scale.

These includes Kurtley Beal – a Wallabie that tore at the hearts of many Boks. The Lions roared louder than any bad Storm causing the biggest upset in 2010 Currie Cup (since Pumas embarrassed the over-confident Bulls), by thrashing Western Province.

Frankly, I wasn’t upset all, neither was The Star Newspaper’s Chief Sport writer – Kevin McCallum – who probably opened more beer cans than he had in his life. Cindy Poluta of Eyewitness News Sport kicked up her heels for her beloved Lions.  But the man of the weekend has to be Schillo.

Bafana Bafana has evolved under the guidance of Carlos, and seems to be souring with Pitso in the driving seat. The 2010 World Cup has left an impressionable legacy. My white boss actually won a ‘Name a Bafana’ contest against her brother and husband.

Yeah this inheritance is serving the white household, and on the pitch it was evident on the Blackstars / Niger clashes. The endless missed opportunities (especially against Niger) are an extensive concern though, and while Pitso may be a patient man, the Boks have shown the SA Fan Club is anything but.

Pienaar flaunted his escalating ball skills, hushing his critics and fueling the ever burning fire of his fan base by collecting the MOM award. The Everton man proved once again why he is SA’s greatest export to the English League and an avid midfielder.

While most players wouldn’t part with the ball in the ’18 area’, Schillo displayed his unselfish heart by sending one of those legendary passes to a man who, even though lacks composure (at times), deserves to be playing in the English soil – Katlego ‘Killer’ Mphela. Bernard Parker’s goal and the other five that should have been are a reflection of this Capetonian’s God given structure.

If I had illusions of making pro-soccer Pienaar’s jersey would probably be on my wall.

Ah Legendary Heart. Legendary Feat.