First off, this isn’t a sponsored post. No money or goods have exchanged hands. It’s just that when you look at nature, you see that organisms helping each other out generally seem to have a good time. Lichen is a mix of fungus and algae, and covers 6% of the entire plant. Successful. Ocellaris clownfish live in perfect harmony with protective Ritteri sea anemones. Pretty. And in the microbiological world, beneficial mutualism is around every very tiny corner. Small.No. See, I know the author of this book (that’s one reason I know it’s going to be good) and I also know that some (or more) readers out there will be looking for a decent present for their (let’s face it, probably male, and therefore probably really difficult to buy for) family members.
As ever, I’m here to help.
Ex-journalist Pierre has been researching and writing his 1001 question long Springbok Rugby Quiz book for over 10 years. He has a scientific background, is a stickler for detail and has an immense passion for the sport, both as a participant and as an avid fan. It’s the perfect recipe for this sort of thing. Oh, and he’s also led a pretty adventurous life.
I’m no expert on egg-chasing, even less so on the history of the South African game, but I’ve seen the book and I even managed to get one question correct (the answer was Kobus Wiese) from the approximately twenty I attempted. This 5% record might not seem impressive, but I was looking at the Afrikaans (rather than the English) version of the book, and any right answer when you first have to translate the question from a language you can’t actually speak is not to be sniffed at.
So – here’s what you need to know about the ordering the book:
It’s R250, all in.
That includes it being signed by the author.
And it also includes delivery to any address in South Africa within 4 working days.
Racial quotas in South African sport have been a bone of contention as long as I can recall, and I’ve got a South African memory of almost 12 years now. I think it came in when I was denied my rightful place in the South African national football team, simply on the grounds that I was white*.
Many people have many different views on quotas in sport, and expressing them at any chosen volume will still result in absolutely nothing being sorted out any time soon. As a result, I’m not about to try and tackle any of these issues in this blog post, and I would welcome you to not tackle any of them in the comments section below either. Thanks in advance.
One organisation that has stepped up to the plate in expressing their views on the quota system, specifically in regard to the Springbok squad heading to the Rugby World Cup (RWC) in England later this month is the Vryheidsfront Plus (VF+), an Afrikaans political party here in SA.
They’re not happy with the “political interference” (quota system) in the selection of the SA squad in that:
The Minister of Sport and Recreation is proposing that in future the national and all provincial rugby teams must reflect the national demographics of young men (please see the attached media statement from the Minister). This means that 84% of each rugby team must be black and only 16% of every team will consist of coloured, Indian and white players. This in means in practice that less than 3 positions in every team will be available for minorities.
This is part 1 of a… document thing that they have submitted (for some reason) to the:
British High Commissioner, the British Rugby-Unions and the British Government
You can read the whole thing here. The introduction is in Afrikaans, but as Stellenbosch University have recently discovered, not everyone speaks Afrikaans, so they have in English the actual document writted. (And yes, “die Britse hoë kommissaris” is the Afrikaans for British High Commissioner. Not for any other sort of British Commissioner.)
The VF+ go on to say that:
The political interference in the selection of the national rugby team may mean that South-Africa’s strongest available team will not be competing and/or taking part in the Rugby World-Cup Tournament for 2015.
Those hyphens can like to be theirs, by the way. Alrighty, so having decided that the Springbok squad which is competing and/or taking part (??) in the RWC isn’t the the strongest that it could be, it naturally follows that:
As a result, the ultimate winner of the tournament may not be able to claim that they are the world champion team as South Africa would have stood a reasonable chance of winning the tournament with a team selected on merit.
Oooohkay. If you say so. *cough*
Ignoring that, the VF+ furthermore add:
It goes without saying that the quota issue itself has a very negative impact on the individual players and the team, and the government interference causes divisions in South African society on a racial basis.
So, you guys over at the British High Commission, the British Rugby-Unions and the British Government need to consider the gravitas of this situation, because:
The political impairment of a potential winner may place the credibility of the whole tournament in jeopardy.
Yeah. It was political interference what did for them. (Although, yes, the Sports Minister is a bit of a twat.) If it wasn’t for this political interference and the very negative impact on the individual players and the team, this would have been a walk in die bos for the Springboks. The whole tournament is a jeopardy. Thewhole thing. The only way to grant the competition any sort of legitimacy would be in South Africa won it. But as the VF+ have already insinuated, that’s not going to happen. It all smacks of a Afrikaner episode of Scooby Doo:
“We would have won it if it wasn’t for you meddling Blacks”
No, but really. Quite what the VF+ expect the British High Commissioner, the British Rugby-Unions and the British Government to do about this alleged political interference and its alleged effect on the Bok squad and the whole Rugby World Cup is rather beyond me. It almost seems like grandstanding in order to make a cheap, ineffectual and meritless political point. But… surely not.
Interestingly, while we’re on the subject (which we are), the Agency for a New Agenda party are also unhappy with Minister Fikile’s quota system. They think it’s not good enough, and instead of writing a document thing, they have taken to the courts:
ANA president Edward Mahlomola Mokhoanatse will be in the North Gauteng High Court seeking an urgent order to compel Saru and sports department officials to surrender their passports so they cannot travel. It also wants the court to order “the executive” to establish a “judicial commission of inquiry into the lack of transformation in South African rugby”.
So, you see, you simply can’t please all of the people, all of the time. Or in Fikile’s case, any of the people, any of the time. It’s just like I said – there are no easy answers here.
Me? I’ll be supporting England for the World Cup – being English and all. Of course, I recognise that if they win after competing and/or taking part, then I won’t be able to claim that they are they are the world champion team, because Pieter Mulder says not, but it would just be nice to see them beat what teams were there. Maybe they could make the trophy out of plastic, or something – just to signify that it doesn’t really count? That’s actully a pretty good idea. I’ll write to the British High Commissioner, the British Rugby-Unions and the British Government and let them know.
* and too old, possibly not quite good enough, and not actually South African.
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.
Well, they’ve got a whole different image of Cape Town now, thanks to the WPRU. You may have read my initial thoughts on this here.
Funny, isn’t it? Because Toby Titus, President of the WPRU said that the reasons behind their decision:
once again shows loyalty to its suite holders and fans who regularly attend matches at Newlands
Those same fans that won’t have any chance of seeing a top class European rugby game now. Because Saracens don’t want to play at Newlands. They wanted to play at the Cape Town Stadium. That’s why they applied to play at the Cape Town Stadium.
Is any of this becoming any clear to you yet, Toby?
Evidently not. Here’s Toby again:
The WPRU wholeheartedly embraces the idea of Cape Town attracting international matches and looks forward to hosting other high profile matches at Newlands.
Nope. Saracens have cancelled and Cape Town – and for Cape Town, you can read Newlands – is only getting one crappy Argentina test next year. No Australia, no New Zealand, none of the three England matches. Those are all going to World Cup stadiums in other parts of the country. It looks like England will be playing one of their tests in Nelspruit, for goodness sake. Nelspruit! Why? Because they have a decent stadium and an accommodating rugby Union. Two things missing in the Newlands/WPRU equation.
PE got the All Black Test this year, and the Sevens tournament, and now an England Test. It is an unfair distribution. Cape Town didn’t have a Test this year, and we accepted that. What is the reason that Cape Town didn’t qualify for an Australian or England Test, or the All Blacks?
What about the people in Cape Town and the Western Cape? We have the best attendances at our matches. It’s not just about Western Province, but all the people of the Western Cape.
Ah yes, the people in Cape Town and the Western Cape, whose interests you have served so well lately.
Cry me a river, Toby, and then read this line quoted just below your whinging:
WPRU’s reluctance to utilise the purpose-built Cape Town Stadium and the manner in which it dealt with Saracens request to use Cape Town Stadium may have hindered their chances and hurt their case to bring top quality rugby to the people of the Western Cape.
No? Still nothing? Never mind. We’ll keep trying, Toby. Someday, the blinkers are going to have to come off and then there’ll be a whole real world for you to take in. When that moment comes, we’ll be here to help.
I am unable to reveal my sources, but suffice to say that I have it via two independent and previously reputable authorities that Rassie Erasmus will be officially unveiled as the new Springbok coach in the near future.
It seems that the former Cheetahs, Golden Lions and Springbok player will be taking over from Peter de Villiers when his contract ends at the end of the year. He has been working as the senior professional coach at Western Province and the Stormers and was the Boks technical advisor at the recent 2011 Rugby World Cup.
This post will either be trumpeted loudly upon his appointment or will mysteriously disappear should anyone else get the job.
And he/she explains it in a letter to the Cape Times today. Over to you, JD Bryce of St James:
The tirade against Bakkies Botha compels me to defend him.
Ti•rade [tahy-reyd, tahy-reyd] – noun; a prolonged outburst of bitter, outspoken denunciation.
Ok – I’ll give you the denunciation bit – and maybe a hint of bitterness because he was an idiot. But prolonged? He only did it 6 days ago (and therefore a maximum of 5 days before you wrote your letter). Prolonged is when something goes on for longer than it really should – like discussion over Luis Suarez’s goalline handball (which I’m still in awe of) or whether Jacob Zuma should have stood trial for corruption (still raised most days on Cape Talk). And outspoken? No. Everyone (including Bakkies) realises that it was a bloody stupid thing to do. Apart from you. But apparently, you are compelled and have a compulsion to defend him.
So I’ll let you continue, despite your initial foolishness and inaccuracy, because I’m nice like that.
I believe the real reason for his action is the New Zealand Haka.
Ah! Sorry – I misunderstood! This is a sarcastic letter. Amusement! Satire! Hilarity! Go for it, JD!
The Haka is nothing more than a barrage of abuse in which the All Blacks threaten to beat the other team to a pulp and sever arms and legs. This raises the their [sic] adrenaline levels and creates a dominance over the other team.
Nice build up – and now deliver that punchline!
I believe Bakkies probably had a smouldering resentment to this. His reaction is understandable.
Wait. What? Is that it? Are you having a laugh, JD? Are you, perchance, “extracting the Michael”?
I have done some rudimentary calculations and seventy-four points as to why you are an idiot for writing this letter come to mind right about now. I will, henceforth and forthwith,address some of these below.
First off, Bakkies was not alone in facing the All Blacks’ Haka that day. There were 14 other players alongside him as the New Zealanders shook their little asses before kick off. If each of those 14 also harboured a smouldering resentment to the dance troupe, they hid it rather better than Bakkies did. And what’s with this “smouldering” stuff, anyway. You make it sound like he hid this supposed resentment rather well, when in fact he chose to smash himself headfirst into the back of Jimmy Cowan’s head. While he was lying on the floor. His reaction in this case is clearly not understandable.
Next up, a quick look at his Springbok Hall of Fame page, indicates that Bakkies had played for the Boks against New Zealand on 12 occasions prior to Saturday’s game. That’s 12 previous Hakas he has face without going completely LooneyTunez 2 minutes later. There was also a match against the “Pacific Islands” in 2004 which probably included a little dance up-front as well, because Pacific Islanders like doing that kind of thing. Given this information, surely no jury would find that the reaction of Mnr Botha was “understandable”.
And then there are “other incidents” involving Bakkies, where he has tried to break players who haven’t even done the Haka. Gio Aplon of the Stormers, for example. Mind you, that was a long while ago – well, two months ago, anyway – in May this year. I was there that day and watched as Gio (who weighs a mighty 75kg) was illegally taken out of a ruck by Botha (120kg) and was quite broken. Although, he got better. But Gio hadn’t been dancing and threatening to beat the Bulls to a pulp. His only crime was to be on the end (corner?) of Bakkies’ shoulder in front of the Railway Stand at Newlands. Maybe Botha had got him confused with one of the cheerleaders, who did have a quick boogie on the pitch before the teams came out. We’ll probably never know. But since there was no Haka involved, his reaction in this case was far from understandable.
And what of this Haka and the threats and abuse it brings with it, anyway? Have the All Blacks actually ever beaten anyone to a pulp during a Haka-prefixed game? Only on the scoreboard, methinks (32-12 last weekend). And is there really any evidence that arms and legs – (is it ok if I use the collective term “limbs” here, JD? Is that alright?) – is there any evidence that limbs have been severed during an All Black game?
I’m no expert on rugby, but I can use Google and I can find no record of traumatic amputation of any limb during an international rugby match involving New Zealand. And that’s 462 games.
Ignoring replacement players and the complications that they would bring to the calculation and therefore working on the basis of 15 opposition players per game (and a rather obvious 4 limbs per player), that’s almost 28,000 limbs that the New Zealanders have – through the medium of dance – allegedly threatened to amputate during rugby matches and a grand total of zero that they’ve actually managed to tear off.
If you or Bakkies had actually done the maths, you’d surely realise that this Haka thing is obviously just an empty threat and nothing to get all wound up about. Sadly, that does mean that his reaction is anything but understandable.
I recognise that this blog post may seem to you to be part of the “injust” “tirade” against Bakkies, but it’s actually not. It’s simply a reasoned response to your foolish action in attempting to explain his foolish action.
And so, JD Bryce, your letter to the Times is therefore declared null and void and you are banned from 9 weeks from writing anything remotely involving rugby to any newspaper.