No-one likes us, we don’t care

Uh-oh. Here I go again.

Oh no. Some words have happened. It seems that England, through to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup, aren’t very popular with several of the other nations, because… well… they’re England, I suppose.

Traditional rivalries with Scotland, Wales and the haw-hee-haw Frenchies are fair enough, maybe even Ireland, but I can’t believe that Italy are really all that bothered. Maybe after the football this evening? Still, let’s post the meme anyway…

And, while you can argue that they had an easier draw and and and… it would seem to me that England are also the only unbeaten team at the tournament. (And if their draw was so easy, how come theirs is the only pool producing two semifinalists?!? How curious.)

Not that that counts for very much of course, but it is still a STAT.

Interestingly, the same ref that SA got for their quarter final will be doing their semi final against England as well. The French didn’t really seem to like him very much:

And incredibly, there were even threats from Saffas in a game that they won!

As well as the more usual pre-game nastiness:

Hmm. (Also: Double E, Double F, if you could, please?)

I once remarked that watching a stadium concert from the back wasn’t like being “at” a concert:

For the entire performance, I couldn’t get away from the fact that I was watching a concert, not being at a concert.

And that’s how it feels watching the people watching the rugby. I have zero investment in the sport and so I can concentrate on what’s going on in the surroundings. And those things are often very strange.

Look, I get that SA are a great team, I get that it was a big win against France, and I really get that the country really needs this World Cup win. Oh God, I get it.

But the arrogance that has followed the victory over France and the feeling that the Boks are as good as World Cup Winners already – and if they’re not, then it’ll be because of the referee?

Meh – I really don’t need that.

It’s quarter final time (to moan)

The Rugby World Cup is currently happening. Millions of people across some of the biggest nations on earth have absolutely no idea that the competition is on, or that rugby even exists.

But for (some) of the nations taking part, it’s really very important.

Cue fresh outrage then at the quarter final draw, which will see two of the world’s top four teams leaving the tournament. It does seem that those top four teams: Ireland, France, South Africa and New Zealand could beat any one of each other, or anyone else on any given day, so in the eyes of the purists, that would be likely be the ideal semi-final lineup.

A quick note: at some point in every knockout competition you have to say goodbye to all but one of the teams involved.

And look, two things here.
Number one: we’ve known about the way the pools were drawn for a long, long time, so why start grumbling again now? Are you genuinely expecting them to change things around ahead of the weekend so that your team can progress with minimal effort?
Number two: just arranging for the best four teams to be in the semis? Well, that’s not how tournaments work. If it were, why bother with the rest of it (and see below at this point)?
Just have the semis and the final. In fact, why not just have a final between the best two teams in the world? Or – fuck it all and just give the trophy to Ireland, who are currently world number 1*.

Easy. Time, money, anguish all saved.

But no, actually don’t do this, because just about the only excitement at this tournament has been provided by the smaller nations. There’s absolutely no joy in watching a 80 point romp of some top country’s B-team over some part-timers from a bit of Europe or Africa that no-one’s ever heard of.
Dull as dishwater. Literally pointless (for one side, at least).

So relax, naaiers. If your team is good enough to be world champions, they’ll have to be able to be good enough to beat all the other teams to get there: those like England or Fiji or Wales or Argentina, plus whoever else makes it through from that top 4.
And it’s worth noting that all 8 of the quarter finalists were in the Top 10 in the world when this whole thing started, so it really does seem that it’s where you choose to draw your imaginary outrage threshold that matters.

Finally, closer to home, there’s the usual storm brewing. Cue r/unpopularopinion, but when South Africa win, it’s because the team is amazing. When they lose, it’s because the referee was dodgy, because “World Rugby hates the Springboks”. If it’s not the coaching staff releasing hour long analysis videos undermining the officials’ performances after a defeat, it’s the fans doing the same – and getting copyright struck. Lol.

Never seems to happen after a win. The officiating was good in those games.
Your reminder that it’s fine to be irrational, as long as you know that you are being irrational.

And a quick look on the socials reveals that we’re prepping ahead of Saturday already:

This is good planning, because then you can look back and say “I told you so” after a defeat, or simply pretend you never mentioned anything if your team wins.

People, there is a better sport out there. It’s football. And there are some really choice matches on this weekend: Netherlands v France. Norway v Spain. Iran v Jordan (woah!). Wales v Croatia. South Africa v Eswatini (met eish, ja).

There is an alternative. If you’re going to get upset about the egg-chasing, use it.

* I checked this fact twice, to be sure, to be sure.

SA Rugby Quiz Book makes ideal Xmas gift

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.Fullscreen capture 2015-12-11 115934 AM.bmpNo. 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.
  • Ook, jy kan die boek in Engels of Afrikaans kry.
  • You can pay by credit card or EFT.

Ordering details here.

Again, I’m not on any affiliate deal or commission here. Just trying to help match you, the rugby quiz book needing customer, with Pierre, the rugby quiz book writing… writer.

Likewise, maybe you want to share this post with someone who needs to buy a Springbok rugby quiz book.
Symbiosis, see? We should all try it.

The 2015 Rugby World Cup Winners Will Not Be The 2015 Rugby World Cup Winners Unless South Africa Win The 2015 Rugby World Cup In Which Case South Africa Will Be The 2015 Rugby World Cup Winners

Yes. Seriously.

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.

The Rugby Championship - Official SANZAR Site - Google Chrome 2015-08-31 035535 PM.bmp

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. The whole 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.

Nice work, Toby

There’s a Media Statement on Saracens website:

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.

And who’s whining about that decision? Its Toby!

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.

Hello? McFly?

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.