Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bluebull country

It's a beautiful day in Pretoria. The Jacarandas are in full bloom, the Bulls are in the final, our congregation's Men's Fellowship braai-ed boerewors and ate it with pap-en-smoor at 8 this morning, talking rugby.

What a lovely day. Good luck Cheetahs!


digitaldion said...

JJ Harmse

Isn't it strange how we often try to look beyond the obvious?

The Currie Cup season was like that for me. I can't tell you how many times I opened newspapers and just smiled to myself. In short, rugby fans outside Pretoria refuse to admit that the Bulls are the best rugby team in the country by a mile. If not more.

People looked at Gio Aplon's moments of brilliance and assumed that Western Province were playing a new brand of rugby and scoring tries at will. They looked at the Cheetahs and their addiction to disco lights and thought it was the way forward and what a genius Rassie was.

Yes, Aplon was good and Rassie's a very good coach, but that is not where the answers for South African rugby lie. That magical answer is to be found in the way one province has managed to dominate the domestic scene.

The reality is that only one union in South African rugby can claim to have a blue print that actually works.

And like it or not, that union is the Blue Bulls.

It is no secret in South African rugby circles that the Bulls are not well liked. They are seen as arrogant, their crowds are seen as boorish and their style of play is labelled as one-dimensional.

What a sad life those people lead! Facts do not lie and facts alone will tell you how successful the Blue Bulls have been this decade. And like it or not, unless you support the Bulls, the province you follow is not even close.

Five consecutive finals, two consecutive Super Rugby semi-finals, and more impressive, five consecutive titles at Under-21, Under-20 and Under-19 levels. The Blue Bulls union has scooped all of the titles available for five years in a row.

Their Currie Cup record reads as follows. Semi-finals: Played five, won five. Finals: Played five, won three, drawn one, lost one.

How many Currie Cup finals have Western Province made in the past five years? Zero. How many finals have the Sharks made? Two. How many have the Lions made? One.

The Cheetahs have proved to be the only other consistent side, also making five semi-finals in a row, winning one final, losing one and drawing one. Their first Super 14 season proved to be a bit of a disaster however and they have only produced a sprinkling of new Springboks.

At least Rassie Erasmus is not shy to admit that he respects the Bulls for what they have achieved so far. So should his fans and the rest of South Africa, for that matter.

The Bulls had 10 players in the Springbok team that beat the All Blacks and Australia during the Tri-Nations this year. Three of those are black. What other province can claim that? Not bad for a province that is supposedly racist at heart or against transformation, as some will make you believe. Yes, Lobberts (selected to tour with the Springboks at the end of the year) and Ndungane are not from Pretoria, but were given a chance to prosper and develop into world class players when nobody else cared.

They were not imported from Fiji or Australia to play wing or hooker or drafted in from Dunedin via Japan.

The victorious Under-19 side had up to 11 players of colour in the side during any given game this year and only two of the seven national representatives at this age group were white.

The Bulls produced nine players for the Under-21 side that played in the World Cup final in France, with Chiliboy Ralepelle the captain. Four of them were black.

The Blue Bulls Academy has 21 junior players on their books. Fifteen of those played at national level this year.

I am not even going into the dominance of the women's team in national competitions or the victory of the amateur side in their final. The Bulls women team will beat the national side if they were to play them, but that is more to do with SA Rugby's useless selection policy in women's rugby than anything else. How can you have a quota system in a sport that was established only five years ago?

But back to the realities of professional rugby.

I am not asking anyone to become a Bulls fan. I am just asking all of you to look at the facts. Take an honest look at what was achieved in Pretoria over the past five years. Look at the success achieved at every level and give me one good reason why the rest of South African rugby should not take a leaf out of the Bulls' book.

Tell me why Rassie Erasmus or Dick Muir are better options than Heyneke Meyer as a possible future Springbok coach.

No if's and but's. Just acknowledge what the facts show. See what you are supposed to see. You can continue hating their guts, their horns or whatever you detest, but they also deserve your respect, even if it is just for a brief moment. Denial is one thing, disrespect is another. Do not be guilty of both.

digitaldion said...

I thought you would enjoy that partisan article!


See you at DEWCOM! Think theological thoughts, think theological thoughts, think theological thoughts....

digitaldion said...

Brother Wessel! Thanks for your keen insights and hard work at the DEWCOM meetings!

You are an inspiration in your theological insight.

However, when it comes to Rugby, you need some help!

So, you had better go and check out the Video file I posted about the bluebulls and the cheetas on my blog.