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Let’s Go Stormers…..Let’s Go

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After many lean seasons in the Super 14, the Newlands faithful have eventually got something to cheer about.

The Stormers emphatic 42 -14 win over the Crusaders proved that they have the character to go all the way in the 2010 Super 14. The Crusaders came at the Stormers and an early Dan Carter charge down and try could have swung the game right at the beginning into the Crusaders favour.

However, Schalk Burger who is growing in stature as the captain of the Stormers kept the troops calm and let from the front ably assisted by the ever improving Duane Vermeulen and the Andries Bekker who is developing into a world class lock forward.

Bekker has been instrumental in bringing the winning culture that is developing in Cape Town. He has found his feet in international rugby and is starting to impose himself in the big games.

As Mark Andrews the legendary Springbok enforcer and World Cup winning lock forward noted, the first few seasons of big rugby are difficult as Bekker would have been tested by the big men like Bakkies Botha.

Andries Bekker sorting out two Hurricanes players at once. He is developing into the enforcer of the Stormers team

Bekker has shown that he is now ready to take his rightful place in world rugby and outclassed All Black’s Chris Jack who is back in the Crusaders team as well as Brad Thorne.

Every great team has its enforcer and Bekker has taken up that mantle in the Stormers team. Mark Andrews, Adri Geldenhuys, Moaner Van Heerden, Kevin De Klerk and Bakkies Botha have all played major contributions to the Springbok’s successes over the decades and eventually Cape Town has bred a lock that fits into the mould.

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(Above: Andries Bekker outplayed All Blacks  Brad Thorne and Chris Jack and his reputation as a world class lock forward is growing with every game.)

Going into the build up to the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and South Africa is looking good up front. The old firm of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha will still be around barring injury and Matfield will be hard pressed to stay ahead of the man from Cape Town as the number one lock in the country.

5 Reasons for the Stormers success:

Rassie Erasmus and Alistair Coetzee

With Erasmus as Director of coaching and Coetzee the head coach, these two men have formed a great combination that is paying off on the field. Rassie was given the cheque book and brought Brian Habana and Jacques Fourie into the fold.  These two world class players have fitted right into the brand of rugby that the Stormers want to play. Coetzee learnt invaluable lessons as Jake White’s understudy and a happy culture exists amongst the players.

Schalk Burger

The incredible Schalk is a machine who is relishing the role of captaining the side. Immensely popular and respected by his team mates and has been instrumentally in ensuring the players are playing for the jersey and for each other. Nobody can rattle Schalk and the Stormers have been a composed team this year that have handled the big pressure moments well.

Andries Bekker

Bekker has dominated the line out, cleared out well in the rucks, had galloping runs on the wing that opponents have found difficult to stop and has added “grunt” to the tight five. He is now a world class player in his own right.

Duane Vermeulen

He has moved up in the pecking order of number 8’s in South Africa and must be breathing down the neck of Pierre Spies. His cross defense against the Crusaders was sublime and his dismissive tackles of two Crusaders attackers just meters from the Stormers try line proved just how strong Vermeulen is and how dedicated he is to the cause.

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(Above: Duane Vermeulen carries the ball up. He has played a big part in the Stormers success in 2010)

The Stormers Back Line

It is difficult to highlight certain players when the back line is operating as a unit and everyone is playing their part. Peter Grant is getting the line moving and the experienced Jacques Fourie is a colossus in midfield. Bryan Habana is probably under rated in terms of defense, while Gio Aplon continues to surprise everybody with his calmness under the high ball and the gaps that he just seems to glide through.

The Stormers boast the best defensive record in the competition and the Crudasers discovered this to their chagrin at Newlands.

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(Above: Bryan Habana defense has been as good as his attacking capabilities in the 2010 Super 14)

Can the Stormers eventually go all the way and win the Super 14?  Schalk Burger has cautioned the players not to get ahead of themselves but was pleased with the intensity with which the Stormers overcame the Crusaders. The big hurdle will be the Bulls at Newlands in two weeks time. The winner of that game may well end up being crowned as the 2010 Super 14 Champions.

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Written by admin

May 2, 2010 at 7:07 am

Welcome back Schalk Burger

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One of the highlights in Super 14 rugby this past weekend was the welcome return to form of the big Springbok flank, Schalk Burger.

 Time and time again opposition players were hit back in defense during the Stormers vs Highlanders game and many of these tackles were made by Schalkie, without any help from his team mates.

 

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It was Burger at his best defensively and it certainly contributed to the Stormers upset victory.  Andries Bekker made his presence felt and added the grunt to the Stormers pack, that has sadly been missing this Super 14 season.

So who is now in contention for a place in the Bok team?  Well since the days of Jake White, consistency has been part of the winning formula and Pieter De Villiers has wisely continued along that path.

Lets look at the last Springbok team that played. It was on 22 November 2008, in that crushing victory over England (something we shouldn’t let the British lions forget either).

Conrad Jantjes

JP Pietersen

AD Jacobs

Jean de Villiers

Brian Habana

Ruan Pienaar

Ricky Januarie

Beast Mtawarira

John Smit

Jannie du Plessis

Bakkies Botha

Victor Matfield

Schalk Burger

Danie Rossouw

Pierre Spies

Reserves:

Jacques Fourie

Francois Steyn

Brian Mujati

Chilliboy Ralapella

Heinrich Brussouw

Andries Bekker

Ryan Kankowski

 

Who will make the 2009 Sprinbok XV?

Fullback:

 

Conrad Jantjes has not been in great form this season; admittedly he is part of a losing Stormers set up that is more set on defense than attack.

 

However, it is time to settle Francois Steyn in the team and with the abundance of centers in South Africa; Steyn is moved to the number 15 jersey for evermore.

 

Right Wing:

 

JP Pietersen has been a try magnet again this season and takes his rightful place in the team.

 

Left Wing:

 

Jongi Nokwe knows how to score tries.  The Free State flyer is no stranger to the try line and has scored some fine tries during the Super 14. 

 

The man wearing the number 11 jersey is Brian Habana who is also hitting form again and cannot be left out of the Bok XV.

 

Habana retains his place with Nokwe on standby.

 

Outside Center

 

Jacques Fourie has been devastating for the Lions but has been injury prone.  AD Jacobs was had a solid season but has not been helped by an indecisive Sharks backline with Francois Steyn at flyhalf.

 

It is always good to have a combination in midfield and with that in mind I am going for Fourie for the number 13 jersey.

 

Inside Center

 

Jean De Villiers made the number 12 jumber his last season but has also battled to strike form in 2009.  Wynand Olivier from the Bulls has been in great form and with the idea of hitting the Lions hard in midfield to open up the space for our wingers, a new combination will be given a chance.  Wyand Olivier and Jacques Fourie will be the new center pair.

 

Flyhalf

 

Ruan Pienaar is coming back from injury and is Pieter De Villiers’ first choice for the flyhalf position.  He will also be the goal kicker in the team.  Should he still be injured, Morne Steyn from the Bulls will start.

 

Scrumhalf

 

Fourie Du Preez remains world class and will regain his place in the starting line up.  Ricky Januarie has had an indifferent Super 14 and will lose his place, with Rory Kockett making the bench.

 

Loose Head Prop

 

The Beast is becoming a folk hero from the battlefields of Dunedin to the hard playing fields of Kimberly.  He has still not hit his peak yet and is still developing as a prop.  He will maintain his place. Guthro Steenkamp and Heinko Van Der Merwe have also played well this season.

 

Hooker

 

John Smit will start in the number 2 jersey and will captain the team.  Bismarck Du Plessis has been inaccurate in the line outs and needs to work on his discipline.  Chilliboy Ralapella is also in the mix and will make the bench should Du Plessis be injured.

 

Tight Head Prop

 

This position is a bit of a problem in SA rugby at present. Jannie Du Plessis will start and probably be replaced by John Smit at the 50 minute mark.

 

Locks

 

I don’t think there will be any arguments from the armchair critics about who should play lock for the Boks.  The old firm of Botha and Matfield will be critical to South Africa winning the series, with Botha adding the mongrel to the pack.

 

Andries Bekker will be the third choice lock.

 

Open Side Flank

 

Schalk Burger is starting to look like the Schalk of old and may do enough to make the starting line up.  Heinrich Brussouw has been in outstanding form for the Cheetahs and could even make the team ahead of Schalk on present form.

 

Blind Side Flank

 

Juan Smith has got guts and plenty of it too.  Playing in a losing team is not easy but the big Free State flank is always in the thick of things.  He will be pushed by Duane Vermeulen but regains his number 7 jersey.

 

Number 8

 

Who to leave out is the difficult question for the South African selectors.  Pierre Spies will retain the jersey, with Ryan Kankowski and Luke Watson breathing down his neck. 

 

The Springbok team to face the British Lions looks like this:

 

15: Francois Steyn

14: JP Pietersen

13: Jacques Fourie

12: Wynand Olivier

11: Brian Habana

10: Ruan Pienaar

9:  Fourie Du Preez

8:  Pierre Spies

7:  Juan Smith

6:  Schalk Burger

5:  Victor Matfield

4:  Bakkies Botha

3:  Jannie Du Plessis

2:  John Smit

1:  Beast Mtawarira

 

Reserves:

 

Rory Kockett

Jean De Villiers

Jongi Nokwe

Bismarck Du Plessis

Guthro Steenkamp

Andries Bekker

Heinrich Brussouw

 

Breakdown:

 

Bulls: 7

Sharks: 8

Lions: 1

Stormers: 3

Cheetahs: 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bakkies Botha……the Springboks not so secret weapon

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Let’s face it, rugby union is a hard game and not played by the faint of heart.  The professional game has had many advantages with rugby becoming a faster game played by bigger and probably more skillful players.

 

Gone are the days when rugby players going to the gym as part of rugby training were unheard of.  They got all the conditioning they needed at practice twice a week and in the pub afterwards, the players believed in those days.  Rob Louw the great South African flank even got dropped for a test match in New Zealand for jolling too much at the pubs.

 

Through the generations however, rugby has had the hard man. This oke would be one of the big forwards and most of them over the years have been locks.  England was at their most dominant when Martin Johnson ran the show from up front.  Johnson took no nonsense and in 2002 was the man who sorted out Springbok captain Corne Krige in the ‘Tangle at Twickenham”.   England went on to win the Rugby World Cup the following year.

 

Kevin De Klerk was a tough man in the heyday of strong Transvaal teams.  There is an old legend in SA rugby folklore that De Klerk would say to an opposition lock that “My ball is my ball…..your ball we can talk about” and woe betide any lightie lock that didn’t get the message.

 

Great teams over the years always seem to have had an enforcer in the mix.  New Zealand has produced Colin Meads, Andy Haden and Mark Shaw who were never afraid to take a step forward.  The 1976 All Black Ian Kirkpatrick fought pitched battles with Moaner Van Heerden, both drawing blood though gaping head wounds in the four test matches that South Africa won 3-1.  There were no blood bins and neither man would have even considered leaving the field.  They were playing rugby and it didn’t get any better than the old rivals sorting each other out.

 

 In the good old days Eastern Province were given the first match when an international team visited South Africa.  The 1980 British Lions faced up to EP at the infamous Boet Erasmus stadium in Port Elizabeth.  There had been many battles of the Boet over the years and EP was a feared and respected outfit who had been given the task to soften the Lions and giving them a traditional South African welcoming.

 

They breed them tough in that neck of the woods.  Schalk Burger was born in Port Elizabeth.  Mark Andrews and Os Du Rand, two of the all time great Springboks come from farming stock and grew up in the hinterlands of the province. Even a few of the Watson brothers were big okes that could take care of themselves.

 

There was a saying in South African rugby that if EP lost the game, they would always win the fight.  And the 1980 EP team had some hard men in its ranks.  Fronted up by Schalk Burger Snr in his prime and backed by his sidekick George Rautenbach the pack was a tough unit.  And in the backline was the suicidal crash tackler Dennis Campher.

 

The Lions went on to win the encounter but the 1980 British Lions injury count started at the Boet when Stuart Lane, the highly rated flanker limped off the field.  Schalk Burger would go on to win Springbok colours and become the enforcer of the Bok pack together with Vleis Visage in the mid 1980’s.

 

The 1995 World Cup winning Boks also had some hard men in the team.  James “Bullet” Dalton was always in opponents faces and he had back up from the likes of the man mountain Kobus Wiese and Hannes Strydom.

 

Mark Andrews became the Bok enforcer after them with guys like Os Du rand and Andre Venter adding the grunt when necessary in the late 1990’s.

 

Then Bakkies Botha came along.  The man is huge at over 2m tall and 116 kg of prime beef .  He already is a legend in SA rugby.  There is a story that Pieter De Villiers told at a dinner in Jeffreys Bay recently about the time Bakkies saw another hard man, AJ Venter lying at the bottom of a ruck.  “AJ come closer”, said Bakkies and when asked why, Bakkies retorted “So that I can moer your properly”.

 

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Fourie Du Preez when asked about funny moments on a rugby field came up with this one.  ‘The Bulls were playing the Sharks and during the second half, one of the Natal Sharks forwards said to Bakkies that he thought Botha always got substituted at half time so why is he still on the field.  Bakkies replied that he plays the full 80 minutes against the smaller unions only………..

 

John Smit tells of the tense minutes in the changing room before the kickoff.  ‘I look around the changing room and then I see Bakkies.  The sheer size of the man would intimidate anybody.  That when I know everything will be all right on the field.  With Bakkies there, the Boks are going to be ok”.  The team went on to win the 2007 rugby World Cup.

 

During 2009 Super 14 rugby, Botha made his presence felt in every game he played.  When pesky Phil Waugh stole one ball too many and needed to be put into his place, Bakkies helped him right with an elbow.  One of the most classic moments in modern rugby happened right after the incident when Bakkies was caught on camera blowing a kiss to Waugh.  Absolutely classic stuff from the big man of SA rugby.

 

And no, the incident certainly did not deserve a three week suspension.  After all, this is rugby we playing and watching, not netball or tennis or tiddlywinks.

 

Who are the future hard men of the game in South Africa?  Well Duane Vermeulen, Bismark Du Plessis, Ryan Kankowski, Beast, and Pierre Spies will all be sure to put up their hands…..ummmmmm elbows…….. in time to come.  The future of South African rugby is sound.