The entry of Keegan Rhys Daniel’s name into the Super 14 record book in Durban at the weekend contained a number of interesting implications for South African rugby and the game as a whole.
Superrugby’s Dan Retief writes that just three days after his 23rd birthday the Sharks flanker, who like Neil Back and Serge Betsen has had to endure endless asides on his lack of size, imprinted his name in the annals of Super Rugby by scoring the fastest try to date – within 16 seconds of the kick-off against the Blues.
Now the SuperWrap knows that Daniel, who reached the Sharks by way of Humansdorp and Dale College in the Eastern Cape, was the beneficiary of a freak occurrence so that’s not why his achievement of being the Man of the Match in successive games is seen has having an impact on the wider game.
No, Daniel’s new-found celebrity, in spite of his having been the 2006 Vodacom Cup and SA under 21 Player of the Year, confirms a heartening trend for South African rugby as well as one of the phenomenons predicted for the experimental laws.
First, as is the way of the SuperWrap, the latter! At the outset of this season of change it was felt that the ELVs would suit small, fast and agile loose forwards and Daniel’s contribution to the Sharks could well be the confirmation of this view.
Secondly Daniel coming to the fore highlights a situation previously alluded to by the SuperWrap – that of the advance of a number of excellent young players in the wake of the World Cup.
This not just true for South Africa but also the antipodes where a horde of new apostrophes (i’is, a’as and u’us) is catching the eye and getting commentators tongue-tied.
It might have been quite a gloomy start to the Super 14 for South Africa but look deeper and you see the Springbok dream still burning bright.
The ball has bounced for Keegan Daniel but there are just so many others. Rory Kockott taking over from Ruan Pienaar with aplomb, Jano Vermaak driving on the Lions, Andries Bekker starting to realize his potential, Meyer Bosman gaining in maturity and any number of excellent loose forwards such as Duane Vermeulen, Heinrich Brussow, Francois Louw, Jean Deysel and Deon Stegmann marauding with intent.
There are just so many excellent hookers, Adriaan Strauss, Willie Wepener, Tiaan Liebenberg, Ethienne Reynecke, Richardt Strauss, while it is satisfying to see the like of Jongi Nokwe, Tonderai Chavhanga, Brian Mujati and Heini Adams shaking off injuries and coming back to form.
South African rugby is awash with talent and, without wishing to moralize, the SuperWrap needs to make the point that we are the world champions.
This week’s “Bok Barometer,” remember it’s a gauge of who played well in a single round and not what the SuperWrap thinks the Springbok side should be, reflects these feelings while the Super XV shows that when confronted by a third week on tour the like of the Crusaders and the Blues suddenly appear vulnerable – yet again demonstrating the handicap South African sides have been saddled with over the years with four- and five-week tours.
The Super XV for Week Four:
1. Jamie MacKintosh (Highlanders), 2 Schalk Brits (Stormers), 3 Greg Somerville (Crusaders), 4 Nathan Sharpe (Force), 5 Andries Bekker (Stormers), 6 David Pocock (Force), 7 Richie McCaw (Crusaders), 8 Mose Tuiali’i (Crusaders), 9 Rory Kockott (Sharks), 10 Kurtley Beale (Waratahs), 11 Sitivini Sivivatu (Chiefs), 12 Meyer Bosman (Cheetahs), 13 Ryan Cross (Force), 14 Lote Tuqiri (Waratahs), 15 Leon MacDonald (Crusaders).
The Bok Barometer for Week Four:
1. Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), 2 Schalk Brits (Stormers), 3 BJ Botha (Sharks), 4 Johann Muller (Sharks), 5 Andries Bekker (Stormers), 6 Keegan Daniel (Sharks), 7 Wikus van Heerden (Bulls), 8 Duane Vermeulen (Cheetahs), 9 Rory Kockott (Sharks), 10 Derick Hougaard (Bulls), 11 Jongi Nokwe (Cheetahs), 12 Meyer Bosman (Cheetahs), 13 Wynand Olivier (Bulls), 14 Akona Ndungane (Bulls), 15 Conrad Jantjes (Stormers).
Match of the Week:
Whoo boy this one had the judges stuck. The nine-try thriller between the Force and the Crusaders?, the Stormers winning impressively against the Reds in Brisbane or the Sharks taking the Blues down a peg or two? And the award goes to?… the Sharks for providing an object lesson on how to play, and beat, a New Zealand side.
Try of the Week:
Again there were many, a couple from the Crusaders and the Force, some gems from the Stormers, good ones from the Cheetahs, the Chiefs and the Waratahs but the SuperWrap reveled in one of the finest sights in rugby – a really pacy wing put away on the outside for a looping sprint to the far goal line, so the golden sphere goes to Jongi Nokwe of the Cheetahs.
That’s the Bulls, who have clearly forgotten everything Heyneke Meyer taught them about discipline. Against the Crusaders the champions had Deon Stegmann yellow-carded and JP Nel cited. Against the Sharks Danie Rossouw was yellow-carded while JP Nel and Jaco Engels were cited – the former being banned for a week and the latter for two weeks. Then against the Lions Bakkies Botha was yellow-carded and cited and Zane Kirchner red-carded, earning a suspension. All of which adds credence to whispers that all is not well at Loftus.
ELV stands for Exasperating Law Variations:
As if the ELVs are not hard enough we now also have the BLVs, JCVs, PMVs, LBVs, WRVs and a few others to deal with. Puzzled? It stands for Bryce Lawrence Variations, JC Fortuin Variations, Paul Marks Variations, Lyndon Bray Variations and Willie Roos Variations. As the SuperWrap said about ‘crouch, touch, pause,engage,” this too will pass.
The best advertisement for the ELVs?:
The Six Nations.
Lost in translation:
Referees clearly did not think it all the way through when they decided that touch judges would be renamed assistant referees. So from TJ we’ve gone to AR… and the plural is?
Down under the carpet again:
You have to wonder about the evenhandedness of Australian citing officers. In the Waratahs vs Brumbies match there were shots of Daniel Vickerman punching and Brett Sheehan abusing a TJ, sorry an AR. Was there a citing? Not on yer life mate!
It’s a game of two halves!
After only four rounds this year’s Super 14 has thrown up an interesting phenomenon – 10 matches in which one of the teams did not score a point in the second half. Interestingly the Stormers have already managed it three times, the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Brumbies twice and the Lions once.
Och aye, Bravehearts all:
Down Dunedin way, the capital of the mullet, they think of themselves as the Edinburgh of the south and, but for a small detail, they could have quite a line-up in the Highlanders frontrow. Jamie MacKintosh, Jason MacDonald and Clint ‘Mac’Newland.
Pedrie Wannenburg – 60th consecutive game for the Bulls.
Joe Rokocoko – 50th game for the Blues.
Scott Hamilton – 50th game for the Crusaders.
Rob Horne – of the Waratahs on becoming the third youngest player ever in Super Rugby at the age of 18 years 205 days. (The youngest was David Pocock of the Force at 18 years 19 days with Kurtley Beale of the Waratahs having been 18 years 27 days when he made his debut).
Quote of the Week I:
“I don’t know if the HMS Bismarck was a cruiser or a destroyer.” – we can see where Gavin Cowley was going, but seeing as the Bismarck was a German battleship it could not have been one of His Majesty’s Ships!
Quote of the Week II:
“We’re going to do it my way.” – James “Sinatra” Leckie to the Waratahs and Brumbies packs.
Quote of the Week III:
“Look at that face people. I give you three months and the grey hairs will start growing.” – Naas Botha on Rassie Erasmus.
Quote of the Week IV:
“That’s just straightforward bad.” – Naas Botha on TJ Lyndon Bray ruling that the Stormers had taken the ball into their 22 and had thus conceded a lineout close to their line when the ball was kicked directly to touch when replays showed Ricky Januarie clearly inside the line when he passed the ball.