Ai Piet

Written by Jonathan Burt (VinChainSaw)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 5 Jun 2008 at 19:48

So, in the latest in a long line of South African coaches that just seemingly cannot get it right with the fans or the media, we now have one Peter de Villiers who claims he wants to play magical French-style attacking rugby.


Now first and foremost, “attacking rugby” is not a strategy nor is it a playing style. It’s one of those terms that won’t be out of place in a the rugby equivalent of “manager speak”. It means nothing, nada, fokol.

Every rugby player wants to play attacking rugby. That’s the point. That’s how you win, by scoring points.

In the light of the above we now move onto Peter de Villiers and his latest team selection. Please tell me, oh moustachioed one, how the inclusion of Danie Roussouw and Bolla Conradie fit this new “attacking rugby”?

Surely if you wanted to play this mystical style then you’d have included probably the two most attacking players in SA rugby currently, if not in the world?

Yip, that’s right sports fans, I’m referring to Mssrs. Steyn and Kankowski.

Be that as it may, we could spend all day ripping this side into unimaginably small pieces given the time and required attention to detail. Rather than follow in the footsteps of such marvellous scribes such as Mssrs. Rich and Keohane, I’d rather concentrate on the more important problem I see – no plan. Fokol plan nie ou. No combinations, not even a recognised kicker on the field although he has mysteriously included 3 on the bench.

The part that makes my head go slightly foggy is that I’m unable to make sense of such a large volume of the selections and fail to see how a team as changed as this one could possibly fire first time.

I can’t help shaking the feeling that Piet Snor, as he has affectionately been dubbed, has tried too much too soon.

With 5 starters from the side that was the best in the world 8 short months ago to the fact that he has not kept one combination and you start to think that de Villiers could take a leaf out of the Warren Gatland coaching manual.

When he took over the Welsh coaching duties, instead of starting from fresh with a totally new side (which they certainly needed after their World Cup nightmare), Gatland played 13 players from the Ospreys, in effect the only Welsh club that was firing at the time.

The important thing here was continuity, continuity, continuity. And it worked. Wales went on to win the Grand Slam and Six Nations and Gatland has started building and moulding his side for the future.

What Gatland did was get a win or two under his belt first using players that knew each other and then started tinkering with the side.

Now I ask you with tears in my eyes why Piet Snor didn’t go down the same route, if at least partially.

Why not start with the majority of a tried and tested team, essentially the same team that won the most coveted trophy in World Rugby and propelled South Africa to the number one rating in test rugby, an accolade not to be taken lightly considering New Zealand’s domination of the rankings since the turn of the century.

Nope, not our Peter de Villiers. He sees himself as an inventor and has set about trying to invent a round thing to be used in the transport industry.

Now I’m not saying it’s a poor side, not by a long shot. It’s actually quite a strong side but with the depth available in SA at the moment that is surely not saying much. You could pretty much field two or three such sides and have the same comment about all of them – yip they’re good but they’re definitely not the best or even a balanced side.

It’s unbalanced in that none of the combinations have played together before. It’s unbalanced in that we no longer have a pure fetcher in the side as Luke Watson has been carrying the ball much more this season and is playing very much mroe like a number 8 than as an opensider. And then we have the lack of kicker which will either mean forced changes if necessary or it’ll mena removing one of the backs to make way for a kicker at a possibly inopportune time unless the Boks can magically start speaking and acting French before Saturday and can survive on tries alone.

It just boggles the mind that after this much preparation time, that this is what Peter has come up with. A very unbalanced side that took very little cognisance of Super14 form, something stressed by de Villiers when he got the job. In the lead-up to the team selection announcement it was almost as if Piet was taking pleasure out of the fact that he’d have some bolters in his side. That’s probably not the wisest thing to do in South Africa…

On the subject of picking the Bok side on Super!4 form, what happened to the ranking system that was promised us? Or did you realise how much work that entailed Piet and decided you’d rather just wing it every time you had the opportunity to express your opinion to the media?

And that brings us swiftly onto what I call “The Piet Snor contradiction section”. I do fear, similar to his predecessor, that this might well turn into a weekly column where we assess his statements against his delivery. And then lambaste and laugh at him.

Now let me make this clear, after Jake White I really couldn’t care what a coach says in public if he delivers on the field.

If he wants to speculate on the origins of the haka or wants to get the players dancing in gumboots or collecting litter next to the highway it really is not of concern to me.

However, a few howlers just couldn’t escape my eagle eye and deserve special mention simply because they are too blatant to ignore.

One such howler is Piet’s notion that somehow he is building for the future and will be giving a few younger players game time. Fair enough I said at the time even if I didn’t believe it.

Then explain to me, dear Piet, the exclusion of the two brightest young stars in SA for Saturdays game Piet. Explain the exclusion of Kankowski and Steyn. Furthermore explain the inclusion of Percy above Steyn and two other players who aren’t getting any younger, Mssrs. Jacobs and Conradie.

I just don’t get it.

I don’t get the new “style”, I don’t get the team selection and above all I don’t get de Villiers’ appetite for risk, which he must have in abundance if he’s willing to chance losing to Wales in South Africa for the first time ever and losing his first game as coach. Surely he knows the Afrikaans press, and all the other media for that matter, are going to crucify him if this side doesn’t perform in their first game? Surely he realises the weight of expectation that there is with us being the champions fo the world? Surely he knows we face NZ and OZ a couple times this year and need to get prepared for that?

Surely he has seen how every man and his dog laid into Jake White week in and week out when they didn’t agree with him?

As world champions I expect more focus and attention from the coaching staff. I expect standards to be maintained and I expect the powers-that-be to keep up the intensity. I don’t expect a coach to drop 66% of the side to make way for less talented and less experienced players. If you want to experiment then do it when the under-strength Italians are here. Fill your whole team with guys for the future if you have to. But don’t go and give the Six Nations champions a sniff of their first victory on our hallowed turf.

Oh, and just one more thing Piet… did you watch last year’s world cup? Where do you see this supposed extra 40% of performance coming from? Or is this just a practice run to take Eddie Jones’ mantle as the clown coach of world rugby who’ll give anybody a silly soundbite?

Even more puzzling is how the Boks are going to get the extra 40% when most of them are no longer even being selected.

Piet, SA Rugby can be a lonely place when you try and go it alone. One loss and your head’ll be on the block. For your future career I hope the Welsh run the Boks very, very close and bring you down to earth. The alternative is a snotting when you come up against a truly world-class side with these half-baked ideas of yours. Then you’ll be out of a job faster than you can say “world champions to world chumps”.

I have no doubt we’ll win on Saturday. But that’s down to the quality of players we have, the depth of players and that little thing called home ground advantage.

New Zealand won’t be so forgiving.

I wish Piet all the best and for his sake and my sanity I hope this is somehow part of the Springbok Master plan to dominate the world. Forever. And ever. Amen.


  • Couldnt help myself. This article has been building all day.

    I’m actually quite pissed off and feel a bit short-changed at the moment.

    I quite like PDV and always have, but he’s makign it very difficult at the moment.

    I’m waiting for the inevitable “you just want him to fail” shpiel to come up. Nothing could be further than the truth but personally I cannot see myself sitting through things like this for the next four years.

  • Comment 1, posted at 05.06.08 19:50:34 by VinChainSaw Reply
    VinChainSawTeam captain
  • Yeah, yeah I know I’m judging him before a ball is even kicked.

    But still, he’s not giving a good impression adn he’ll be knocked down from lofty ideals and high horse soon enough me fears.

  • Comment 2, posted at 05.06.08 19:55:44 by VinChainSaw Reply
    VinChainSawTeam captain
  • Bliksem this beats even my best attempt at a rugby novel! :grin:

    Will read it tomorrow and comment Vin.

    About to feed the nation this side and only got to paragraph 3.

  • Comment 3, posted at 05.06.08 20:00:05 by MorneN Reply
    MornéTeam captain
  • A very interesting perspective, Cousin Vincenzo. Nicely done. I like to believe, though, that there is a plan and that certain players have not been picked as the coach feels they need rest. I am also of the admittedly very arrogant opinion that we can pick 4 different sides that are all capable of smacking the Welsh. I just wish deV could articulate his plan better than he does

  • Comment 4, posted at 05.06.08 20:28:07 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • i feel the same as you do rob, but i tell u i felt a lot happier with my beliefs until i read that bolla will be starting on saturday.

    playing bolla ahead of ruan is madness and a waste of time.

  • Comment 5, posted at 05.06.08 20:49:06 by knersboy Reply

    knersboyVodacom Cup player
  • @MorneN (Comment 3) :

    Ja Nee [email protected] I only ever read three paragraphs anyway. :oops:

  • Comment 6, posted at 05.06.08 20:55:05 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • First game as the coach.
    First game of the season.
    He sure has worn his heart on his sleeve.
    Left us with no doubt were we are heading until he gets fired.

    Numbers first, Stormers second and if there’s anything left the other unions will get a consolation or two.

    Problem is he’s dealing with supporters who know the game, he can’t defend the indefensible.

  • Comment 7, posted at 05.06.08 21:07:38 by redj Reply

    Academy recruit
  • Steyn one of the most attacking players in the world? :lol: Please tell me how many tries the Sharks scored in the S14 & how many Steyn created.

  • Comment 8, posted at 05.06.08 22:30:37 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • Would Steyn have played in the World Cup final if JdV wasn’t injured? No.

  • Comment 9, posted at 05.06.08 22:31:44 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • And to moan about the lack of players from the RWC final to be selected also doesn’t make a lot of sense. Os has retired, Schalk, Jaques Fourie, Fourie Du Preez are injured. Matfield, Rossouw & Percy are on the bench. That’s 12 players from the final accounted for. Give the man a break for god’s sakes. :smile:

  • Comment 10, posted at 05.06.08 22:38:02 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • @ra-cheltjie de’ be-er (Comment 10) : You are my new heroine!

  • Comment 11, posted at 05.06.08 22:39:13 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • CJ is on the bench also, so that’s 13. Pietersen was way off form in the S14. And as I’ve said Steyn was only there because of JdV injury. So that’s al 15 accounted for. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 12, posted at 05.06.08 22:46:41 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • @robdylan (Comment 11) : Thanks Rob. A bit too much Peter de Villiers bashing going on in the press for my liking. But that’s just me. :roll:

  • Comment 13, posted at 05.06.08 22:48:27 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • And further more, I really do feel for Kanko. But it’s one of those things unfortunately. Christie didn’t like Tiaan Strauss, Markgraaf didn’t like Pienaar, Mallet was in love with Bobby more than Teichman…

  • Comment 14, posted at 05.06.08 22:51:51 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • O, and of course White had a slight dislike for Watson. Or any short forward. :grin:

  • Comment 15, posted at 05.06.08 22:52:47 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • And that’s all folks. :twisted:

  • Comment 16, posted at 05.06.08 22:54:17 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • I suppose if things do go badly he will always be able to blame the rules( not used to Old Rules only used to ELV’s. We will just have to wait and see, we might even be pleasantly surprised( Not too sure if Bolla can pull any. How can 2 players who don’t make the Starting 15 week in and out make the countries premier sides starting 15???Hey they are probably far better players than I could ever dream to be, BUT are they better than so many other. Jacobs is suspect on defence ask any Kiwi Rugby scribe, and if they aren’t good enough ask the Waratahs why the targeted him?? Poor Butch he was able to play good rugby with good service now he will have to try do the same with service from Bolla. But Ra-Cheltjie you are right we are complaining before the fact so maybe we all need to Chill out and wait till the weekend, however surely you can see why people are irritated???

  • Comment 17, posted at 06.06.08 00:17:17 by Dynamite Reply

    DynamiteVodacom Cup player
  • Racheltjie, to be fair to Steyn he was playing in a side that couldn’t score tries for love or money. That’s as much his fault as Schalk Burger’s part in the failed Stormers campaign of last year.

    My thoughts on PDV arent that he isn’t a good coach, it’s that his initial impression isn’t great. With all his comments to the media and time to prepare his first Bok squad what he produced, frankly, is disappointing and stink of trying to make his own mark. Making your own mark is not a ba thing per se, but it’s normally done over a slightly longer time period, with a handful of games surely being the bare minimum.

    The excuse of “give him a chance” is quite simply, in my opinion, not good enough. Would you hear the fans of the Yankees saying “give our coach a chance”? Would you hear the Ozzie cricket coach saying “give me a chance”? Why should we be any different? Why? We are the rugby world champions, aren’t we? Did we not wint he crown not even 8 months ago?

    Saying we should give Peter a chance stinks of being easy on him because he is black. And we all mos know that he wasn’t a quota appointment.
    This isn’t a charity. We are the best in the world. Do you want to risj throwing that away to “give a guy a chance”?

    would you have done that with Jake? Of course not! So why with Peter? Should he have more chances because he is’t white? That’s bullshit and if I need to be the first white guy to call it bullshit then sobeit.

    De Villiers needs no favours and I think he would be insulted if he got any for anything other than his obviously extensive rugby knowledge.

    I dont think he’sm out of his depth – I just think he might be slightly over-whelmed, is comments of being in awe of his players the other day confirm this.
    And I think he made some poor selection errors. Whether these are because of people he wanted to please or becasue he can’t see the bigger picture of how players relate to each other remains to be soon.

    The fact remains, however, that he has taken some pretty big risks for what is his first test and the first bok test of the year.

    We are a conservative bunch at that level and it’s a different world. And it’s a world he will be judged in.

    I repeat what i said in the article – come up against a quality team and obvious weaknesses that even the aberage fan can see just from the team sheet will be exploited to the max.

  • Comment 18, posted at 06.06.08 01:40:45 by VinChainSaw Reply
    VinChainSawTeam captain
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 1) :

    Ditto mate… particularly as just a few weeks ago I was wholeheartedly looking forward to this test season… world champs playing the 6n champs… and our side almost unchanged in it’s entirety (so I hoped)… but in the back of my mind there was the niggling feeling this coach could be well under-prepared…

    I remember reading an in-depth post by some blogger awhile back, pretty much going into PDV has been lucky at age-group national level, as tech plans and strategy are not as integral as test rugga, and that if you’ve got talent they pretty much run themselves if left to their own devices…

    Alas the seemingly lack of plan and combo’s for this opening test have leave me feeling one of two possible scenario’s… PDV is a not ready for this level of coaching (read chess) but might get lucky to be ‘carried’ by Smit and the senior boys… or despite his best assertions to the contrary… this team is very much politically driven!

  • Comment 19, posted at 06.06.08 06:18:37 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
  • I want to believe… :wink:

  • Comment 20, posted at 06.06.08 06:19:54 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
  • Let’s keep skin colour out of the debate, please? Muchos gracias

  • Comment 21, posted at 06.06.08 07:55:40 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • With ‘give him a chance’ I don’t mean go easy on him. I simply meant give him a chance to actually coach a few games. And I certainly said the same for Jake White, although not on a blog.

    If he proves not be up to the job then get rid of him by all means. But I won’t be calling for his head as soon as he loses his first test match.

  • Comment 22, posted at 06.06.08 08:07:16 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • “And I certainly said the same for Jake White, although not on a blog.” Ah yes those were the days of productivity in the workplace worldwide…

  • Comment 23, posted at 06.06.08 08:25:28 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
  • @ra-cheltjie de’ be-er (Comment 22) :

    Unless we lose to Wales or Italy…LOL!

  • Comment 24, posted at 06.06.08 08:30:19 by walter van Reply

    walter van Lions WorldCurrie Cup player
  • @bryce_in_oz (Comment 19) : particularly as just a few weeks ago I was wholeheartedly looking forward to this test season… world champs playing the 6n champs… and our side almost unchanged in it’s entirety (so I hoped)…

    Let’s not forget the very important point that rachel has made regarding retirements , injuries and players who lost form. That on it’s own FORCED changes to the “GOLDEN SQUAD”.

    It’s still the WC champs vs the 6N champs…with changes here and there. South Africa has more than 15/22 players mate.

    From any angle I try…THIS SIDE is good enough to beat WALES! It won’t be easy…but it should be done.

    One step at a time boys.

  • Comment 25, posted at 06.06.08 08:32:12 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • I for one will be hoping that we totally SMASH the Welsh tomorrow just so that Vinnie can eat some humble pie.

    Some very good points racheltjie… (you must be a Stormers supporter) :mrgreen:

  • Comment 26, posted at 06.06.08 08:33:55 by wpw (YNWA) Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • “From any angle I try…THIS SIDE is good enough to beat WALES! It won’t be easy…”

    You’re entitled to your opinion… IMO this side is NOT our best available side combination wise full-stop (forget injuries and ‘form’ is subjective)… and the bench selection flawed… but I’m not the coach/selector so it’s all moot but my inkling stands…

    Wes how does ‘humble pie’ factor into Vinnie’s points… Not speaking for him but I for one expect nothing less than a dominating win… doesn’t need to be a ‘smashing’…

    However if certain above mentioned points prove true I’ll be most disappointed if gameplans and combo’s get scrapped to comeback for a shaky win…

  • Comment 27, posted at 06.06.08 08:59:29 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
  • And Chicken Little said :

    “The sky is falling there! Come with us to tell the king.”

  • Comment 28, posted at 06.06.08 09:09:45 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive PassCurrie Cup player
  • No side is guaranteed a win…even if we fielded the original WC 22 with Jake, Eddie in the stands and the President waiting in the box…we can’t say we know for sure what tomorrow’s result was gonna look like.

    Opinions aside…this is not our best side…but then again this is not our best opposition. I’m prepared to take whatever happens tomorrow with a pinch of salt, provided that we win the game off course. :mrgreen: Anything less than that will be a disgrace…for the players and ultimately the coach.

  • Comment 29, posted at 06.06.08 09:11:17 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • bryce

    The only players who should have started are either injured or on the bench.

    Like i said, Percy and Matfield should have probably started but if i’m not mistaken both of them arrived late at the training camp.

    Steyn and Ruan are hopelessly off form and so too is CJ VD Linde.

    Kanko it seems is being rested and the rest are either injured are did not make the squad.

    Let’s wait and see what happens… the new guys like Chavs, Mujati, Bekker and Jantjes deserve to be there based on consistent form.

  • Comment 30, posted at 06.06.08 09:23:59 by wpw aka The Tank Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • As much as we would like to know who is being rested and who is out of the picture, that info will never be forthcoming.

    Puttting that info out in the open will only mess up any harmony that there is in the squad.

    You can’t tell One of the loosies in the squad “you are here until Kanowski has rested enough”

    So as much as I would also like to know what the plans are and who is being rested and who not, I am afraid we will have to wait and see.

  • Comment 31, posted at 06.06.08 09:28:19 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 31) : Wait and see we must.
    This is not a sprint but a marathon folks! :cool:

  • Comment 32, posted at 06.06.08 09:30:48 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • KSA

    Jake made it very clear to guys like Wynand, Ricki, Akona, Gurthro, etc that they were not 1st choice.

    I am sure every single one of them knew this and accepted it.

  • Comment 33, posted at 06.06.08 09:36:11 by wpw aka The Tank Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • That pic at the top is one of the better ones of PdV. I hope we manage to keep it to comapre with how many grey hair he has at the end of this tenure. :smile:

  • Comment 34, posted at 06.06.08 09:36:41 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • I am expecting a win, but it might not be as comprehensive as everybody seems to want. Although I would love a 50+ point victory. If memory serves me correctly the first test of the season, and in this case a new coach, is not always the most fluent of affairs. Added the new combos the Boks might take a while to settle down.

  • Comment 35, posted at 06.06.08 10:00:09 by ra-cheltjie de' be-er Reply

    McLovinAssistant coach
  • Sorry Tank… I don’t buy the bench nor combinations… nor Bolla over RP… nor the exclusion of Steyn from the 22… and if BJ is not injured… don’t get me started… but any ways…

    BLog- multitudes of self opinion in perpetual motion :wink:

  • Comment 36, posted at 06.06.08 10:22:26 by bryce_in_oz Reply

    bryce_in_ozCurrie Cup player
  • Its all good Lice! I mean Bryce. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 37, posted at 06.06.08 10:32:48 by wpw aka The Tank Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • “The excuse of “give him a chance” is quite simply, in my opinion, not good enough.”

    The man hasn’t even been in charge of one test…i think you shot your …never mind

    As to the current team its not to bad, Bolla aside the run on team is pretty useful. The coach knows what he can expect from the likes of CJ, Monty and Vic – so he runs a team where each of the replacements are currently form players – he has a look so come Tri-Nations time…he has more to work with than just the WC 15 or 22 everyone seems to think will just reassemble and smash everyone.

    Come Tri-Nations time, regardless of who is in the team and regardless that the coach is PDV or could have been Jake or Vince himself, we going to lose away and just win at home. And if one thinks back to last couple of year we got 50 points at Loftus from the AB’s…

    I think this assumption that being World Champs makes us the best team in the world is devoid of logic, We won a 4 week tournament…and a couple of very handy results went our way.

    As to Kankowski, he surely should have been in the match 22 i don’t dispute that but think about all the howling for Watsons inclusion prior to the #46 incident…Coaches makes choices and live by them…I suspect Kankowski will turn up this season as i think Spies is a little over hyped.

    As to Steyn he has been woeful this season. And i think i am being kind. I suspect the Frank Sinatra round the back-line by his coach has also helped himfind himself out the 22.

    The squad has two quality tens, Grants a little wet behind the ears but also covers 12, two solid 15′s…and Pienaar who can cover 9 10 and 15…Where do you pick him and why given his form?

    But much like Kankowski i think he will soon rather than later make his appearance….next weeks 15 might be a whole different ball game.

  • Comment 38, posted at 06.06.08 12:11:45 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire SauceCurrie Cup player
  • @Sauce (Comment 38) : Voice of reason. Nice work, young Sauce

  • Comment 39, posted at 06.06.08 12:15:10 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • @Sauce (Comment 38) :
    Bravo!!! :cool:

  • Comment 40, posted at 06.06.08 13:03:31 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player

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