Mhambi has been redeployed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mhambi's qoutables: The English rugby press on clever Western gentlemen

Originally uploaded by fabdany.

Mhambi was reading the English Rugby press this week. In the lead-up to the England Springbok World Cup match English scribes were explaining how England could beat South Africa.

On 9 September Jeremy Guscott started on Eddie Jones, the Australian coach helping South Africa. According to Guscott Jones added a cerebral dimension to South African brawn, but his efforts could actually serve to confuse the South Africans.

"Jones is shrewd in the play-making department and, given enough time, he is a coach who can teach Habana and the South African backs the sort of precision moves we have seen from Australian backs for as long as anyone can remember. It will be touch and go, and I have serious doubts that he has had the time necessary to transform guys raised in a culture of one-dimensional, unimaginative, brutally direct back play in a few weeks.

The danger for South Africa is that while Habana is an instinctive player with great natural sprinting ability, he is not used to being the focal point of a back-line, and although he is a bright guy, Jones’s (The Australian coach helping South Africa) playbook rules could confuse him."

Who's getting it ?
Originally uploaded by fabdany.

Also on 9 September Steven Jones chimed in. He saw a solution in the danger posed by clever Mike Catt.

"Catt is one of England’s most misunderstood and most complete postwar rugby talents, a director of play, an outstanding kicker and passer (though he has drawn the odd hair-raising interception with his long miss-passing) and, still, a cutting runner, and a Cavalier among Roundheads and dunderheads. He still has composure and an ability to make line-breaks either with his quick feet or quick hands, way ahead of his rivals in the England squad.

Yet it is in the head and not the body where Catt can indeed make the difference. The body aches and fades as the years go by, but out on the rugby field, as the wisdom of the years and the hits is absorbed, the mind can become sharper. Catt’s unerring tactical nous can be a prodigious weapon, and especially in the Bok context next Friday.

In life, as in rugby, to ascribe a characteristic to a nation can be deemed at worst as racism, and at best a sweeping generalisa-tion. So it may be harsh to say South Africa lacks leadership, that so often all the power and fury goes to waste because there is nobody to shape it."

Err... ok.

Jones did however forget to mention that the Catt is a born and bred South African. A few days later another columnist did mention a South African playing for England. But it was not Catt, but Durban born Matt Stevens, who was compared to his opposite number, Os du Randt.

"Tomorrow, he will have the pleasure – or otherwise – of scrummaging against a fellow countryman. Matt Stevens, promoted from the bench as a result of Phil Vickery's two-match suspension for making the clumsiest football tackle ever seen on a rugby field, may be a very substantial individual in terms of pounds and ounces, but he is not of Afrikaans stock. Rather, he was born in Durban and is every inch the western liberal gentleman."

That was Chris Hewett's wisdom on 13 September.

Mhambi was wondering. Why are South Africans dumb but when we immigrate to England we're considered brainy and liberal nogal? Or perhaps the English press reckons it's only the brainy Western orientated South Africans that immigrate?

looking after the englishman
Originally uploaded by fabdany.

In any event, South Africa won the match. There was little confusion on the South African side, and Mike Catt played like a dullard. I had a good look but none of the South Africans gave a hint of being secret members of Sadam Hussein's Bath party or anything similar.

The Guardian reported on the post match press conference.

The South Afdrican coach was asked why at the end of the match, South Africa opted to kick a penalty, when already a record 33 points ahead? Why not rather go for a bonus-point try?

The coach replied: "The players like scoring points against England."

Funny that.

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