Saturday. Springboks v All Blacks. Soccer City (or whatever they call it now), Soweto. Historic event. The first time the Boks play a Test in the most famous “township” on the planet.
It also happens to be Springbok captain John Smit’s 100th test for his country. Our beloved country. Barney Smit, widely considered the best rugby skipper in the world. And you all saw the pictures of him standing alone in the centre of that phenomenal calabash of a stadium, holding his son and daughter. Ninety thousand fans waving The Flag. The captain was almost blubbing, wasn’t he? Quite acceptable.
If ever a stage was set for the under-performing Bokke to find their redemption, this was it.
But you all know, or should know, what happened next. Sickening. Especially for our Captain Fantastic. Even All Black captain Richie McCaw graciously said that “rugby can be a cruel game”.
But we move on. A year away from the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. There could be no sweeter redemption than to retain our World Cup in the backyard of the mighty All Blacks.
But let’s have a slightly unusual look at Saturday’s Tri-Nations heartbreaker. I’ve been playing with the 360 deg imagery that the Vodacom Player 23 Fan Cam put out after the match and, despite not having a clue how this technology works, captured three freeze-frames for your delectation.
Hold on to your Bok beanies, babies…
Worm's view of The Calabash on Saturday. Stunning, hey? But let's pan down a tad to see what's happening on the ground...
Ja, look, sorry about that bar thing above the players' heads... but I know diddly about Photoshop and couldn't shift it. Anyway, you'll see the All Blacks doing that haka thing they like to amuse us with before rugby matches... let's zoom in on that, shall we?
What's this?! The All Blacks doing their quaint little pre-match warm-up, sure... but who is that Bok player lurking behind them? What is he doing there?
And could somebody please tell the nation why, when presented with a green-and-golden opportunity like that, our Bok didn’t sneak up behind one of those Kiwi blokes at the back and give him a moerse skop (good kick) up his fat jacksie?
That would have given us a lekker start to the game, hey?
Mmmm. When somebody says this, it doesn’t necessarily mean much. But when it comes out of the mouth of Bruce Fordyce, Comrades Marathon legend, you have every right be feel a bit chuffed.
This is what nine-times Comrades winner Fordyce said to Geoff “Heartman” Brink – and he’s had a smile on his face ever since. I was witness to this stunning pronouncement. Heartman and I had spotted Baddaford Farm Stall nestling among shady trees on the side of the road heading towards Fort Beaufort and the word “Coffee” performed a lightning coup of our minds.
We had no sooner walked in and met owner Jane Roberts when Mr Fordyce strolled in and raised an inquiring eyebrow at AmaOneTyre, Heartie’s trusty unicycle which has carried him over 700km from Durban towards Cape Town, our final destination. Heartie explained what it required to get on to a unicycle, stay on it and ride the distance that he has. This precipitated in his comment and it is inspiration such as this that will carry Heartie the rest of the way to the Mother City. Pure awesomeness.
Here is the picture…
Comrades legend Bruce Fordyce and old Heartie launch their mutual admiration society outside beautiful Baddaford farm stall
Now, let me tell you a bit about Baddaford. Because our association with this beautiful oasis didn’t stop there. It stopped three days later in Grahamstown. After Jane had given us not only free coffee but a lunch on the house. After she had invited us to spend a night or two at the splendid and very old stone house that she shares with husband Jonathan, a farmer of citrus and pecan nuts.
But Jonny also rides a bike. Very passionately. And, in his fifties, was recently challenged into doing his first Iron Man competition when his son said there was no way he could do it. You don’t tell Jonathan Roberts he can’t do something. He did it. And he did it amazingly well. And he and Jane did a phenomenal job of looking after us. There was nothing they wouldn’t do to help us recover from the rigours of the Heart and Sole Tour. They housed us. They fed us. They helped us. To the extent of escorting us in their car safely over the tricky and testing Ecca Pass and into Grahamstown.
We will never forget the kindness and comradeship extended to us by Jonny and Janey Roberts of Baddaford Farm. Enjoy a gander at the beautifulness of our experience…
The Heartman, Jane and Jonathan at the creeper-covered entrance to their gorgeous old stone house, built on Baddaford farm by Jonathan's great-grandfather. The house burned down in 1928 after an ostrich, which was nesting with its chicks under the house, knocked over a lamp and started the blaze. It has been beautifully restored. Take my word for that!
A water stop on the road to Grahamstown ends in a scrumming contest between Hatman and Heartman with Jonny Roberts at scrum-half. Result? Hatman won. Watch out, John Smit!
The Heart & Sole tour finally rolls into Grahamstown and Jane Roberts has to waste perfectly good spring weater on an overheated Heartman. Eish!
* The Heartman and would also like to thank these people for their phenomenal help: Chris and Sally Purdon of Red Angus Farm and Glenfinlas B&B (between Cathcart and Seymour); Sam and Sandy of the Katberg Hotel at the Katberg Eco Golfing Resort, Brian and Elvira of The Old Gaol B&B in Grahamstown, Cindy and Francesca of Bartholomews B&B, Grahamstown, and the mercurial Martina Gilli of the Live Music Society at Rhodes University who went to great lengths to help raise awareness among her fellow students of the objectives of our Heart and Sole Tour. Further fantasticness from wonderful South Africans!
Slick on the draw. South Africa and neighbouring independent state The Republic of Cape Town put on quite a show when hosting the Fifa World Cup 2010 finals draw.
Star of the show – and she certainly wasn’t leaving anybody in any doubt – was former Benoni bokkie Charlize Theron who was incredibly self-assured and didn’t sound or act like any Benoni bokkie I’ve come across (and there have been at least two).
Springbok skipper John “Barndog” Smit proved to the world that South Africans and rugby players do have a sense of humour when he said he didn’t mind South Africa facing tough opponents France, Mexico and Uruguay in Group A. “We’ll get in some good practice before we hit the semis and final,” said The Barndog. Yeah, right.
David Beckham, who everybody raves about more because of what he wears and the stick insect to whom he’s married than how he can bend a football behind defences, showed his London East End-bred humour by greeting our Benoni bokster with a “‘Ello sweetheart” and displaying his latest hairdo confection in the shape of a badger that’s been dragged through a hedge backwards. Nice, Becks.
OK. Time for a pic before I remind you of the full draw and give you the most authoritative assessment of the draw you’ll read anywhere (on an Umdloti blog)…
Fifa minion Jerome-ah Falcke-ah gives-ah us-ah a draw card action while David "Hedgehoghead" Beckham tries to catch our Charlize's attention with a handy signal of how big he is. Ooh, bee-have Dave! Pic courtesy of guardian.co.uk
Without any further hair-do, here’s that draw (with my hometown Durban’s fixtures in bold)…
Full groups for the 2010 World Cup finals
Group ASouth Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece
Group C England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia
Group E Holland, Japan, Cameroon, Denmark
Group F Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia
Group G Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
Group H Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland
Provisional match schedule
Match 1, June 11 1500: South Africa v Mexico (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 2, June 11 1930: Uruguay v France (Cape Town)
Match 17, June 16 1930: South Africa v Uruguay (Pretoria)
Match 18, June 17 1230: France v Mexico (Polokwane)
Match 33, June 22 1500: Mexico v Uruguay (Rustenburg)
Match 34, June 22 1500: France v South Africa (Bloemfontein)
Match 3, June 12 1230: Argentina v Nigeria (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 4, June 12 1500: South Korea v Greece (Port Elizabeth)
Match 19, June 17 1500: Greece v Nigeria (Bloemfontein)
Match 20, June 17 1930: Argentina v South Korea (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 35, June 22 1930: Nigeria v South Korea (Durban)
Match 36, June 22 1930: Greece v Argentina (Polokwane)
Match 5, June 12 1930: England v USA (Rustenburg)
Match 6, June 13 1230: Algeria v Slovenia (Polokwane)
Match 22, June 18 1500: Slovenia v USA (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 23, June 18 1930: England v Algeria (Cape Town)
Match 37, June 23 1500: Slovenia v England (Port Elizabeth)
Match 38, June 23 1500: USA v Algeria (Pretoria)
Match 7, June 13 1500: Germany v Australia (Durban)
Match 8, June 13 1930: Serbia v Ghana (Pretoria)
Match 21, June 18 1230: Germany v Serbia (Port Elizabeth)
Match 24, June 19 1230: Ghana v Australia (Rustenburg)
Match 39, June 23 1930: Ghana v Germany (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 40, June 23 1930: Australia v Serbia (Nelspruit)
Match 9, June 14 1230: Holland v Denmark (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 10, June 14 1500: Japan v Cameroon (Bloemfontein)
Match 25, June 19 1500: Holland v Japan (Durban)
Match 26, June 19 1930: Cameroon v Denmark (Pretoria)
Match 43, June 24 1930: Denmark v Japan (Rustenburg)
Match 44, June 24 1930: Cameroon v Holland (Cape Town)
Match 11, June 14 1930: Italy v Paraguay (Cape Town)
Match 12, June 15 1230: New Zealand v Slovakia (Rustenburg)
Match 27, June 20 1230: Slovakia v Paraguay (Bloemfontein)
Match 28, June 20 1500: Italy v New Zealand (Nelspruit)
Match 41, June 24 1500: Slovakia v Italy (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 42, June 24 1500: Paraguay v New Zealand (Polokwane)
Match 13, June 15 1500: Ivory Coast v Portugal (Port Elizabeth)
Match 14, June 15 1930: Brazil v North Korea (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 29, June 20 1930: Brazil v Ivory Coast (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 30, June 21 1230: Portugal v North Korea (Cape Town)
Match 45, June 25 1500: Portugal v Brazil (Durban)
Match 46, June 25 1500: North Korea v Ivory Coast (Nelspruit)
Match 15, June 16 1230: Honduras v Chile (Nelspruit)
Match 16, June 16 1500: Spain v Switzerland (Durban)
Match 31, June 21 1500: Chile v Switzerland (Port Elizabeth)
Match 32, June 21 1930: Spain v Honduras (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 47, June 25 1930: Chile v Spain (Pretoria)
Match 48, June 25 1930: Switzerland v Honduras (Bloemfontein)
Match 49, June 26 1500: Winner Group A v Runner-up Group B (Port Elizabeth)
Match 50, June 26 1930: Winner Group C v Runner-up Group D (Rustenburg)
Match 51, June 27 1500: Winner Group D v Runner-up Group C (Bloemfontein)
Match 52, June 27 1930: Winner Group B v Runner-up Group A (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 53, June 28 1500: Winner Group E v Runner-up Group F (Durban) NB: Probably Holland vs one of Paraguay and Slovakia.
Match 54, June 28 1930: Winner Group G v Runner-up Group H (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 55, June 29 1500: Winner Group F v Runner-up Group E (Pretoria)
Match 56, June 29 1930: Winner Group H v Runner-up Group G (Cape Town)
Match 57, July 2 1500: Winner of Match 53 v Winner of Match 54 (Port Elizabeth)
Match 58, July 2 1930: Winner of Match 49 v Winner of Match 50 (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Match 59, July 3 1500: Winner of Match 52 v Winner of Match 51 (Cape Town)
Match 60, July 3 1930: Winner of Match 55 v Winner of Winner of Match 56 (Ellis Park, Johannesburg)
Match 61, July 6 1930: Winner Match 58 v Winner Match 57 (Cape Town)
Match 62, July 7 1930: Winner Match 59 v Winner Match 60 (Durban)… NB: Most likely Argentina vs Germany!
Match 63, July 10 1930: Loser Match 61 v Loser Match 62 (Port Elizabeth)
Match 64, July 11 1930: Winner Match 61 v Winner Match 62 (Soccer City, Johannesburg)
Hey, are you still here? Coolness. My point-form summary (for what it’s worth):
* South Africa in a humungously tough group with world-class cheats France (who handballed my Irish mates out of the finals), Mexico and Uruguay and unlikely to progress further than their training ground due to fear and anxiety about letting down a nation which has no expectations of them at all.
* We in Durban will get to see playing live at our truly world-class new ground, the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Portugal vs Brazil and, probably, Argentina vs Germany in one of the semi-finals. Awesomeness overload.
* Durbs-on-Sea (and me in particular) will witness Holland play twice… which is totally epic as very tall and gorgeous blondes will travel over with the Dutch and undoubtedly romp in bikinis in our sub-tropical winter-warm bit of the Indian Ocean. I’m completely fine with that. And, as a bonus and as you can see right here, the Orange People have, unlike the whale-murdering Japanese and the odd Spaniard, embraced our vuvuzela like it’s their own. I offer a massive doff of the old red hat and a loud paaaarrrrp of my vuvu to our friends from Amsterdam and any other urban conurbations which exist in the Netherlands. Jy’s vreeslik welkom hier in Durban, maatjies. Especially your flaxen-locked Amazonians. *Insert winky face*
Inspiring music has often been used to prepare soldiers for battle. The skirl of bagpipes helped the Scots to believe that they were giants among men in order to repel invasions of their beloved land when, in fact, they were mostly wee laddies drunk on single malts and dressed in tartan skirts. On many memorable occasion in South Africa’s bloodstained history, women would sing their Zulu warriors into conflicts against men unfairly armed with muskets and other firepower. The backing singers gave them the blood-boiling belief that they could swarm down that koppie and see off the strangely-armoured would-be settlers with just spears in their hands and fire in their hearts.
Much the same with today’s international sporting teams and their pre-match anthems. This is why the strategy of France’s rugby warlords to put the Springboks on the back foot even before the match began in Toulouse on Friday night worked such a treat. Napoleon would have been mega-chuffed with the French brains trust who thought of going down to Toulouse’s railway station and hiring a rasta busker to come along to the rugby stadium and totally mangle Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
This had the desired effect of bringing South Africa’s finest rugger players to their knees – in disbelief and utter mirth – before a ball was kicked in anger. Take a deep breath and a groot sluk of your brandy-and-Coke and be reminded of the trauma Commandant John Smit and his troops were forced to endure before the match had even begun…
Wattievok was that, you ask? That, my fellow countrymen, was the equivalent of sending the All Blacks into rugby conflict with a haka performed by a bunch of disjointed midgets dressed in suspenders and stockings and high on ecstasy. Or serenading the Scottish bravehearts into a Highlands rort against the Romans or Sassenachs with my niece on the pennywhistle. Or trying to fuel the Zulus’ lust for colonial blood with some pimply teenager from Pop Idols warbling De la Rey. You get my point. And I hope it’s as sharp as the dagger I would like to drive into the ribs of the malicious monsieur who masterminded that travesty of the South African anthem.
The rasta busker, one Ras Dumisani (originally from Durban but now banned from ever reentering South Africa) was so diabolically discordant and epically out of tune that nearly all of the Springboks almost broke down while he was croaking out the bit about “uit die blou van onse hemel” etc. It reminded me of Peter Sellers blowing into that trumpet on the film set in the opening scenes of The Party. Hilarious. Except he got repeatedly shot.
Did you check Bryan Habana in the vid? He thought he had gone to sleep and woken up in a Monty Python sketch. Only hooker Bismarck du Plessis, an oke who has gone on record as never having laughed at anything in his entire life, kept his eyes closed, clutched his chest and wailed into the night. Come to think of it, he might have been experiencing the onset of a heart attack.
No, this just wasn’t cricket. Or even rugby. When are France next coming over here to play against us? I’m putting my name down to be allowed to sing La Mayonnaise to them before the game. And everybody who heard me throw out Bonnie Tyler’s Lost In France at the Bush Tavern’s karaoke night last week knows that I’m totally the right man to do the job.
Despite the existence of Pieter “Die Snor” de Villiers and the resolute resistance of all South African rugby fans to coming up with something better to sing at the stadium than a chant usually associated with Spaniards at a bullfight, the Springboks are undeniably the best rugby team in the world. By far.
It's Mils Muiliana's turn to be smashed. But which Bok is doing the smashing? Your answers in my Comments feed, please! Pic courtesy of SARugby
John Smit’s current Boks are the most complete rugby outfit to have played the “hooligans game played by gentlemen” for some time. You can debate among yourselves as to when last any team played better. Perhaps the Maritzburg College 1st XV of 1974, as created, coached and inspired by Skonk Nicholson? No, I didn’t play in that team. I took the pieces of oranges out at half-time.
So here we are in 2009, out-All-Blacking the All Blacks. Showing them how to play the style of game they invented quite a few years ago. Fronting up, each player putting his body on the line for the badge and for the nation, wrecking the opposition’s gameplan, bossing the scrums and the mauls (I won’t even mention the Matfield-owned lineouts) and generally playing to the very edge of the laws to gain the advantage. McCaw must be muttering “Bloody Boks” into his cornflakes every morning in abject admiration.
OK, so Morne Steyn kicked his kicks. We should be shocked if he didn’t. That’s what he is paid to do. It’s about the whole team. Every one of the 22. And, yes, Player 23 too. They could have made “Man of the Match” out of any one of our heroes who took the field on Saturday. Spies, Fourie, Beast, Smith, Habana, De Villiers, Brussouw, Botha, Smit, Du Preez (perhaps in that order) were simply enormous. I wasn’t going to mention names but my passion simply overwhelmed me.
Anyway, here’s a joyous celebration of our world champions and Tri-Nations-kings-to-be by Shaun Custers of Rugby Rants. Right here. Click!
Unfortunate that Fourie du Preez should be described as “the world’s best SCUM-half” but, hey, “Bok-positive” bloggers push their words out at the speed of Habana. And Shaun does insist that he didn’t “attend any fancy-pants high school”. Nor did I, Shaun, but Pelham Primary did teach me how to spell.
Ole, ole, oh-lay, oy-vey! (Please guys, let’s bring back Shosholoza. For singing out aloud!)