Front Row Grunt

Rugby … with cauliflower ears

Heyneke vs Div … or Big G?

Or Rassie?

So much speculation surrounding the pending announcement of the Bok coach … In a way I think it serves SARU right for delaying the announcement for so bloody long … If there was doubt as to who they wanted, or difficulties in getting their chosen man out of an existing contract, then they should have either announced Div as the interim coach until after the England series, or not given a definite announcement date … it’s not as if the Boks need a coach until a week before the England series in any case!

As it stands, it seems that Div had his first post World Cup meeting with SARU CEO Jurie Roux this week! Look, I am no Div fan, and cannot wait to see the back of him as a Bok coach, but that is pretty piss-poor man management, and bloody unfair!

So we have had Gert Smal as the “Dead cert” until the Irish Times ran a piece quoting the IRU as saying that Smal will definitely be seeing out his two year contract at the home of Guinness …

We then had the “Heyneke Meyer vs Allister Coetzee” speculation which was pretty laughable given that Coetzee has said from the get go that he is out the mix this time round.

Rassie Erasmus’ resignation from WP put the cat amongst the pigeons, and got the tongues wagging, most loudly from Rapport on Sunday, and sport photo agency Gallo Images this afternoon, who both “announced” him as a Bok assistant coach … Notwithstanding that it will be the head coach who appoints his assistants …

Then yesterday we had Times Live saying that Div was out the mix completely mere minutes before SuperSport suggested it was basically a dead cert that he would be the interim Bok coach until after the England series …

Mark Keohane then suggested Div as an interim solution until after the Six Nations, where after Gert Smal would take the helm …

My aching tit … I suppose it’s good on SARU for keeping schtum while all this cow manure hits the fan, but a little foresight could have prevented all of it … And it does not help that the cricket season is proving to be duller than dishwater … Resulting in people aching for a little rugby news …

Closer to hand, and while the bigwigs and blazers at SARU ponder the above, fighting for your attention in the Cape on Saturday will be two pretty cool, if slightly low key, warm up games …

In Wellington at 16h00, the Stormers take on Boland (and it’s on TV nogal), and at UCT at 16h30, the Ikeys take on Dawie Theron’s SA U20 side …

The latter will be played in 4 chukkas of 20 minutes, with multiple substitutes allowed, no doubt allowing both coaches to give their entire squad a run around in the Cape Town heat …

The SA Under-20 starting XV that will do duty on Saturday:

15 Marais Schmidt, 14 JJ de Klerk, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Patrick Howard, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Wiaan Liebenberg, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Mark Pretorius, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: Gideon Muller, Marzuq Maarman, Jason Thomas, Franco Marais, Mihlali Mpafi, Ettiene Oosthuizen, Jacques du Plessis, Cobus Nel, Shaun Adendorff, Poerie van Rooyen, KK Hlungwane, Errol Jaggers, Mathys Smit, Jan Serfontein, Ruwellyn Isbell.

The Ikey squad that will sweat it out:

Adriaan Botha, Alexander Mcdonald, Andrew Norton, Bradley Bosman, Damian De Allende, David Ambunya, Dayne Jans, Digby Webb, Dillyn Leyds, Francois Van Wyk, Graham Knoop, Gregory Mallett, James Kilroe, James Tathem, Kyle Kriel, Levi Ordendaal, Liam Bax, Liam Slatem, Mark Winter, Matthew Page, Michael Morris, Mini Bhengu, Nathan Nel, Neil Rautenbach, Nicholas Farror, Nicholas Holton, Nicholas Mills, Ntsolo Setlaba, Pallo Manuel, Paul Cohen, Rayn Smit, Richard Stewart, Ricky Shroeder, Shane Meier, Stephen Wallace, TC Botha, Timothy Louw, Wesley Chetty

Next week, the SA U20s take on Maties in their final pre-season friendly at Coetzenburg at 10:00 – a new time to what was initially planned.

And in Wellington, in what will no doubt be sauna like conditions De Kock Steenkamp will lead a fairly inexperienced Stormers side against an even newer looking Boland team …

I do miss my SuperSport commentary days, but one place I would not want to be on Saturday at 16h00 is the commentary box made of sheet metal attached to the top of the grandstand at Boland Park. I am all for losing a few kg’s, especially in #boozefreejanuary, but that is above and beyond the call of duty!

Allister Coetzee has left out many of his big name players for obvious reasons, and this game will be also be played over four chukkas, giving every player in the 28-man squad an opportunity to push a bead. No starting XV has been named.

Stormers squad: Adrian Kritzinger, Allistair Vermaak, Berton Klaasen, Bolla Conradie (v/c), Brok Harris, Burton Francis, Clemen Lewis, Danie Poolman, De Kock Steenkamp (c), Don Armand, Eben Etzebeth, Ederies Arendse, Frans Malherbe, Gerbrandt Grobler, Gerhard van den Heever, Gio Aplon, JP du Plessis, Juan de Jongh, Marcel Brache, Kurt Coleman, Michael van der Spuy, Nic Groom, Nick Koster, Nizaam Carr, Reuben Johannes, Rohan Kitshoff, Tiaan Liebenberg, Yaya Hartzenburg.

I know Conradie has done some great work with the Bolanders, but seems a fairly strange call to name him as the vice captain, even if only for this game … Great to see Ikeys Kritzinger and Armand in the pre-season squad. Both are seriously talented and could well turn out during the Super 15. Also fun to see new recruits Burton Francis and Gerhard van den Heever went get their first run for the mountain goats.

I think it would have made sense to have Joe Pietersen, who returned from France last year, in the mix, as it has been a while since he donned the blue and white, while I can understand Coetzee leaving Deon Carstens out the squad given that he is a tight forward who has been playing regularly for Saracens.

Duane Vermeulen and Andries Bekker, both fighting back from serious injuries, will only be considered for the Stormers’ final warm-up fixture against the Kings.

On the other side of the field, Boland, having only nine players available from the match 22 that beat the Kings 43-12 in the Currie Cup First Division final last season, named a 30-man team filled with new names:

Boland: 15 Jacquin Jansen, 14 Alistair Kettledas, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Siviwe Magaba, 11 Brandon April, 10 Ricardo Croy, 9 Neil Papier, 8 Junior Bester (c), 7 Thor Halvorsen, 6 Milroy Isaacs, 5 Nolan Clark, 4 Jerry Sefoko, 3 Peet Vorster, 2 Chris Buckle, 1 Charl du Plessis.

Reserves: 16 Martin Nel, 17 Ludwig Ras, 18 BJ Julies, 19 Jaco du Toit, 20 PJ van Zyl, 21 Franzel September, 22 Zandre Jordaan, 23 Juwell Samuels, 24 Armand Marais, 25 Jeremy Plaatjies, 26 Cola Williams, 27 Senan van der Merwe, 28 Trevor van Rooyen, 29 Adriaan Klaasen, 30 Adam Barlow.

Author: Tank

Ex WP prop with a fair amount of experience in all things media ...


  1. Since i can remember watching tv in SA (1975) i have always supported 2 rugby teams, WP and the Bokke. The last 5 years i have been staying in NZ but still support my teams. For the last 5 years i had to endure shit talk at work about rugby and specifically the Boks. In my families words, i am a rugby MANIAC and due to this i will not let people talk shit about my teams. NOW, i really thought come 2012 I would be seeing the back of Divvy who with all the money he made on his way to Fiji or some forgotten place where i will never ever see or hear of him again.

    Please rugby gods (SARU) send me my christmas/birthday present.

  2. In the end whoever gets the long-term contract as Springbok coach will hopefully be able to set a standard that compliments our traditional strengths whilst bringing in some new attacking options with ball-in-hand.

  3. Hi Tank, which positions do Kritzinger and Armand of UCT play ?
    A friend saw Andries B and Duane V at a golf course yesterday. He enquired about the injury of Bekker and he replied that he’ll definitely play the next warm-up game: let’s hope the 2 are fine when the Super season starts. The Stormers desperately need them both. (Please don’t refer to our beloved team as the mountain goats!! – it makes you sound like a Valie !
    The coach: do you think SARU’s officials have any idea who will be appointed ? I still hope Gert Smal gets the job – my only concern is the fact that his son is finishing school in June. I suppose Gert and his wife want their son to complete his high school education before leaving Ireland. He is an ex-pupil of SACS.
    Please do not appoint PdeV !!
    Maybe Rassie has already been appointed as a technical director for all the SA teams: we need his technical skills and knowledge. Imagine what could have been if he had been appointed a year before the World Cup.
    I guess we’ll have to wait another week

  4. Hi Charles. Kritzinger is a tough, hard running centre with an eye for a gap. Armand played lock, but has now also been seen trotting around with the semi peacock loose forwards. Good hands, not shy of graft.

    When I played for WP, one of our touch teams (when, infrequently, we were allowed to play touch) at practice was always called the mountain goats … Can’t remember what the other one was called ….

  5. Hi Tank, i was quite impressed with Adrian Kritzinger’s play on Saturday. I won’t be surprised if he is offered a contract after the Varsity Cup (that is if he is not contracted by WP yet) from another union. Suddenly we have a number of “new” centres e.g JP du Plessis, Kritzinger, Berton Klaassen & Michael van der Spuy (I know some of them came through the age groups).
    I wasn’t too impressed with Armand though. It’s a pity that Etzebeth wasn’t used in the lineouts – I’d like to see if he can jump at 2 in the lineout: it seems that he will be a back-up to Andries Bekker – he looks like a natural 5 lock and not 4
    Did you watch the UCT game against the SA under 20s ? It was a close match and apparently Dawie Theron is quite happy with the progress made.