Captained Rhodesia 1962 – 1969
Rector of Michaelhouse. (1978-1986)
"Rugby is a thinking game – its’ not a running or a kicking game. This mania for running with the ball and playing open rugby at all costs is stupid – you must adapt yourself to the circumstances and play to your strength"
Now 50 years later Niel Jardine writes for Frosty ...
So I argued the case for smaller wings last week and slagged off Jake White for preferring big, fast wings. I suppose he has a case. I'll never forget the tackle made by JP Pietersen on the British Lions left wing which prevented a try and could have affected the whole series. While I'm on that tour, there were three moments that determined the outcome of the series,
1. The Pietersen tackle on Obongu(?) who was carrying the ball on his INSIDE arm! What sort of coach allows a left wing to carry the ball in his right hand? Answer: One who does not pay attention to detail. JP knocked the ball out of his hand. Result: Cost the Lions 5 or 7 points - difference between winning and losing.
2. The Team Talks which I only saw and heard after the tour. McGeechan and Telfer NEVER stopped talking and the F word was used every second. Talk about over the top. The Lions came on and for 10 minutes played like men possessed and then it all settled down. By that time they had given away two slotted penalties through over-enthusiasm.
3. The tackle that Ronan O'Gara will never forget. If I am right, the Lions were leading and a win would have won them the series or drawn it - correct me if I'm wrong. O'Gara chased an up-and-under and tackled Morne Steyn in the air 5 metres inside his own half. Penalty awarded. Steyn kicks it over. Series won. Today the margins are slim; concentration and attention to detail are more important than ever.
The Boks were superb against the Wallabies. I often wonder how the latter do so well considering the lack of depth of available players of international standard. Their big sports in the winter are Rugby League and Aussie Rules - now there's a game for convicts! Or side got the basics right. The passing was accurate and properly paced. And the scrums? Well as usual there were only about 12 of them during the game, but we murdered them! It upset their rhythm, Put their three-quarters on the back foot and allowed us to dominate. I can't wait for Saturday and the match versus the All Blacks.
I must make a final remark about Gio Aplon; what a player! He's not big but he's fast and elusive. On Saturday, he ran through the whole opposition - it was as though he was a trout let loose in a stream. The Bok squad must be VERY good if they can leave him out. At a Sportsman's Luncheon recently I went over to speak to Brent Russell who was out from Lille where he plays in France. His grandfather taught me at Selborne and directed the Gilbert and Sullivan productions. I asked him what finished his career in the Boks and he said, " Well two things really. One, Jake didn't think I was big enough and two, they didn't know where to play me. I was tried at scrumhalf where I played for Selborne, then inside centre, then fullback then wing. In a different sort of way, the same thing has happened to Francois Steyn, although he is big and fast… They don't know where to slot him in." (I told him I was going down to Selborne for my 60th!! matric reunion next month.)
On the whole,.. I think the standard of play locally and internationally is very high indeed at present.