Friday, February 24, 2012

Super Rugby 2012 Profiles - The South African teams

We're now into Super Rugby 2012 season so after having looked at what the Kiwis and Aussies have on offer, it's time scope out the South African talent, as New Zealand's own Tony O'Sullivan talks us through each of the teams from the Republic.

Bulls fans will be a little nervous this year as many of their legendary senior players are moving on. It's up to a largely youthful and inexperienced squad to continue the legacy of this dominant South African franchise.

There is still a fair amount of quality in the team though. Number eight Pierre Spies, a truly terrifying man, will captain the side this year. He runs at teams like he's starving and there is boerewors (big South African sausage) on the other side of the defensive line.

Francois Hougaard, one of the standout players at the World Cup will partner up with Morne Steyn making for a lethal halves pairing. Can the Bulls win their 4th Super Rugby championship? For me, not this year, they’re too inexperienced. This season will be looked back on as part of their rebuilding phase.

Notable Losses: Victor Matfield, Bakies Botha, Guthro Steenkamp, Gary Botha, Fourie du Preez, Danie Rossow
Notable Signings: Johan Sadie, JJ Engelbrecht, Lionel Cronje, Jano Vermaak.
Biggest Strength: Great options of the back of rucks mails and scrums.
Biggest Weakness: Squad depth and inexperience. Over consumption of meat.
One to watch: Francois Hougaard.

The Sharks, or Shorks as some of their fans would call them, have an exciting young line up. They too saw some of their greats leave in the post world cup exodus, most notably John Smit. That finally leaves the door nice and open for arguably the world's best hooker, Bismark du Plessis.

In order to bring some more experience into the squad, the Sharks have made some interesting purchases. Frederick 'that was a forward pass' Michalak is an option at 9 and 10, while Marius Joubert, who may be a little long in the tooth, has heaps of knowledge that he will be able to pass down to the players around him.

As far as other players, there is class all over the park but I'm looking forward to seeing Patrick Lambie and former cheetah Riaan Viljoen show us their true potential in 2012. Is it the Sharks’ year? Could be.

Notable Losses: John Smit, Stefan Terblanche, Adrian Jacobs.
Notable Signings:  Frederick Michalak, Marius Joubert, Riaan Viljoen
Biggest Strength: Starting test players all of over the park.
Biggest Weakness: Inability to earn bonus points has cost them big in the past.
One to watch: Bismark du Plessis.

The Lions. This pride is about as scary as a packed lunch. They've proved that they're consistent in Super Rugby, not finishing inside the top 10 since 2002. Is that all about to change? They did win the 2011 Currie Cup, so confidence and belief must be high within this struggling franchise.

There is a Kiwi influence within the team with two of NZ's most talented and infamous exports, John 'we're on a journey' Mitchell as the head coach, and King Carlos Spencer as the backs coach.

Could these cellar dwellers, with a little help from a couple of sheep shaggers, finally make a decent splash in Super Rugby? With new signing Butch James and the momentum of the Currie Cup they can definitely improve on past efforts.

Notable Losses: Burton Francis, Andre Pretorius, Jano Vermaak.
Notable Signings: Butch James, Ross Cronje, Guy Cronje
Biggest Strength: Self belief after Currie Cup win.
Biggest Weakness: Travelling out of the republic.
One to watch: Derick Minnie.

The Cheetahs, they’re a bit of an odd bunch. On paper they look like a quality side but unfortunately injury and a lack of depth beyond the starting 15 has cost them and their fans any results to be really proud of. They have a mouth watering loose trio with the likes of Heinrich Brossow, Juan Smith and Ashley Johnson, and a powerful front row.

Their back line lacks fire power though and would hardly strike fear into the hearts of their opponents. With Andries Strauss holding them together, and if much talked about Johan Goosen gets an opportunity, they could yet turn a few heads and upset some more fancied opposition.

But it’s the same old story with the Cheetahs, it's always if this and maybe that and in the course of a Super Rugby season injuries will happen and they've shown time and again that they simply don't have the depth to adapt their side when the proverbial hits the fan.

Notable Losses: Sarel Pretorius, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Kabamba Floors.
Notable Signings: No one of note.
Biggest Strength: Loose forward trio.
Biggest Weakness: Bloemfontein
One to watch: Johan Goosen - the up and comer can get penalties over from 65 metres+ !!

The Stormers strike me as the Hurricanes of South Africa - they always have a great squad and often look unbeatable during the regular season, but they never quite get over the line. The Stormers however are in better shape than the Canes this year, but there is still nothing to indicate they will win in 2012.

Their main strike weapon Bryan 'I used to be awesome' Habana, is looking like there is a reason wingers are generally not that great later into their careers and I just get the feeling this will be another almost year for the Newlands based franchise.

They have a great squad and a good chance of winning the South African conference, but with the loss of Francois Louw and Jaque Fourie to sides abroad, it's unlikely that they will have the goods to go all the way in Super Rugby this season.

Notable Losses: Jaque Fourie, Francois Louw, Ricky Januarie, CJ van der Linde.
Notable Signings: JP du Plessis, Joe Pieterson
Biggest Strength: Can play the complete game and look like world beaters.
Biggest Weakness: Semi Finals and Finals.
One to watch: Gio Aplon.

The South African teams kick off tonight when the Bulls host the Sharks in Pretoria
You can follow Tony O'Sullivan on Twitter here

Posted by Rugbydump at 10:04 am | View Comments (13)

Viewing 13 comments

patedelievre February 24, 2012 1:55 pm

" Frederic "that-was-a-forward-pass" Michalak..."
tttt come on RD....REALLY? FIVE years ago, you're still on that "forward pass"???

OK, fair enough. Talking about Frenchies and ABs, we can therefore talk about the Mighty All "We-got-ass-kicked-by-the-French-and-almost-lost-the-WC-although-THE-REF-WAS-COMPLETELY-OURS-and-we-were-on-our-pitch-with-our-crowd" Blacks, Richie "hi-Morgan-Parra's-jaw-here's-my-knee" McCaw, Piri "Mike-Tyson" Weepu and so on...
get over it. seriously. You (I say you, because it seems more and more obvious, day after day, that you're not exactly interested in the non-English speaking countries, especially those French a-holes that you seem to despise so much) should go at Ernest Wallon, Mayol, Marcel Michelin just once and see the madness it is, the sheer happiness in the streets of Clermont when they won the Top 14 (yes, I know, Top 14 is rubbish, absolute bollocks) or else in Toulouse when they won their 4th H Cup.

You'd then see so many grandfathers, fathers and sons partying and screaming their love of Rugby. And I think perhaps then you'd realise that wether you like it or not, due to all that the French give to Rugby, they deserve a bit more justice. a bit less clichés about alleged eye-gougings (photos and what you can make of them) -although I don't deny us French can "lose it" on the pitch.... JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE. however we're always penalised the worse because inconciously, Rugby being "a sport for the discerning few", the non-English speaking are not welcome on the pitch, where they do not always understand what the ref is yelling while they're playing hard rugby (thus not exactly focusing on another language as much as they should)....

Please RD, if you have some respect, do not moderate this, although you don't like it. I am fed up with all those stupid attitudes towards the French. Always wondering how many time we'll have to lift the H Cup and the RBS trophee before we're allowed some respect...

· Reply · Report

patedelievre February 24, 2012 1:59 pm

and to those who, obviously, will wonder why I said all that just for one "nickname", I'll just say: as you're not concerned, you may not see it as obviously as we do. but if you've a sense of justice, you'll see that we're not welcome in the rugby world. which is funny, because I though that the English and all the peoples they've influenced have a great sense of fair play....

· Reply · Report

patedelievre February 24, 2012 2:03 pm

last but not least, to explain what we call (in our horrible, barbaric, pitiful language) "mon coup de gueule", I'll say: it was one comment too many. every time something is said about the French, you'll see a few "xenophobic" comments that'll point out that "the French are this and that"... when it's not directly the thing you broadcast or the comment you, RD, make about what you show, which is a bit anti-French. Go on if you want to see the French, Argentinians and Italians treated with a bit of fairness.

· Reply · Report

DaBelgian February 24, 2012 3:17 pm

Argh mais t'abuse mon vieux... Tu nous fait un caca nerveux pour un surnom bidon mentionné juste pour rire. Je parle Français aussi, et je vais pas me faire dessus juste pour des trucs comme ça. Je crois que tu prends ça beaucoup trop au sérieux, c'est vraiment un classique du nationalisme Français de "Ah non les sales angliches se rebellent contre notre pauvre nation seule contre tous!". Je veux dire, ici on joue/regarde/supporte le rugby, et l'humour ça en fait partie aussi. Si t'es pas prêt à supporter ça, va seulement autre part, mais c'est sauvant l'humour et le fair-play au rugby qu'on sauvera l'esprit de ce sport, pas en créant ces tensions pour de l'"anti-meilleure-nation-du-monde"... Franchement, la victimisation comme ça, ça craint, surtout pour des conneries comme ça.

· Reply · Report

Pretzel February 24, 2012 3:29 pm

Oh come off it... I am the first to say the All Blacks had an extremely generous hand dealt to them...over and over... by the referee... but the french DO NOT help themselves with the image of foul play...

Just type into youtube "Rugby Fights" you'll see that the majority of fist fights involve the french, whether it be through non french players playing for a french club or french players themselves... in fact even Victor Matfield said he really enjoyed playing in france but he had to improve his boxing skills....

As for the eye gouging... ok maybe it is all accidental... in that case the french players have a serious case of accidentally putting their hands in the wrong place...

Now take nothing away from them, they are brilliant players and I felt that they thoroughly deserved their place in the final, and personally I felt they deserved the win... that however is by the by, they still have a strong aura of foul play about them (tends not to be international levels as much.)

Now of course that DOES NOT MEAN that EVERY other country produces pure angels.... Look at incidents involving english players... look at bakkies botha for crying out loud... so get it in your head when someone mentions the words french and foul play in one sentence it does not mean that their country is exempt from foul play....

And back to the stem of this all..."michalak"...did you even READ any of the other super rugby team lists!?!? I mean they mentioned james bieber pretty sure an anti quade cooper thing was thrown in there too...

It is all about banter, and quite frankly a lot of stuff that goes towards the french has some truth to it... so get over it...

It is banter... perhaps because english is not your first language it does not translate well because personally all the things that I might say about the french I will still say watching them well is a marvellous moment and tournaments would be missing a big part if the french weren't involved...

· Reply · Report

moddeur February 24, 2012 3:44 pm

Hey pâtéofrabbit, I think the "that-was-a-forward-pass" Michalak was just meant as one of those iconic remarks about a player, just as for instance one would associate Clément Poitrenaud with his mistake in the 2004 HC final (now infamously known in France as a "Poitrenaude"), McCaw with enjoying life on the side of rucks, and Bakkies Botha with smiling at someone he's just elbowed in the back of the neck. Don't take it personally, I for one think that the RD man has shown over the years that he is capable of being nearly 49.9% neutral (in worst case scenarios).

· Reply · Report

i love bacon February 24, 2012 7:31 pm

Why would RD be offended by anything you wrote? The articles have been written by (as mentioned in the first paragraph) Tony O'Sullivan...a Kiwi. So I imagine that's the person your tirade is aimed at.

It's all just sports banter. Nothing to get too worked up about, least of all directing it at the wrong person.

· Reply · Report

Rugbydump February 27, 2012 10:59 am

I'm really disappointed to read these comments. Patedelievre, you're taking your anger - at some members of the general rugby public - out on a website that has always shown the best (and worst) of all rugby nations. There is no bias here, and if you feel that there is, please explain your point with more clarity in an email to, and we can discuss further.


· Reply · Report

i love bacon February 24, 2012 7:26 pm

Come on Lions! Aside from the Kiwis behind the team, one could argue that the Lions typically play the most "New Zealand" style of the SA sides...running rugby, racking up tons of tries...but then that can often come at the expense of giving up tries, too.

Until this past CC, they almost always gave up more than they scored, but their defence is looking more and more solid.

So now there's a side that knows how to play exciting offense, and can make the tackles, too. Sounds good to me.

· Reply · Report

Gman February 24, 2012 8:45 pm

Hey frenchie

Just relax. If France deserved to win that world cup they would have played some decent rugby durin the pool stages. But instead, they were piss awful... The rugby gods smiled on the all blacks. Move on

· Reply · Report

Pretzel February 24, 2012 10:04 pm

Im not french but basing who deserves what on their pool stage performances is bollocks...

· Reply · Report

lighten up February 24, 2012 11:17 pm

you are all getting tangled up in your underwear, can't we all just look forward to the sharks babes showing off theirs?

· Reply · Report

Cheis February 25, 2012 2:23 pm


· Reply · Report

Commenting as Guest | Register or Login

All comments are moderated and will be removed immediately if offensive.