The Alternative Rugby Review | 13/14 Sept 2013

This is not the place to find who won, who scored, or who played well. This is what I thought of what I saw, mostly useless information, and why the refs and commentators were sh1t.

Currie Cup | Free State Cheetahs v Golden Lions

According to the first graphic we saw, the combined age of the Cheetahs front row was 75, and that of the Lions was nine. It struck me as an error immediately, given that I know for a fact that CJ van der Linde is older than that himself because I watched him play for South Africa back in 2002.

I recall CJ’s debut in particular because I remember commenting at the time that I thought he looked like an only slightly more mannish Natalie du Toit.


Commentator Gareth Wright attributed the Lions elevated position on the log to Elton Jantjies’ willingness and ability to take the ball flat. Entirely to that, and only that. The Old Flyhalves Club is a real thing.

This game featured, for the first time that I’ve seen, a “shadow referee”. From what I could tell, this is a teenage poppie who takes the ref his water bottle when he’s thirsty.

Gavin Cowley, bless him he was there at the World Cup final back in ’95, has turned into our grandfathers. I get the impression he’s just sitting back in the comms box letting Shimmie do the hard work, until he thinks he sees something to complain about. Often mistakenly.


Like when Jantjies was given a yellow card, he ranted on about how it was just a little push and he didn’t even start it, when the penalty was actually for the cynical and professional foul of throwing the ball away.

Or when he couldn’t understand what Minnie did wrong, despite us all hearing the ref say Minnie was fine, it was from a “previous advantage” three separate times.

I also enjoyed how he wondered whether this game was going to be a “game of two halves”, because the curtain raiser before it was a “game of two halves”, apparently. I suspect it will.

Towards the end of the match the ref called “Use it!” to the Lions scrumhalf, but he clearly didn’t hear because he made no move to do so. But CJ van der Linde standing at first receiver heard him, and was then clearly heard himself passing the message on to his scrummie: “Use it! Use it! Use die fokkin’ ding!”

Rugby Championship | New Zealand v South Africa

I didn’t see this game live because I was away enjoying the last of the British summer, but I managed to not hear the result until I got home on Sunday night. At which point, entering my home, I announced to my housemate, “I don’t know what happened in the rugby, don’t tell me the score.” And she replied, “Oh you don’t want to know!”

So I killed her, and I don’t believe there’s a judge or jury in the world that would convict me.

I used to love the Haka. I used to really get into it and get a thrill watching the challenge laid down and accepted.


But it’s hard these days to get excited by it when there are three cameramen and their sound guys between the two teams, when one of those cameramen is giving me a view right up Kieran Read’s nose, and when some cheesy fireworks go off at the end. #betterinmyday

Zane Kirchner is picked at fullback largely because it’s thought that he’s “good out the air”. So then how come every bomb that went up, ours or theirs, either ended in New Zealand winning it back or Kirchner knocking it on?

In one damning example Ben Smith will be credited with winning the ball out of the air even though he was lying on the ground. That’s how bad we were at kick and catch on Saturday.

Sam Cane left about a pint of blood on Eden Park on Saturday, and nobody even offered him tea and a biscuit afterwards.


I don’t mean to be insensitive, I know many have suffered as a result of the earthquakes that have struck New Zealand, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the collision between Coenie Oosthuizen and Charlie Faumuina registered on a Richter scale somewhere.

A lot has been said about Bismarck du Plessis’ yellow and red cards, by some people who speak more sense than me and a lot who don’t. It is what it is. But what I wonder is whether he was more severely punished or whether those instances were more closely scrutinised because in both cases a New Zealander was left injured on the ground.

Victor Matfield went into every tackle he ever took leading with his elbow. Pierre Spies does a similar thing and indeed several others in world rugby do the same. And all of them should be penalised every time they do, but they aren’t. It just looks a lot worse when a guy the size of Liam Messam goes down clutching his throat as a result.

Despite everything, New Zealand were better on the day. They were more clinical and more composed. But I’ll put my alternative reputation on a South African victory in Johannesburg in three weeks time.

Rugby Championship | Australia v Argentina

They call Nick Cummins “The Honey Badger”, presumably because he’s all energy and aggression and what not. And he is. But on current form and evidence it looks like an actual honey badger would have better ball skills.


I didn’t see much else in this game worth commenting on. I mainly watched it on fast forward so I didn’t hear the gems and gaffes that I presume the Australian commentators came up with. But I trust they were there and you enjoyed them nonetheless.

Tell me what you think

Did I get something right? Or wrong? Was I too harsh, or not harsh enough? Do you agree CJ and Natalie could be the same person? Tweet me at @tricyclebear and let me know.


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