The Alternative Rugby Review | SA v Australia

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.

Why did a pirate sing our national anthem, is Nic White’s lip hair the most distracting thing since Mila Kunis, what was the most unlikely surprise of the weekend, and is there anything more embarrassing than…


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The Alternative Rugby Review | Griquas v Blue Bulls

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.

Will Howard Mnisi be benched in 2014, is the banana kick the dumbest thing in rugby, is centre the new prop, and why are two UCT cricketers playing for the Blue Bulls?


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The Alternative Rugby Review | Lions v Sharks

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.

Who does Chris van Zyl look like, is Anthony Volmink the real deal, do the Lions only have two lineout calls, and how long until Brendan Venter has that inevitable heart attack?


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The Alternative Rugby Review | Cheetahs v WP

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.

Who is faster then Bryan Habana (apparently), where did Nick Groom learn to pass, what happened when Tazz met Sarel, what do Freddy and Oupa have in common, and does anybody remember Jorrie Muller?


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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.

u10 star signs for Barcelona, world asks WTF?

Spanish giants Barcelona have reportedly signed a nine year-old footballer. And not for the first time.

Barcelona hold recruitment camps around the world in the hope of spotting and snapping up young talent for their academy. They held one near where I used to live in Raynes Park in south west London, so they obviously don’t mind spreading the net very far and very wide.

And I understand it’s an ultra competitive sport with huge sums of money being exchanged for players, but it just doesn’t sit very well with me to hear that they recently signed a nine year-old Swedish child.

He’s nine years old! He’s barely been alive for 10 000 hours, never mind spent that long practising. But those that know at Barca think he’s a worthwhile investment, and they probably know better than me.

It’s not right, on principle

Still, I’m entitled to object on my own principled grounds to taking a nine year-old child away from his childhood and expecting him to live with the expectation of becoming “the next Messi” until he burns out at the age of 13 or 14.

I don’t see how you can see stardom in the skills of a nine year-old. But I suppose Barcelona and others will tell me that you can get a pretty good idea, and if you have enough potential prodigies on your books then you improve your chances of actually finding one.

Indeed while this is the first nine year-old signing that I’ve heard of, a quick Internet search tells me that Barca signed two nine year-olds in 2012, one from Ireland and the other from the Philippines. So at least their latest recruit will have playmates at the academy.

It’s a football problem

I know well enough that it’s not going to change. If anything, it will get more ridiculous and I’ll read about an eight year-old signing next year.

But I can’t focus my discontent on Barcelona alone, because I know other clubs do the same thing. So I guess it’s football in general that gets my thumbs down.

The Alternative Rugby Review | 7 September 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.

Rugby Championship | New Zealand v Argentina

At the setting of the first scrum, the TV told us that New Zealand’s pack weighed 922kg and Argentina’s only 858kg. That’s a whole Gio Aplon difference. But El Bajada proceeded to shunt the All Black pack into their own boots because fatties don’t scrum so good.

The Argentinian scrum has never bothered with something so silly as hooking the ball. They just think “the ball comes in and we walk forward until it comes neatly out the back”. Of course they think it in Spanish.


Francis Saili c0cked up single-handedly to give Argentina their opening try. The only consolation that I can offer him is that somehow – I don’t know how, but somehow – Ma’a Nonu would’ve c0cked it up worse.

Despite what you’ve heard, Sonny Bill Williams isn’t playing rugby league for the Sydney Roosters in Australia. He’s actually still playing rugby union for New Zealand, at number eight, wearing a Kieran Read mask.

Dan Carter broke the line cleaner than Charlie Faumuina’s plate at Christmas time, but he only had the same Faumuina for support. For about three metres, before the big guy had to stop for a rest and a snack. Fatties are no better at running than scrumming.


You’ve got to love Juan Martín Hernández throwing a 20 metre pass one-handed, when under pressure in his own 22. Against New Zealand, in the rain. I guess that’s part of why they call him El Mago. (It doesn’t mean “stupid”, but maybe it should.)

The only way I’d expect Nicolás Sánchez to knock Wyatt Crockett to the floor would be with a six-shooter at high noon in the wild west. But the little flyhalf somehow managed to bounce Crockett in a fashion more befitting a rag doll cowboy than a burly New Zealand prop.


When Crockett went down one of the commentators observed that his legs had turned to jelly. What he didn’t notice, and what almost certainly didn’t help Crockett against falling over, was that as soon as his legs became pudding they were eaten by Charlie Faumuina.

Argentinian flank and captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe is a fine player, but he’s also a victim of patronising commentators who (like with Sergio Parisse) insist on swooning over how world class he is (implying that the rest of his side is not).

It’s unfair and it’s unfair on Fernández Lobbe, because he’s not actually that good. He wouldn’t make the New Zealand side, for a start. Nor the South African. He might start for Australia, given their injuries at the moment. But then I’d pick any of the loose forwards in the Grey Bloem first and second side ahead of Scott Fardy.

What the he1l was Luis Figo doing in the Argentinian coaches box?


Rugby Championship | Australia v South Africa

Advance Australia Fair hasn’t been sung worse than that since it was performed by Indecent Obsession in the late 1980s.*


It didn’t take long before both teams realised that George Clancy likes penalties. It was classic “stamp my authority on the game” stuff, which is about as insecure as a squeaky-voiced teenager with acne and bright orange hair.

From a kick off, James O’Connor tried to do that thing where you catch the ball with a foot in touch which means the kick was effectively directly out. But he mistimed it and put his foot out after catching the ball, which means it should’ve been South Africa’s lineout.

The ref and his assistant had already made the decision, so I bet they felt pretty stupid when the evidence was replayed on the big screen.


Luckily referee Clancy had awarded Australia a scrum, so he could very easily give South Africa a free kick for [make up and insert any reason here] to, you know, make things right. Which he did.

I didn’t think much of the way the Australian fans rang out a chorus of “Bullsh1t, bullsh1t, bullsh1t” while Morne Steyn lined up the penalty that came from Michael Hooper’s (entirely warranted) yellow card. You stay classy, Brisbane.

Eben Etzebeth got an early birthday present when he got hold of Quade Cooper midway between Quade having the ball and Quade passing it, which meant he was completely within his rights to sling rugby’s most hated man to the ground like a rag doll cowgirl .


Rod Kafer needs to be careful screaming things like, “Give it to Israel!” What sounds like an innocent (albeit anguished) piece of rugby advice to one set of ears could quite easily come across as inciting political violence to another.

Kafe continued his line of potentially risky political commentary by calling for the Aussies to run that famous German backline move, “Putting the ball through the Hans”. It sounds like “hands” when Kafe says it.


What the c0ck was Niknaks doing diving in for his try like that. I would’ve gone ghost pops on him if he’d spilled the ball on landing or had it knocked out of his hands by either of the Australians trying to do just that.

Kirchner got his try (though he tried very hard not to) off what by my count is Willie le Roux’s seventh direct pass assist. Also by my count, that already makes him the most prolific pass assist Springbok of all time after only six Tests.

So shell-shocked were the usually parochial Australian commentators, that they appeared to call time of death on this game after about 68 minutes.


As a South African fan who has endured getting more than one victory stuck in my throat, I didn’t pay my respects until the 80 minutes were up, but I thoroughly enjoyed the disconsolate commentary of the last 12 minutes.

*This report has discovered previously that the Australian anthem was originally written as a pop song for a girl group, but Indecent Obsession’s cover in 1989 was called the worst thing to happen to music until The Kings of Leon’s “early stuff”.

Currie Cup | Griquas v Golden Lions

We’re halfway through the season and we have our first candidate for token crazy beard guy. I can’t find any photographic evidence yet, but if he keeps it up then Golden Lions scrumhalf Tian Meyer (and his beard) will be all over the Internet by the end of the year.

We’ve already found our token crazy hair guy.

I’ll be disappointed if Griquas centre Jean Stemmet doesn’t get a lot of kak from his teammates about his dad, who I presume is Johan Stemmet from the popular Afrikaans music game show Noot vir Noot.


Anthony Volmink went over in the corner in exactly the same way that Mark Cueto went into touch in the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, except referee Jason Jaftha and his assistant forgot about technology and awarded the blatantly un-try-like try.

Hugh Bladen has entertained us over the years, oh yes he has. And he’s still got it. Here are some actual comments from him from Saturday:

“Elton Jantjies is lying very flat and deep.”

“You have to be careful when the ball hits the ground, it can bounce.”

“Another fantastic no he’s missed it.”

Gcobani Bobo wasn’t doing much better, unfortunately. Not only did he describe Marnitz Boshoff as “as calm as a cucumber”, but his interview with JP Nel was as painful as a Kimberley grass burn.

Griquas fullback PJ Vermeulen is the most surprisingly very fast big guy since Albert van den Berg. Despite that similarity, he also looks like a very good player.

What was going on with the field in Kimberley. Those were either crop circles or a pair of Picasso-inspired breasts.


Currie Cup | Blue Bulls v Free State Cheetahs

Whoever left Owen Nkumane as the adult in charge of this commentary box deserves worse than I can imagine, but he clearly had Commentary by Blades in front of him because every kick was struck well and we weren’t left wondering which school everybody went to.

That was a great try from Elgar Watts, but he still used to play for Boland.

When the Blue Bulls scored in the 78th minute, the try scorer was named as starting flank Wiaan Liebenberg. Remember that name, because if this game is anything to go by you don’t hear it very often.

Currie Cup | Western Province v Sharks

Scarra Ntubeni should’ve taken that delicious lob pass to set up Cheslin Kolbe’s try to the bank. Instead he went on to try a chip kick, a back flick pass in his own 22 and a ‘tweener into touch. I’d be surprised if he wasn’t the most wasted guy at the fines meeting.


I almost felt bad for the Sharks forwards. They were mauled in the scrums like I haven’t seen since Australia in the 90s.

Western Province like picking little guys, but they only pick little guys who like to tackle. Admittedly it took both of Gio Aplon and Cheslin Kolbe to bundle Jean Deysel into touch but you could see they kakking loved it.

Previously, on Alternative Rugby…

“He’s like your ears is Os, he never stops growing.” Read the rest

“… there hasn’t been a better front row combination since Jonas Bigg, Phillip Scabby and Colin Pooper packed down for England in the 1940s.” Read the rest