What do the following have in common? Flanks and flyhalves, fiery officials and furious statements?

That they all begin with the letter "F"? Well, yes - but no. Of more significance is that all four Fs cropped up in one of rugby's most incident-filled weeks in some time.

The flanks in the news, of course, were red-carded Schalk Burger, perhaps the most significant trump card in the Springboks' winning Tri-Nations team, and Western Province-bound Luke Watson.

The flyhalves are Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Andre Pretorius, Brent Russell and Derrick Hougaard.

The fiery officials with furious statements were Sarfu president Brian van Rooyen, with his threat to have former Springbok Robbie Fleck arrested, and WP boss Koos Basson, with his cocktail-party attack on young Burger.

The unwarranted and ill-timed Basson speech, which reflected directly upon Burger, is part of one and the same package, of course.

The correct time and place for that speech was a disciplinary hearing the following week (as has since happened).

Referee Andre Watson's decision, with a minor exception, couldn't be faulted. Burger had already been warned and then yellow-carded. In the long run, Burger will surely learn from the incident and be a better player for it.

While referee Watson's decision was unquestionably right, one wonders whether he shouldn't also have yellow-carded lock Willem Stoltz for blatant offside and dangerous play in hurling Burger to the ground by the collar? (It might also have evened things out a little.)

Now for the hullabaloo surrounding Luke Watson.

Kevin Putt, passionate about his job, will be hurting enough from the relative lack of success of his Sharks charges. He doesn't deserve as well to be embroiled in a whispering campaign suggesting a rift between himself and Watson. Nor should the brilliant 20-year-old feel he's been snubbed by the Sharks hierarchy. CEO Brian van Zyl has made it clear that letting Watson go with immediate effect is simply a case of looking to the future. Watson is no longer part of that future.

One hopes, however, that even though the flanker is presently a player without a province, Bok coach Jake White won't forget about him. He ought at least to include Watson in one of the camps - the first of which was held this week - in preparation for the year-end tour of Britain, Ireland and Argentina.

If it is to be an expanded squad, because of the heavy physical demands of the tour - five Tests in five weeks - it's a squad in which Watson ought to be included.

Which brings us to the happy preponderance of flyhalves presently engaging White's attention. Many Springbok supporters have already begun calling for Van der Westhuyzen's head. So what else is new? With the single exception of Naas Botha, do you remember how under-valued most previous incumbents were - Natie Rens, Ulyate, Wentzel, Oxlee, Visagie, Barnard, Mike Lawless?

The list is endless. In those times, as soon as the Boks started to lose, the flyhalf of the moment, as the team's playmaker, had to go.

Jaco van der Westhuyzen may not have set the world alight (yet), but he hasn't done that badly. As no less an authority than Botha himself has pointed out, against a background of clamour for the coach to take into consideration the recent form of Pretorius, Hougaard and Russell, changing for changing's sake isn't the answer. These players need to show this form consistently before the coach can discard Van der Westhuyzen.

"Consistency" is the operative word. You don't build a world-beating team by chopping and changing. England showed us that.

Finally, one wonders whether Sarfu boss Van Rooyen mightn't have benefited from advice from radio and TV critic John Robbie to have ignored the recent magazine interview insults from Fleck. As a former schoolteacher, he ought to know empty vessels make the most noise. By insisting on having Fleck arrested and brought to court, Van Rooyen is starting to sound like the empty vessel.

As a leading authority on civil procedure has pointed out, Van Rooyen's only recourse is to take Fleck to court and sue for damages for defamation. That costs money. If you win, your reputation is restored and your pocket is lined with compensatory silver.

The government can't - and won't - do it for you, Brian. You have to put your money where your mouth is.