CAPE TOWN - Rugby scribe Mark Keohane's rants and rave this week includes the weekend's Super Rugby fixtures as well as the Blitzbokke at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco.
1. Malcolm Marx’s ability over the ball at the breakdown was match-winning for the Lions. There wasn’t a bigger moment in the game than on 50 minutes when Marx once again turned over the opposition’s possession with the Jaguares threatening to score and take the lead.
The visitors had scored 14 unanswered points to make it a four-point game and they were on a roll. They won nine phases and looked sure to take the lead. Enter the mighty Marx. In all he made four turnovers, eight tackles, five carries and he also scored a try.
2. Super Rugby’s play-off victors all showed an appreciation for field position and the value of an effective territorial kicking game. In all four matches the winning team kicked more than the losing team, and in three of them (the Crusaders being the exception), the winning team played with less possession. And despite kicking more, the winning teams also scored great tries.
Rugby is a game in which kicking is critical to balance and to outcome. Elton Jantjies, for the Lions, was particularly good in knowing when to kick, and why he was kicking. His drop goal to stretch the Lions lead to 14 points in the last quarter was quality execution of play-off rugby.
3. Siviwe Soyizwapi stepped and swerved his way into the record books at the World Cup Sevens with four tries against Ireland and another against Scotland in South Africa’s crushing quarter-final win. At the time of writing, the Blitzboks hadn’t played their semi-final against England, but they’d already made history in making the World Cup semi-final for the first time in 21 years.
Soyizwapi’s four tries were the first in a World Cup match since 2005 and only the ninth time it has been achieved at a World Cup.
1. The Sharks’s inconsistency and abysmal defence can’t escape censure. It was awful and the game against the champion Crusaders was over within the first 11 minutes. The Sharks have been hit-and-miss all season but I expected so much more from them. They’ve troubled the New Zealand teams all season, winning three and losing one (by a point). But the Crusaders are in a different class and for the Sharks to have had any chance of a win they simply had to make their tackles and start well. It really was a long way to travel to take a beating.
2. Whilst on the subject of beatings, the most appalling story in rugby in the past week has been that of the Rebels’ Amanaki Mafi beating up his teammate and childhood friend Lopeti Timani. Timani allegedly insulted one of Mafi’s family during a drinking session and Mafi took to beating him up.
Reports quote Timani as saying he thought he was going to die as Mafi beat him and repeatedly shouted “I am the man I am the man ” Former Australian, Waratahs and Toulon winger Drew Mitchell summed it up best when he tweeted “no mate, no mate you are not the man ”
3. Stormers assistant coach Paul Treu stormed out of the season’s coaching review session and hasn’t returned. Treu is said to have had enough of being marginalised and treated like a token within the Stormers set-up. Treu, a former Blitzboks World Series-winning player and coach, is one of the great gentlemen of the game.
The treatment of Treu is disgusting and again the lack of leadership within the Stormers is appalling in the apathetic manner in which the coaching issue has been handled.