CAPE TOWN – Mark Keohane shares his Monday Rants and Raves after the weekend's rugby action.
1: Warrick Gelant produced that one performance needed to kick down the door to the Springboks No 15 jersey. It has to be his in June. The statistics don’t do justice to Gelant’s impact in the Bulls’s brutal goring of the Sharks. Gelant made six passes, gained 34 metres on attack and completed six kicks.
What the statistics don’t detail is the quality of the kicks, one of which was a grubber perfectly weighted and worth seven points. The statistics also don’t include a player’s awareness of space, pace, off the ball impact and absolute presence in a position.
2: Handre Pollard won the battle of the flyhalves against Robert du Preez, but no ‘10 plays 10’ showdown can ever be measured in isolation. The old adage is a 10 can only ever be as good as his pack, and Pollard’s Bulls’s pack was menacing and magnificent. Individually, lock RG Snyman put down another marker for inclusion in one of the two Springbok match 23s to play Wales and England in the first week of June.
Lood de Jager is rejuvenated and currently the premier lock in South African Super Rugby, but it’s his young teammate Snyman who is making an impact among the relative newbies that has only matched by Sharks flanker Jean-Luc du Preez.
3: The Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett, in 30 seconds against the Chiefs, showed why for the past two years he has been crowned the best player in the world. The debate of whether Barrett is the best flyhalf is ongoing, but what should not be a debate is that he is the best athlete on a rugby field.
Barrett’s one-handed pick up of a stray pass (at full pace) was breathtaking but to have the presence of mind to slow it all down (upstairs) and put in the most subtle of grubber kicks and then beat All Blacks lock Brodie Retalick’s covering dive to score encapsulated Barrett’s brilliance. It’s the individual try of the season.
1: The Sharks players, with the exception of Jean-Luc du Preez, should be charged for the embarrassment of their opening 30 minutes and last 10 minutes against the Bulls. What a powder puff performance from the Sharks forwards. They are an insult to those giants of the game who historically wore the Sharks jersey.
They offered absolutely nothing in commitment, aggression or attitude. They should feel shame for this shocker. The core of the Sharks forwards are overpaid and overrated.
2: The Blitzboks are our favourite team because of what they have achieved in the World Series 7s in the last two years but they’re also the biggest chokers after their failure to secure a medal in the Commonwealth Games. The popularity of the squad should not mask the major flop they were in the Gold Coast. Equally, they imploded two years ago at the Olympic Games.
At least they still left Rio in 2016 with the consolation of a bronze medal, but at the Commonwealth Games they blew a 14-nil lead to meekly surrender the bronze to England that will haunt them for the next four years.
3: The Rebels self-destructed because of a lack of leadership in losing to the Jaguares. The captain should have taken the three points on offer to draw the game. The Rebels kept the ball for three minutes and 41 seconds, which included 40 phases, to advance play 60 metres and win a penalty 20 metres from the Jaguares goalline.
Why the resistance to a draw? There was nothing brave about the call to start again from as scrum. It was stupid and gifted the visitors a historic win.