De Villiers defends Burger and damns himself after gouging incident

Springboks coach De Villiers defends the indefensible


Having heard the interview that he gave, the only conclusion left to draw is that De Villiers is a deluded egomaniac so puffed up with his own assumed greatness that he cannot separate honest hard rugby from repulsive foul play.

For those not in the know, Burger was found guilty of eye-gouging, surely the worst crime you can commit on a rugby pitch. Never mind that he was not given a straight red card at the time, or that his punishment of an eight week ban is not severe enough, what is truly galling is the reaction of his coach. This poor excuse for a human defended Burger’s actions, saying [and I summarise here] that rugby is a contact sport and that is you don’t like it, go and buy a tutu and do ballet.

De Villiers, you’re a moron if that is what you truly believe. How can you defend an action which could have led to the blinding of another player? Sure, Burger isn’t normally a dirty player but this was no accident. Gouging is never done by accident. Interesting that you have clearly examined the footage with only one-eye yourself if you feel your player’s actions to be above reproach.

It’s clearly time De Villiers left the rugby arena and took up something more suited to his view of the world. Staring at himself in the mirror perhaps.

The second test last Saturday was a fantastic game of rugby and it’s rather sad this issue has overtaken that fact.

• June 29th, 2009 • Posted in Rugby • Comments: 0

England trample Wallabies

It’s a little overdue, I know but actually, I’m still coming down from England’s fantastic 12-10 win over Australia. Frankly, it’s great to beat the Aussies in any sport at any time but here in the Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals, with us as rank outsiders, it was particularly sweet.

Our pack won it, no secret there. But I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more one-sided forward contest in international rugby. So dominant were we by the end of the first half that, once we’d gone ahead in the second half (a half in which Australia scored no points at all.. and yes I know we scored zero against South Africa in 80 mins but it just shows how we are improving) I could not see the Aussies coming back to win. Our turnover ball was hugely impressive, our driving was solid and most of all, our scrum was awesome and more disciplined than I have seen from England in a long time. As soon as our pack had the ball, I could relax, knowing they would not give it away.

Seeing the looks on the Aussie pack’s faces whenever a scrum was called is something I shall remember for a long time. It wasn’t fear, exactly, but it was shock, confusion and hopelessness. And our forwards just rolled on over them every single time. Magnificent stuff. Simon Shaw has been given the nod in many quarters as Man of the Match but my pick would be Andrew Sheridan. A massive presence, dropping the right words in the right ears at the right times and masterminding our pack dominance. It might not have been pretty but it was incredibly effective and a show of force that others ought to be wary of.

France are next up and I see that we ‘have no fear’ of them. But I saw the France v All Blacks match too and any team who can grind down the All Blacks and then outscore them with relative comfort in the second half is a team to be respected mightily. Our biggest foes right now are over-confidence and the blight that is spilling the ball in the loose. Too much of that against France and we will come unstuck. They, like us, have improved beyond recognition since the opening games and they are at home. It promises to be a superb occasion. Get in front of your TVs and prepare to have your nerves shredded most finely.

• October 9th, 2007 • Posted in Rugby • Comments: 1

Triple whammy for England

It is a rare day indeed when England win three important games in a single afternoon. But such a day was Saturday 8th September. We won important matches in Rugby, cricket and football… but how to score them in terms of quality?

As a fan, wishing to see all three matches and not being omnipresent was a problem. All three ought to have clashed at around 5pm. And because they did not, performance of the day has to go to England’s cricketers. Beating India in the decider of a seven match series was a terrific achievement. it really does look like brighter days are ahead for our one day side. We outplayed India throughout the day and won deservedly by seven wickets with 12 odd overs to spare. That is a resounding win against very good opposition. Great to see Freddy back but I worry about his long term fitness. Great to see KP score runs and keep concentration under pressure. And great to see Luke Wright opening the batting. I don’t care that it didn’t pay off this time. What the selectors did was make a brave decision based on form and that is the right way to go. Critically, the emphatic nature of the victory against a strong and passionate Indian team meant the game was done before 5pm… kick off time at Wembley and in France. Luvverly.

In second place, England’s beleagured footballers. Too often we’ve scratched out results against crap opposition. This time, against a very average Israel side, we went at them for 90 minutes, scored three, could have scored six and came away with poitives in every department. Special mention to Gareth Barry who was excellent in the centre of midfield. To Shaun Wright-Phillips who just gets better and better. To Micah Richards who is a mountain in defence and a genuine threat coming forward. And Michael Owen who looked sharp and scored a lovely goal. As for Heskey, well actually, he played well, spent less time on his arse than usual and gave the forward line balance. Oh, and Joe Cole. Great player, end of story. If I was the England coach, who cares who else is fit for Wednesday against Russia, you have to start with the same 11. Anything else is a betrayal of all the work, energy and belief. As for speculation making this the end of Beckham’s international career, well I doubt it. If SWP isn’t fit or doesn’t perform, who else would you play? Serious answers only.

Which leaves England’s rugby players. I saw bits and pieces of this match and it was a turgid affair. The US were all muscle and no style and England tried to be fancy and dropped the ball a lot. Yes, we won 28-10 but scored no bonus points while other sides playing the weaker teams in their groups have run up big scores. In the end, the win was everything, of course, but the manner was very disappointing. All we had to do was stick to a single game plan (probabaly sucking players in to rucks and mauls before using our wing pace to score tries would have done it. It’s simple after all) and we’d have scored 60 points. I just don’t think we gave the US enough respect for being organised and tough tacklers. We tried terribly clever moves which are unnecessary against lesser opposition and screwed them all up, more or less. Must try harder. Or we’ll get a sreous beating by South Africa next weekend.

Roll on Wednesday, the 20-20 World Cup and, sort of, the South African challenge.

• September 9th, 2007 • Posted in Cricket, Football, Rugby • Comments: 3

Humble Pie never tasted so sweet

So, there I was, writing to my old pal Ian and saying with great confidence how England would take a pasting from France. Too many changes, I said. He’s good this Ashton fella, but chuck in people who’ve hardly even met and what will happen? Mike Catt as captain? Interesting but risky.

Tell you what happened. I sat and ate my large slice of humble pie and washed it down with sweet, sweet tasting victory. OK, France were flat and never looked like they wanted to play. But England, at times, were superb. Never giving the French space to play. Tackles were hard and hardly one was missed. Catt was fantastic, his run for the first try was a break of genius. Lees might have won man of the match (and he was immense in performance as well as stature and presence) but Catt was the man around which the England performance flowed. Strettle had another fine game and Geraghty, when he appeared, looked an impact player of the type we desperately need. Congratulations to Ashton for working some magic and maintaining total realism after the match. It does give us hope, but it is only one game.

So, Ian, sorry to be a gloom merchant in my letter. I trust you burned it on the pyre of victory leaving the powerful echoes of Sweet Chariot as the abiding memory of a fine day at Twickenham.

• March 14th, 2007 • Posted in Rugby • Comments: 0

Exactly how it should be

If you, like I did, watched the six nations clash between Ireland and England on Saturday, you too might find it hard to focus on the game itself. This is because the British national anthem was played at Croke Park, the scene of the Bloody Sunday massacre of 1920 when British auxillaries gunned down players and supporters in a revenge attack.

There are people alive today whose friends and relatives died that day and you could be forgiven for assuming the Irish crowd would react negatively to the anthem being played at the scene of such an emotive historical event. But not only did they applaud the English team out on to the pitch, like all rugby crowds treat their opposition, they stood in respectful silence while God Save The Queen was played and applauded warmly afterwards. It brought a lump to the throat, it really did.

I’m posting this in the football section too because every moronic anthem-booing England fan should take note of how to behave, how to move on and accept, if not to forgive, the errors of the past. I still have no idea why some England football fans boo opposition national anthems beyond some pathetic attempt to upset that nation’s team but I do know that the Irish would have had a stronger case for doing so. 87 years of hurt for starters.

As for the game, England were outplayed in every area of the pitch. We lacked pace in the centre and it was exposed. The Irish pack was more powerful and passionate and the flair was all from the men in green. The kick through for Horgan’s try was sublime. We could only really have hurt them on the wings, in my opinion, but the Irish defence strangled our possession, won plenty of our line-out ball and stopped us working it wide. The one time we did, the debutant Strettle scored and he was a bright point for us. England didn’t necessarily play too badly, they were just outclassed.

Oh and one final thing… Scotland v Italy. What the hell was that first six minutes all about? I have never seen the like in my life. And if you didn’ see it, get a video and watch it. It is amazing and, for an Englishman, extremely amusing.

• February 26th, 2007 • Posted in Football, Rugby • Comments: 2

An opening salvo of sporting issues


Here it is, the first post in a new blog. And it’s just to tell you what’s coming up because if you want to know why I’ve popped up here, then you need to click on ‘About This Blog’.


Christmas and early new year is a perennially busy time in sport. For footie fans, the Christmas and New Year programme is swiftly followed by the FA Cup 3rd Round… surely the best day in the English football calendar (unless you’re Bury and have just been chuckled out, of course. Don’t get me started about excessive punishments for minor administration issues).

Football, though, is in danger of eating itself. Never mind the wages and all that mullarky (though they are plainly obscene) worry much more about the on and off field behaviour of players and managers and begin to wonder when people will start saying ‘enough’ in big numbers and turn away. It would be a tragedy.

Football is a peerless spectacle when played with skill and spirit. But it is nauseating when played with no respect for players or officials; and where the most common sight is an incandescent player practically vomiting his rage at an official despite being guilty, and very often when in no position to have an opinion. Grow up. Be men (in men’s football). Have some dignity. Some pride in your performance. Take responsibility for your actions and those of your team mates.


This year we’ve been treated to why the Aussies are still the world’s number one cricket team and why it is that the job only just begins when you win something big. Like the Ashes.

Still, two tests to come and despite the fact that the urn is lost, pride and revenge are massive motivators. This time, there will be no such thing as a dead rubber, I can assure you. But is it time to be able to appeal desicions as a batsman in the same way you can in some tennis events? Now this wouldn’t necessarily have saved England losing the ashes but Andrew Strauss’s last three dismissals were all not out. I think we’d be looking at 2-0, not 3-0 if he hadn’t been out so early on the last day of the second test.


The PDC World Championship of Darts kicked off this week and it is simply marvellous to watch from the players walking through the crowd to the final dart that is sunk in double top. And to all those who think it merely a pub game. Try it. Really try it. From the right distance away too. See how small that treble twenty bed looks? Now get all three of your darts in it. Regularly. And even if you don’t, get them very, very close. Still laughing?


Early next year we have the start of the tennis season from Australia. Henman is still there and still dangerous (and let me get one thing straight, anyone who gets to number 4 in the world and stays in the top ten for five years plus is a player of extraordinary talent who should be respected utterly) but I do expect great things from Andy Murray. He has the game, the aggression and the coach. It’ll be his head that determines his place among the greats should he attain such status.


Six nations rugby union is coming early in 2007. What can England hope for? Well, with Brian Ashton in charge, perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned on. He has spoken of the need to get the enjoyment back into the players and that is a laudable if challenging goal. If he can do it, England are up there with the best. And if he can maintain it in the face of top class opposition, if the players still play with freedom and lack of fear, we can yet come close to retaining the world cup. But it’s hard. Remember Sven Goran Eriksson talked about much the same things when he took over England football. Didn’t last did it? We can hope, though, and that is the essence of supporting any sport.

Well, plenty of issues raised there. I’ll tackle them all in the coming weeks. If you want something discussed sooner rather than later, post a comment and I’ll get on to it. But bear with me… baby Barclay is due on 14th January. Let chaos reign.

• December 22nd, 2006 • Posted in All the rest, Cricket, Football, Rugby, Sport Tech, Tennis • Comments: 3