Tri-nations: History books to be re-written

The defending champions have gone into this year's tournament with high hopes and quickly got a taste of the unpredictability of this tournament. The All Blacks gave the Springboks a good hiding in the first match and now the pressure is on. The boys in green and gold will be out for revenge at the next clash in Wellington.  Both teams have a lot to play for, not only a win, but loads of history that's ready to be re-written.

New Zealand’s kicking machine, Dan Carter only needs 88 test points to match leading points scorer Jonny Wilkinson, whilst South African golden boy Morne Steyn needs three successful penalty goals to equal Percy Montgomery's record of 20 penalty goals against New Zealand. He also needs one drop goal to equal Andre Pretorius' tournament record of four career drop goals. Morne has quickly risen as a world-class player and is one of only eight players who have scored more than 100 career points in the Tri-Nations. Make that 107 points in only seven appearances to be precise, although Dan Carter still owns the crown with 375 points in 26 appearances. If Steyn nails a conversion that will be South Africa's 700th conversion in test match history.

Both captains have motivation for a cracking game. New Zealand Captain Ritchie McCaw is seeking a win to surpass All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick, who has 74 wins to his name.  SA Captain John Smit, who is the most capped Springbok hooker (82 games), the most capped Springbok forward (97 games) and currently holds the world record as the most capped Springbok captain (71 games), will be playing in his 24th Tri-Nations test and will become the most-capped captain in the tournament’s history. Smit also needs one try to equal James Dalton and Bismarck Du Plessis’ record of five tries as a hooker.

Rokocoko has an opportunity to become New Zealand’s top try scorer if he crosses the tri line twice. If he only scores one try he will equal All Black winger Christian Cullen's 46 tries. Bryan Habana currently holds the record for the most test tries as a wing (38), but one more try will make him South Africa's most prolific try scorer in tests.

Jacque Fourie has scored the most tries as centre (24) and he is also the most capped Springbok centre with 47 caps. Schalk Burger is the most capped Springbok at flank with 57 caps and holds the record for the most test tries as flank (10).  C.J. van der Linde is looking for his try to equal the Springbok record for most test tries (5) as a prop along with Chris Koch and Os du Randt. Pierre Spies is seeking a try to take over Gary Teichmann, Joe van Niekerk and Bob Skinstads’ record of six tries and become the sole recorder holder for the most tries as an eighthman.  

Victor Matfield, who is the most capped Springbok lock (96), will become the Springbok with the most tests (22) against the All Blacks. He will also be playing in his 38th Tri-Nations test and become the 3rd most capped player in the Tournament along with Stephen Larkham.

Wow! With all this in mind it will be very interesting to see who of these players will be celebrating on Saturday and who will be working harder to achieve these milestones.

Good luck to both teams. I can't wait for the match.

RuggaLove:
RuggaChick

Orlando: Bulls Territory

South Africa is a country where our divided past still influences the daily lives of ordinary South African. When the Blue Bulls made it through to the Super 14 semi-finals and their home ground, Loftus, was unavailable due to preparation for the Fifa 2010 World Cup, something amazing happened. For the first time ever in South African history, a major internationally televised rugby game was played in a soccer stadium in the heart of Soweto. I never imagined anything like that could happen in my country. Viva Rainbow Nation, viva. This historical event had me so excited that I couldn't wait to be part of it. It was an experience that I will never forget! Allow me to share my journey with you.
 
I headed for my nearest Checkers to redeem my tickets. The queue was out the door! Clearly lots of people were excited about watching the Bulls in Soweto.
 
Not so much fun was the clogged highway leading to Soweto, but with the help of a couple of back roads that took us past the impressive Soccer City stadium we arrived at the Orlando Stadium and parked right in front of the stadium.  
 
WOW! I was blown away by Orlando. The residents really welcomed us to their neighbourhood and one even went as far as to paint his house blue with the Bulls logo on. The stadium is as impressive as Loftus, with as many facilities. The beer tent was pumping, boerewors rolls were everywhere; I even managed to have an ice-cream before we headed for our seats.
 
I shared my row with a group of vuvuzela-blowing fans. Everywhere I looked it was a sea of blue. The atmosphere was amazing. I tried spotting the Crusader supporters. I counted only four and then gave up.  
 
There were still some open seats when the game kicked off (apparently people got stuck in traffic), but that didn’t seem to bother the Bulls at all and they got off to a cracking start. And then the Bulls scored a try and all of a sudden it's vuvuzela time. I joined in with my mini vuvuzela, It was great fun to see the locals smiling at me. It was buzzing and people were still streaming in.
 
Then Crusader’s Dan Carter gets a kick at goal and the vuvuzelas start up again. I am sure it annoyed the crap out of him and I loved the contest. World class rugby player vs vuvuzela madness.  I wasn't surprised that he banged that one over, Dan the man is damn good. It didn't last though - he couldn't maintain his 100% record and at some stage the vuvuzelas got to him. The stadium started to fill up and the atmosphere really heated up. Mexican waves started going round, vuvuzelas started blowing on the "Bulle" clap, clap beat and towards the end of the game the crowed started singing "Ole".
 
Game over - the Bulls win and the crowd freaks out! As I want to exit my row, a fan approached me and first asked whether I am RuggaChick? LOL Yeah! Then he wanted a picture, I gladly posed and was off to film my clip from Orlando. It was a bit crazy and loud, I had to scream into the camera to make myself heard. Off I went to meet up with friends at the beer tent, grabbed a refreshment and watched the Stormers game on the big scream with music pumping in my ears.
 
They had a great game and I was very happy that they managed to make it an all South African Final. I loved the journey back home through Soweto at night and was amazed by the scenery. I felt like a proud South African. And this event has brought our country even closer.
 
I can't wait to go back for the mighty Super 14 final.
 
Rugga Love,
 
RuggaChick

Morne Steyn, we are worried

A trip to Loftus Versveld is an experience in it's own right. The Blue Bulls supporters have a unique culture and interesting quirks and one of them is the love for their fly half. They even have a specific song that get's played after he kicks at goal. This year "Simply the Best" from Tina Turner.

I think Morne has a lot of talent and that he has a bright future ahead of him. I also think he has the potential to follow in the footsteps of world class player, Dan Carter. Morne has secured the number 10 Springbok jersey with only 12 caps, impressive!

My concern is that Morne is on fire when he plays in his own country, but the moment he crosses the Indian Ocean it goes all wrong for him. Think about last seasons tour when he could hardly convert a try. This season it's the same story, he lost his "kicking Mojo", completely! It's not only his kicking at goal that I find poor, but also that tactical kicking, it's really terrible. It will be a huge problem if he can't adress the situation before the World Cup next year in New Zealand!

I was listening to Naas Botha's commentary after the Bulls game the weekend and one can always expect Naas to be very defensive about the number 10 Blue Bull jersey. I disagree with Naas. Morne's kicking is a problem and Naas shouldn't blame conditions and say Donald also had a "bad day". The team is worried and so am I.

Morne must deal with all the pressure and pull himself together. A world class fly half is supposed to nail every kick no mater where he plays or what the conditions might be. He is suposed play superb rugby!

Rugga Love,
RuggaChick

2010: A new year of Rugby

Happy new year!

I have had a fantastic holiday, but still stayed on track with the "rugby world".  During my holiday I went to see the film Invictus and it was such a touching film to me as a proud South African. I thought it was done brilliantly with the old look and feel and how some scenes took my mind back to 1995. It was good to see the influence from Nelson Mandela during that time and how it brought together a nation and provided South Africa with a world cup. You can't resist the goose bumps when you look at the pictures at the end of the film, before the credits. Seeing Os du Randt, Francois Pienaar and all the great players almost made me pick a tear for a second. I recommend every South African and every rugby lover around the world to watch this film, it WILL have an effect on you.

Further more I also had a great time reading John Smit's book " Captain in the Cauldron". It was the perfect book to read during my relaxing stages in the sun. It was very ironic though when I went to watch the cricket and lied in the sun reading our Springbok Captain's book. Wow! I was very impressed with his book. I think he did a great job!

Now 2010 is here and it's a new season for rugby. It's feels so good to wait in anticipation for all the great tournaments ahead of us. I'm sure the rugby players are just as excited and "syced" for the games that are coming up. I was taking a look at the latest addition of the SA Rugby magazine and injured reading about the year that has been in South African rugby and what to expect for 2010.

Rugby in the Northern hemisphere is kicking off on Saturday the 6th of February with the Six Nations.  I wonder who will dominate this tournament, we have seen what the teams can do during the autumn season last year. It should be very interesting to see what happens, but don't worry fans I will keep you updated throughout the tournament. The Southern hemisphere will be getting into action shortly after the Six Nations kick off, with the 1st Super 14 game being played on Friday the 12th of February. I wonder if the Bulls will successfully defend their title or weather the Sharks will desperately try and improve on last year's performance. I think a few teams would want to improve on last years performance, lets hope it's all for the good.

It's my 1st blog for 2010 and I am so excited for this year.

Now Bring on the RUGBY boys!

Rugga Love:

RuggaChick

Jam-packed rugby this December

We are heading towards the end of 2009 and what is happening in rugby world for December? I bet most of you thought the rugby players will have a long holiday. To be fair I definitely think some teams do need a break, like the Springboks who are reported to have played the most rugby this year with some of the players exceeding 2000 minutes!

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