Frans Steyn and other Cup truths
With the group stages of the World Cup concluding this weekend, it has been the kind of tournament which has done little to establish a pattern. The so-called favourites have been installed as such, largely on the basis of blow-outs against the minnows. Here are five things we've learned about the World Cup so far:
THE ALL BLACKS ARE BEATABLE
The headlines asking whether the All Blacks can be beaten are a bit misleading. They are based on them playing what's turned out to be a weak Tongan team, a second-string Japanese side, and a French selection that was never intended to engage them.
The probable quarterfinal against the spoilsport Argentinians will give a more accurate indication of the All Blacks.
For the Namibians to have a three day rest between playing South Africa and Wales, the two strongest teams in Pool D, was nothing short of cruel and unusual punishment.
With their resources, player depth and superior medical teams, why don't the super-powers undertake a similarly quick turnaround between matches?
FRANS BOKS' TOP INSIDE CENTRE
Forget the fact that he can attempt a goalkick from inside his own 22-m line, score regularly and has frequently burst over the advantage line in the midfield.
The most impressive aspect of Steyn's game has been his distribution, especially that long, flat pass which has taken defences out of the equation. Steyn does the things Jean de Villiers used to do, taking on the line, offloading in the tackle and distributing, whereas the veteran now just takes the ball up.
WALES, IRELAND DARK HORSES
Their probable quarterfinal against each other will eliminate one of them, but the established nations will be looking to avoid whoever makes it through.
Ireland's planning and execution against Australia was done with military precision, and there's a touch of the Springboks about their pack of forwards. Wales have always been well-coached, now they have the player ability and depth, the dangerous playing pattern, the confidence and the conditioning to hurt the big teams.
ROCKY AND RAMBO HAVE NOTHING ON JACQUES BURGER
How did the Bulls let the Saracens man go? The Namibian captain has tackled massively and frequently, and carried the ball tirelessly. If it wasn't for the flanker, one gets the impression they would have conceded a ton of points against the Boks and Wales. No wonder he's looked so exhausted in his post-match interviews.
PS: A word of advice for JP Pietersen on marking the 117kg Alex Tuilagi tomorrow.
When he was still coaching England, Clive Woodward was approached by winger Dan Luger, who wanted advice on how to handle his upcoming confrontation with Jonah Lomu. He said: "Just get a handful of crap, throw it in his eyes so he can't see where he's going."
Luger asked where he'd get said pile of brown stuff, and Sir Clive said: "There'll be plenty of that around when he comes thundering in your direction."