One of my preoccupations as a rugby fan is figuring out which Haka the All Blacks will unfurl before a Test match.
One of the things I've resigned myself to for the rest of my life is spending half of it making up for the bad first impressions I've made.
As one of the few people who thought John Mitchell should have stayed on in some capacity at the Lions, I thought his departure would see the team fall apart under Johan Ackermann.
The big talking point in local rugby circles over the past fortnight has been the fact that the Springboks have one specialist tighthead in their Rugby Championship squad, so I thought I'd add my 84kg of heft to the debate.
About the only "person" who was happy to see Dewald Potgieter in Pretoria on Saturday night was his English bulldog Lady Zsa Zsa.
If ever one wanted a perfect example of what to expect from our rugby teams as long as massive overseas contracts and the lack of a global season carry on being the major challenges in the local game, the Bulls are it.
Three weeks ago, I was listening to colleagues argue about whether Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund should keep his job after his team's recent loss to Ethiopia in the World Cup qualifier.
Former Springbok captain John Smit finally took office as the Sharks' CEO on Monday.
When Kurtley Beale missed a penalty during a Super 15 game against the Blues in Auckland a couple of seasons ago, some Smart Aleck stadium DJ promptly played the Rolling Stones' You Can't Always Get What You Want.
If there's one thing the rainbow nation does particularly well, it is engaging in a spot of pessimism.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer came perilously close to perfection at the weekend by naming an Incoming Tours squad that pretty much everyone agreed on.
It's that time of the year again, when every man with a passing interest in rugby wants a word with Heyneke Meyer.
Former All Blacks coach Graham Henry is apparently in the sin bin for making the oldest joke in the book about a match official.
Sir John Kirwan, the All Black legend and Jonah Lomu's white predecessor, gives an animated halftime speech.
If the Sharks decide to call on him from the bench, tomorrow will mark a massive milestone for one of my favourite players of all time.
There was a telling moment at the conclusion of the Heineken Cup semifinal between Saracens and Toulon on Sunday.
There's an irritating advert on Supersport which makes rational people want to do unspeakable things to cyclists and their equipment.
About a month ago I was taken to task by a couple of old schoolmates for admitting in public that I support the Bulls.
Five minutes before Burton Francis's last-minute heroics in the Cheetahs' game against the Stormers, a colleague voiced a long-held opinion on the stand-in flyhalf.
As rugby fans, we've all taken turns patronising the Cheetahs over the years.
When John Plumtree put Sharks fans and Frans Steyn out of their misery by dropping the player from his starting line-up last week, the common refrain from the rugby public was: "What's eating the kid anyway?"
It's not often that it happens, but the Sharks would have felt like the ugly sisters of South African rugby at the end of the weekend's fixtures.
One of my favourite rugby players of all time is Gaffie du Toit.
Of the few people who made sense at the conclusion of last weekend's Super 15 fixtures, I must admit one never expected Ali Williams to be at the front of the queue.
A bit like there aren't that many people who thought Kamp Staaldraad was a good idea, very few people are admitting to supporting the Southern Kings ahead of their Super 15 debut.
It is probably not the week to say it, but this year's rugby season promises to be better than last year's dreary effort despite not even having started.
There's something comforting about February for the regular rugby oke. As the month in which the Super 15 begins, it's a period when the conjecture stops and we start talking about something as tangible as teams taking to the field and actual results.
There's something about a win against England at Twickenham that is guaranteed to get a Springbok coach off the hook.
Jean de Villiers framed the issues nicely by asking: "Since when is a win not good enough?"
The Scots have a history of bearing a grudge.
The great thing about announcing a Springbok squad which includes a character named Player 32 is that you can't possibly go wrong.
I owe one of my colleagues R3200 in unpaid sports bets. It sounds like a lot of money but it's a small price to pay (one day) for having unshakeable belief in the underdog.
Life, John Lennon once opined, is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
There's a story that does the rounds about when Cheetahs and Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen was a new boy at a Grey College hostel.
There was a telling snapshot about who does the Springboks' thinking during their defeat by the All Blacks at Soccer City on Saturday.
Thanks in no small part to how far ahead of the rest of the free world the All Blacks are, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer's first Four Nations tournament wasn't the all-conquering affair many thought it would be when he took over from Peter de Villiers in January.
With the two teams' well-documented problems in that area, flyhalf play will be the subject of intense scrutiny when the Springboks and Wallabies meet at Loftus Versfeld for their Four Nations game on Saturday.
It was inevitable that former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers would have something to say about the progress of his successor, Heyneke Meyer.
Asked about the many life lessons one could glean from playing rugby, Morne du Plessis once said: "It teaches you restraint in the face of provocation."
OSCAR Pistorius's "outburst", as his post-race hissy fit has come to be known, may well prove to be seminal in the history of paralympic sport.
The easiest way to lose your job as a Springbok coach is to change whatever it is that got you the position in the first place.
"Saturday was branded as the start of something new, but it looked like an ending."
It is probably a little hypocritical for a guy who's desperately seeking two R600 tickets to the Springboks/All Blacks game to say this, but I'm probably keener on watching the Currie Cup than I am on the Four Nations this year.
To all of those writing off the Sharks' understandably slim chances of winning this year'sSuper 15 title, consider the determined nature of the dog of war who will lead them into their mission improbable against the Chiefs on Saturday.
The lousy thing about being identified as a talented individual is that you spend a significant amount of your life trying to live up to other people's expectations.
In a year in which the Stormers could make history by winning the Super 15 title without a single bonus-point victory, I'm baffled that we aren't more willing to grant the Bulls an outside chance of also breaking with an old tradition.
In his book on leadership, Vince Lombardi jnr tells a story which goes some way towards encapsulating the kind of man his father, the legendary US football coach, was.
One of the reasons many people struggle to take the Democratic Alliance seriously is that it takes its role as the opposition a little too seriously.
In his formative years as a coach, former England manager Fabio Capello spent time as a general manager for a variety of sports, which included rugby union.
AN UNPRECEDENTED thing happened before the Springboks' first test against England - a Bok coach went into his first match having already frittered away the public's goodwill.
SA rugby's current brute force over skill philosophy is unfair to the smaller-built players
For those of you still out there making Beast Mtawarira go viral on the internet by passing on what can only be called his Anton Bresler moment, I have got some sobering news for you.
In the same way rugby coaches accuse rugby hacks of favouring perception over reality in their reports, rugby fans have a habit of writing players off based on appearances.
There's a guy at my local pub who my friends have taken to calling my best mate.
One of the unsavoury by-products of being paid to write about rugby is that after a while one starts believing one's own press about being a purist.
If ever a decision showed how misleading the word "deserving" can be in sport, Harry Redknapp being overlooked for the England coaching job should be it.
Before last year's World Cup final, Stephen Donald was only known as a flyhalf who made playing in the position look every bit as hard as we imagine it to be.
Years ago, when he could still comfortably call himself a coach, Rudolf Straeuli found himself confronted with a battle against relegation in the English Premiership.
As a Bulls supporter, one tends to find that withholding praise from the Stormers is something that comes a little too naturally.
Watching the Cheetahs go through their most successful Super rugby tour was a bit like being taken on a trip through the idiosyncrasies of South African rugby.
One of our least attractive traits as South Africans is our willingness to judge people on the negative aspects of who they are.
As a long-suffering Liverpool supporter, I tend to think about Luis Suarez a lot.
In my first year at Dale College, there was a fellow new pupil who took the school rumour mill by storm.
The happiest man at the conclusion of last weekend's round of Super 15 matches wasn't the smug bastard who got all seven of his SuperBru predictions right.
THERE comes a time in a man's life when he has to decide on the manner in which he will achieve his ultimate goal.
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that he had decided not to watch any rugby this year to spend more time with his children.
Not long after the Bulls' leisurely 39-16 win over the Cheetahs in their Super 15 friendly at the weekend, Frans Ludeke sought to do a bit of damage control.
There's nothing like a long off-season to breed a fair bit of optimism.
TWO weeks ago, at the beginning of the Sharks' Currie Cup semifinal against the Cheetahs, a friend had one of those "you heard it here first" moments when he caught sight of the Free State side's young flyhalf Johan Goosen.
The first time I watched a rugby match on TV, Northern Transvaal put 50 points past Ian McIntosh's Natal.
A couple of hours after Bryce Lawrence versus the Springboks, I got a call from my bookie (rather, a friend who used to work for a bookmaker).
Victor Matfield, one of the senior players with an influence on how the Springboks were coached, has advised Saru not to employ a foreign coach to replace Peter de Villiers.
SOMETIMES the best way to find out what the man on the street is thinking about rugby is to watch a game at a pub.
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:
Two years ago, I wrote that if this current Springbok team wasn't the best ever to wear the green and gold, they were doing a great job of pretending to be.
The Springboks' close-run thing against Wales on Sunday has led to predictable calls for the bench to do its rescue job from the first minute against Fiji.
It might come as a surprise to those with green and gold stars in their eyes, but there are very good reasons why the Rugby World Cup has never been successfully defended.
Late last year, after a season in which New Zealand (narrowly) lost just once in 11 tests, I wrote a column saying they would not win the Rugby World Cup this year.
ARD Matthews might disagree at this very moment, but thank goodness he made his ill-fated appearance at the announcement of the Springboks' World Cup squad.
With the World Cup looming, Supersport have been airing a promo of the tournament which features the Springboks playing against virtual dragons.
The Springboks' Tri-Nations game against Australia on Saturday has to be the most anticipated first home test since the British and Irish Lions' visit in 2009.
It would appear that the prospect of watching "real rugby" between the Wallabies and the All Blacks on Saturday has done little to stop our anger about the Springboks.
As the Springbok coach and captain groped for elusive positives from their defeat against the Wallabies last weekend, one couldn't help but reach the illogical conclusion that they could also be telling us: "We told you so."
The South African sports fan is a beast after my own heart.
YEARS ago, I fell into conversation with a highly respected Currie Cup coach on one of those rare occasions when he seemed to have time after a training session.
WHAT with the claims and counter-claims by the Lions and the Guma group in explaining the real reasons for their break-up, one has no hope in hell of telling who was more justified in calling the whole thing off.
PETER de Villiers's Springbok World Cup squad stands at 49 and counting, but anyone with a passing interest in the Boks probably knows to within five players who the final 30 will be.
It might sound like a classic case of sour grapes from Gauteng, but the Bulls losing out on that final Super 15 play-off spot may have been a blessing in disguise.