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Thread: How Siya Kolisi could exceed Nelson Mandela in South Africa's rugby hist

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    How Siya Kolisi could exceed Nelson Mandela in South Africa's rugby hist

    Mark Reason
    11:57, Oct 09 2018


    OPINION: South Africa could've, should've beaten the All Blacks three times in a row. But Steve Hansen is right. None of that will matter when the two sides play each other in the opening match of next year's World Cup. It won't matter because South Africa won't be able to pick anything like the same team.

    The quota system demands South Africa must have eight non-white players in their World Cup starting XV. Of those at least five must be black African, with coloured players making up the difference.

    Coach Rassie Erasmus will have to select on those lines when the Springboks play the All Blacks on September 21. There is no way he can do that, without significantly weakening the South African team, based on player form and performance this season.

    Here is the dilemma. South Africa are currently resurgent because the team has a strong spine. No 8 Duane Vermeulen was hugely influential in the series win over England. Hooker Malcolm Marx, halfback Faf de Klerk, first-five Handre Pollard and fullback Willie Le Roux were key drivers in the games against New Zealand.

    Any coach of South Africa would want to pick those players for next year's World Cup. So that leaves 10 spots available for eight black or coloured players. There are currently no black locks or tighthead props close to international standard. That means at least one of your spine has to go, even if you pick seven non-white players in all the remaining positions.

    So you might as well tell Jesse Kriel, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Steven Kitshoff that they will be scarcely needed in Japan.
    Kriel was identified by Brendan Venter as South Africa's best defender and the other two had huge games against New Zealand. No matter.

    Four of South Africa's spine were replaced by players of colour in the final 15 minutes of Sunday's loss against the All Blacks. They lost direction at halfback, particularly defensively. Marx was not there to win the odd crucial turnover. And his replacement Bongo Mbonambi joined with du Toit in conceding a crucial penalty.

    Earlier in the Rugby Championship, Erasmus picked a team with five or six black players. When the coach reduced the number to four against New Zealand he was mocked by some. They said Erasmus had regressed and South Africa would still lose by 20 points. Only then, South Africa went and won.

    This creates a colossal dichotomy for South Africa's leadership. Imagine what it would do for black rugby in the country if the Springboks won the World Cup under the leadership of Siya Kolisi. It would be a transformative moment akin to Nelson Mandela wearing the Springboks shirt in an attempt to found the Rainbow Nation.

    Kolisi is a superb player and a dignified captain. He is also an extraordinary role model. His mother was 16 when he was born and his dad was in his final year at primary school. Kolisi grew up in the township of Zwide outside Port Elizabeth. At times young Siya went to bed starving. At times his family could not find the $6 needed to pay his primary school fees for a year.

    Now Kolisi is leading his country, wearing the symbolic No 6 shirt of Mandela and Francois Pienaar.

    He says, "I'm not only trying to inspire black kids but people from all races. When I'm on the field and I look into the crowd, I see people of all races and social classes.

    "I tell my team-mates that you should never play just to represent one group. You can't play to be the best black player or to be the best white player to appeal to a community; you have to play to be the best for every South African. We represent something much bigger than we can imagine."

    Kolisi touches on all the difficulties and contradictions of quotas and transformation. When South Africa came back from isolation in 1992 they played the All Blacks in their opening match. The team was all white. They were asked not to sing Die Stem, the anthem of the Afrikaans. They sang it anyway in front of 80,000 people at the old Ellis Park, despite the pleas of Mandela and the ANC.

    Change has come slowly. When the progressive Nick Mallett was removed as coach in 2000, the Springboks headed into the new millennium by going back in time. Initiation ceremonies were restored where new players were caned with a snooker cue or given a drink laced with sweat squeezed from the players' socks. How do you eradicate such hideously inappropriate instincts for good?

    Steve Hansen told Peter Bills in his book The Jersey: "They (South Africa) are the only team in sport I know that doesn't pick its best team... Rugby wasn't a black man's sport, but it was the sport that would unify a country in a way that no other sport or business could."

    Even now I don't see that unity when I look into a South African rugby crowd. When Kolisi looks into the crowd he says he sees people of all races and classes. Maybe, but it's nowhere near proportionally representative. It still looks like a white man's game. Maybe they should bring in quotas for the crowds.

    Rugby in South Africa is slowly developing but it is still very white, an impression borne out by the almost total absence of black coaches in Super Rugby or Currie Cup. But if you force the issue and South Africa become uncompetitive, is that helping anybody.

    The one man I would like to hear from is Kolisi. What team does he want to lead at the next World Cup? Does he want to lead the strongest South African team available or does he believe in the long-term power of the quota system to transform rugby in his country.

    Pienaar became an icon to the new South Africa, but he was a false icon who prospered from his association with Mandela. Pienaar was 28-years-old when he lifted the World Cup. Kolisi will reach the same age next year.

    Married to a white woman with children of mixed race, Kolisi could become the most important man in his country's rugby history.

    It is both a hideous and a magnificent burden.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/opinio...-rugby-history

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    I normally don't read Mark Reasons tripe, but he has some pretty valid points in this one.

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    It is a great story, and he got his big break in life through rugby and he has grabbed it. Well done sir.

    Kolisi grew up in the impoverished Zwide township outside Port Elizabeth and endured a tough upbringing. At the age of 12 he impressed scouts at a youth tournament in Mossel Bay and was offered a scholarship at Grey Junior in Port Elizabeth. He subsequently moved up to Grey High School, where he was a member of the first XV rugby team.

    Grey PE is one of the top schools in RSA. I was lucky enough to attend Grey as well

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    Good article. First time I've seen the term spine in reference to Rugby playing positions. Doesn't really make sense.

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    Veteran Sheikh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    Good article. First time I've seen the term spine in reference to Rugby playing positions. Doesn't really make sense.
    Soccer uses the term 'spine of the team' to refer the goalkeeper, centre-backs, central midfield and centre-forward. The prevalent thinking (usually some 30 years ago) was that if the players in your 'spine' were good, then you could get away with having weaker wide players (full-backs, wingers, etc). However, this very much comes from the: "I'll coach my players the way I was coached as a 10-year-old, even though this was out of date when I played and I'm now 55 years old" style of coaching.

    I'm not quite sure in rugby if you can refer to the 2, 8, 9, 10 & 15 as the spine of the team. I've never seen any rugby side play where a line drawn through those players wouldn't end up looking like the spine of someone who's parachute failed to open.

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    Immortal jargan83's Avatar
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    I dare say that Shasta is referring to Rugby League where the use of the term "spine" has become very common place over the past 10 years.

    Rugby League spine consisting of Full back, Five Eighth, Half Back and Hooker (1, 6, 7 &9)

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    Veteran chibi's Avatar
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    We'll have to wait and Siya


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    Last edited by chibi; 09-10-18 at 18:47.


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    as opposed to spineless, which we all how that applies to certain players and teams

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jargan83 View Post
    I dare say that Shasta is referring to Rugby League where the use of the term "spine" has become very common place over the past 10 years.

    Rugby League spine consisting of Full back, Five Eighth, Half Back and Hooker (1, 6, 7 &9)
    That's what made me think it didn't make sense in Reason's waffling. The logic in RL is similar to Sheik's explanation in football terms. They are the play makers and kickers who direct the team around the park and create space = makes sense.

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    The term spine in union has been around for years. It describes those that get their hands on the ball the most in a game and therefore have the biggest impact which generally speaking are 2-8-9-10 and 15.

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    Immortal Contributor shasta's Avatar
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    OK. Thanks for clearing that up Westie. I've still never heard or read of it before.

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    prepare to duck,Shasta!

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    Quote Originally Posted by shasta View Post
    OK. Thanks for clearing that up Westie. I've still never heard or read of it before.
    I'm with you, I'd never heard of it referred to in regards to Union before.

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