If you go to Pretoria this week, all you'll see is blue and more blue. But something doesn't seem right about this year's Currie Cup Final.
It's with fond memories that I recall my old school war cry of “all I see is red and green,” but upon returning to Pretoria this week, all I saw was blue and…er…well, more blue.
My trip to Pretoria involved passing through Cape Town international airport. I couldn't help chuckling when I noticed – perched at the top of a very high pole soon to be carrying a sign for the FIFA World Cup – a Bulls flag! It seems the boerewors curtain has descended from somewhere in the Free State to somewhere on the N2. As if Western Province fans weren't feeling glum enough already.
Having gone to school in the shadow of Loftus, one would have thought I'd be used to the fanatical support the Bulls enjoy. But I'm still taken aback every time I visit Pretoria before big match day. You can't go 50m metres without seeing a blue flag, a blue jersey or a set of blue testicles dangling from the back of a bakkie.
This is rugby country like no place on earth and as far as results go in Saturday's Currie Cup Final against the Cheetahs, all I see is more blue.
What a shame. (Cue thousands of death threats from Bulls fans flooding our mailbox.)
Yes, a Springbok-laden Blue Bulls team looks set to add the Currie Cup to the Super 14 trophy. But I'm not the only one who has mixed feelings about such a result. It has nothing to do with quality of the game expected, nor the atmosphere from the local fans.
Is it really fair that players like Fourie du Preez, Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha can 'win' South Africa's top domestic competition having played in only two or three matches? Is it really fair on the other Bulls players and the smaller unions that have slogged it out since July must now step aside while the stars step into the limelight?
Please, don't get me wrong. It would impossible to hold it against the returning Boks for wanting to do the best for their Union and play a part in the securing that prized gold trophy. Likewise, you can't blame coach Frans Ludeke for picking the best players at his disposal – before Victor Matfield and co. returned to the fray, the Bulls were struggling stay in the leading quartet.
But the truth of the matter is, this year – like the year before – we've seen two competitions, the second of which started when the Tri-Nations ended.
Cry the beloved country, for the Griquas did not make the play-offs. The mass Bok return to the Bulls and Sharks made sure the brave lads from Kimberley fell a single point short of adding some real spice to a competition that has become a little too predictable for many.
Of course the Cheetahs could prove me wrong (yes, Sharks fans, we feel your pain), but even so, the question remains the same. Shouldn't those who did the hard graft at the start of the Currie Cup season be allowed to savour the fruits of their labour at the finish?
Many competitions, in a number of sports around the world, have a rule which stipulates that competitors must have at least taken part in a reasonable amount of the tournament before they are allowed to participate in the play-offs. It only seems fair.
South Africa's capital is a unique place. As I write this, a massive thunderstorm, that was beating down on the earth that was so dry not half-an-hour ago, is coming to an end – typical of this time of year.
The weathermen assure us it'll be dry on Saturday, but we're set to see another annual phenomenon: The returning Boks will storm South African rugby and give us a great show.
But is it the show we should be watching?
By Ross Hastie in Pretoria