Loose Pass

Date published: October 8 2014

Welcome to Loose Pass, our weekly collection of half-time oranges, post-match stews and game-day breakfasts.

Welcome to Loose Pass, our weekly collection of half-time oranges, post-match stews and game-day breakfasts.

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with a certain clash in Johannesburg, unwelcome lights, a couple of injuries and a mis-timed tackle…

In the absence of any findable online highlights, I’ll eschew the official review of that penalty for this week.

A counterpart of mine probably got it about right when he said – countering my arguments that Messam’s right arm did initially go out as though he wanted to wrap and that Burger was well on his way down when he and Messam made contact – “…sure. But you know what body position is taken when you are about to swing your shoulder…”

The call, and the game could have gone either way. But as South Africa emerges from its hangover this Monday, they’ll enjoy reflecting on two things: firstly, even if Messam’s tackle was legal, what goes around comes around. Remember Bismarck’s first yellow card last year?

The second thing will be the new-found belief that the Boks actually can. As another friend remarked, “there’s no such thing as a lucky win against the All Blacks, they’re always earned,” as true a statement as was ever uttered. That monkey of not beating the All Blacks before the next World Cup is truly off the back.

It turned previous Springbok match trends on their head. When the old guard came on towards the end it looked as though the pace and intensity from the home side dropped off a bit. It was the breast-beating newbies who instead won this game, producing 40 first-half minutes as good as any the Boks have ever played – the broken defensive line that gave Malakai Fekitoa his try notwithstanding.

Finally the Boks ran with all the pace, power and dexterity that Heyneke Meyer has been searching for. Finally, we got to see a full range of skills beyond just kicking, tackling and running in straight lines very fast. And finally, probably most important of all, the Boks appear to have a fly-half with the full arsenal. He tackles, he kicks, he runs, he steps, he passes long and short off both hands.

‘We’re accelerating’ was the phrase on motivational posters all over the Boks’ changing room on Saturday. On this display, we can’t wait for them to hit full speed – and nor can we wait for their November tour match at Twickenham. Three World Cup contenders again…

Four time zones away the hangover will be no less significant. Argentina, everybody’s second team at the moment, finally got the win their rugby throughout the tournament has deserved. Australia, who appear to be lurching through an identity crisis at the moment, just couldn’t find the extra puff at the end of a difficult tour.

Still – and we note that Bernard Foley himself has played it down – some form of action needs to be taken fast on the laser louts who tarnished the win. Jaco Peyper offered Aaron Cruden a retake last year because of lasers, an action that has great potential to become a guiding rule. Other sanctions ought to be considered fast, to nip this in the bud before the World Cup comes around.

Spare a thought for Tawera Kerr-Barlow, whose appalling luck means he is facing not only a long, long recuperation period but also a race to rediscover his form and fitness ahead of the World Cup.

Kerr-Barlow has been working tirelessly as the understudy to the effervescent Aaron Smith for a while now. Having burst onto the scene at the Chiefs, he has spent a huge amount of time solidifying his game in order to take his place in the black jersey.

All rendered possibly nought by one moment of bad luck, but at least he was there. A reminder to all to take every chance that comes your way before bad luck takes the chance away for you.

Straying briefly outside rugby union for a moment but staying on the injury tack, and Bath have taken a mix of sweet and sour this weekend. The sweet: beating Saracens – and beating them properly, in pretty much all areas of the pitch.

The sour: the injury to new signing Sam Burgess while on rugby league duty which will probably leave him out of the game until Christmas.

Still, back to the sweet: is this the hardest man in world rugby? Burgess played all 80 minutes of the NRL Grand Final on Sunday with an obviously-broken cheekbone obscuring his eyesight after a collision in the first minute. Makes Ma’a Nonu’s ten minutes with a broken arm sound slightly less impressive (good luck trying it – Ed).

Bath will have to wait, but what an athlete they have coming!

And finally, if there’s one thing you don’t expect after just having been released into open pasture down a wing in a big game, it’s a naked man with a pipe in his mouth expertly drifting in defence before bundling you into touch.

Well, apparently it can happen in Newcastle.

Distinctly unimpressive was the behaviour of the fans afterwards; one clown’s antics can occasionally, regrettably, happen. A horde of England’s intellectual elite storming a pitch like a bad day in Millwall should never happen.

Anyway, here is the naked defence. Cue the tackle jokes… and once over the head-shaking and indignation, you can’t help but be impressed at the naked defender’s ability to simply slip into the shadows during the ensuing chaos!

Loose Pass compiled by former Planet Rugby Editor Danny Stephens