Stormers’ duty to the nation

2011-03-09 09:34

Rob Houwing

They are marvelling at the sheer audacity and guts of it back in New Zealand ... whilst still pinching themselves to believe it actually happened.

I refer to the unfashionable Highlanders’ achievement of Mission Impossible last weekend: knocking over defending Super Rugby champions the Bulls in their own Loftus backyard, so extending their early-season charge to three wins from three and second place on the overall log only on a “for and against” basis from the Sharks.

Seasoned scribe Wynne Gray of the New Zealand Herald, for instance, rightly lauded the Otago side for their unwavering spirit and attitude, whilst virtually simultaneously making the point that they are a team “with a solitary senior All Black, Jimmy Cowan, and other bit-part internationals Adam Thomson, Tom Donnelly, Jamie Mackintosh and Ben Smith”.

Few in South Africa would have begrudged them their 35-28 victory, either, even if the mostly lethargic and robotic Bulls so nearly scrambled a draw.

I’d immediately spotted it on television in my own living room, after all, when inspirational loosehead prop Mackintosh got away with cheekily slapping the ball out of Fourie du Preez’s grasp at a ruck beneath the Highlanders’ posts as the home side sought a levelling seven-pointer at the death.

Gray, incidentally, branded it “a Hand of God incident, one to rival Diego Maradona or Thierry Henry’s hand-headers” and noted that referee Stuart Dickinson (an old South African less-than-favourite, of course) had experienced a “vision malfunction”.

But  let’s not kid ourselves at the foot of Africa: the Highlanders were fantastic value for the score-line, positive in intent and execution to accompany their courage, and most in the stunned Pretoria crowd would have known it.

And that’s the really worrying thing from a broad South African perspective.

Because if the Highlanders, lacking most of New Zealand’s truest rugby superstars who remain embedded with such outfits as the Crusaders and Hurricanes, continue on their presently merry way by also knocking over the second best team in the Super 14 last year – the Stormers – under lights at Newlands on Friday, what signal is that sending out about our country’s health in the admittedly fledgling stages of a World Cup year?

So this is not just a mouth-watering meeting of two unbeaten teams: it is a key opportunity for the Stormers to find some missing spark – one pushover try in two narrowly-won home derbies is a very poor return for this traditionally attack-conscious outfit – but also allay fears that, the Sharks apart, South African rugby is looking a little too stale and leaden-footed right now.

Personally, while full of admiration for the way Jamie Joseph has got the Highlanders’ heart ticking, I still fancy that a “correction” will gradually take place and their runaway start be arrested.

For the record, straight after they tackle the Stormers they return home to entertain the Crusaders ahead of a bye.

There must remain a pretty good chance, with respect, that they will lose both and thus the present hype around them quickly become more muted, especially as the slog goes on and injuries particularly test the depth of smaller-stocked franchises.

I made the point last Saturday night that the Highlanders, who finished a lowly 12th in the 2010 Super 14 with three wins from their 13 games, haven’t exactly invested in a galaxy of household names from elsewhere in the interim.

Indeed, they will probably start on Friday with some eight or nine of the same players who turned out at Newlands last year, when the Stormers clinically shut them out 33-0 on March 6 and also registered a bonus-point try via Bryan Habana in the 79th minute for the proverbial cherry on top.

So if the Highlanders, this time, somehow manage to run rings around the Stormers, always lauded for their defensive structure and ability, and whoop it up in victory abroad once more, South African rugby will be looking just a bit shaky, don’t you think?

The home outfit not only prevailing, but doing so with a pinch of pizzazz, would be a timely development.

For if you remove the purposeful, smooth-functioning Sharks from the equation, the remainder of the South African sides have thus far been serving up a brand of rugby not far short of cold cabbage soup.

And that needs to change fast, if sceptical rugby fans across the land are to be persuaded that the dramatic expansion of the competition has actually been a good thing ...

Rob Houwing is Sport24’s chief writer

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


  • sessisie - 2011-03-09 10:53

    This result was already on the books, and a long time coming if one compares the trajectories of the Bulls and Highlanders since last season.

  • Rob - 2011-03-09 11:01

    Stormers will lose

  • Stompies - 2011-03-09 11:02

    Hell Rob, why take such a wide detour to tell us that your favorite team will be the all time heroes? I sincerely hope for your (supporters) sake that the stormers also wake up before this weekend.

  • SUPER C - 2011-03-09 11:06

    A lesson I've learned last year is that one cannot judge what the national team will be like on the field based on the Super rugby series. Look at how the AB's ruined everything in their path that after a somewhat average Super 14...

      RJ - 2011-03-09 11:53


  • Alwyn - 2011-03-09 11:15

    Stormers suck,,,Big time!!!!!!!

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 11:25

      Highlanders by 8. Stormers suck!!!!!

      zabber - 2011-03-09 11:54


      RJ - 2011-03-09 11:54

      Suckers.... What all do U2 suck.

      Rob - 2011-03-09 12:15

      They suck i agree!

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 12:20

      @RJ I wouldnt know,i have not been to the U2 concert Maybe they suck on lollies ,and it just proves you also suck!!!!!!!!!!

      Balsakhater - 2011-03-09 12:41

      Remember there black and red outfits with the SS - representing the so-called Storm Troopers like in the second world war - How fitting now - SS = Stormers Suck. Hahahaha. Go Bulls.

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 13:08 who do you support? Maybe the Black Sticks??

      Balsakhater - 2011-03-09 13:09

      RobinB - Jy het nou net jou naam gat gemaak my friend.

      Johnny - 2011-03-09 13:11

      ...stormers = 11 year losers/suckers...!!!!!! .......going for 12....

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 13:21

      Ja Cliff,As julle beledegend is moet ons maar net sit en luister,,,nee wat,as julle kan k@k praat kan ons seker maar ook so n bietjie terug kap of hoe se ek,Maar jy was nie op gewees maandag nie anders sou jy gelees het Pappa smurf het gese Bulls Suck om julle dag te maak,kan nie glo jy het dit gemis nie

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 14:13

      RobinB suck.......nes die Stormers. Ek sien ou Cliffie kon toe nie wegbly soos hy ons belowe het nie.

      Zee - 2011-03-09 15:11

      Once a floubull, always a floubull. Alwyn = peophol!

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 15:37

      Stormer4eva, Stompies het dalk net bedoel dat 10 keer meer Bul ondersteuners internet access het as Stormers ondersteuners.

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 16:11

      @Zee,staan dit vir zet? of zof?

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 16:32

      @Alpyn...if I put up a true pic of myself, it would just make your life more miserable, once you see what you could never don't protest 2 much, I'm being cruel to be kind....

  • Rugbybrain - 2011-03-09 12:46

    Bulls are the cabbage in the soup

  • Mumford - 2011-03-09 14:14

    Great game on Saturday Blue Bulls!!!!!!!! S.T.O.R.M.E.R.S

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 15:39

      Yes, I wish we were the Choice cup champions like you.

      dushaas - 2011-03-10 11:32

      you probably wish you could also play rugby like the Stormers! Go play on, mama smurf

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-10 12:17

      Yes dushaas, no cups for 10 years!!!!!

  • Weepee - 2011-03-09 14:31

    I always wonder why the boneheads up north comment in afrikaans on an english news site!! Do they google "Stormers" a few times a day so they can any attack journo's who mentions the "Stormers" word. It's bizarre man!! GO THE STORMERS!

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 14:40

      These freaks spend the ENTIRE day on the net mate, searching for any article Re: The Stormers. They are OBSESSED with us, and they are 2 frikkin mentally stunted to fess up to their addiction. It isn't healthy - but hey, it keeps them from moering their wives, so I guess we can live with it...

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 14:53

      Whats that you say Staalpaal??

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 15:28

      @Staal, solank jy vir die DA stem, is jy welkom in die Kaap....

  • SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 14:36

    The Stormers owe the nation nothing....The nation owes us.....

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 14:48

      agreed! Now those Blue Bull supporters go show your wives how long you can balance a can of Castle on your boeps!!!

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 15:08

      @Mumford,,,, must say your wife was quite impressed when i showed her the Castle on the boep trick,

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 15:27

      @Mumford - have you seen some of the wives from the laager? They could balance Makro shopping trolleys on their frikkin tum tums....

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 15:56

      @alwyn..While you were showing my wife you hippo stomach i was playing"roll over , roll over" with your wife!

  • gooinat - 2011-03-09 15:27

    I've got this sick picture of three dumb dutchmen(sorry to the afrikaans stormers supporters)Pappa Smurf,Alwyn en Johnny singing to each other Liefling as hulle dik gesyp is and busy getting it on with each other,sick freaks...........

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 15:38

      gESyP? smaak my jy is Gesuip,,,liewer dit as om te luister na n klomp weepee supporters wat probeer om te sing maar jy sien net spoeg trek waat hulle voortande was,,,,hehehehehehe

      gooinat - 2011-03-09 15:52

      "Waat hulle voortande was",praat afrikaans reg jou doos,dus, "waar hulle voortande was"

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 15:55

      Alwyn, jy weet hoehom hulle nie tanne het nie. Want hulle suck!!!!!

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 16:04

      My maat as ek n doos was het ek geld uit papsak suigers soos jy gemaak, en o ja Stormers suck big time!!!!!!!!

      LogicBomb - 2011-03-09 16:14

      So wat Alwyn ons eintlik vertel, is dat hy nie eers 'n halwe doos is nie. Wie sou dit nou kon raai???

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 16:23

      @gooinat...standing round a braai with there balls painted blue, a ring threw there nose and horns on their heads!!! Beautiful !!!

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 16:28

      Nou ja kom ons hou op stront praat en praat rugby,,,het julle geweet,die Stormers suck ,,Big time!!!!!!!,En die bewys le in hulle trofee kas,net die choice cup ,en niks verder die afgelope 10 jaar nie terwyl die Bulle ,,,,,,,,,ag julle weet mos,ek wil nou nie windgat klink nie,,,,Ek hoor Nuweland kry twee nuwe slotte ,een vir die voorhek en een vir die agterhek,,,en o ja die mooiste ding in die Kaap is die Pad terug Pretoria toe

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 16:31

      @Mumford,,,,Youre wife smaaked it stukkend

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 16:34

      @Alwyn...what happened on Saturday??Your wifes boep looks cute hanging out wife Stormers jersey

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 16:38

      @Alpyn, yes, lets chat rugby. The Bulls lost. They played like a special needs school...with the Frankenstein tard Spies dribbling and drooling whilst WYNnie Strydom sat clapping. The crowds were less than 'impressive', with more freaks than a Southern Carnival (bearded ladies, fat kids, etc). The highlight of the game for me, was the final whistle.

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 16:48

      I think Spies must retire.Built well but falls over like a girl.Has not got that toughness like Louw,Burger and Van Muerlan

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 17:14

      Alwyn, dit is nie net die Choice cup wat in hulle trofee kas staan nie. Daar is ook n copy van die gift vouchers wat hulle gewen het toe hulle die 'Neo wat ook al' kompetisie gewen het. Schalk het sy voucher teen sy muur op langs Jan se geraamde roomys stokkie.

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 17:15

      Wie de fok is Van Muerlan?

      Mumford - 2011-03-09 17:18

      pappa smurf...5th and going down!

  • mysticBoer - 2011-03-09 15:42

    Waar is die dae toe mense rugby gepraat het hier en nie mekaar probeer beledig nie. Samelewing het wragtag siek geword lyk dit my want die oorspronklikste wat julle kan raak is om oor mekaar se vroumense en susters te praat. Ek se weer, ek haat nie die Bloubulle nie, ek haat hul supporters. Die forum hier bewys net hoekom...

      Jan - 2011-03-09 15:55


      LogicBomb - 2011-03-09 16:03

      Kan nie meer met jou saamstem nie, mystic. Ek wed jou Alwyn en sy makkers kom van Danville af en het heel moontlik lemoene op hulle aerials.

      Pappa Smurf - 2011-03-09 16:16

      Ek stem saam mystic, dis absoluut patesies howe die mense mekaar kan slegsê. Logic bomb, persoonlik doen ek nie die lemoen op die aerial nie. Dis te tappit. Ek het wel die 'nodding dog' agter in die venster, fur om die stuurwiel en die booster se knoppies. My favourites is natuurlik my 215 Tiger firepower tyres, vlamme op die deure en die klein tekkies wat om die spieëltjie hang. Nou spaar ek vir my banana branch exhaust en die kwaai sound. Die chicks kan nie genoeg kry nie.

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 16:16

      Nee ek het jou vrou op my arial,en ek bly nie in Pta nie maar in Warmbad,wil jy kom kuier? bring net jou vrou en haar sussie saam

      LogicBomb - 2011-03-09 16:23

      Haai siestog, nou maak dit selfs meer sin. Alwyn is 'n appie of 'n mynwerker met 'n minderwaardigheidskompleks (heel verdiend), wat heel moontlik met sy vet niggie of selfs sy gebreklike sussie MOES trou, en dis hoekom sy obsessief is oor ander mans se vrouens en skoonsusters. Kan Anglo nie vir jou berading reel nie? Dit sal jou niks kos nie, jy kan jou R2 000 lone spaar vir die blou trein. Nee nie daai een nie, witbrood en meths!

      Alwyn - 2011-03-09 16:34

      N myn in Warmbad?? Bhwahhhhaaaahahahahahahahaha,nee my maat ek het n Wildsplaas ,nie gekoop nie maar geeerf,,,en ja baie tyd op hande om met jou K@K te praat,jy moet gerus kom kuier,bring net jou vrou en jou sussie saam

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 16:49

      @stormer4eva - Ek try lankal nie meer must treat them in the only manner their "tribe" understands. If that includes cheap insults, common language and a few tappit moves - so be it. It is rather cool lowering oneself to their level.

      lefty - 2011-03-09 18:48

      Stem saam mystic. Wat 'n vieslike gemorsspul van sekere mense. Kan nie skryf sonder om te vloek nie en ander mense te beledig nie. Weinig van hulle sal die goed wat hulle hier kwytraak in die ander se teenwoordigheid kwytraak. Lafaards........! Wens rerig Media24 wil die tale blok.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-03-09 18:49

      @Cliff - Yes, I am the artist previously known as STORMER, and I will soon be changing my name to a symbol, like * (cos it's easier for the Bulls Tards to read...)

      Shistirrer - 2011-03-10 12:21

      Hey Saffa, I think it will be great if you change to a symbol *. A word of warning though: That symbol (*) looks a lot like a cat's asshole, and some of these Bulls Tards have admitted they will go for ANYTHING.

  • - 2011-03-09 21:56

    Hey Pappa Smurf, can you negotiate, 8.00 ZAR = 1.16511 USD

  • Abrie - 2011-03-10 04:09

    Can someone please explain why the Stormers have 12 log points from only 2 games played and won and a bye in the 1st round? (Abrie van Wyk)

      gooinat - 2011-03-10 07:20

      Abrie,if a team has a bye they get 4 points,thats why the Bulls are hoping to get more Byes as this is the only time they get points....

  • Sandile van Heerden - 2011-03-10 12:10

    Super Rugby results count for nothing at the World Cup! If it did South Africa should have dominated world rugby last year after having two teams in the final.

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