Tank Lanning

Let the foot shooting begin

2013-07-11 10:14
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
I am one of those freaks who would prefer the Stormers to gift the Bulls a win this weekend at Newlands, thus allowing the visitors to finish top of the Super Rugby log, giving them a chance to host a semi-final, and potentially a final as well?

Yes, this from an ex-WP player often accused of being biased towards to the Cape side...

But up front, giant congratulations to the Cheetahs players, coaching staff and administration for making it in to the finals series of the tournament for the first time. Everyone’s “second best side” it seems, they have added some structure to both their attack, and perhaps more importantly, defence, without coaching the pizazz out of the players, and fully deserve that sixth spot on the log. They have been wonderful to watch.

Sadly, it seems they are destined to meet Jake White’s Brumbies in their "quarter-final", and with White having brought a Test match like steely defence to the party in Canberra, the Bloem boys will be up against it. The Stormers have been far from impressive this year, but against the Cheetahs at Newlands, they simply shut the visitors out of the game by dominating the first phase and used their strong defence to suffocate any hint of exuberant attack. The Brumbies will aim to do exactly the same...

But it has long been said, and perhaps proven by the Stormers, that defence will get you to the finals, but attack is what wins you the tournament. So here’s to the Cheetahs believing in their defence, but using their attack!

So back to my theory that will see me avoiding dark alleys when out and about in the Cape...

It would be very difficult to argue against it being better for South African rugby in general for the Bulls to win on Saturday. Results over the years prove that it is nigh on impossible to win this tournament away from your home base. So to have a realistic shot at the silverware, and they definitely have a side that can do it, they need to top the log.

The Stormers are completely out of contention, so why not put on their “greater good” hats and pick an experimental side aimed at resting the Boks (and players not available after Super Rugby) and giving the side that will play in the Currie Cup a chance to play together before that tournament starts, thus giving the Bulls an easier shot at topping the log?

Like in the Tour de France, where stage and overall wins are crafted through excellent team work that sees the “domestiques” sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the team leaders, is this not the time for the Stormers to sacrifice themselves for the good of the current log leaders and fellow SA side?

Cynically some might say that the Stormers have already done so, while others will say that if you cannot beat the Stormers at home then you do not deserve the top spot...

But an interesting argument came from the South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) Twitter account, @MyPlayersSA, who asked if such a move by the Stormers “wouldn't be unfair on their fans?”, further suggesting that it would be “difficult to support a team who runs on to lose.”

And there might be financial ramifications for the Stormers given that fewer fans might turn up at the game were an obviously under strength side to be announced. Insignificant compared to the ramifications of the Bulls not being able to host a Super Rugby final, mind you...

So perhaps the two sides should just simply “box on”... But were the Stormers to win on Saturday, and the Bulls to lose a final by seven points in Waikato, Canberra or Christchurch, would we not as a nation, be in need of removing a bullet from our foot?

Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

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.

Read more on:    super 15  |  tank lanning  |  rugby

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