Were WP fitter than the rest?

2012-10-29 10:20

Cape Town – Western Province’s conditioning may have been a key ingredient in their drought-breaking Currie Cup 2012 success.

GALLERY: WP crowned Currie Cup Champs

Consider this: they were mostly the “back foot” team in both their semi-final triumph over the Lions in Johannesburg and then again for significant passages in the showpiece against the Sharks on Saturday.

The tackling and scrambling required under those circumstances, plus playing second fiddle at scrum-time for the most part, usually has debilitating consequences, yet Province somehow seemed to defy conventional wisdom by producing some of their best and crucially most energetic rugby late on, in each instance.

Forget the fact that the Sharks were strongly on the offensive as the final whistle sounded at Mr Price Kings Park: that had only been the result of a turnover breakout from deep in their own territory and for most of the last 20 to 25 minutes of the nail-biting, enthralling occasion, it had instead been the visitors predominantly turning the screws as the favourites’ prolonged assault suddenly turned to collective jelly-legs.

Of course the blue-and-whites would not even have actually reached the final had it not been for one of the most decisive and spectacular rolling mauls – and you can hardly be dead on your feet for that, surely? – of the entire South African season in stoppage time at Coca-Cola Park a week earlier.

Province’s noteworthy stamina levels quickly came under focus on Monday morning, when victorious coach Allister Coetzee and young starting scrumhalf Nic Groom were guests on the 567 Cape Talk radio station.

“I think the whole season we kind of have this trend of finishing really strongly ... the last 20, last 15 (minutes),” Groom said.

“Although I was on the bench by that period on Saturday (replaced by substitute Louis Schreuder) I was sort of confident we would do it.

“When Joe Pietersen made that (key retrieving tackle during the Sharks’ late counter-attack) ... he gets up again and has another go. Demetri (Catrakilis) had also made a tackle 20 metres further up the field, got up and made a tackle again, you know.

“That desperation has just been something that’s been in our team the whole time, and it was so good to see.”

Coetzee, meanwhile, took the opportunity to praise the mostly 20- and 21-year-olds in Province’s tight five on Saturday.

“You know, if you look at front-five play, and you see mostly under-21s, it is a big task for those ‘lighties’ to front up ... most of the guys at prop, hooker and lock only mature at the age of around 25 or 26.

“It shows the heart and connectiveness in the team – the senior blokes back the youngsters, and the whole management team also back the youngsters. They understand the plan, what to do.”

The coach probably pulled off an unheralded strategic masterstroke, too, by sticking with his first-choice props, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malberhe, until very close to the finish despite the early boiler-room strain they had taken against crusty, established Springboks Jannie du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira respectively.

He had two props available as replacements – Brok Harris and Deon Carstens – but despite that relative luxury did not hit any premature panic buttons as the starting pair instead went remarkably up a gear around the hour mark and WP even got their own back at a few set-pieces.

This seemed just another pointer to high levels of fitness throughout the squad, especially when you consider the commitment Kitshoff and Malherbe had already had to muster defensively by that juncture in the game.

By contrast, Sharks coach John Plumtree has taken some criticism from pundits for withdrawing fired-up veteran Bok tighthead Du Plessis before the start of the all-important final quarter.

In his defence, he may have been at least slightly motivated by humanitarian – not to mention national-team – concerns, as the big, now northern hemisphere tour-bound No 3 had experienced some form of concussion only a week earlier and was deemed doubtful in the lead-up days to the showpiece encounter.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 10:22

    Good day Rob and Co. I know you won’t publish this, but I hope the right people hear or read this. I am a long time News and Sport24 follower, and have to speak up about my disappointment in this News group. Especially to Rob Howing. You are the most biased group in SA!!! See how many people call you WP24. Why does Rob keep whipping people up against Heyneke Meyer? The guy is doing his best to make the Boks a world strength again, but Rob provokes people to say nasty things about HM and not support him, and the COUNTRY!!!!! Is a journalist job not to factual, why is Rob giving his opinion ( Next thing, why has Sport24 congratulated the WP u/19 team on winning the Currie Cup, but not the Bulls U/21 team??? Politics and Sport don’t mix well. Looks like biased media and Sport don’t mix well either!!!! Real disappointed fan!!!!

      lablue.phoenix - 2012-10-29 10:34

      Hahahaha, o my word man.

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2012-10-29 10:50

      @Blou bal Johnny,remember what I said to you last week about you better pray that WP lose otherwise you gonna never hear the end of Blue Bulls how many here goes...Blou Bal many trophys for the Bulls in the last 2/3 years????

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-10-29 10:52

      Jasper, the U21 final was a farce. The Bulls winning that doesn't count. Half of the WP U21 team were not available because they were busy donnering up the Sharks senior team.

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 10:59

      You know its true dum@sses!!!!!

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2012-10-29 11:10

      @Rene,Im not aiming at any Bulls,just aiming at that poor excuse of a person, Blou Bal Johnny.

      ReneMuller.XOXO - 2012-10-29 11:15

      @Lionel, just checking :):)

      jontheb - 2012-10-29 11:16

      Why congratulate the bulls u21 team, when half of WP's senior CC winning squad still qualifies to play u21? That being said, I don't see your comment having much to do with the article above...

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 11:17

      What does it matter how many u/21 players played for the senior side??? Point is, just make one small mention, to congratulate the Bulls U/21 side??? Too much asked of WP24????

      danalexsmith - 2012-10-29 11:21

      @ReneMuller. WP have won the Currie Cup 29 times, while the Blue Bulls/Northern Transvaal have won it 18. But who's keeping count ;P

      jaco.groenewald.731 - 2012-10-29 11:25

      And in other news, Well done to the Bulls U/21 side for winning the Currie Cup!!!!!

      ReneMuller.XOXO - 2012-10-29 11:30

      For the trillionth time @Dana, you have to EXIST to compete but then again you need a brain to understand that, don't you! But you hold onto that if it makes you 'feel' better.

      ReneMuller.XOXO - 2012-10-29 11:37

      @jasper, looking at all the 'thumbs down', I think you hit a little nerve there! Spot on!! Poor babies

      danalexsmith - 2012-10-29 11:37

      Blue Bulls supporters: always full of excuses. no need to get upset, WP will keep feeding your guys players to keep you from dropping out of the Currie Cup/Super15.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-10-29 12:10

      René, I never thought you of all people would turn into a suurgat old tannie. Anyone who knows anything about rugby knows that the WP team win was incredible and should be lauded. At the moment you just sound like an idiot.

      ReneMuller.XOXO - 2012-10-29 12:26

      @Stirrer, why thank you!!! Coming from you... breaking my heart in pieces!!!

      breyneke.dreyer - 2012-10-29 12:50

      Wow, this is the worst case of sour grapes I have ever read. Jasper, you are a sore loser, ans so is blou johnny and the rest of the Blue Loser supporters that have nothing good to say. The last week you never stopped using the words: "losers", "chokers" etc. So shut up and accept that WP/ Stormers deserve the 4 trophies they won this year! Congratulations to you on the u/21's winning their final. A lot of petential there for Pienaar to screw up next year!

      paul.malherbe.7 - 2012-10-29 12:58

      blou jobbie, lokketossie of is dit kollekotsie?, haspeen genadie, almal dieselfde dwaks

      TravieGrif - 2012-10-29 13:37

      That's your opinion, and I for one do not agree with it. The Bulls U21 team have been congratulated in the media, but the reality is that it was a hollow victory given the number of WP U21 players who were eligible but played in the senior team. I believe that News24 is biased for the Bulls. In the build-up to the semi final between the Bulls and the Sharks, there were no less than 9 articles written about the Bulls, and 1 written about the Sharks. Get off your high horse and take your blinkers off. There are loads of question marks about HM already raised, and there are far more people questioning than satisfied. Now we all know that it is difficult to keep all the people happy all the time, but what I am seeing, and I am not alone, is a massive divide between what most people believe is a squad reflective of the best of the best, and what HM is putting forward as the same. I have every right to express my dissatisfaction, and if I am wrong, explain how. This is not about my province, as I do not do provincialism when it comes to the Boks, and there are many Bulls supporters who agree with me. Rob is journalist, and this is an opinion piece. He is expressing his opinion, and that, sir, is his job. He provokes no-one, but simply verbalises his ideas. It s his job to promote thought and debate around the subject that we love so much. If you do not agree, say your piece, and back it up, otherwise move on.

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 13:59

      Looking at my first comment, the thumbs up vs thumbs down, I know that I am right, only +-20% of people reading this has a brain!!!

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 14:03

      Travie, this is my opinion, you are full of SH%^#T

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-29 14:32

      Yes Travie. It is sad, they only see provinces. He is just the new troll on the block ,or an old one with a new name? Most of us want the best players to be there, but clearly it is not happening. Many of the supporters agree, it is only the trolls like him and many other who don't. Anybody who has been watching rugby this year, knows that is not the best team that could have been picked. As simple as that.

  • Jimmy NZ - 2012-10-29 10:33

    A well conditioned side wouldn't have 3 million injuries a season!

      cape.maori - 2012-10-29 10:39

      @Jimmy - agree with that sentiment! Like your background pic on your wall!

      steyts - 2012-10-29 10:51

      I think the injuries are more because of AC not rotating the players enough... Too much rugby for most of them!!

      Jimmy NZ - 2012-10-29 10:56

      @CapeMaori, thanks! SoccerCity baby :) @styts, maybe, but the province boys seems to breakdown a whole lot more than most, well for the last 2 seasons at least! Except for Etzebeth, he is a beast!

      Jimmy NZ - 2012-10-29 11:49

      Hi Rene, yip, the Cantab lads did alright :) The sharks are a whole different story, it was theirs for the taking but I guess it all went a bit 'pear-shaped'! Burden had a shocker as well as Etzebeth having a great game... That boy is going to give my team headaches in the future lol :) Hope you are well otherwise.

      ckrohne1 - 2012-10-29 12:37

      @Jimmy NZ: And WP still managed to win the Curry Cup. Not to mention with the mayority of them U21's

      steven.johannes.52 - 2012-10-29 13:29

      Jimmy, reference should be made to classification of injury! Nothing you can do conditioning wise to protect against traumatic injuries eg ligament strains, concussion, etc. Atraumatic injuries a different story though......and as it stands there weren't many of these! Burger, ligamentous; Koster, ligamentous; Carr, ligamentous; Kolisi, broken bone, etc. One or two hamstring strains throughout the whole season, no adductor strains.......after a wet season on heavy fields......kudos to the medical/conditioning staff

  • sean.otto.9 - 2012-10-29 10:42

    No i dont think so , all the top teams should be on a par when it comes to fitness at this stage of the season. The only two diferences were no 1 J Nienaber and no 2 WP wanted it more

  • chandre.pelser - 2012-10-29 10:43

    Gewoonlik is tieners fikser as oupas. As mens die finaal 10 keer moes oor speel sou die Sharks 5 keer wen en WP 5 keer. Geluk WP. Go Cheetahs!! :)

      sean.bagley.50 - 2012-10-29 11:17

      @chandre.pelser Or looking at it in another way: A Toyota bakkie(unfit players from other franchises)will never compete or keep up with a Formula One car(Western Province Rugby Players).No contest.As simple as that.Province rule!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rouxlouis - 2012-10-29 11:23

    Again one can see that most WP supporters are not the sharpest knifes in the drawer.

      selma.botha.9 - 2012-10-29 11:32


      paul.sdoow - 2012-10-29 11:44

      yes roux . . . between a shovel and a spade take your pick

      rouxlouis - 2012-10-29 11:58

      Tx Selma Been living in Cape Town too long. One can see it in my spelling.

      jbrandct - 2012-10-29 12:20

      Stereotyping much ? Remember, people like blou.johnny aren't really making a strong case for your side either

  • frikkie.bosman - 2012-10-29 11:29

    As Blue Bull supporter I can only congratulate Province!They showed the last two weeks that they won't go down without a fight and so they did!The best team won on the day!As for Rob who?Who de f@#% cares!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • frikkie.bosman - 2012-10-29 11:31

    The best team won!Well done Province and yes I am a Blue Bull supporter!Rob who?Who de f@#$ cares!

  • juan.robertson.33 - 2012-10-29 11:38

    I thing after all these comments Nando's must do "the good old days" ad using the blue bull!!!

      paul.sdoow - 2012-10-29 11:53

      only problem is Nandos don't serve pink chickens but they could start start a new range of spices . . the not very hot range of steyn and the hottest ever of kitshoff on fire range .

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 11:55

      2 years cupless Bulls, Lucky that we never had a 11 year draught!

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-10-29 12:19

      3 years, Jasper. And you are well on your way.

      lionel.kemm.9 - 2012-10-29 12:27

      Don''t forget the days Stirrer lol

      paul.sdoow - 2012-10-29 12:31

      you also never won it five times in a row and with the youth in our wp side now we well on our way to break our previous record yes . . . and yes the bulls were playing in the cc when it happened. .

  • robert.reeve.7564 - 2012-10-29 11:59

    Physical fitness was critical in this contest of the Titans and WP was good for the day. Incidently, having the will to do a job doesn't make the person good at it. If Rob slams HM he does it with a huge support base that do not trust another Strauelie-like ongoing excuse. Results are critical, like how Nick turned around a weak spaghetti side to become a force to be reckoned with and respected, very quickly...

  • richard.compere.7 - 2012-10-29 12:00

    Two things. Province have the best coach in SA. Has been for the past 3 or 4 years. Might not have all the silver wear at the moment, but its coming is my guess. And then, one thing that was very clear to me on Saturday. Our current Bok squad has more problems in it than I thought. Maybe its time that HM really started looking around instead of all the "old" regulars. We have superb young talent. Get them in now.

  • dirk.short.9 - 2012-10-29 12:01

    Jasper, what can I say. Week in and week out WP supporters have to listen to biased Shark and Bull TV commentators. Furthermore, prior to this match, the bulk for SA journalists were happy to write of WP. Although I can understand supporter bias, I expect national TV presenter to be fair. For instance, prior to the match Victor Matfield let slip: "...lets hope that their (the Sharks) line-outs are fixed" - then tried to correct himself but he simply confirmed what we knew. As for Rob Houwing, he is a balanced reporter whose views on Meyer are for the most - very accurate. One of Rob's views - that it is skill, not size that matters - was proven correct on Saturday.

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 12:17

      One of Rob's views - He is not suppose to have a VIEW!!!!

      jovan.daniels.7 - 2012-10-29 13:08

      @jasper, stuur sommer vir Rob n persoonlike boodskap op FB en WP24 het ook email adresse. Laat weet hulle hoe jy voel OF lees eeder supersport of R365, waar daar in elk geval baie min trolle is, maar HIER gan jy niks reg kry nie, nie eers n tissue nie. Baie geluk aan die 0/21 blou bul span vir hulle prestasie. Ek weet dit is maandag en jy het seker aan die verkeerde kant van die bed opgestaan en almal kan sien jy is bietjie( eintlik baie) suur. Ek hoop maar net jy kan bietjie(eintlik baie) kalmeer en lekker dag verder he.

  • vangiz - 2012-10-29 13:18

    I am a Bulls fan but WOW the rugby Western Province played on Saturday was fantastic! Such a determined team and strong defense! I was super impressed. Heyneke Meyer, take note! I take my hat off to the bulls but their style of play is becoming a bit outdated. We need fresh, young, strong and motivated players. Well done to WP, you deserved that cup! Sharks - great rugby too.

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 14:08

      Do you want AC's email to ask if you can convert???

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-29 14:27

      Jasper, you make these huge comments, but yet you can't read.

  • david.stopforth.5 - 2012-10-29 13:58

    Pure Guts WP well done they should be ashamed of selfs for Not picking Deon he out played the sharks and Springboks trio Eben jou yster!!!! Cup in Cape Town Cool

  • haydn.gawronsky - 2012-10-29 15:01

    To all you Province bashers, heres a stat for you... 33 Currie Cups, 10 more than their closest rivals the Bulls, let me say that again, 10 MORE THAN THEIR CLOSEST RIVALS, THE BULLS!!! So what if we hadnt won the cup for 11 years, its back now. Sharks had NEVER won the cup till about 1990 and thats like 100 years of Currie Cup rugby before winning. FACT: WP have been the most successful Currie Cup team in the history of the tournament. All you Province bashers can scream till you "Blue" in the face. It wont change a thing. Hahahahaha!!!!

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-29 16:00

      With 50 years more of playing CC!!! Well done, fantastic achivement!!!!

      haydn.gawronsky - 2012-10-29 16:12

      even if you take it from when the Sharks were part of the CC (1966), WP still have almost 10 more than the Sharks. So yes a FANTASTIC achievement.

      haydn.gawronsky - 2012-10-29 16:16

      Correction WP have 5 more CC than Sharks since the Sharks were part of the CC.

  • schalk.vdmerwe.7 - 2012-10-29 15:14

    Rene, my ou Danville duifie! Jy moenie so baie praat nie, jou man gaan jou slaan. Die hele lot van julle is suurgat omdat julle nie in die 'finals' was nie. WP het gewen omdat hulle puik rugby gespeel het, aanvarr dit nou maar end drink nog 'n Gin en Tonic!

      therealmakoy.makoy - 2012-10-29 16:18

      jasper... het jy nie skoenne om te verkoop nie ?

      Jimmy NZ - 2012-10-29 16:46

      Jasper, that's called hitting the nail on the head! :)

      antonie.botes.142 - 2012-10-29 16:59

      Net so Schalk, net so. Miskien kan ou suurgat jaspertjie ook maar n ou gin saam haar drink, lyk my hulle is van dieselfde stofasie gemaak.

      jasper.benadie - 2012-10-30 07:47

      therealmakoy.makoy - Watse size dra jy???

  • shamiel.mathews - 2012-10-29 20:15

    No, it was not the Province players fitness that won the game....the Sharks has no answer for the Gangnam

  • moederstad.wp - 2012-10-29 21:25

    @Rene, So if only Grey produce good players and rest must be send back, the bulls wont even play rugby, and then maybe you should change the franchise name to Cheetahs B side. Secondly is it province fault that we always played rugby and you/pretoria only woke-up 50 years later, and you call Cape Town "Slaapstad" eish crappy statement dear !!!!!

  • steven.korb.79 - 2012-10-30 09:30

    sport24 should change their currie cup pic now to WP, whoop whoop

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