CAPE TOWN – It was an eventful rugby weekend and rugby analyst Mark Keohane shares his raves and rants from the weekend’s action.
1. Kudos the Stormers who, as a collective, triumphed over more than just the Rebels in Melbourne.
This was a stunning performance from a youthful Stormers outfit given no chance of beating the Australian conference leaders. The Stormers’ second-half performance, in which they scored 31 points, was all quality. Steven Kitshoff led through action in his first start as captain and Dillyn Leyds again produced an attacking masterclass.
Leyds can play and I just hope his continued excellence is powerful enough to change the mind of Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus, who just does not seem to rate him.
2. The biggest of shout outs to former England international James Haskell for his response to Israel Folau’s very public anti-gay tweets.
Haskell tweeted: “Sport has no place for this crap. Keep it to the hate groups @IzzyFolau, you aren’t spreading the Lord’s word. You are spreading hate. You are an unreal player but a f*****g misinformed bigot. All those current and former players – and there were plenty – who immediately took to their social media platforms to condemn Folau must also be applauded”.
3. The Australian Rugby Union leadership may have got it wrong a year ago when they entertained Folau’s homophobia, but they weren’t going to indulge Folau’s outrageous public condemning of gays.
They immediately responded with a statement that Folau’s contract would be terminated. Folau’s Super Rugby franchise, the Waratahs, have also stood him down with immediate effect. Folau will dispute the legality of his contract been torn up and it may still be that there is financial compensation.
However, he will never again play rugby union or rugby league in Australia.
1. Every person who paid to watch the Sharks play the Jaguares should get a refund from the franchise’s bosses. And that refund should come from the players’ salaries.
There is no justification and no mitigating circumstance. What was most disgusting was the lack of appetite from the players. It is one thing to lose to a very good team, but to take 50 at home from the Jaguares is unacceptable. Unfortunately, there will be no consequence for the players.
They’ll get paid and those who love watching Super Rugby in Durban will continue to pay.
2. Just 7 701 spectators paid to watch the Bulls beat the Reds at Loftus. You will find more supporters at next week’s Easter schools rugby festivals. It was another reminder to the South African players that the public will no longer entertain mediocrity and inconsistency.
The Bulls may have won, but their shocking performance in giving up 56 points to the Chiefs and then losing to the Jaguares was enough for the most faithful of Bulls fans to say “enough”. Super Rugby continues to struggle to sustain interest. For all the tweaking in the tournament’s format, it’s a competition that will struggle to make it to 2030. Southern Hemisphere rugby bosses had something great, and they systematically destroyed it.
3. If I have raved about every player and person who has slammed Israel Folau’s homophobia then my final rant has to be reserved to Folau.
No player is above the ethos of a sport and no player should be given the platform to spew such hatred. His achievements pale in comparison to the ugliness of his homophobic rants.
The game won’t miss him and society wouldn’t miss his type either.