entered the field of sports journalism with
the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley
in 1970. He rose through the ranks quickly,
gaining posts at The Argus and The Rand
Daily Mail and becoming sports editor of the
Cape Times. He made a name for himself
covering major tours and events; writing
mainly about rugby and golf.
Coinciding with South Africa’s re-emergence
from sports isolation he joined the Sunday
Times and his work for South Africa’s
biggest newspaper established him as
arguably South Africa’s leading
He was named the SAB South African
Sportswriter of the Year for 1992, 1995 and
1997 – the first and only writer to win the
award three times – and he is now a judge of
the television awards.
He is the South African correspondent of
Rugby World magazine, the Australian Rugby
Review and writes regularly for foreign
newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph, The
Times and The Sunday Times in London, The
Sydney Morning Herald and The New Zealand
The Jonny Factor
Only one reason is being offered why England
should be able to turn a 36-0 defeat on
September 14 into a victory over the
Springboks on October 20 – Jonny Wilkinson.
The obsession of the British Press with
Wilkinson, he has literally been described
as the blond Messiah, is nauseating.
Millions of words have been expended on his
injuries and now that England have defied
the odds by reaching the World Cup Final the
pitch is right back to where it was in
Australia in 2003.
There has been some talk of how the England
team did some soul-searching and changed
their style of play, even though one form of
pick-and-go is much like any other, but the
masses are informed, ad nauseum, that if
England are to retain the Webb Ellis Cup it
will be down to the Jonny Factor.
Time of the
The Springboks, even after the near disaster
against Tonga, shape up pretty well when
subjected to one of the measures used to
determine whether a team can win the World
It is said that to be successful at the
tournament a team needs to have a good
quotient of world-class players – i.e.
players that would be included in a World
This was certainly the case with Martin
Johnson’s England, John Eales’s Australia,
Francois Pienaar’s Springboks, Nick
Farr-Jones’s Wallabies and David Kirk’s All
Average JO must go
As put-downs go you would have to go some
way to beat the slap in the face delivered
to Rugby World Cup Judicial Officer Terry
Willis – the Australian who decided on
Schalk Burger’s four-match suspension.
Willis, who allegedly behaved arrogantly in
Burger’s hearing and at one point sneered
that he had been a No6 flank himself and
knew for a fact that Burger had not been
going for the ball, was literally told he
did not know what he was talking about in
the statement proclaiming the reduction, by
half, of Burger’s banning.
The Appeal Committee comprised chairman
Justice Wyn Williams, Bruce Squire QC and
Judge Guillermo Tragant. They “determined
that the Judicial Officer (Willis) had made
an error in his first instance decision, in
that he was wrong to find that the player
was not at any time during the incident
intending to win the ball.
As if the inspirational audience with Nelson
Mandela, arguably the greatest South African
of all time, was not enough Springbok coach
Jake White has another surprise up his
sleeve to motivate his men.
White has invited Morné du Plessis, South
Africa’s most successful rugby captain and
the man who managed the World Cup-winning
side in 1995, to present the players’ their
jerseys on Saturday ahead of their opening
match against Samoa at the Parc des Princes
Du Plessis, a respected figure in the game
whose clever touches of leadership have
become legendary, was a key influence in
1995 and White is hoping he will be able to
inflame the class of 2007 with the fervour
and self-belief that carried Francois
Pienaar’s men to victory.