The best rugby on the planet?


The best rugby on the planet?

The Six Nations faced each other for the first time this year last weekend, and trouble was about to start, writes LOUIS DE VILLIERS.


UNFORTUNATELY, I will never become wealthy.

First of all, I like to sleep too late. Among other things, this means I could never manage business breakfasts or golf four-balls, and I believe that's where a man learns the stories aspiring rich men tell each other; that loud mythology which means that Ferrari, for example, was immediately worth $6 billion more on the stock market with the news that Lewis Hamilton will race in one of its Formula 1 cars next season.

There are many other reasons, but today that beeping alarm clock will suffice.


Being a Hamilton fan (albeit primarily due to my dislike of almost everyone who now dislikes him again), this kind of optimism is misplaced. It's usually the guys who don't like Hamilton who can afford Ferraris. Unless the 39-year-old pulls off a miracle, the Scuderia will probably keep the mocking meme factories busy again next season.

But hey, money is dumb, and it'll ensure that the 2026 season of Drive to Survive on Netflix is again hugely successful.

Most have probably already resold their Ferrari shares; stock exchanges and pyramid schemes are more closely related than we would like to admit.

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Everyone wants to see their sport in a behind-the-scenes series format these days, but 6 Nations: Full Contact shows what happens when it doesn't work out.

It was shot during last year's Six Nations rugby series, and between recording and broadcasting it there was the thorny issue of a World Cup, which makes almost everything about Full Contact irrelevant.

Netflix is ​​itching for content, so every sport on earth will presumably  have its moment in the reality TV sun, but most will be more or less as lacklustre as this one. If you want to make sense of it, you have to show everything and get that thing on the box as soon as possible.

In this genre, I have only ever liked SuperSport's Chasing The Sun (obviously) and Netflix's Home Game, Tour de France: Unchained and We Are the Champions. The last of these followed, among other things, yo-yo players and chilli eaters' paths to the throne.

I'm now at the point where yo-yoing and eating chilli are starting to feel more like sports to me, while sports are starting to feel like advertising.

This little chap might be a less exciting TV character than Guenther Steiner, the recently fired director of the Haas Formula 1 team, but at least his effort is better than Haas's. (NOSTALGIA WARNING: Only suitable for people old enough to remember the Coke, Sprite and Fanta yo-yos on the playground; I could spin five round-the-worlds as a kid [according to legend, if you could do seven your soda was free forever], but the baby cradle separated the men from the boys and I was found wanting):

Now, the only reason I subsequently stopped enjoying playing rugby as a kid was the quality of coaching we were exposed to. And at the time it rained on three out of four Saturdays in Cape Town, or so it felt.

At the under-12 and under-13 levels, Mr Gerber often instilled in us the basic rule of rugby: “Always stay with the ball. Morné du Plessis is not a good player but he is always on the ball."

Snotty pre-pimples Louis afterwards: “If one always has to stick to the ball, then Morné du Plessis is indeed a good player if he does that, right?"

Mr Gerber, two days later: “Louis, you're reserve tomorrow."

Game, set, and match, Mr Gerber.

I was obviously worse with pimples, and afterwards I just looked for an opportunity to fool around. Still, at least we had a lot of laughs, even though our supposed coaches became more rigid in the process.


However, that I had been abused would never have occurred to me. But apparently I was, without even dragging Mr Gerber's coaching into this.

Even as someone who thinks most cases of so-called “political correctness" that are so vociferously complained about are “good manners", I feel that in this case it's political correctness gone mad:

Jokes aside, last weekend the Six Nations played each other for the first time this year and trouble was about to start.

Not being a big supporter of tradition (everything from bloodshed to cannibalism to the more recent Hool 88 can also use this term), I've enjoyed this tournament for decades because it's the same every year.

It's sometimes the best rugby on the planet, but like all rugby, usually not. The mere reassurance that something like this happens at this time of year has given all the De Villiers at least 40 years of distraction;  we wished a long time ago that Gavin Hastings or Émile Ntamack or Keith Wood would move to the Cape and play for Western Province.

The brilliant Laurent Cabannes and Robert Jones did. Natal still beat them in the Currie Cup final of '95, enormous thanks to European scoundrels in the shape of Thierry Lacroix and Olivier Roumat.

I will only honestly believe that our rugby is healthy one day if international superstars can be lured here again for a season or two.


However, the South African French player Paul Willemse probably helped send the Six Nations title home last Friday night with two reckless moments against Ireland. First, he put his shoulder against the head of the Irish prop Andrew Porter, and with the way this offence is blown these days his 10 minutes in the cooler was a reasonably light punishment.

After barely 10 minutes back on the field, he flashed shoulder first into Caelan Doris's head again and asked the referee in a daze: how should we tackle then?

As Rassie Erasmus rightly argues, if you don't know, your coaching is lacking. After all, France are not coached by Mr Gerber.

However, how France and its extremely solvent clubs challenge the rest of the financially struggling rugby world makes it delightful to see the Roosters take a bit of a tumble — the fall of a braggart is joy, unlike that of an underdog.

It was noticeable how no-one complained that the spectacle was spoiled by Willemse's sending-off, but great attention was paid to Ireland's record victory in Paris.

The South African-born Irish hooker Rob Herring even said that everyone wanted to see this game as the World Cup final.

Well, maybe “everyone" in Ireland who doesn't prefer Gaelic or hurling or football.

After a fairly chicken-headed French performance, the Six Nations look Irish this year. Bordeaux's link pair of Lucu and Jalibert are not half as effective as Toulouse's Dupont and Ntamack.

Scotland were half beautiful and half rotten and Wales the opposite as the Scots won in Cardiff, which must have been flooded with rivers of vomit again last Saturday night. And England were quite powerful in their victory over Italy.

Yours truly bet R250 at odds of 7-1 on the English for the tournament, and immediately afterwards the numbers were 8-1 against them. Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes, as they used to say on Bunker Hill.


So, Friday tunes? How about one each by last weekend's Six Nations winners?

Ireland and some rock:

England and a bit of street:

And Scotland and a little electronic flavour:

♦ VWB ♦

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