As we ease into 2019, a special year given that it’s a Rugby World Cup year, we take a look back at what made the tongues wag in 2018.
The ten most read stories on All Out Rugby in 2018:
Pick black Boks to beat Wales (20 563 reads)
Jake White: If you read between the lines, the 30-cap rule has effectively fallen away and Rassie Erasmus can motivate to pick any South African, anywhere in the world, to play for the Springboks. If I was the Bok coach, I’d look to pick a team against Wales that is made up of local players with a special emphasis on those that count towards the transformation targets.
Nick, Ashwin doomed to clash (10 947)
Stephen Nell: Both Mallett and Willemse come across very strong in their opinions and feel the need to voice it. Mallett is articulate and the Springbok coach many believe should never have been fired. He knows that South Africans appreciate his frank views and is talented at delivering them. Willemse also has strong views and if you shut him up or out – you are bound to get a reaction.
Boks put world on red alert (9 976)
Jake White: The Boks are on the up and it’s fantastic to see! What has really been pleasing to me is that we’re not being seduced into running from everywhere anymore. South Africa is again seeing that defence is the cornerstone of winning Test matches.
Willemse is your Bok 10 (9 567)
Jake White: Damian Willemse is definitely the real deal. I had heard a lot about him from Johan Rupert, because his daughter Caroline is the one who found Damian and paid for him to go to Paul Roos, but it’s only now that I’m back in South Africa on holiday that I’ve been able to watch him in Super Rugby.
What if this is Boks’ best team? (9 447)
Gavin Rich: Erasmus chose a team that was good enough to beat the All Blacks, which is not something many international coaches have managed over the past decade. To do it required some flexibility. Commitment to transformation needs to be judged over a period of time and not on a weekly basis.
Bok backs to face England (9 329)
BIG debate: After picking their preferred Springbok forward pack for the series against England, Tank Lanning and Zelim Nel got down to picking their backs.
Rassie in rugby paradise (8 923)
Jake White: Rassie Erasmus must be the envy of every coach in the world. In South Africa, he’s Mr Rugby. SA Rugby’s board has apppointed Erasmus the director of rugby and Springbok head coach, and they’ve given him an unprecedented six-year contract.
Jake White: Don’t let a good Super Rugby final blind you to the fact that the competition is still flawed. The 2018 season has come and gone and the Crusaders have clinched their ninth title. They’ve been in 13 of the 23 finals. It’s a phenomenal record in any sport for one team to consistently reach the final and it says a lot about the Crusaders as an organisation.
Simnikiwe Xabanisa: On first appearances, Vodacom Bulls coach John Mitchell is one of those people who don’t naturally lend themselves to being liked. He may not take kindly to the description, but thanks to the cauliflower ears, the closely shaved bald pate and an intensity not too dissimilar to that of a rattle snake, “Mitch” reminds one of the guy whose job it is to enforce the “no touching” rule at a strip joint.
Nothing wrong with Bok rugby (7 473)
Jake White: Traditionally, South African kids can tackle and our players enjoy defending. There’s nothing wrong with that. As much as things change they’ll always stay the same. We were down 12-0 and we tackled our way to a 36-34 comeback win.
Last, but not least, a massive thank you to you for being part of our AOR community. We hope you have as much fun being part of it as we do in keeping the ship afloat. Have a fantastic celebration, and we look forward to bringing you the #BigRugbyRead every day in the build up to, and during, #RWC2019.