Jannie pines for good life

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 1995, 12:00am

DON'T be surprised if the 1995 vintage of Stellenbosch red wine turns out to be a trifle sour in taste. It will just be a reflection of Jannie Engelbrecht's unhappy pining for the joy of his life - to be involved in rugby football at the highest level.

One of the champion red wine producers in South Africa, Engelbrecht was last month sacked as manager of the Springboks and replaced by Morne du Plessis.

In town yesterday as the first guest speaker at the Rugby Union Club in Wan Chai, Engelbrecht disclosed that he still wished he was manager of the South African national team which will play in May's World Cup. 'I would have loved to be manager of the Springboks at the World Cup,' said Engelbrecht.

Although he tries to hide the pain of being summarily deposed as manager - a job he held from 1993 - by the dictatorial president of the South African Rugby Football Union, Dr Louis Luyt, there is no doubt that his pride and feelings have been badly hurt.

'If I knew the reasons why I was sacked, I would tell you. But it was never explained.

'The official explanation was that they wanted unity and harmony within the Union,' said Engelbrecht, still at a loss as to why he was so rudely cast aside.

A patriot to the core, Engelbrecht points out that the game is always bigger than the individual. 'I must admit that not everyone thinks like this in South Africa. But I hope my dismissal does not affect the performance of the team at the World Cup.' Engelbrecht, a former Springbok winger, scored a South African record number of 44 tries. He has not lost any of the verve and ability to get out of tight situations.

With the ease of a diplomat, he touched on a number of the burning issues that dominate the sport today, among them the payment to players ('players must benefit') and who will win the World Cup to be played in South Africa ('South Africa have the home advantage which is worth about five points, but Australia, New Zealand, England and France are also in the running').