Upon watching the Blitz round-up on our channel of champions last Sunday, I was amazed at how little was made of the Springboks’ thrashing of Fiji. Skipping over the Namibia result could somehow be justified, albeit the Kiwi destruction of the Japs was so well documented, but hardly any of the major newspapers made any proper mention of the tremendous display put forward by the men in green and gold. The ones who did carry the story, found it relatively easy to hide it on page 3.
It was crystal clear to me to what lengths they Kiwi media would go to prevent a rallying of support for the Boks, when a story about Sonny Bill’s old sparring partner headlined one of the more respected Wellington rags. This particular bin-liner thought it prudent not to mention anything at all regarding the South African rampage of the Fijian outfit and rather focus on the luke-warm display put forward by the men from across the Tasman ditch. Australia’s match against Italy left very little to the imagination and the best move to come from that encounter was Aussie model, Miranda Kerr appearing on the big screen sporting a skin-tight Wallaby jersey.
I now find myself wondering what the reasoning behind the lack of Springbok newsworthiness could be. Might the Kiwis actually believe that contrary to popular opinion, the Boks and not the Wombats, pose the biggest threat to the All Blacks in their own back yard? Could old fashioned fear be behind the decision to keep the Boks out of the limelight and trapped in the obscurity that is the third-last page from the back? The conspiracy seeker in me would say yes and why not? Except for the game against Wales, we’ve been clinical, clever and creative. This to spite the fact that we’ve had to make do without the services of Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers, who between them have upwards of a 180 test matches under their belt. We had Bakkies Botha side-lined for the entire first test and play only 80 minutes combined in the second and third games. Frans Steyn had to move from his preferred position of full-back to cover our shortfall in the centre. Johann Muller suffered a hamstring strain and had to withdraw the Thursday prior to the Fijian match, only to be replaced by Francois Louw – a flanker who had NEVER packed-down at lock before. All these factors should have combined to derail the South African effort of the defence of the Webb-Ellis trophy, but had the entirely opposite effect.
If we in fact were as weak as the international media made us out to be before the RWC commenced, would we have been able to take all this hardship on the chin and not only stay standing, but set the pace in the competition. The answer to that would have to a resounding “NO” and I believe the New Zealand media are of exactly the same opinion. Let us be fair though, I’m in no way stating that the All Blacks are unjustifiably labelled favourites to (finally) win the competition, but you have to admit that denying the Boks a proper write-up in most newspapers, smack of not only favouritism, but conniving Kiwi collaboration. The effort of all New Zealanders concerned to make the RWC not only successful in terms of revenue, but Webb-Ellis glory as well, is a well-documented fact. So if orchestrating a psychological blow to the Boks’ effort by banishing their well-deserved efforts to the latter pages of the Sunday rags is what it takes – THEN SO BE IT!
But would it not make fantabulous news (world-wide) when we, Saffas, lift the trophy in Auckland, to spite ALL the efforts from the Kiwis – on the field and off?!