I am what you would call an optimistic supporter. So optimistic that I actually believed that Peter de Villiers’s men were going to win last year’s World Cup. That they were the match of the All Blacks.
It is a feeling I have always had. Whilst the men from New Zealand were forever dominant, I always believed that if the Boks put together a top performance, they were very much capable of defeating their old foes. And for most of my life this sentiment has been true, with our national team for many years beating their rivals at least once a season.
Something however changed for me this year. And it happened during the second half spanking that our boys endured in Soweto. For the first time in my life, no matter what circumstances, I started to feel the current Springbok side would never be able to overcome Richie McCaw’s men.
The feeling had a lot to do with the style, or lack there of, that Heyneke Meyer’s team were adopting. Bullying rugby has taken South Africa so far, but with the new era and new rules it is high time we came up with something else. I am not saying we will be able to match the Kiwis for flair and skill, but the occasional back line move that involved drawing a defender and passing instead of just bulldozing over them would be a great step forward.
It appeared before the current tour that maybe Meyer was acknowledging this need – he brought in the talent of Pat Lambie to fill the flyhalf position. Lambie is more a runner than a kicker and could have been the key to unlocking the dormant Bok backline.
On Saturday the Boks had the perfect opportunity to try out this potential change of game plan. With all due respect to Scotland, this was a game where a bit of risk could easily have been added without too much danger. So what did our boys do… they ran straight at tackles and kicked any ball in our own half. Even little Lambie was turned into a clone of Morne Steyn. What is the point of having him in the side if he is going to do that?
Whilst the runs of Willem Alberts and Eben Etzebeth were magnificent, the Boks appeared to have no plan B to attack the Scots and this was indicative of how we scored our two tries – a maul and an intercept…by a hooker.
The Boks are better than this, but if we cannot completely dominate a team as poor as Scotland then we are in serious trouble. Even more so when you consider our coach believes we played well in the first half. If this is “well” and this is all we have to offer than we are never going to beat the World Champs.
After that day at Soccer City I feared for the future of this current Bok team. After what I saw on Saturday I have no reason to believe things will change any time soon.
SCOTLAND –Try: Henry Pyrgos. Conversion: Greg Laidlaw. Penalty: Greg Laidlaw.
SOUTH AFRICA –Tries: Adriaan Strauss (2). Conversion: Patrick Lambie. Penalties: Patrick Lambie (3).