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.
Thanks to James Horwill and his fellow Wallabies, Divvy and his mighty men have a decent idea of what it takes to counter and comprehensively outplay the All Blacks. The answer was no secret as it still boils down to fronting up amongst the heavies. Taking the physical battle to the NZ forwards and keeping their set pieces under immense pressure has once again provided the platform to orchestrate the Kiwi demise. But before Bakkies and Bismarck start grinning uncontrollably in anticipation of the battle of the brutes, another twist needs to be made to the battle plan. The brutal Aussie onslaught was made all the more potent and effective by players adhering to strict discipline and cleverly avoiding being drawn into the negativity and niggles that characterise All Black rugger.
How often has Richie and the lads made Bissie and Bakkies’ life hell with tugging at their shirts, pushing them down on the pitch or my personal favourite, running obstructive lines on scramble defence? The answer is, too often to remember and possibly too painful as well. Horwill and company was having none of it and remained calm and focussed throughout the game. Sure Quade Cooper and Richie threw their handbags at each other, but that was more a case of McCaw getting frustrated because things weren’t going his way. Speaking of things for once NOT going old Richie’s way – a special mention also has to be made of the referee, who had a solid performance and was consistent all around.
Seeing Graeme Smith’s mug on the front page of every major news rag about a week or so ago, I became enraged all over again. This muppet led the whole country down a garden path and when things went south, did not have the balls to face the public or the music. Nope, Graeme instead slipped away to Ireland to woo his future bride. Of all the lame things this tosser has done in the past, this surely takes the cake, but I thought about it some more and realized that this “poser” could unfortunately not take all the blame. He was merely another “choker” in an already unimaginably long line of non-performers.
It was then that I thought of looking in to this label of choking and my research took me to a wonderfully credible source – WIKIPEDIA. When browsing through Wikipedia that same day, I was intrigued to find the word/label “choker” not only listed, but explained by using the SA Cricket team as an example. Stats were flung around like sparks leaping off a metal rod going through a grinder. During my brief, yet emotional trip down an unpleasant memory lane, I found that I had almost forgotten how badly our boys have let us and themselves down through the years.
In 1992 the absence of a Duckworth-Lewis System drilled us, during the 1996 tournament we were the fancied team, but Sri Lanka made mice of our men. Steve Waugh was spared a life in 1999 and proceeded to nail our butts to the wall. Shortly after, came 2003 with Shaun Pollock, Eric Simons and the “misunderstanding of the Duckworth-Lewis System. The Caribbean was the abrupt stop for a short, yet painful few days in 2007, when Mattie Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee made sure we were spanked like naughty children. And finally 2011 came along and we demolished everyone in sight, only to lose a dramatic 8 wickets for 68 runs in double-quick time to bow out to the Kiwis in the quarters.
Most people on the planet look forward to seeing the All Blacks do their Haka every time they play in a rugby Test match. It gives even the biggest of their enemies goose bumps, but one can’t help to laugh your ass off at the Haka of 1973! Especially compared to the Haka of today.
NELSON MANDELA BAY STADIUM, PORT ELIZABETH
Not even the fact that I’m still stranded at the airport here in Port Elizabeth on a Monday afternoon can dilute the happy vibe I’ve woken up with for the past 2 days following a Springbok win over the All Blacks on Saturday evening – in fact I could probably sit here at Primi Piatti waiting for my flight back to Cape Town for at least another day until my impatience at waiting starts wearing through the afterglow of a Springbok win. I’ve said on these web pages since the start of the Tri-Nations competition that the results are essentially meaningless in the context of this year’s Rugby World Cup, and just so that you know that I’m consistent and unbiased (pfft!) I’ll stick to that story, even though the Springboks emerged fairly comfortable victors in this latest instalment of the Tri-Nations roadshow.
Admittedly, we beat their B team. Much in the way that they beat ours when we sent them over there a month or so back, you can only show up and play against whatever is put in front you, and attempt to draw your conclusions as a coach and management team based on that.
Morne Steyn definitely had his kicking boots on on Saturday when he helped the Springboks to a convincing 18 – 5 victory over the All Blacks in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. I’m sure if there were any doubt about who the first choice flyhalf would be, they have been eradicated after this game.
So if you perhaps missed the game live, here are the highlights of the points scored: