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.
Going into the World Cup there were many people that weren’t exactly singing the praises of the selectors for choosing Danie Rossouw to be part of the Springbok squad to defend the Webb Ellis trophy. Thus far he has silenced all critics and was named Man of the Match against Fiji. Check out this huge tackle on Luke Charteris in the Wales game.
The Springboks faced Fiji in their second 2011 World Cup game on Saturday at the Wellington Regional stadium. The Boks were absolutely clinical in their win of 49 – 3 over the South Islanders. Guthro Steenkamp, Jaque Fourie, Francois Steyn, Morne Steyn, Tendai Mtawarira and Daniel Rossouw (the Man of the Match) all scored tries as South Africa were rampant and showed no mercy. Morne Steyn kicked five conversions and Francois Steyn two penalties. The Sevens expert Fiji team never even managed to score on try, only one penalty.
It is certainly not breaking news by this time that Bakkies “the enforcer” Botha will miss out on Sunday’s Bok opening match at RWC 2011. Even the most social recluse had to have seen, heard or read something to this effect, but if you live under a rock or anywhere in the Northern Cape, now you know! Danie Rossouw will take his place and Johann Muller will no doubt be promoted to the bench. What the rest of the team selection holds is debateable, but there seems at least one school of thought believing that it would be a 4/3 split on the bench (in favour of the backs). Traditionally Divvy has had very few outings where had more backs on the bench than forwards, but some feel that Sunday will call for one extra game-breaker.
Let us leave the bench for last as I’ve read that any coach worth his salt starts his team sheet with the certainties. Starting with the captain and vice-captain and then proceeding chronologically, it should look something like this – Smit, Matfield, Beast, Jannie du Plessis, Burger, Brussouw and Spies. Bakkies would have been an automatic inclusion as well, but now Rossouw gets the nod. The backs are clear cut and will be du Preez, Morne Steyn, Habana, de Villiers & Fourie, JP Pietersen and Francois Steyn. Now for the complications – Matfield is carrying a hamstring injury and sat out training for three days straight, while Burger, who is already short on game time and has yet to make proper contact with his recently healed, broken digit. These seem to be minor concerns, but worth mentioning none the less.
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.
My wife and I acquired a slightly unfortunate label from almost everyone that knows us. We belong to a distinguished group commonly referred to as the “unfashionably late”. This (to my utter disgust) transcends everyday meetings, business lunches, parties and in fact most gatherings (social and otherwise). Nobody enjoys missing a kick-off, first pitch or the first ball bowled and I’m certainly no exception, but I have also found myself on the business end of a ticking clock come game day. Mostly because of last minute logistical nightmares that include forgetting to buy alcoholic beverages before hand, finding your proposed attire (read Province, Stormers or Bok jersey) for the outing amongst the dirty washing and my all time favourite – not being able to find the keys, which you know for a fact you saw not five minutes earlier.
It would be the understatement of the century to say that these things annoy me, but I’ve learnt to deal with them in my own way. During such times of mad rushing to avoid missing the start of a game, I do find it extremely interesting to look at the people that we pass on the way to our destination. These individuals who are clearly as late for the game as I am, but who do not seem to be in any hurry. Morne Steyn can have the ball in his hands and be signaling his forwards for the kick-off and these okes could not be less fazed. (more…)
Last night the Springbok squad to carry the nation’s hopes across to New Zealand in an unprecedented bid to defend the Rugby World Cup was announced, and to be honest there were no big surprises, save for one or two fringe players.
As far back as 2009 it has been SA Rugby’s very clear intention to defend the RWC with more or less the same personnel that originally won the Webb Ellis trophy in 2007, and the make-up of this squad represents this ambition: 18 veterans of the 2007 campaign have been selected again in a team that averages about 40 test caps with no uncapped players making the trip.
In all probability coach Peter de Villiers has probably known which players he would be making use of for the knockout stages of the RWC for at least the last 2 years, and apart from the very recent withdrawal of Juan Smithdue to an Achilles injury and concerns that after a long injury layoff key players in Fourie du Preez and Heinrich Brüssouw might not be able to reach the heights they attained as players in 2009, this plan still stands.