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.
If the Springboks don’t manage to win the Rugby World Cup, P.Divvy is going to end up shouldering most of the blame and cueing the greater majority of the rugby supporting public to start beating on that most irritating “I told you so” drum. On the other hand, should the Springboks return to South Africa with the RWC, I’m fairly confident that credit will be spread around between the players, coaching specialists, SARFU, baggage masters, sponsors, bus drivers, and, well, you get the idea – but no mention of P.Divvy. The more cynical amongst us (and I’ve heard this one already, by the way) will say that the Springboks won the RWC despite the coach’s influence.
Shane Warne, in reaction to a question regarding the coach’s role in helping to achieve the dominance that Australian cricket enjoyed in the nineties and early 2000’s, once commented that in a team loaded with iconic players (amongst them you’ll remember was Warne, Steve Waugh and Glen McGrath to name but a few), the coach was the thing that they drove in to get to the ground from the hotel before the start of the day’s play. (more…)
In a scene from Quentin Tarantino’s movie Pulp Fiction, Ving Rhames tells Bruce Willis’ character that he should “throw” a boxing match or face serious consequences. He tells him that he might feel like getting up after being knocked-down, but that it’s merely pride f***ing with him, and he would do well to ignore pride. You might ask yourself why this scene from the classic cult-movie forms part of my post and what it has to do with sport. We are an extremely proud nation and pride is relevant and at the same time detrimental to Springbok rugby fans everywhere.
How quickly have we put the record loss to the Kiwis and the thumping by the Wombats behind us? How swiftly have we consoled ourselves with the explination that we were only comprehensively beaten because we sent a “B-team” to Australasia? How blindly do we stare into the the Durban night sky and await an unrealistic miracle-victory from a vastly experienced, yet untested side? Why do we put ourselves through this anguish every time? The answer is simple, a combination of pride and a national obsession to win. (more…)
Alright, so there it is: the away leg of the Tri-Nations, contested by our Springbok B-team-that’s-not-a-B-team is over, and no, no miracles occurred. We got beaten by better sides carrying a higher calibre of international player with more experience, both individually and as combinations, and the heavy losses we sustained against both Australia 2 weeks back, and 3 days ago against the All Blacks are a result of this.
The All Blacks on Saturday were a much more “game-plan orientated” team than the Australian side we faced the week before, and the Springbok side that pitched up was a lot more organized in defence, a product of an extra week of practice and cohesion. The communication seemed a lot more organized, and as any coach worth his salt will tell you, good defence is a product of good communication as much as what it is of physical commitment. (more…)
South Africa vs New Zealand
Kick Off 09h35 (SA time) West Pac Stadium, Wellington.
The All Blacks enter the Tri-Nations fray this week in Wellington against a Springbok side already smarting from a bit of hammer from the Wallabies last weekend, although to be fair I should think that of the 2 respective coaches, Aussie coach Robbie Deans may have more to consider after that game than Pieter de Villiers would.
The All Blacks on the other hand come off an efficient display in subduing a Fijian side packed with commitment, but not much else. And herein lies the true danger of the All Blacks, and the reason why I think the Boks are going to take a couple of big lumps this week: in a performance described by AB coach Graham Henry as being at “about 50%”, the All Blacks never really veered away from their game plan. They continued to execute accurately and efficiently, without letting the game degenerate into an error-strewn exhibition game, as mismatched rugby matches often do. Contrast that with an Australian performance that (to my mind) never really produced any moments where I felt that they had a superior game plan to our B-team-that’s-not-a-B-team; instead they lived off the errors and lack of cohesion that plagued an inexperience Springbok team full of debutantes and untested combinations.
T minus 2 minutes to kick-off: Game 1 of the 2011 edition of Tri Nations is about to kick off with South Africa’s B-team-that’s-not-a-B-team taking on a pretty much full strength Aussie team, possessing – to my mind anyway – probably the most potent backline on the planet, all of whom are in attendance: Genia, Cooper, Beale and O’Connor are collectively more slippery than a bag of lubricated eels, and as elusive as an SA cricket administrator from a KPMG forensic audit.I think we’re in for a beating, so I’m trying to focus on my gourmet French Toast that I’ve got in front of me, rather than pre-empt disaster. There’s just enough time for me before the start of the game to contemplate why the numbers on the Boks’ jerseys are smaller than normal. I reckon it’s a ploy to make the players’ backs look broader and consequently fool the Aussies into believing our players are bigger than they are; my boy Earl Soulzinger is convinced it’s so that we can’t see from afar which of the forwards are hanging around in the backline. He may have a point there.
9 mins: breakaway 80 meter try started by Quade Cooper (who else?) stepping off his right foot and slipping through Morne Steyn’s channel, culminating in Ben Alexander collapsing over the line at the other end of the park. O’Connor converts: AUS 7 – SA 0