Having become a published author after my piece on watching the game from the stands last week, and something of a celebrity (a legend in my own lunchbox so to say), I felt that my newfound fame and authority on all things Springbok-ish affords me the platform to say a few words on the win over Australia on Saturday at Coca-Cola (AKA Ellis) Park.
And a little prompting to increase the number of contributors to this website….
During the week, much was made of the captaincy of Victor Matfield and the coaching ability of Peter de Villiers. Also, word from the Oz camp was that they felt fresh and energized, were going into the match with enthusiasm and confidence and would end the tour on a high. Coach Robbie Deans made a few unforced changes to his side and things were looking ominous.
Add to that was de Villiers claim that his team had played too much rugby and were feeling flat in the Durban Test. However, against the better judgment of the arm-chair critics known as the fourth estate, he stuck to his guns and his manne and with calls to boycott the game, SA Rugby was on a hiding to nothing.
What ensued was a flat Wallaby side who looked uncharacteristically jaded, who performed well below promise and ability and lacked the clinical edge we are so used to seeing from them. The Boks played with more urgency, and dare I say it, a lot more heart – something you cannot coach, but hope – nay expect – from the men playing at the pinnacle of their careers.
I would say that the only disappointment was that they had not played like this before. There is only so much a coach can do off the playing field, and come match day, it is up to the players to do what they are able to. If that means giving 150% effort, so be it.
The 150% effort that most (and unfortunately I have to say I don’t believe we got that from everyone) gave resulted in a one-sided klap for the opposition who were blown away by the brutality and accuracy of the Boks. Players were hitting rucks in numbers and protecting the ball and ball-carrier and that was the big difference to last week.
That they threw the ball around shows that perhaps there is something to be said for de Villiers’ game plan. I am no expert and so will not criticize it, suffice to say, I believe it should be paired with doing the basics right first, getting a platform laid before launching into full scale attack.
But remember, the shortest distance between the ball and the tryline is straight, and I think we did well here, and this is part of the direct rugby – play it as you see it philosophy – which is being questioned.
Anyhow, I don’t believe that all our woes are over, but I certainly do feel good about the result, and that PDV has the players and the game plan to possibly do the job he is paid to.
I still think he needs to be given some time to establish what he wants to build – despite the colourful quotes he is fond of using – and gets ridiculed over. As Baldrick would say, “I have a cunning plan..”Tweet