So the 2008 rugby season comes to a close this evening with what I am sure we are all hoping will be a classic Baa-Baa’s fixture. A lot of the press I have read has insinuated that although the season was fairly good in terms of results, we as fans should be disappointed by the fact we didn’t dominate our Sanzar partners.
It’s been a horrible year off the field with the politico’s contributing to global warming with a lot of hot air, fans showing their true colours at Ellis Park , he who shall not be named making a tit of himself and endearing himself to his closet family while alienating just about everyone else. And let’s not forget a sex scandal (surely a first in SA rugby) in a car park and the tragic end to the life of a young talented writer. But lets leave that as most of it brings a bad taste to one’s mouth.
We played 13 tests this season, won nine. And aside for Italy (played in beastly conditions) and a weakened Argentina side our opposition have been top six bar one or two. We played Australia 3 times – won once and lost two, The Kiwis 3 times – with similar results. But we did something that hasn’t been done for ten years – beat the All Blacks at home. Something that might be useful in the memory banks in 2011.
Now I am loathe to compare apples with rump steak, Two coaches have had to endure the stupidity of an extended Tri-Nations – Div and Jake. Both won two matches – both oversaw some howlers (the 0-19 loss to the All Blacks at Newlands and Jake’s 49-0 loss to the convicts jump to mind) and a few results that could have gone either way – the 16-9 loss to the convicts – we played terribly yet we came so close to winning and Jake’s win over the All blacks in a dead rubber by one point with Rodney So’oialo pretty much winning the game for the Boks – yet the fact that we won the World Cup has been dragged out as an excuse for calling Div’s first season in charge iffy and unsatisfying.
To my mind this is a very shallow view of what has transpired. The hostility towards Div by fans and the media has been pretty negative form the get go. Hoskins didn’t help. And I suspect if one was to scratch the surface and throw in another loss or two, the mumblings would have been a veritable tsunami of criticism and demands for the removal of Div from the hot seat.
Personally I believe this season has been a great success. Div has embarked on something that has always been missing from our game. An attacking edge to go with our traditional power game.
All season we have heard and read reams of drivel about how structure was thrown out of the window for the sake of an all out attacking game. And yes at times that did seem to be the case but I think as the year moved on we started finding a balance between the two with a lot of success.
This year the Boks have scored 47 tries against the top ranked nations and have started showing that despite the world’s view that we are big dumb and capable of only mauling from five metres out , that the Boks can play an attacking game up there with the best of them.
My only hope is that Div is given the time to let this strategy grow to fruition because I think when we get it right and everyone is on the same page we will be unstoppable.
Sauce’s flavours of the year
Ultimate respect reward – John Smit (If he isn’t yet he will always be remembered as a legend of the game – home and abroad)
Palooka of the year – Vic Matfield – All season he has given me the impression he thinks he is bigger than the game while turning in some of his worst performances in a Bok jersey. We also learned that he isn’t a captain. I really expected more from him.
Surprise package and the biggest STFU to his doubters – Adi Jacobs – enough said.
Best Newcomer – Beast. He showed Guthro the door to the bench and never looked back. I look forward to him filling Os Du Randt’s shoes – something he appears to have the potential to do.
Most improved – JP – looks to be quietly growing into a seriously good player, he seems to have cut out the inconsistencies in his game without losing his attacking prowess. He also plays the game with a huge smile and looks like he loves the game like we do.
Return to form – Jean De Villiers. I don’t actually recall him every playing with this freedom under Jake. He has been a revelation at twelve and his current game reminds me of the form that got him selected to 2003 RWC squad before he got injured.
Try of the year – Adi’s try against England
Success story with a great future – Pienaar playing flyhalf for the rest of his career.
Biggest fail of the season – Pierre Spies
Unluckiest player – Kanko – short of walking on water I am not sure what this boy has to do to make the starting fifteen.
Biggest loser – the ELV’s and the amount of aimless kicking it has brought to the game. Some are good and some are bad – hopefully this won’t be the final set of rules. Telling me the ball is in play for an extra 8 minutes is fine but when its kick chase and kick chase – I would rather see a few more scrums personally.
Biggest FU to the fans – you would think ‘he who shall not be named’ is a shoo in, but personally I think it goes to SARU for the price of tickets for the Lions series.
And just a little thank you to finish the year – To Rob for his anorak like devotion to giving us a place to talk rugby and for calling the England result and KSA for his endless posting of news.
Keep it real and remember the drugalysier test in the Western Cape is inadmissible in court.
Safe travels and a good festive season to all.Tweet