Well guys, I was very fortunate to be offered a ticket to last night’s Barbarians game at Wembley at pretty late notice. It was too good an opportunity to pass up, so duly wrapped up in every layer I could find, I proudly donned my Sharks jersey and Springbok beanie and braved the long journey to North London.
It was indeed a long way and had it not been for the Burger King at Charing Cross Station (and, I dare say, The Globe just across from Baker Street tube) I might not have arrived in as good a shape! There were plenty Aussies about, all festooned with all manner of Wallaby supporters gear. Everybody else, including the customary Saffa expat horde, were predictably supporting the Barbarians with varying degrees of fervour.
Now call me a stickler for tradition, but I thought that BaaBaas players were meant to wear their club of provincial socks, not their national ones? I was quite disappointed as I was expecting to see three pairs of black and white socks out there – instead, most were green and gold.
The game itself was a pretty poor affair from the perspective of a Barbarians supporter, though. Any thoughts that a little bit of White-Jones magic would be all that was necessary to ensure victory were quickly dashed, as the Aussies set about showing that they are possibly the best defensively-organised team on the planet. The Barbarians, although individually talented and superbly keen, had no answer whatsoever to the flat Aussie defence and contended themselves with repeatedly bashing it up the middle. A static runner in black trying woefully to barge through a wall of gold defence. Recycle, rinse and repeat. Ad nauseam.
Now, I don’t want to read too much into a festival game – or rather, what was meant to be a festival game yet never really developed into one – but there are a few points that need to be made. The first is that Jake White and his motor-mouthed companion really were well shown up by the canny Robbie Deans. Given the talent at their disposal – dare one say the most talented Barbarians team ever assembled – I think it’s fair to say the showing was a very disappointing one.
Back to the real point of this article, though. Frans Steyn endured possibly the most dire 80 minutes I have ever seen a flyhalf play. After 20 minutes, I was calling for him and Percy Montgomery to swap positions, yet alas that never happened. Steyn started by kicking out on the full from the first kick-off. He then conspired to kill every single backline move in which he was involved, stone dead, through woeful option-taking and poor distribution. His speed of hand, foot and (most crucially) thought are all far too slow for an international flyhalf and this was particularly evident against such a flat defence. He seems to alternate between senseless, poorly directed kicks down field and running headlong into the opposition, with no hope whatsoever of getting through.
Let’s not forget that he missed two drop goals, as well as two sitters of penalties, either of which may have given the BaaBaas an undeserved win.
No, I’m sorry. Frans Steyn may well be a talent but he proved to me last night that he is nowhere near good enough to be considered as a flyhalf option by either the Sharks or the Boks. In a case of a player’s real value only becoming apparent in their absence, we learned last night exactly how good a flyhalf Ruan Pienaar already is.Tweet