Am I the only one left with a distinctly hollow feeling after the Boks’ somewhat fortuitous series-winning effort against the Lions this weekend? Don’t get me wrong, it was an exciting match from start to finish, but the nature of the victory, coupled with some frankly boorish gutter journalism from both camps after the fact, has left a pretty sour taste in my mouth.
In fact, this whole tour has turned out to be a distinct let-down, from the understrength provincial opposition to the ridiculously over-priced Test tickets that have led to crowds in both tests to date that are more red than green. Whoever heard of the Springboks playing at home in front of a majority opposition-supporting crowd? Loftus frikking Versveld, Boerstadion in Snorstad reverberating to the chant of “Lions, Lions!”? It beggars belief.
I guess the thing that upsets me the most – apart from the typical barrage of frankly inane de Viilers-speak in the media which is making even his most die-hard of supporters (i.e. me) find it bloody hard to keep supporting him – was the fact that I know, without a shadow of doubt, that we would have lost the test had Schalk Burger been red-carded as he deserved to be. Sure, you can accuse the “pommies” of as much “whingeing” as you like, but you have to be pretty bloody one-eyed not to concede that they have a hugely valid point in this case. And no, the fact that Andrew Sheridan may or may not have punched someone in retaliation an hour later is not any meaningful form of mitigation.
So let’s reign in our enthusiasm somewhat and be the bigger men here. The Boks won a game that by rights they shouldn’t have. Let’s not take away from some superb individual performances as well as a far better team effort in the last 20 minutes to make that possible. But let’s steer away from the typical boorish arrogance that so often marrs Springbok rugby, because if we are brutally honest with ourselves, we were given a massive, massive let-off when the ref hauled out the wrong colour card in the second minute of the match.
Sure, the touring British press are pretty insufferable at the best of times and they think their team is a lot better than it is, but the way that certain sections of our own press, as well as the lower half of the Bok fanclub massive are carrying on, we’re certainly not showing them up in any way. Being gracious in victory and conceding that, on the day, we had the rub of the green but it was still a jolly hard game and well played by both sides – that’s the way we should be handling this one.
Respect for the opposition, their fans and for everyone involved in this great game is what sets us apart in the global brotherhood of Rugby Union. Please, let’s not lose sight of that or we’ll be throwing away everything that’s special about this great game.Tweet