Now that 2009 is in the bag for the Boks winning just about every title imaginable, focus shifted to the World Cup in 2011.
The year leading up to the World Cup is largely seen as a period where most coaches prepare their sides for the all important World Cup. Players are managed (read rested) and depth is built around squads to ensure the coach has the best possible team to take to the World Cup.
Jake White almost lost his job in 2006 where he was hauled back from tour to explain his results to the President’s Council of SA Rugby after they gave him permission to rest his top players, less than a year later, he won the World Cup in France.
It is for this reason it is not really surprising that most rugby pundits looked at the Boks this year and suggested that much like New Zealand in previous years, the Boks might have shot their bolts to quickly, or peaked between World Cups.
It is easy to see why these comparisons are made, I mean, we have the best example in the All Blacks themselves who are seemingly experts in this but for my money, this is nothing more than other coaches playing down the fact that they just had a very bad year.
Also, this view from where I sit is largely based on the perception that we ‘peaked’ in France in 2007 when we won the World Cup and it is a view I do not agree with.
South Africa might have won the World Cup in 2007, but we were definitely not the best team in the world.
The class of 2009 is far better than that of 2007. Players are more mature, our execution levels have increased and the uneasy transition from one coach to the next seems to be a thing of the past.
But did South Africa peak in 2007, or even 2009?
I do not think so.
This year it was really a combination of factors that helped South Africa achieve what they did. Now no-one will deny the magnificent achievements of 2009, and the team deserves all the credit, but this Bok team is far from peaking.
We came up against the best of the Northern Hemisphere in the Lions tour, and although I always believed the tour would be much tougher than most gave it credit for, that tour was more a reflection of where South Africa currently find themselves, good, but far from great.
Forget Australia and New Zealand, because never will you see, or have seen an All Black team lose over 30 line-outs in 3 games against the Boks – a vital first phase area of the game and also an area the Boks base a massive part of their game plan on with the kick-chase game.
Australia has a very young, but naive side. Under Deans they will only get better – that is of course if they sort out their in-house politics.
There are simply too many areas in the Bok game which is not up to standard to make me believe this team has peaked. We still lack a quality match-day 22 and not just a run-on 15. We still struggle to build phases in open play and we still struggle in our scrums which confirms my believe that yes, this team is very good, and very experienced, but far from world beaters just yet.
Peter de Villiers and John Smit should enjoy the accolades that is currently coming their way, but they will also be well served to realise that 2009 exposed some glaring weaknesses, as much as it did strengths.Tweet