Studying the facts is not exactly a trend for which the Springboks are renowned.
If a scapegoat can be unearthed anywhere within the vicinity of the crime – like, in the same hemisphere – all well and good. Sometimes, as happened in the case of coach Peter de Villiers last Saturday at Wellington, the scapegoat had to be found in the Northern Hemisphere.
How refreshing, therefore, to discover one South African willing to look at the issue of his own team’s palpable failings these past two weekends in Auckland and Wellington and suggest solutions internally.
Peter Bills writes in the NZ Herald that Peter de Villiers’ constant bleating about referees/assistant referees/journalists/TV replay technicians and perhaps even the bus driver being to blame for the Springboks’ woes is starting to become tiresome.
When will the man stand up and face the music?
His team has played dinosaur rugby and been outplayed twice by an infinitely better side.
Can’t anyone be honest any more in modern-day sport, put up their hands and simply say “we were beaten by the better team”.
Happily, there are some South Africans still prepared to be honest.
Jaque Fourie had a shocker at Wellington, something from which he did not attempt to hide.
“I can improve a lot,” he said as the Springboks prepare in Brisbane for Saturday’s must win Tri-Nations test against Robbie Deans’ Wallabies.
“These were two big test matches in New Zealand but now we have a job to do in Brisbane.
“We have one more match left on this tour and want to win it so we can go back home with some confidence.”
But there was no denying the huge disappointment of successive defeats to the All Blacks.
“We have underperformed. We struggled a bit with our defence – at times it was horrible so we have to go back and see where we can improve on that.
“We pride ourselves on our defence but in the last two games we have let ourselves down. It is back to the drawing board to see where we went wrong and how we can improve.
“Above all, we have to stand up and give a better performance on Saturday in Brisbane.”
But Fourie, who is just one of the Springboks whose form has been well below par so far, admitted the Australians posed a daunting task.
“It is not going to be easy. We have struggled in the past at Brisbane so it won’t get any easier from here. It’s going to be a hard week to pick ourselves up but we have to do it.
“The Australians will have the upper hand in terms of being fresh while we are tired. But we have a point we want to prove. We are hurting and we want to get up again and play rugby that we know we can play.”
The Stormers centre admitted that there were plenty of weary bodies and minds around the Springbok camp yesterday.
But he insisted that was part of professional sport and was a factor they had to deal with.
One thing the South Africans have to do in Brisbane is ensure there is no repeat of the yellow card madness that saw Bakkies Botha banished to the sin bin in Auckland and Danie Rossouw likewise in Wellington.
Fourie did not duck the issue, saying “15 against 14 is difficult, especially against guys like the All Blacks. It is about discipline; we pride ourselves on our discipline and that sort of thing lets us down”.Tweet