Springboks have carried on like Bozo the Clown lately.
Greg Growden writes in his Monday Maul Column
Yes, I know I’m treading on a minefield by calling anyone involved with the Springboks a clown.
Yes, it could see me ostracised, barred access to anyone in the South African entertainment troupe, and even forced to make a grovelling public apology.
But it has to be said. The past three weeks have been in the Barnum & Bailey circus category, and how the Springboks have carried on is similar to Bozo the Clown.
No, it’s not just the antics of their wacky coach Peter de Villiers as he reels out his latest conspiracy theory that has provided the Charlie Chuckles.
Even more of a pantomime has been how the Springboks have lost their way on the field and how difficult it has been for them to adapt to a pretty simple opposition game plan, based around pace, power and passion.
For three Tests in a row, the All Blacks and Wallabies have deliberately kept the ball in hand, avoided the sidelines, restricted midfield kicking, probed the outer reaches and have exposed the Springboks.
Suddenly, just weeks after they dominated the Super 14, prompting all and sundry to believe the Springboks would sweep all aside this year to hold on to the Tri Nations title for another year, they look slow and cumbersome. However, it would be dangerous to completely laugh off the Boks. There were a couple of clues on Saturday night that a big transformation is about to occur, and the All Blacks and Wallabies could soon be experiencing pain.
On the road, the Springboks have been hilarious. But back at home, they will be a transformed beast, and the final rounds of the Tri Nations are stacked entirely their way. Don’t be surprised if they win their last three Tri Nations matches, as all are being staged at venues, which, like Suncorp Stadium for the Wallabies, are their spiritual homes. All are at altitude and we at least know what that does to the Wallabies. They are the ones suddenly wearing the red noses and silly wigs.
A circus will suddenly turn into a cauldron, with the Springboks meeting the All Blacks in Johannesburg on August 21, before the Wallabies play them in Pretoria and Bloemfontein on August 28 and September 4.
Also, the anger is there. You just had to be near the Springboks halfback Ruan Pienaar on Saturday night to realise they fervently believe all of their problems are not of their own doing. It is clear the players are also into conspiracy theories.
Pienaar claimed that another northern hemisphere referee – this time Irishman George Clancy – had deliberately worked against them at the breakdown. And while Victor Matfield said after the Wellington Test that Richie McCaw was treated like a god by the referees, now it appears Australia’s openside breakaway David Pocock is the pin-up boy of the whistleblowers.
”Every time we made a mistake at ruck time, we were penalised, and when they made a mistake, they got away with it,” Pienaar said. ”We suffered a yellow card against BJ Botha and he made more of an effort to get himself out of the way at the breakdown than Pocock did during the game. There were one or two yellow cards which they [the Wallabies] should have received, but they didn’t.”
One indiscretion the Wallabies did not get away with was Quade Cooper’s sin bin for a dubious tackle on his opposite, Morne Steyn, which resulted in the pivot yesterday being suspended for two weeks. Even if the Wallabies appeal against the ban, don’t expect Cooper to be running around in Melbourne or Christchurch the next two Saturday nights.
SANZAR is not renowned for changing original suspensions.
Cooper’s departure is damaging to the Wallabies, and now the All Blacks could easily add an eighth and ninth straight win over the Wallabies to their record. And thus will end the Springboks’ Tri Nations defence.Tweet