I’ve been watching the Springboks since their unbanning in the early nineties, and I think it’s fair to say I’ve been “a long suffering supporter”… Yes we’ve won two world cups, and we have a few Tri-Nations under our belt, not nearly as many as we’d like but hey, that is sport…
Now I am all for being big and strong and smashing people into submission with sheer size and power but sometimes that just doesn’t work, especially if the team you’re playing against is as big and strong as you are. I hear gasps, “nobody is bigger and stronger than the Springboks! Sacrilegious I say!” That may be true, but they are certainly smarter.
As I look back at the most successful Springbok sides over the last twenty or so years I see a trend that, perhaps everyone knows about but not many want to acknowledge, pervades them all. The successful teams had two or three players with brains! Dick Muir had brains, Gary Teichmann had brains, John Smit and Victor Matfield are pretty smart too. Francois Pienaar is as astute a man as you’re ever likely to meet.
It is also pertinent that these guys were also the leaders of the squad; the guys that team looked to when the going got rough.
I may be off the mark here, but I don’t see many of those street smart leaders being utilised in our current squad. I see plenty of power, plenty of raw talent and industry, but I don’t see any smarts! The guys with that natural ability to do the right thing at the right time and galvanise the guys around them are either sitting on the bench or playing in the Currie Cup…Pat Lambie has played about 15 minutes despite being in every match day squad of the competition. Why? They brought in Francois Louw as the specialist openside flank but hardly used him, despite a dogs breakfast of a breakdown problem.
New Zealand also have big strong guys, they also play with strength and power, but they also ensure that their leaders are astute men who can direct all that power in the right direction. They’re the generals who articulate precise and accurate strikes, whereas the current Bok leadership seems intent on carpet bombing everything with no focused goal in mind. It’s like repeatedly running into a brick wall instead of trying to find the door…
Its early days for Heyneke Meyer and we all know that he understands the value of generals. He had Matfield and Fourie du Preez… I just hope he finds some in his Bok team soon, or else the dissatisfaction of the irate fan base will rise and the predatory rugby media will start sharpening their knives… pencils…Tweet