How Smit motivated Boks

Written by Wesley Weber (wpw)

Posted in :In the news, Springboks on 24 Nov 2008 at 07:42

JOHN Smit has emerged as the central figure in the Springboks’ extraordinary turnaround on their tour of Britain, which concluded with a record 42-6 defeat of England on Saturday.

Clinton Van Der Berg In London reports that after two fitful wins, against Wales and Scotland, the Boks finally produced a complete performance that reflected the deep well of talent within their ranks.

“It’s right up there with the best of them,” said the Bok captain, who took it upon himself in the week to have one-on-ones with his players.

“John was so vital to what went on here,” said centre Adi Jacobs, one of the team’s five try-scorers. “At every opportunity he spoke to us, told us the importance of winning. He told us how much it would mean to us all and what a great opportunity lay ahead. He drummed it home and I think we got the message.”

Indeed, the last time Jacobs featured at Twickenham he was reduced to tears in the wake of a 53-3 belting six years ago. This time, he embarked on a lap of honour.

The Boks pummelled England in all the areas that mattered, but it was in defence that they cut England down and killed their spirit.

Martin Johnson, the England manager, specifically mentioned Bakkies Botha’s dramatic trysaving tackle on Delon Armitage as an illustration of South Africa’s attitude. “That one was massive,” he said, before going on to describe the England dressing room as a “desolate” place after the defeat.

Smit had a feeling the Boks were onto something good the minute he stepped onto the pitch. “You can tell when the okes are in the zone,” he said. “Confirmation of that was when we had a poor start and I didn’t even feel the need to speak to the guys. I knew it was a blip and we’d be on course sooner or later.”

He explained that the players were motivated by the thought of winning at Twickenham. Some, such as Botha, Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger, had tasted World Cup success but never won at the venue England call “HQ”.

“A lot of okes wanted to tick that box. I’ve had a lot of pain here, so to win is very special,” said Smit.

What made the result even more significant is that the Boks did so even after having two men (Beast Mtawarira and Conrad Jantjes) yellow-carded. Despite having an extra man for 20 minutes, England were unable to find a way through, which gave lie to coach Peter de Villiers’ claim in the week that his players were fatigued. They tackled as if their lives depended on it.

“If you look at how we defended when we had 14 men on the field, I have to say I’m very proud. It shows the heart of the players and the belief they have in one another,” said Smit. “You talk about training defence, but you can’t train scrambling defence. That moment with Bakkies only fuelled the fire in us.”

The coach said he was satisfied to have won, but added the caveat that this team could still do better. Indeed, an assessment of their year, in which they won nine of their 13 Tests, would have to include the comment that they are maddeningly inconsistent.

More of what we saw on Saturday and De Villiers might yet become a coach we all learn to love.


  • John Smit is without a doubt the finest Bok captain of all time. 😎

    *pity he’s a Shark though :mrgreen:

  • Comment 1, posted at 24.11.08 08:12:12 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 1) :

    You JUST beat me to posting a similar article. 🙂

    Here it is.

    Bok winning recipe revealed
    2008-11-24 07:27

    Liam del Carme – Beeld

    London. – A stirring team talk by skipper John Smit inspired the Springboks to Saturday’s record 42-6 victory over England at Twickenham.

    Smit spoke individually to every player in the absence of the coaching staff. “He spoke to each one of us individually before the national anthems,” centre Adrian Jacobs said afterwards.

    “It really got us going. He took his time and said exactly what he wanted from each one of us. John let the positive energy flow through the side.”

    Even though Smit’s talk had been aimed at individuals, it was the collective impact that brought England to their knees.

    “He told me that I should make my country proud, that I had made the No 13 jersey my own and that I should keep on doing what I did,” said Jacobs. Jacobs was inspired by that message.

    “It was fantastic to hear it from a captain of that stature. He stood right behind me. When a captain asks you to do something, you do it no matter what,” he said.

    Wing Bryan Habana had been struggling for form earlier in the year, but played with confidence against England.

    “He told Bryan that there are plenty of critics, but that we know what he’s capable of. John asked him for two tries.

    “He told Ricky Januarie that he had been criticised, but that he has done well for South Africa. He also told the young players that they deserve to be in the team.”

    The team’s senior players were also spoken to. “He told Bakkies (Botha) that he could ‘dictate the team’s destiny’ on the day. It was a very appropriate statement,” said Jacobs.

    “Bakkies could decide what his attitude would be and the team would follow him. He told Danie Rossouw ‘you have another chance, you won the World Cup for us’.

    “To Schalk Burger he said ‘just be Schalk. Play as you always do.” “He told Jannie dui Plessis ‘you were supposed to be here in the first place, but are getting your opportunity now’.”

    Januarie said Smit’s individual talks lifted the team’s confidence to another level. “We had a feeling even before we walked onto the field. He wanted all 15 players to give it their all,” said Januarie.

    Jacobs said Smit’s talk was the right tonic. “Individually all the players knew what was expected of them,” said Jacobs.

  • Comment 2, posted at 24.11.08 08:18:28 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • If “Captain Wonderful” didn’t have such a “WP” ring to it I would refer to John as that in future. 🙂

  • Comment 3, posted at 24.11.08 08:19:33 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • “He told Bryan that there are plenty of critics, but that we know what he’s capable of. John asked him for two tries”

    Habana is such a slacker!!! lol

  • Comment 4, posted at 24.11.08 08:26:34 by wpw Reply
  • And then some people wonder why the Coach wants to keep him in the team for as long as possible. 🙄

    John- you’re a true leader …it shines through in all your interviews..bruised face and all!!! HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!

  • Comment 5, posted at 24.11.08 08:30:03 by blckshrk - BOKKE Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • Great win Boks!!! Thoroughly enjoy watching this one.

    Don’t mean to be a wet blanket in the Bok’s hour of glory. Just some nagging questions…Was this one of those “gees” wins which can’t always be replicated on a consistent basis? Was this a win despite the coaching staff and based on John’s stirring talk? Or was it finally John kicking the player’s butts to get them to perform according to the way De Villier’s wants them to play?

    By the way Morne very good call on Danie Rossouw,he truely showed his worth on the slower fields up north.

  • Comment 6, posted at 24.11.08 09:08:40 by Dive Pass Reply
    Dive Pass
  • EISH!! We had a power failure for most of the game.. 👿 And no repeat of the game either… 👿 👿

    Imagine listening on the cellphone and a little portable radio…with kids who thought this litte button in the ears of mom and Dad is very exciting stuff! 🙄

    Thanks, Klemp for sending updates…inbeteween the little draadloos we had to share with the kids and your sms’s we managed to “watched” the game!

    I think Little Fish was superb (in what I’ve heard anyway and seen on All out of Rugby and read in the papers)..

    Well done as well To Coach…9 out of 13 is not bad…especially for someone that is taking so much flack! 😉

  • Comment 7, posted at 24.11.08 09:18:13 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply

    (AND JO…WHOEVER HE IS).. 😳 😉

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.11.08 09:26:06 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply
  • @Ice (Bébé de Glace) (Comment 8) :

    His surname is, MOER. 😆

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.11.08 09:28:03 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 9) :

    Djoune ok!! 😈

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.11.08 09:31:33 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply
  • We should clone Smit.

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.11.08 10:02:00 by McLovin Reply
  • Smit the greatest ever — Krige
    Craig Ray

    Former Springbok skipper Corné Krige has described John Smit as South Africa’s greatest ever captain following the Boks’ 42-6 win over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

    The former captain’s assessment comes in the wake of massive praise for Smit from his team-mates following the record win in London at the weekend.

    “John was so vital to what went on here,” said centre Adi Jacobs, one of the team’s five try-scorers. “At every opportunity he spoke to us, told us the importance of winning. He told us how much it would mean to us and what a great opportunity lay ahead. He drummed it home and I think we got the message.”

    Echoing the sentiments of Jacobs, Krige told The Times: “There is no doubt John is an incredible leader and it always surprises me that people still doubt his abilities.”

    “I believe John is the best captain South Africa has ever had. But it also shows there is a huge amount of talent in this team and John will be the first to admit that it has played a big role in the performance at Twickenham.”

    Bok team manager Arthob Petersen said: “The tour again confirmed the leadership qualities of our captain John Smit. John’s contribution was nothing short of colossal and he was ably supported by the senior players.

    “Secondly, it showed the wealth of depth that we have in our squad. When we were affected by injuries during the last week of the tour, we had players of quality to fill the gaps left by injured players — and these guys performed exceptionally — notably Ricky Januarie, who was man of the match against England.”

    Krige led the Boks 18 times during the tumultuous 2002 and 2003 seasons and suffered the ignominy of captaining the Boks to a record 53-3 loss at English rugby headquarters in 2002.

    He was delighted to see the Boks notch up their sixth consecutive win over England in the last two years.

    “In 2002 we went there with a depleted team and England were very experienced and settled and smashed us, and the opposite happened now,” Krige said. “I really enjoyed watching England being smashed this time around.

    “There were a lot of senior guys who have never won at Twickenham and they were determined to put that right. The senior players played one of the best matches I’ve ever seen them play.

    “If this group of players is managed well and politics doesn’t destabilise them, they can go on to be the first team to win the World Cup in successive tournaments.”

    But Krige issued a word of caution about next year’s British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

    “This result puts us in a good position for the Lions, but I would be careful to say that the Boks will definitely win the series based on the results on this tour. It’ll be very different when the Lions put a team together.”

  • Comment 12, posted at 26.11.08 08:03:27 by wpw Reply
  • Krige was probably the worst Bok captain EVER.

    Can anyone think of a worse captain??? 🙄

  • Comment 13, posted at 26.11.08 08:04:13 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 13) :

    Can I answer that one?

    Please let me answer?

  • Comment 14, posted at 26.11.08 08:08:03 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 14) :

    please go ahead… 😯

  • Comment 15, posted at 26.11.08 08:20:49 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 16) :

    Ag you already know the answer 🙁

    What a let down, I was hoping to keep everyone in suspense about who i though was a pathetic Captain. 😛

  • Comment 16, posted at 26.11.08 08:27:13 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • I would love to keep an eye on the outcome of this poll.

    Who is SA’s best captain ever?

    John Smit 60%
    Gary Teichman 12%
    Francois Pienaar 12%
    Dawie de Villiers 1%
    Morné du Plessis 10%
    Avril Malan 0%
    Felix du Plessis 0%
    Naas Botha 2%

    Total: 730 votes

  • Comment 17, posted at 26.11.08 08:41:49 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 16) :

    What are you talking about??? I’m still guessing…


  • Comment 18, posted at 26.11.08 08:59:49 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 18) :

    Speel jy lekker???
    Weet net soos jy speel, [email protected] jy ons statistieke op as jy goed verwyder. 😳

  • Comment 19, posted at 26.11.08 09:04:58 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 17) : Victor Matfield ❓

  • Comment 20, posted at 26.11.08 09:06:42 by PJLD Reply
  • oops , need to read more comments

  • Comment 21, posted at 26.11.08 09:07:21 by PJLD Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 20) :

    Yeah it is. 😆 but it seems Wes had deleted one of his comments where he said who he thought I think it is. 🙂

  • Comment 22, posted at 26.11.08 09:11:14 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 17) :

    I can’t believe they don’t have Phillip Nel, the Natal player who was only captain to lead the Boks to a series win in New Zealand.

  • Comment 23, posted at 26.11.08 10:20:26 by Dive Pass Reply
    Dive Pass

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