Let’s savour the win and move forward

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 24 Nov 2008 at 11:23
Tagged with : , , , ,

The biggest problem with being the sort of journalist that can only write negative things is that you tend to find yourself scrambling for excuses and tenuous explanations when you get it wrong. Today, I’m really pleased to not be in that situation.

I see that the usual practice of giving the players credit for a win (whereas defeats are always blamed on the coach) is once again in full swing this morning. The latest theory, which has been grabbed with open arms by the poison-pen brigade, is that John Smit’s pre-game team talk was the reason the Boks won so well on Saturday. In spite of the poor coaching, Smit was able to bring the best out of the players. It’s tired and it’s predictable.

Don’t expect the glory to last long, Smitty, because the knives will be out for you just as soon as a hooker or tighthead from either the Stormers or the Bulls manages to string together 2 or 3 decent games in next year’s Super 14.

I prefer to look at this as a year of progress, a year where we finally managed to beat New Zealand on home soil (and at Carisbrook, nogal!) for the first time in 20 years. A year where we absolutely walloped the Aussies at Ellis Park and the Poms at HQ playing a scintillating brand of rugby that resulted in try upon try. I like to look at the emergence of Adi Jacobs, Beast Mtawarira and JP Pietersen as international players of genuine pedigree, as role models for a new generation of South African rugby fans.

Sure, there have been embarrassing losses and stupid things said to the media. Every single coach in our recent history has been through that and made those same mistakes. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but those who line themselves up to crucify de Villiers are exactly the same crowd who had the knives out for Jake White in 2006. Anyone remember what White achieved in 2007? Good thing we didn’t chuck him after the 49-0 loss to the Aussies in 2006, huh? Anyone remember his famous statement about how many Irishmen he’d pick in his Bok team? Astute media man that he was…

So I’m going to go out on a limb here and give Peter de Villiers credit for what he has achieved in 2008, because nobody else is likely to. Taking over from White was always going to be a tricky thing to do, because let’s face it, a form slump after winning the World Cup is virtually inevitable. Add to that the murky waters caused by umpteen ELV variations applied at different stages of the season. Add to that the loss of his captain and also first-choice enforcer Bakkies Botha for most of the Tri-Nations and the lack of form last year’s match winner, Bryan Habana. Add the pressure of a rabid media corps, determined to drive home the point that they believed Heyneke Meyer would have been a better choice. Add the slew of point-scoring negative quotes from both Jake White and failed international head coach, motor-mouth Eddie Jones at every turn. No, I think Div has done very well, considering what he was up against in 2008.

I wouldn’t say he has necessarily emerged with flying colours, but there has been enough good to suggest that the Boks are a healthy franchise heading into a 2009 season which appears even more fraught with peril for the coach than the one he has just negotiated.

Well done, Peter de Villiers. Enjoy the rest and we’ll see you again in 2009. Show us that you’ve learned the lessons from 2008. That’s all I ask of you.


  • 9 from 13 is a pretty good record, of course everyone claims the Tri-Nations was a disaster, but the reality is – its our usual fare for the tournament.

    I think Div and his staff have done a pretty good job, and if we smash the Lions hopefully everyone will just STFU and focus on retaining the crown in 2011

  • Comment 1, posted at 24.11.08 11:34:17 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • The Boks just landed on Oliver Tambo International…Welcome back…You are all heroes… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 2, posted at 24.11.08 11:37:19 by Charlie Reply
  • @Charlie (Comment 2) : viva, Boks, viva!

  • Comment 3, posted at 24.11.08 11:41:31 by robdylan Reply
  • I agree with most of what you said. My wish for 2009 is consistancy , it’s hard to believe that all is honky dory when it doesn’t even look like the same team on the field in within a week.We can learn one Valuable lesson from the AB’s and that is that they play consistently well week in and week out ( excluding maybe during RWC’s )

  • Comment 4, posted at 24.11.08 11:46:16 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • I also knew that the leading story would be Smit’s team-talk.
    Credit to John for doing his job to the max but we all know that this was a team effort…and by team I mean everyone involved.

    Thank goodness there are still people like you Rob- who at least try to look at all angles before building an opinion. You should be getting PAID for this- and NOT all the other losers who just hop on the bandwagon and have nothing on value to add.

    Viva Bokke – Viva sharksworld!

  • Comment 5, posted at 24.11.08 12:02:57 by blckshrk - BOKKE Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blckshrk – BOKKE (Comment 5) : you want my bank details? 🙂

  • Comment 6, posted at 24.11.08 12:22:42 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 6) :

    I thought you were paying him to say all those nice things …. 😉

  • Comment 7, posted at 24.11.08 12:26:33 by Dive Pass Reply
    Dive Pass
  • @blckshrk – BOKKE (Comment 5) :

    And you refering too….?? 🙄

  • Comment 8, posted at 24.11.08 12:26:45 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply
  • @Dive Pass (Comment 7) :

    Its just a ‘cover-up”…you are not far off.. 😈 😉

  • Comment 9, posted at 24.11.08 12:28:39 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 6) : 😆 He he he…as soon as I cancel my Sunday Times subscription…it’s all coming that way…

    @Ice (Bébé de Glace) (Comment 8) : The people who get paid a lot of money to write articles…

  • Comment 10, posted at 24.11.08 12:30:34 by blckshrk - BOKKE Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blckshrk – BOKKE (Comment 10) :

    Jiss…why is everyone so serious today… 🙄

  • Comment 11, posted at 24.11.08 12:35:52 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply
  • @Ice (Bébé de Glace) (Comment 11) : cold rainy Monday this side 🙂

  • Comment 12, posted at 24.11.08 12:38:45 by robdylan Reply
  • @Ice (Bébé de Glace) (Comment 11) : They are ??? 😕

  • Comment 13, posted at 24.11.08 12:40:35 by blckshrk - BOKKE Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) :

    Shortaged of Vitamin D??? 😆

  • Comment 14, posted at 24.11.08 12:40:58 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 12) :

    I don’t have THAT problem 😳

  • Comment 15, posted at 24.11.08 12:48:39 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @Ice (Bébé de Glace) (Comment 14) : perhaps… 🙂

  • Comment 16, posted at 24.11.08 12:49:52 by robdylan Reply
  • Rob: Anyone remember his famous statement about how many Irishmen he’d pick in his Bok team? Astute media man that he was.

    If you read his book, he explains that he was asked about the weak Irish team that had toured SA and we’d thumped them. It was turned around to sound like he was referring to the current side at the time.


  • Comment 17, posted at 24.11.08 12:50:39 by Baldrick Reply
  • @Baldrick (Comment 17) : yeah, well… then what about the fetchers of beer comment? Fact is, Jake (and every coach before him) also made many embarrassing media gaffes.

  • Comment 18, posted at 24.11.08 12:55:57 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 18) : I agree Rob, he did make a number of gaffes. But Mallet too with the Teichman incident, Straeuli with Staaldraad, Viljoen with the run at all costs, don’t kick attitude. The only guy who seems to have avoided any criticism was RWC 95 coach (Christie? Name eludes me….) and possibly only because he tasted real success during a short tenure.

    But PDV seems to be lampooned for the wrong reasons. I can understand criticism, and especially constructive stuff, but when it’s his choice of colourful language or massive tache then that’s plain poor media reporting.

    Or to credit poor performances with a coach, and attribute the good ones to the players…..

  • Comment 19, posted at 24.11.08 13:00:50 by Baldrick Reply
  • Today, I’m really pleased to not be in that situation.

    I am of course having a field day over at the poison one’s site! 🙂

  • Comment 20, posted at 24.11.08 13:42:46 by MorneN Reply
  • @MorneN (Comment 20) :

    Where’s that?

  • Comment 21, posted at 24.11.08 13:44:47 by Ice (Bébé de Glace) Reply
  • Rob

    A very well written piece. Well done, you are my new hero!!

    TGHMEA se madre se …. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 22, posted at 24.11.08 13:45:15 by wpw Reply
  • Okay so moving forward to next week. 🙄

    I am glad to see the barbarians match will be broadcast live. 😎

  • Comment 23, posted at 24.11.08 13:48:09 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • @Ice (Bébé de Glace) (Comment 21) :

    poison dwarf. AKA Voldy AKA verticaly challenged one AKA …….

  • Comment 24, posted at 24.11.08 13:49:19 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • One thing that gets my goat for both sides of the fence is the swing of the opinion from PdV and his supporters when the boks win it was his great expansive plan when they get murdered they were not listening. And vice versa from his detractors.

    Make a stand and stick to it. Either as coach the ball stops with you or it does not. All writers swing it both ways – I do believe at the end of the day it is the coach that is ultimately responsible for the teams performance.

    If they do well credit to him AND the players, if they cock it up HE carries the can BUT can cut the players that were not doing the right thing.

  • Comment 25, posted at 24.11.08 16:13:31 by beez Reply
  • @MorneN (Comment 20) : he he… you deserve to have your day in the sun

  • Comment 26, posted at 24.11.08 16:45:04 by robdylan Reply
  • @beez (Comment 25) : ok, but as both Morne and I said on a number of occasions earlier in the week, he should in hindsight have cut a whole lot of the Jake heroes who weren’t performing. Maybe he still will…

  • Comment 27, posted at 24.11.08 16:46:11 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 27) : Maybe we should give Div credit for suggesting that the players just weren’t up to it – it seemed to have fired them into action

  • Comment 28, posted at 24.11.08 16:54:02 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • @Worcestershire Sauce (Comment 28) : umm – did you read my Friday article? 🙂

    Man, I cannot force myself to wade through the crap on Voldy just in case I find an insightful comment by Morne. Glad to see Wes and Bryce are still stirring in opposite directions over there :mrgreen:

  • Comment 29, posted at 24.11.08 16:56:33 by robdylan Reply
  • Nice write Rob. Share this 100% 😎

  • Comment 30, posted at 24.11.08 17:00:43 by PaarlBok Reply
  • @PaarlBok (Comment 30) : thanks dude.

  • Comment 31, posted at 24.11.08 17:08:13 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 27) : I am not really massively for or against PdV as he has proved himself incapable and very good in different weeks, is this him finding his feet? Or having a really good team at his disposal to save him? Either way I am not convinced he is good or bad yet and am giving him more time before making up my mind.

    I do think that if he blends his running rugby with brutal bok rugby we could have alot more of these big scores. Jake White defence and structure had its place but it was limited, I was never a great fan of his.

  • Comment 32, posted at 24.11.08 17:18:37 by beez Reply
  • And what ever he put in Bakkies and Vics breakfast really woke them up.

  • Comment 33, posted at 24.11.08 17:19:14 by beez Reply
  • @beez (Comment 32) : that’s the thing… I think he could’ve stuck with the low-rick approach, but we wouldn’t have progressed at all. Sure we have gone backwards in some ways, but gone forward in others.

  • Comment 34, posted at 24.11.08 17:22:19 by robdylan Reply
  • @beez (Comment 33) : simple. He told them they were tired and couldn’t be arsed to get themselves up for the game. worked like a charm :mrgreen:

  • Comment 35, posted at 24.11.08 17:23:04 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 34) : I really hope so, we have such a good crop of talent at the moment, only really at fly and full back that we are looking bare. PdV cant really ask for more.
    I just hope he learns from his mistakes, I also had the feeling White was too damn pig headed.

    Another Tri Nations Cup is needed.

  • Comment 36, posted at 24.11.08 17:25:44 by beez Reply
  • @beez (Comment 36) : also = always

  • Comment 37, posted at 24.11.08 17:26:30 by beez Reply
  • @beez (Comment 36) : he was. PDV has already shown more ability to learn and adapt in one year than Jake did in 4.

  • Comment 38, posted at 24.11.08 17:33:43 by robdylan Reply
  • Nice article Rob. I don’t agree with it all but in the most part I somewhat agree.

    PDV’s biggest problem is that he should point-blank refuse to talk to the media – period. Don’t even attend press conferences. It’ll just become one of those things the Boks don’t do.
    And to be fair he won’t be the only one – Henry also pretty much doesn’t say a word on NZ’s behalf.

    Just leave the rest of the world guessing.

  • Comment 39, posted at 24.11.08 22:49:46 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 38) :

    Jake already has that 3N and WC title… but then I didnt really like him either.

  • Comment 40, posted at 24.11.08 22:50:39 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • @VinChainSaw (Comment 40) : I’m onto you! 🙂

  • Comment 41, posted at 24.11.08 23:23:53 by robdylan Reply
  • Like it was said earlier, what is of concern is the inconsistancy from one week to another. Like I said after we had thrashed the Ausies ( was that a once off) well they proved me wrong against the Poms by doing the same. So next year in the Tri Nations it will be interesting to see which team is on the field that week. Luckily the ABS should have to play the Boks 2X in SA next year. Oh and yes the Lions are there.

  • Comment 42, posted at 24.11.08 23:36:25 by Dynamite Reply
  • @Dynamite (Comment 42) :

    If you play like France you’re gonna get results like France. Inconsistent.

    Hmmm… I feel an article coming on.

    End of the day though Diff has 9 out of 13… 2008 will still go down in the annuls of Springbok rugby as a good vintage.

    Along with handing England their biggest ever defeat at Twickenham, giving the Wallabies a 50 point hiding at Ellis Park and beating New Zealand for the first time in history in Dunedin, claiming a clean sweep on the end of year tour, he still claimed 9 out 13 for the year.

  • Comment 43, posted at 25.11.08 00:55:22 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • Hi all! congratulation, your blog is a joy to read for a rugby fan!!

    By the way, i’m an Italian Rugby fan and the SA last performances were amazing.. But what about the wave of SA young players who are going abroad to play for money.. Does it contribute to jeopardize the Springboks future performances?? I mean after Smit, Matfield, Botha who are all around 30 do you see someone who – in the long run – will be able to give the same contribution as these guys in terms of leadership and talent??

    For instance as a Lock the ex bull Kruger seemed really promising but he’s now playing for Northampton here in UK..

    I’m curious what do you think ab your rugby future as a country.. Thanks.


  • Comment 44, posted at 25.11.08 01:14:58 by maurolanati Reply
  • Let’s savour the win and move forward…

    Wise words…

    “not sure about the stirring in opposite directions though”

    My direction has always been to take the most capped Bok squad that has ever been inherited by a Bok coach at the beginning of the season, not to mention lead by the most successful Bok captain of all time… and to take them to the next level… (as was promised)…

    Mixed feelings after a few seasons ‘need-to-win-at-all-costs’ last game… but nevertheless also happy…

    Here’s hoping for a strong conditioned Bok squad from 1-30… and the introduction of a few more ‘world class’ coaching staff members in the few fields we are lacking… mental coach, kicking coach, technical analyst etc… so we’re more in line with the rest of the modern world…

    In the meantime Bok players… you’ve enjoy a well-deserved holiday…

  • Comment 45, posted at 25.11.08 03:05:26 by bryce_in_oz Reply
  • @maurolanati (Comment 44) : Welcome broer and a good one. Myself think we have quite a good structure from the bottom (pretty sure we are the only ones having a provincial U19&U21 compo , a Vodacom provincial combo plus our usual CC provincial one )producing young talent year after year. The one button Snor press right was that he brought some fine talent through. At this very moment we start to have nice to have ones and to answer your question for replacements:
    Smit: Bismarck du Plessis
    Matfield & Botha: Bekker & Muller

    Its getting a problem to decide these days which are the best options. Just look at the midfielders, Jac Fourie vs AD or Jean de Villiers vs Steyn or at scrummy Januarie vs Fourie du Preez.

    Just look at our loosies. Its not only at the Bokke, my beloved Stormers will struggle to get the best combo on the park!

    Myself pretty sure if Jake White was still coach we wont be in this situation and we in for a nice ride in 2009. Just wish our supporters and politicans will stop nagging and get behind our beloved Bokkie.

    Springbok here to stay – ANC

    by Carien du Plessis | 25 November 2008 (00:22)

    The name of the Springbok rugby team and the emblem can stay, but the King Protea has to appear on the left-hand side, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.
    Mantashe repeated the solution proposed by the minister of sport and recreation Makhenkesi Stofile at a news conference at Luthuli House.

    He referred to the Bok issue as an example of where a solution was found after a public debate.

    “When they talk about destroying the Springbok emblem, I say the country’s emblem, which is the King Protea, should appear on the left-hand side. You can have the Springbok on the right, on your arm, your shorts or anywhere else.

    “It is the commercial trademark of the Springboks. That’s fine. You can call the team the Springboks as you call the Australian rugby team the Wallabies.”

    Getting better by the day!

  • Comment 46, posted at 25.11.08 09:11:43 by PaarlBok Reply
  • @maurolanati (Comment 44) : Nice to have you on board brother.
    @PaarlBok (Comment 46) : Howsit boet

  • Comment 47, posted at 25.11.08 09:40:06 by PJLD Reply
  • @maurolanati (Comment 44) :

    Is that you Mauro?

  • Comment 48, posted at 25.11.08 09:52:32 by bryce_in_oz Reply
  • @PJLD (Comment 47) : Great now that I have my new gesiggie! 😆

  • Comment 49, posted at 25.11.08 10:18:05 by PaarlBok Reply

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