The Bok culture is more important than any one player

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, RWC 2011, Springboks on 6 Apr 2011 at 11:42
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A recent article by Rob Houwing on News24 yet again highlighted the general feeling surrounding the importance of some of the core Springboks if we are to be successful in our quest to retain the Rugby World Cup later this year in New Zealand.

Houwing, like many other pundits, highlighted the importance of looking after our core Springboks and in his specific example, Victor Matfield.

It got me thinking about debates around blogs in recent months specifically when it comes to incumbent Boks being out of form and new, exciting youngsters challenging for their positions.

The general feeling is that most of our senior core players are ‘past-it’, and if we look to retain the World Cup, we had better wake up to this fact and include the new breed or generation of rugby players.

Examples of this are everywhere.  There is the John Smit/Bismarck debate, Victor Matfield/Andries Bekker debate, Schalk/Brussow, Spies/Alberts, Morne Steyn/Lambie and so I could go on and basically list the whole team or every position.

But then came the light bulb moment (I don’t have these very often)…

‘I could basically name the whole team’

When Peter de Villiers took over as coach of the Springboks in 2008, one of his aims was to establish a group of 40-odd players good enough to run out for the Springboks on any given day in any given test.

Over the course of these three years, we have seen players re-introduced to the Springbok setup, players moved to other positions and establish themselves as world class, and of course, players making their debut and leaving little doubt they can step up to the plate.

I am not going to list these players, you can feel free to do so on your own, the point really is, the fact that we can passionately debate the inclusion or non-inclusion of certain players for the Rugby World Cup later this year with a hope of actually winning the crown, is a position Springbok rugby seldom finds itself in.

It is the culture of excellence that has been created that has made the Springbok team of the last 6 years one of the best ever.  The old-guard is mainly responsible for this culture but rather than fearing it as supporters, we should embrace it.  It is this very culture that has allowed the new generation of Springboks not only to fill the boots of these legends, but perhaps, even surpass them.

For fear of not falling into the All Blacks 2007 trap of having three teams that can win the Cup, let me be clear that combinations, experience, discipline and leadership will still have to form the basis of our approach towards the World Cup, but I won’t be having sleepless nights if we do lose Matfield, or Smit, or Burger or most of our senior, established Springboks.

Would I prefer to have Smit there for the Rugby World Cup?  Of course, I want him there as much as I would prefer to have a fit and fighting Matfield, Burger, Steyn and all of our experienced players in the squad.

Can we win the World Cup without one or two of these players?  Well, yes…


  • I also believe we CAN……I’m just not overly confident that we WILL.

  • Comment 1, posted at 06.04.11 12:02:23 by Pokkel Reply
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  • Your thoughts on Fourie du Preez, can we successfully employ a kick/chase strategy without him there?

  • Comment 2, posted at 06.04.11 12:03:53 by vanmartin Reply
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  • @vanmartin (Comment 2) :

    but I won’t be having sleepless nights if we do lose Matfield, or Smit, or Burger or most of our senior, established Springboks.

    Notice how the name of Du Preez is absent from that list and I used the word ‘MOST’ and not ‘ALL’??? 😉

  • Comment 3, posted at 06.04.11 12:07:51 by Morné Reply
  • @vanmartin (Comment 2) : die kak jaag plan staan my nie aan nie.

    And now in English: I dislike the kick-chase game plan.

  • Comment 4, posted at 06.04.11 12:26:04 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @King Shark (Comment 4) : Habana is ‘n goeie kak jagter. 😈

  • Comment 5, posted at 06.04.11 12:33:31 by Viking Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 3) :

    If he kicks the ball away as much as he current does you won’t be getting out of your pool. 😆 😆 😆

  • Comment 6, posted at 06.04.11 12:42:22 by Hertford Highlander Reply
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  • @King Shark (Comment 4) : I agree, I hate it! That’s why I don’t want Morne to go to the WC. But I guess its the coach who decides the gameplan.

  • Comment 7, posted at 06.04.11 12:45:08 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 7) : And if we do we’ll get our arses kicked like we did in last year’s Tri-Nations. I don’t buy this “right strategy, wrong execution” crap Div keeps kotching out.

  • Comment 8, posted at 06.04.11 13:00:13 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 8) : Luckily its a win win situation at the WC. If we win it then well, we won it. And if we don’t PDiv will most likely lose his job.

  • Comment 9, posted at 06.04.11 13:21:58 by Ben Reply
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  • Another interesting point that has been brought up is that most of the games will be in the evening, when conditions for flash rugby will not be as good as when it’s dry. Ideal for the Bok game plan though.
    I believe that if we want to retain it, we need to have a blend of experience and Youth and if there is an area of concern, it would be our youth are not that experienced. Take Lambie great player with about 3 caps, if he plays in the tri nations he will have 9. Not a lot of expierience there, but so what if he has Fourie Du Preez on his inside and Jean du Plessis on his outside. My main concern is there is not that much youth, in fact apart from Lambie what is there. I don’t think of Bekker and Alberts as youth. I also worry about Matfield. Is he going to play every single Bulls game, because then we have a problem.

  • Comment 10, posted at 06.04.11 13:23:37 by Whindy Reply
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  • @Hertford Highlander (Comment 6) : Agree and a few of us have said it on other blogs. We have Fiji, Samoa and Wales in our pool who all love to keep possession. We do the kick and chase there, I doubt we will get into the quarters. That is a real threat.

  • Comment 11, posted at 06.04.11 13:56:13 by Puma Reply

  • What concerned me about these old guys… is that Div stated last week he wants his best 15 to play every game. Now, I reckon the likes of Smit & Matfield can lift themselves for a one off (ie the final), but only if they’re managed. If they have to play every game, then their experience will count for little, compared to their fatigue… and we’d be better of playing the inform “youngsters” like Bismark and Bekker.

  • Comment 12, posted at 06.04.11 14:26:26 by CS Reply

  • @CS (Comment 12) : I’d worry more about injurys with them playing every game. Fatigue shouldn’t be a problem. You only play 7 gan in the WC if you make the final.

  • Comment 13, posted at 06.04.11 14:34:35 by Ben Reply
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  • @Ben (Comment 13) : Or is it 6 games, not sure.

  • Comment 14, posted at 06.04.11 14:35:41 by Ben Reply
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