Three lessons from 2014

Written by Benedict Chanakira (bchanakira2)

Posted in :Original Content, Reader Submissions, Springboks on 5 Nov 2014 at 11:14
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World Cup Contenders

New Zealand, the defending champions have been formidable! They have lost just two tests (vs England and South Africa) since that glorious 2011 night in New Zealand. They are the benchmark and will definitely be the team to beat. I find comfort in the fact that no nation has ever defended their World Cup crown. Will they be the first to? Its not too crazy to contemplate that as Steve Hansen has managed to get the men in black to take it up a notch. They even felt the need to bend the rules (wasn’t necessary after all) for the talented SBW. The depth in the side and the x-factor leaves much to be desired. Albeit, they may still capitulate and choke…

England, the hosts have been a joy to watch. Stuart Lancaster has a reliable side and on their day will be able to beat any side. Looking back to the 2012 season, and the mercurial showing they put against the World Champions. They also came close once this year, despite the other two destructions. They have the ability, the crowd behind them and possess a threat. The acid test? Autumn Internationals. They need to prove their credentials and add the small injury crisis you have a tasty dish. A performance rather than results could serve them well. Getting a mental edge on sides has a negative take on me. Look at the Wallabies, after a commendable draw against New Zealand they got walloped in the reverse fixture. Catch them by surprise in the World Cup. Did I add the group of death? Wales and Australia also vying for those two spots. Makes it the more exciting….

South Africa, the incumbent number two side in the world. Meyer has finally proved he can challenge for the World Cup. Twelve months ago he looked too far behind, even that miraculous win against Wales. The mixture is starting to look tasty with youth and experience. The addition of Handed Pollard is a devastating addition. A new dimension for the African side. Never do you get to hear an African nation is a contender to win the world cup but the Springboks have a very good chance. However transformation requirements may prevent the right squad from going to the show piece. To have Frans Steyn in the squad will be useful especially with the conditions definitely favoring his massive boot! They talk about mental edge gained, I reminisce about the All black backlash. Its was proven the men in green and gold can win the World Cup and we await a weld, cold, windy and exciting 2015 Rugby World Cup.

IRB player of the year

I really see three possible contenders with this award. Last year’s winner was showing glimpses of his quality but lacked consistency and the injuries did not do him justice.
Duane Vermeulen, Thor. The Springbok talisman. The importance and value he possesses was underlined the week before that last gasp win over New Zealand. No player was more colossal than the Stormers back rower. He has been well ahead of Kieran Read that a closer look in world rugby no player matches his impact and ability.
Brodie Retallick has grown in bounds. Witty and humorous in press conferences but the All black hard man has been impressive. He continues to rise and rise and is a key cog in the Black machine. Once a department of concern, following Brad Thorn’s coming of age. Finally! The Chiefs man has stepped in, stepped up and delivered. New Zealand’s best player this year and should be a contender for best in the world.
Israel Folau. He just edges it ahead of Michael Hooper who captained the side with magnificence. The John Eales Medal winner was monumental in what was a dire Wallabies campaign which saw them concede defeat to an Argentinian side that wanted it more. The league convert led most of the statistic charts. From meters gained, to linebreaks. Two years in a row the Wallaby has been exceptional and one of the world’s best. He has qualities of a future Wallaby great.

Forgive my failure to mention any player from the North. Mike Brown being the best I can think of. The Harlequins player being just that exceptional compared to all his northern counterparts. Not one player looks likely to win this award but Thor!!! Step in the IRB, they have a habit to surprise!

Forgotten Springboks

Jacque Fourie plying his trade in Japan is likely to wear the Springbok 13 jumper. He was relatively decent a year ago and could feature with Meyer looking to integrate the old and the new. Juan de Jongh’s lack of bulk could have counted against him as Meyer is known for his preference of big, strong players. JJ Engelbrecht who recently joined the 7’s circuit with the Blitzbokke has been dumped out and left to dry. Why has he all of a sudden been thrown into the wilderness? Pierre Spies has not quite lived up to those standards of an early, explosive powerhouse. Could he emerge in 2015 as a contender for a World Cup spot? Will we remember these Springboks soon? Along with Frans Steyn, Morne Steyn and Siya Kolisi?


  • Duane, Marcell and Willem in the same loose trio #hoendervleis

  • Comment 1, posted at 05.11.14 12:25:28 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Folau has been very good, but I don’t believe at all that he has been better than Michael Hooper, Hooper has been nothing short of phenomenal for Tahs and Wallabies

  • Comment 2, posted at 05.11.14 13:28:22 by Ludz Reply

  • “Never do you get to hear an African nation is a contender to win the world cup but the Springboks have a very good chance.”
    im sorry but we are contenders every world cup, and we have won it as much as anyone else

  • Comment 3, posted at 05.11.14 13:36:36 by MJ Reply

  • @MJ (Comment 3) : I think it’s more a case of the media not considering us real contenders until we reach the semis.

  • Comment 4, posted at 05.11.14 13:52:31 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @MJ (Comment 3) : in the praising context of South Africa being the only African nation that will compete for a world cup in the major sports. I.e rugby and cricket.

  • Comment 5, posted at 05.11.14 15:17:07 by bchanakira2 Reply

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