Blitsbokke’s Games gold at the right time for SA

2014-07-29 00:00

CAPE TOWN — In the nicest possible way, I think we can say we also gave New Zealand a bloody nose over the weekend.

South African rugby enthusiasts, and those partial to the Sharks in particular, were left mortified on Saturday by the margin and immensely superior quality of the Crusaders’ Super Rugby semi-final triumph over the Durban-based visitors.

The Sharks, considering the eternally unsatisfactory imbalance caused by further long-haul travel at such a late stage of the campaign, were always underdogs, but the 38-6 and five-tries-to-nil outcome just said so much about greater, tournament-long NZ enterprise and commitment to entertainment in a year where the SA conference was (unusually) the palpably worst and least dynamic of the trio.

That is why the Blitsbokke earning the Commonwealth Games gold medal just a day later, beating the very might of the All Black Sevens team in the Glasgow showpiece, was a tonic of special substance.

Yes, you can’t compare apples with potatoes — Sevens and XVs are vastly, deliberately different products — but there was a certain, heartening poignancy all the same to Kyle Brown’s heroes so deservingly grabbing the gold and with a joyousness that was etched all over their faces and their midst-of-battle mindsets.

The South Africans looked likeliest winners, courtesy of both their polish and calmness, all the way through the event, one of the television commentators from 50 000-packed, vibrant Ibrox noted afterwards.

Similarly BBC Sport enthused: “A South African side full of searing pace and no little skill trumped them [New Zealand] ... even managing to match the All Blacks physically.”

In short, this was good PR for rugby in our country as a whole, and at a rather necessary juncture.

• Australia were always in control against Samoa in the bronze medal match, two first-half tries by impressive flyer Greg Jeloudev setting them nicely en route to a comprehensive 24-0 win.

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