Let's celebrate the Boks

2007-10-22 12:33

Gary Boshoff

And so after 80 nail-biting minutes on Saturday evening, it was confirmed: The Springboks are the official rugby world champions for the next four years!

Let it be said without reservation, the Springboks deserved this one - they rose to the occasion by producing a clinical performance in disciplined defence and tactical preparedness for what was a formidable English challenge.

During his tenure as Springbok coach, Jake White has been criticised (also in this column) on many occasions, sometimes appropriately and on other times, perhaps a little unfairly so.

Having won the biggest prize in world rugby one has to acknowledge and give him the credit he deserves. White, as the commander-in-chief, deserves by far the bulk of the accolades. Together with his coaching assistants, Allister Coetzee, Gert Smal and Eddie Jones, he masterminded the second World Cup success of the Springboks. The whole of South Africa rise and applauds his contribution to what has been an unforgettable World Cup campaign.

In the run-up to the final I could sense the anticipation in the air: everyone was talking about the Springboks!

One nation, one team

On Saturday evening I found myself in a small pub in Port Elizabeth, amongst a small group of South Africans to watch the match.

It was clear from the outset that the crowd was not prepared to accept anything less than a Webb Ellis Cup victory when the final whistle sounded. We were all caught up in the moment - it was great to be a South African, one nation, shouting with one voice, for one team. Pity it had to end.

Later on someone sent me a SMS saying: "Vanaand ek dink ons almal es mos van die Springbokke!"

What a great achievement for the Springboks! What a great day for South Africa!

Winning the World Cup for the second time wasn't easy, but in the final against England each and every Springbok played to his full potential.

As such, one wouldn't want to single out individuals, but the contributions from Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield, Percy Montgomery, Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana were immense!

On Saturday the performance of CJ van der Linde stood out for me.

After having been all but demolished by the Argentines last week, he came back and held the Springbok scrum steady for the most part of the final.

Try-saving tackle

Then off course there was the defence.

Everyone is talking about the try-saving tackle of Danie Rossouw that prevented the Mark Cueto "try".

However, it was Victor Matfield who, just seconds before that move, executed the "original try-saver" when he tackled Mathew Tait a metre from the line. That was after Tait eluded six or seven Springbok defenders on his way to the tryline. This defensive effort was massive and dealt a severe psychological blow to the English.

The Springboks have been crowned winners of the greatest rugby contest on earth. White, the players and all South Africans should savour the moment. We should take pleasure in it because it is special. Rugby administrators and political decision makers must take note of how this was achieved and what needs to be done so that come 2011 the Springboks will be ready to defend their title.

South Africa is a unique country with unique challenges facing sports administrators and coaches. However, within these challenges and seemingly insurmountable obstacles lie enormous opportunities - opportunities that will perhaps make the sense of unity we felt on Saturday a little less artificial and much, much more real.

"Ons es mos almal van die Springbokke!"

  • Gary Boshoff is a former Saru player and well-known rugby administrator.

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