Springboks humiliated, Proteas slandered

2012-10-13 00:00

NOTWITHSTANDING Brandon Grace’s remarkable fourth win of the year on the European golf tour, this has been a ropey few weeks for South African sport.

For many the nadir came on Saturday just after the All Blacks had been reduced to 14 men when their full back, Israel Dagg, was sin binned for 10 minutes.

Here was the opportunity for the Springboks to get back into the game. From the ensuing penalty following Bragg’s infringement, the Boks correctly kicked for the corner to set up a driving maul for the line.

Once the subsequent maul had been stopped by the All Blacks, there came the moment that shouted loud and clear that something has to change in South African rugby if the Boks are ever to be regularly competitive with the All Blacks.

The forwards entered into one of those scrimmages for the try line that have a success rate against the All Blacks of something less than one percent. Because they knew exactly what was coming, Richie McCaw’s men threw everything against the Bok forwards including all their forwards, the blind side wing and both Dan Carter and his scrum half.

With Dagg off the field, this left just three men to defend the try line against the entire Springbok back line. Surely, we have some players with the wit and intelligence to realise that, with odds of seven to three in their favour, the back line should have been given the ball? For heaven’s sake, the captain himself is a fully paid up member of the three quarters. Has he so little confidence in his own ability and that of his fellow running backs that he did not want the ball despite the sort of advantage that comes along so rarely against the All Blacks?

In the actual event, the Bok forwards continued to plug away until, inevitably, they coughed up the ball and the opportunity was lost. If you can bear to watch any of the countless replays of the match on SuperSport, you will notice that the Springboks barely got their hands on the ball for the rest of the match.

No wonder Ashwin Willemse, Nick Mallett and company were so fed up at the end of the game.

It is with mounting despair that they can see that unless something changes the Springboks are doomed to a long period in which they will be dominated by the All Blacks. This gloomy scenario can only be displaced unless some fundamental changes take place in the manner in which rugby is coached and played throughout South Africa.

It is pointless and incorrect to say that this All Black team is an ageing side and that our young pups will soon acquire the experience to put the Kiwis in their place. Anyone who believes that is lost in the dreams of the naïve and narrow minded. Apart from several of their superstars who are in their thirties and for whom outstanding replacements are already available, more than half the All Blacks will be around for many years to come.

The most outrageous story of the week came from the CEO of the English Cricket Board, David Collier, who alleged that Kevin Pietersen was the unwitting victim of a set-up by a South African cricket team hell bent on becoming the number one Test team in the world. Much as I admire the acuity of Gary Kirsten and his management team, I do not believe for one moment that their planning would have encompassed such a devilish plot to snare England’s Kev.

I am afraid that Collier in his eagerness to hasten Pietersen’s return to the England team in time for the Indian tour and the back to back Ashes series has seized upon a lack of textual evidence to whitewash Kev and slander the South African cricket team.

Quite early in the piece, Pietersen’s lawyers realised that the lack of evidence together with a sloppily drafted central contract made it highly unlikely that a permanent suspension from duty of Kev would stick.

Moreover, the ECB faced a million pound legal action if they declined to renew Pietersen’s contract.

Collier also knew that the absence from the team of the wayward South African would adversely affect the performance of the England team thus reducing his board’s future income.

So rather like thumbing toothpaste into a tube, Kev will be inserted into the England team despite the hostile environment that he is certain to face from his erstwhile and future team-mates, who would have been happy to carry on without him. This messy saga has plenty of script left in the tank particularly if any of the South African players can be persuaded to refresh their memories and reveal the exact nature of the infamous texts.

In the meantime, I sincerely hope that the chaotic state of Cricket SA will not preclude the strongest possible reply to Mr Collier together with the demand for a public apology.

This is now the witching hour for those hoping to see CSA reformed in accordance with the recommendations of the Nicholson enquiry. Rumours on the social networks are punting a variety of developments, political and otherwise. One is that those entrusted with the implementation of the judge’s ideas are finding it difficult to uncover five truly independent men to sit on the new board as impartial directors. Apparently any provincial affiliation, however tenuous, is seen as an automatic disqualification, thus ruling out the ambitions of Norman Arendse amongst others. Thank heavens for small mercies.

Another story has, at the apex of the game, a Muslim brotherhood led by those “concerned individuals” who upended the Gauteng Cricket Board in an unconstitutional coup supported by CSA. Attached to this rumour is the possibility that Willie Basson will be repaid for his co-operation by securing a lucrative contract to manage yet another phase of the transformation of cricket.

Hopefully, a new board concerned only with the good of the game will emerge from the ashes of the Majola scandal, but I am not holding my breath.

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