What we learned from Boks vs Argentina

2012-08-21 07:52

South Africa got their Rugby Championship campaign off to a solid start against Argentina. As predicted, the boys from South America gave it their all at Newlands, which was never going to be enough to win, rather just enough to keep the score to respectable levels.

It was a flat, unexciting Test with little to set the pulses racing for the often hard to please home fans. Still, even though the Boks did a ‘Stormers’ and managed to expertly avoid the bonus point, a win is win. But what does it mean for the season ahead?

1) No Bismarck, no Brüssow, no ball

Four tries were off the table as soon as Bismarck du Plessis left the field. Without him, the Boks had no hope of holding on to the ball, as was so painfully witnessed with the number of steals made by Argentina during the game. With no Bismarck for the rest of the year and Heinrich Brüssow either injured or not part of the Heyneke Meyer plans, the Springboks better think of something sharpish for their remaining Rugby Championship games - if they intend getting their hands on the ball, let alone the trophy.

2) Francios Hougaard is a better wing

Hougie is an absolute gem. But he’s not the best scrumhalf in the Springbok squad. After the England series it looked a pretty even race between Hougaard and Ruan Pienaar, with Pienaar coming out tops ever so slightly. Since leaving South Africa Pienaar has become a far more assured presence on the field, long ago losing his ‘Gaffie du Toit’ in a headlight gaze when pulling on the Bok jumper. He’s the man for number nine, not Hougaard. The Bulls star is a mesmerising talent, but on the wing, not at scrumhalf. When Hougie moved to the wing on Saturday he loosened up, unhindered with the burden of directing the game. Let’s see more of that, and less of his dithering uncertainty at nine.

3) Morne Steyn is the flyhalf we deserve

Steyn had his kicking boots on in a big way this weekend, slotting everything with the accuracy we’ve come to know and love from the man who broke the hearts of the British & Irish Lions in 2009 (a feat for which he still deserves a statue at arrivals inside OR Tambo). He’s probably not the flyhalf we want, or the flyhalf we need, but possibly the flyhalf we deserve as the Boks continue to utilise their battering ram forwards as their number one tactic. With the heavies bludgeoning a path forward, it’s hard to ignore the pinpoint merits of Steyn. The question is, however, what happens when plan A stops working?

4) Eben Etzebeth needs a break

For a player who was all explosive fire and brimstone in the early part of the season, Etzebeth has been playing in the last few weeks like a sickly, flickering candle. He’s been excellent all year, no question, but there seems to be an edge that’s gone missing recently. Once again on Saturday he put his body on the line for the Bok cause, but this (very) young lock is either playing with an injury or he’s just bloody knackered. At some stage player management is going to be crucial, because if Etzebeth carries on like this he could be retiring by 25.

5) Perhaps there is such a thing as rugby fatigue

Newlands is stadium renowned for packing in full houses, even with the eye-scratching dross served up by the Stormers all year long. So it was slightly surprising to see empty seats on Saturday, along with official gate figures coming in at just over 39 000. It was a beautiful winter’s day in Cape Town, plus the start of an ‘exciting’ new rugby tournament (not to mention chipper media telling us to expect sold out signs ahead of kick-off), so what gives? Is it because Argentina lack the pulling power of the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Sharks, or are we actually reaching a stage we’re people are saying I’ve had enough rugby for one season?
Unlikely, as I’m sure we’ll see monstrous crowds at Loftus and Soweto later this year. But maybe, just maybe, more isn’t always better…

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  • eric.viljoen - 2012-08-21 08:35

    I dont think it had anything to do with Rugby fatigue. But rather the R450 per ticket price tag that kept so many people away

      charlesdumbwin.dumbwin - 2012-08-21 10:29

      You guys got off lightly, the tickets to the Boks vs ABs game at Soccer City are R600 a pop.

      eric.viljoen - 2012-08-21 10:47

      @Charles Better take the moms then(da dish). Luckily we're not national coaches complaining about prices, or we'd be fired as well. Either way. Both are out of my price range for a 80min long entertainment session. Even the under 18 prices are the same as the adult ticket prices.

      johan.joostesnr - 2012-08-21 11:53

      Eric, ek weet nie waar bly jy nie, maar die kaartjie prys klink nie te erg as jy in ag neem dat ek drie jaar terug R1 200 betaal het om die Bokke op Loftus teen die Britse Leeus te sien nie. Ek moes ook nog 3 000km ry om dit te doen.

      theunis.botha.96 - 2012-08-21 14:36

      That's it,Im finished.Sal nooit weer 'n lewendige Bok toets kan gaan kyk nie :-/

      Bergie - 2012-08-22 13:52

      The only reason was that there were too few stormers in the team to warrant paying money to watch.

  • bumblequest - 2012-08-21 09:50

    Agreed pricing on these tickets is not worth it! For 450 bucks I can buy the beer, biltong, braaimeat and the wood!

  • arnais.port - 2012-08-21 10:31

    R450 is a lot of money, but test rugby used to be worth it. I for one am sick of all the rugby. I used to not miss a match on a Saturday during Super rugby. But since last year I couldn't care less about all the derbies and rather watch the one or 2 matches on a weekend where a team from SA and NZ are playing each other. Australian Super rugby bores me to death and frankly this boredom has now pulled through into the international season. I am even tired of watching the Haka. It used to be one of the highlights of the rugby season, watching the AB's do an aggro Haka before kickoff. Now its just yawn.

      Bergie - 2012-08-22 13:53

      Kind of agree with you Arnais, I am all rugbied out and actually preferred watching the olympics.

  • Boy - 2012-08-21 12:07

    Me thinks Sanzar et al is coming close to cooking the golden goose.

  • cody.cross.1213 - 2012-08-21 17:05

    Love rugby but R450 per ticket..... = 3 cases of Windhoek, better coverage, cold beer and the frigging beer that I drink, not what the sponsors want me to drink, no exorbitant price for beer and food, No drive home, no looong walks to the overcrowded toilets, no paying exorbitant parking fees..... yeah lets go to the rugby???? SARU time to rethink your strategy about the games.

  • quartus.vanzyl - 2012-08-21 18:04

    Ja, more and more people will watch rugby on TV. Besides all the money you save, you can switch off the TV when the opposition is scoring too much...

  • jeremy002 - 2012-08-22 17:21

    I wonder if the Springboks and their coach will ever learn about the dangers of kicking away possession, sometimes aimlessly, and especially against the All Blacks, and most especially in the last 20 minutes? I seriously doubt it, but I can hope. There is an old saying, "What we learn from history is that we do not learn from history." Sometimes other teams prove to be equally stupid, and promptly kick the ball back. That's always a bonus, but not a good idea to count on it.

  • MrFrancisHunt - 2012-08-24 21:09

    Brussow is a chronic omission in the abscence of a key Bismark and these 2 are the reasons we will not play with the ball vs NZ & Oz.. and will therefore lose, the key games..

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