With rugby you never can tell!

2016-06-22 06:00

HE can be forgiven, after all he’s only 10, learning the basics of rugby at primary school. It all happened at a booze and braai at a neighbour’s house last Saturday. The boy is their only son.

“You watch,” he said as the Springboks trooped off the field at halftime at Ellis Park, looking down-hearted and the worse for wear. “Boks will win it,” he insisted. “Second half, you just watch!” His dad gave him a pained look, then looked around apologetically. “More beer anyone?”

Okay it’s an old story now, but it bears re-telling. The kid returns his attention to the family’s outdoor TV. The halftime score is 19-3 in Ireland’s favour. One of the father’s friends, downing his beer, says solemnly: Looks like Irish eyes’ll be smiling tonight all right. The 10-year-old shrugs. “It’s just part of the Boks’ plan,” he mutters, his eyes steadfastly pinned on the TV screen. “It’s to get the Poms over-confident. Second half we’ll see whose eyes are smiling. You watch, they’ll be crying bitter tears!”

His father shrugs. Sighs. Kids!

Forty minutes later all his son said as the Irish players trudged towards the change-room, with the scoreboard at Ellis Park’s railway station end reading 32-26 was this: “Told you so!” His dad didn’t say a word.

After the boy had helped himself to another can of lemonade and a lamb chop, he looked about at the grown-ups around him and added: Allister Coetzee’s no fool. Now, after losing the first Test in Cape Town it’s one-all, so the final is in PE. We’ll donner them there, that’s for sure. And there won’t be a single empty seat.”

The mother smiled at her son, went on with her knitting, chatting with her friends. Said they ought to visit the local cinema to see The Man Who Knew Infinity. “That sounds like a spooky one,” said the 10-year-old’s mother.

Then everything changed, after a dynamic second 40 minutes saved the Boks’ face.

So what now? There’ll be changes for next Saturday’s match in PE, that’s for sure. Maybe they’ve been made already – and published. No one will complain if Ruan Combrinck is brought in for Lwazi Mvovo. He was only on for 38 minutes. But when did you last hear of the Man of the Match award going to a substitute? Not often. But that’s how good he was!

Just as surely Warren Whiteley is bound to take over the No. 8 spot from an out-of-sorts Duane Vermeulen. Some wouldn’t give you an argument if you handed the thundering eighthman the captaincy. That could happen later.

With Pat Lambie still resting after his injury a week ago, Elton Jantjies, who has shown snatches of undeniable class will get another chance to show his worth.

There were a couple of others who weren’t up to scratch. But we’ll have to wait and see. On the other hand locks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth look like making a partnership in the Avril Malan-Frik du Preez mould. A word of praise, too, for the smallest man among these giants – scrumhalf Faf de Klerk. What courage, for starters. Meanwhile, let’s see if the Boks can keep the Irish eyes from smiling yet again.

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