It has taken me two days of quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) reflection on not only Saturday’s game against the All Blacks but on the whole Springbok Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign to get over it all.
I am still not fully over the disappointment, but I am old and ugly enough, and should be fine come the next Rugby World Cup in Japan!
It was one of those games on Saturday against the old enemy where the balance and outcome was in question until the very last moment of an enthralling 80 minutes of rugby - and that’s exactly what Test rugby should be all about.
I did say before the game that a result in favour of the Boks would be an upset but after the first half, I phoned my family, WhatsApped my friends and told them to switch off their TVs, that the game was all but over, the Boks would win.
I was that confident after an impressive first half from the Boks. I have not seen the All Blacks under that much pressure for years, making mistakes and moaning at the referee at every occasion. How wrong was I, and the disappointment afterwards was clear for all to see on my face.
I was, as mentioned above, very disappointed about the result, don’t get me wrong. But I was more disappointed at the experience aplenty in this Bok team that didn’t pull this one through for us.
For many months and even years, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has been telling us that experience will win the Rugby World Cup for us in 2015, thus his selection of older players.
Personally, I thought that leading the All Blacks 12-7 at the break and in a Rugby World Cup semi-final was the perfect place and opportunity for this experience to come to the fore and win this crucial game for us all.
Did experience lose it for the Boks, or did the All Blacks win it with their own experience, style of play and streetwise attitude to rugby as a whole? I think it was a bit of both, with the Boks’ lack of creativity adding not only to this result but also to the Boks results during the last 18 months of Test rugby.
It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that defence alone can’t win you tough competitions like Super Rugby, the European Cup and now the Rugby World Cup.
Eighty minutes is a long time on a rugby field and for long periods of play you will have the ball in your possession, what you do with the ball while you have it plays a major role in the outcome of the game.
It was first seen a few years back that the New Zealand teams kept the ball and created absolute havoc in defence for opposing teams. It is hard to run the ball for long periods of play, but trust me when I say that it is much harder to defend for the same number of minutes.
Two years ago, the Waratahs won the Super Rugby competition under the current Wallaby coach, Michael Cheika, for the first time with a fast and furious approach to attacking rugby. This style of play is now clear and very visible in international teams like Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Argentina, New Zealand and the Wallabies.
Unfortunately, the Boks have not taken this approach and because of this we are falling behind world-leading teams in creating opportunities and scoring points through tries.
Two of the above-mentioned teams will compete for the William Webb Ellis Trophy on Saturday and it comes as no surprise to most rugby supporters. The winner of this game will also be the 1st team to win this coveted trophy three times and the All Blacks could become the first team ever to defend their title.
We talk about passion and pride when it comes to our national rugby team, the Springboks but that goes without saying. The players will bring that to the rugby pitch every time they pull that special green and gold jersey over their heads. It is the responsibility of the coach and his coaching team to equip the players with a game plan and a style of play that can win international Test matches.
Losing in a Springbok jersey is never an option even when playing the All Blacks, but we can accept Saturday’s defeat and hold our heads up high. In saying that I feel that our national team can be so much better, with all the talent we have in this country, and that if we managed and coached them well we should be able to consistently beat the best and at Rugby World Cups. That was the most disappointing part for me, not Saturday’s result.
Let your passion drive this team.