Wow! That was way too close for comfort against the Welsh in the first quarter-final this last weekend. It was the perfect start to what was a scintillating weekend of rugby and it came down to the last kick of the last quarter-final to determine who would be the last semi-finalist. In terms of entertainment value and quality of play, I can honestly say that the Rugby World Cup 2015 has been the best one ever.
The Welsh started like a house on fire and if it wasn’t for their poor execution and one or two desperate try-saving tackles from the Boks, the result could have been a whole lot worse.
It took the Boks till the 74th minute to break down the Welsh defence and only through the individual brilliance of Duanne Vermeulen and a reverse back flip pass to seal the victory.
The Welsh outsmarted and outplayed us tactically for most of the game and obviously had a clear and very particular game plan. They executed it very well most of the time and had the lead with six minutes to go. We all know that a game of rugby is 80 minutes long and thank goodness for that but in a quarter-final of a Rugby World Cup you need to play and, more importantly, concentrate for the whole 80 minutes.
A lot of people are very concerned about the performance of the Boks and some for very good reason. This Welsh team was massively disrupted with some terrible injuries but somehow found the guts and determination to match the Boks blow for blow.
Some will say that if you can’t handle this Welsh team you will have some serious issues going into a semi-final and I will touch on that later in the week. I think we all know who the Boks will face in the semi-finals.
Let’s forget about the Boks' performance from a rugby point of view and firstly, let’s congratulate them for making the final four and extending their stay at this year’s competition. Not many would have given them any hope of reaching the latter stages of this year’s tournament after round 1 and many of the current Rugby World Cup squad did say that it’s been the hardest few weeks of their Bok careers after that shock defeat to Japan.
I, for one, am delighted that the William Webb Ellis Trophy will stay in the southern hemisphere with the three other semi-finalists: All Blacks, Wallabies and Pumas all from down south. It shows that rugby in the southern hemisphere is still very good and healthy, and that we still have the talent and the teams to be called the best in the world.
I do agree that rugby in the northern hemisphere has shown tremendous improvement but please bear in mind that many of the top southern hemisphere players do play their rugby for clubs north of the equator.
It strengthens their club scene tremendously but like with English soccer and the Premier League it allows for one of the strongest club competitions in the world but it is often not the best for the local players.
This is never more adamant then when playing international Test matches – another debate for another day.
I think we can all breath again for a while after another nail-biting weekend of rugby and can leave our Bok supporters jerseys out the cupboard for at least the next two weeks – win or lose and the Boks will still be involved in two more games bearing in mind that there will also be a 3rd and 4th play-off game the Friday night before the final.
Let’s forget about that for now and let’s weather ourselves for another rugby storm against the All Blacks at Twickenham this coming Saturday. In rugby terms, it doesn’t come any bigger than this. I will look at arguably the biggest rugby rivalry in the world later in the week.
Let your passion drive this team.