Vive la Bokke!

2007-10-15 12:55

Gary Boshoff

To the great relief of all South African rugby supporters, the Springboks easily cruised to victory against the Pumas in the second semi-final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

While the Springbok forwards had a torrid time, especially in the scrums, it was once again that man Bryan Habana who dashed the Pumas' hopes on the night.

Through the calm composure of Fourie du Preez, Percy Montgomery and Butch James, South Africa took a measured approach to play the game in the Pumas' half. They wore them down and eventually ran out easy winners.

However, in my opinion, it was another top performance by Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha in the lineouts that put the game beyond the reach of the Pumas. They won crucial lineout possession on defence and derailed many of the Argentine's attacking opportunities.

Earlier, the Boks couldn't have asked for a better result in the France v England semi-final. They must be feeling the Webb Ellis trophy is in their hands already.

On the other hand - the worrying question that must be mulling in the heads of the Springboks is whether England are ready to peak in the final.


It was the English who yet again turned the tables on the bookies and pundits, by trouncing the giant-killing French in the first semi-final.

Like in the opening game of the tournament, the French succumbed to the big match atmosphere, the pressure to win in front of their passionate home crowd and a tenacious, focused English outfit.

All credit to Brian Ashton and his team - it was simply incredible to witness (though from 10 000km away) the difference that Jonny Wilkinson makes to their team.

However, not only Wilkinson, but the entire English squad managed to transform themselves from a bunch of no-hopers, after being crushed 36-0 by South Africa, to finalists and genuine title contenders come Saturday.

I was surprised by the comments from some pundits that this was a case of France having lost the match rather then England having won it.

I do not agree with that viewpoint. In fact I am of the opinion that on the day the English deserved to win.


Firstly, their defence was outstanding, giving the French no free inch to move in. Although their back row was brilliant in the tackle and counter-drive situations, it was the diminutive Wilkinson who impressed the most in the physical confrontation and tactical kicking departments.

On more than one occasion he was called upon to confront French forwards face-on and believe me, he did not come off second best once. His uncompromising resilience and meticulous approach to the game laid the foundation for a team that lacked self-belief and confidence at the start of this tournament. He sets the tone and the rest of them simply follow.

The remarkable metamorphosis of the team was completed with the humble manner in which they accepted their success. Both Phil Vickery and Brian Ashton have not gloated once about beating arch-rivals Australia and France - I am sure the temptation must have been great - as they are focused on retaining their title as world champions. The Springboks should take serious note of this.

It is clear that although the players are the same, England are a different TEAM from the one that played against the Springboks earlier in the tournament.

A week of detailed tactical analysis and mercurial planning lies ahead for both teams.

South Africa will certainly try to build on their performance in the semis and try to shut the English out early in the match, while England would have noticed the vulnerability of the Springbok scrum.

Jake white and his team are one hurdle away from achieving the ultimate accolade in world rugby, but in their way stand the reigning RWC champions determined to retain their title.

Let the contest begin! Go Bokke!

  • Gary Boshoff is a former Saru player and well-known rugby administrator.

  • Send Gary your thoughts

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


    AB praises selfless skipper

    2010-11-21 18:15

    Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

    We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
    Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    Comments have been closed for this article.

    Inside News24

    Traffic Alerts
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


    Create Profile

    Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

    Please provide a username for your profile page:

    This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


    Location Settings

    News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

    Facebook Sign-In

    Hi News addict,

    Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

    Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.