Springbok supporters should be careful of what they wish for…

2015-09-30 11:30

The Chinese are famous for their sayings and one I am quite fond off has a little ironic tone to it. We sometimes wish for a new pair of shoes, only to realise that there was nothing quite as comfy as the old torn and warn out nikes’ that seems as if they  had done a dozen comrade marathons before. They might look old and rather sweaty but they will get you places without the odd blister here and there, which the new pair will certainly not….

Jean de Villiers and Richie McCaw exemplifying what rugby is all about.

Doesn’t this remind you of “oom Poena” who’s video recently went viral on the net. Unaware of the camera, oom Poena referred to one of our centres as being born before the start of time, and so his wish of the disappearance of probably one of SA’s best centres ever, had come true… Personally I believe Richie McCaw played his worst game ever against Argentina in their opening clash, but the All Black supporters didn’t complain about his yellow card, age or form, they just gave him the support he deserves, and kept on believing in his abilities.

Round two saw the mighty All Blacks elect 23 year old Sam Cane as their match captain. Could you just imagine the Monday morning headlines if Heyneke Meyer were to elect Handre Pollard as the Springbok captain for the Scottish game….. difference is, they are acknowledging the fact that they would be entertaining a Lions tour in two years time while we are struggling to get rid of our national coach and captain, whiles in the middle of a World Cup campaign.

After South Africa’s shock loss to Japan, there was some serious doubts over the captain’s inclusion in the squad, and so too over the coaching staff. Some headlines even called for Mr. Meyer’s employment with SARU to be terminated, and Mr. Erenreich as always had a mouth full of politics and critisism, though I failed to find any of his comments after the Samoan game… I guess he had other “sports” to attend to…

Jean de Villiers might have been struggling to find his form, but that would have always been the case, considering the rehabilitation he had gone through. He definitely wasn’t up to his best in the Japanese tragedy but the loss was far from his fault alone. One can’t buy a M3 and expect to use it for transporting your wife’s new pot plants, or your 60kg Great Dane. This in my view, is what Heyneke Meyer to a certain extent had done by expecting Jean to play crash ball at 12. We played the wrong game plan against the Japanese and Eddie Jones being, Eddie Jones, read our game plan from the other side of Mount Kirishima. To be caught off guard is one thing, but to be unable to change your game plan and deviate to a “plan B’, was to say the least very disappointing and I lay the Japanese loss completely at the door of the Springbok coaching staff.

Though Jean de Villiers had lost bucket loads of speed, he still has this undeniable ability to read the game and one could see in the Samoan game that he was regaining confidence, especially with a bit more space in the outside channel. Damien is on great form and brakes the advantage line every time, and with Fourie du Preez at service your second phase ball gets out a lot quicker and more direct. Personally I believe that Jean would have made a great contribution in South Africa’s efforts to lay their hands on Mr. William Webb Ellis once more.

After all that said, Jean de Villiers’ dream is now over and the general public who felt that he was to old, got their wish well and truly commanded with Jean fracturing his jaw. My first question upon receiving the sad news was, who can we send to St James Park Newcastle that would make a more positive impact than Jean. We need someone to fill the void not only as a centre and a wing, but also as a leader and a captain. Someone that will finish the game despite of having a fractured jawbone. Someone that won’t just rush off to the medical staff before handling his duty as a captain and face the media for a post match on-field interview. Someone that will spend hours off the pitch with the younger guys, insuring that they have the right balance between gaining confidence and getting cocky.

Schalk Burger crossing the line for yet another five pointer

Later today Heyneke Meyer will have the duty of announcing  a new captain, who would have to lead the troops forward in the tournament. Luckily for him, he is seriously spoilt for choice with senior players in the group that are all fine leaders in own right. Victor Matfield, Schalk Burger, Fourie du Preez, Duane Vermeulen and Franchois Louw are all capable leaders, but with the exception of Burger and Louw, they are all nursing some form of injury and questions could be raised over their ability to play for the full 80.

Jan Serfontein has already swapped his local blue jersey for a Green and Gold one and  might be expected to play this coming Saturday. Damien de Allende seems to be in doubt for the Scottish clash but  Heyneke has a couple of options and one I certainly would like to consider is playing Pollard at 12, with Lambie filling the number 10 jumper. One thing is for certain, the whole of South Africa is holding their breath on today’s team sheet being revealed, as certainty should be raised over Willem Alberts’ injury. If Alberts fails his fitness test today, then surely he will be replaced and missed!

Fourie du Preez making his experience count.

I have to admit that I too found the Japanese defeat earth shattering, devastating and an absolute embarrassment to say the least. Disappointment is an understatement. With all due respect to the Brave Blossoms, a team ranked 12th should never have been allowed to beat the second ranked team in the world. The Springbok coaches got it horribly wrong and now don’t have the luxury of experimenting, as they can’t afford to lose another match. But this doesn’t mean that my blood has stopped pumping green. This loss doesn’t mean that I am going to stop supporting, stop believing. This is sport, and sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce in your favour. Same way it didn’t bounce in favour of Eddie Jones’ Queensland Reds in 2007, when Heyneke Meyer’s Bulls team destroyed them  with 92 points to 3. That day had seen Eddie Jones on the wrong side of the score and ultimately saw him unemployed. Afterwards he had gone on to win a World Cup medal with the Springboks and much later caused the biggest upset world rugby had ever seen… unfortunately with HM this time on the flip side.

With the loss to Japan, it had forced me to take a look at the manner in which we support our “heroes”. We expect them to return with rugby’s most prestigious possession, and yet we send them off with an application to the court requesting their passports be revoked. We expect them to bring home the trophy and yet we have doubts in the senior core of the squad. I too have my doubts over HM, his approach and his style of play but for now I would like to support my team with nothing less than 100%.

With my heart bleeding for our captain Jean de Villiers, I am very excited about the remaining campaign of the Springboks. Today HM has some stern decisions to make and to announce, but it is my wish that with the loss to Japan and obviously the loss of a leader so essential as de Villiers, we would ultimately not be further divided but rather we be united, and support the Springboks with everything we’ve got.

utterrugbyrant@blogspot.com

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