How to buck up the Boks


Three years ago the Springboks won the World Cup.

Last year they were Tri-Nations champions. And after many decades they finally beat the British and Irish Lions.

This year they overcame Six-Nations champs France, and two months ago the Bulls and Stormers shoved aside their Aussie and Kiwi opponents to reach the Super 14 finals.

Where did it all go wrong?

How could the proud Boks win only one of six Tri-Nations matches? Or concede the most tries in the tournament’s history?

With the defence of their World Cup title 12 months away they look like losers.

Fans are baying for the head of coach Peter de Villiers and 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White has put up his hand.

‘‘It would be an enormous challenge for any coach to take over now,’’ says Joel Stransky, golden boy of the Boks’ 1995’s World Cup win. Some experts believe the Boks are becoming an ageing team.

‘‘The core of the team started out with Jake White in 2004 and they’ve played plenty of rugby,’’ Stransky says.

‘‘They may be tired from all the rugby but they’re also getting old.’’

Another reason for the Boks’ poor performance is De Villiers’ and the selectors’ choice of players who aren’t fast and agile enough for the new rules, says Brendan Venter, former Bok and now director of rugby for Saracens in the UK.

‘‘De Villiers keeps picking players who’ve lost their form, such as Bryan Habana,’’ SuperSport commentator Christo Olivier says.

‘‘It’s sad to say because he’s done a lot for us, but so has John Smit. ‘We also battled at fullback. We need a fullback who can play fast, attacking rugby.’’

The year-end European tour is a good opportunity to give younger players such as Juan de Jongh and Pat Lambie Test experience, he adds.

* Read the full report in the 16 September issue of YOU.

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