How short our memories, how fickle our emotions… In aftermath of the Welsh disaster fans were already willing to throw Rassie under the bus.
After the new Bok coach announced his first side many green and gold jerseys were heading to the bin. Twenty minutes into the first test against England social media was abuzz with every Tom, Dick and Harry ready to abandon the Boks for the foreseeable future. Fans could not really be blamed too harshly for this as the evidence was very much there with two-time World Champion South Africans downgraded worse than a South African Moody’s credit rating – from JSE high roller to Pick n Pay car guard as the Springboks dropped to no.7 on the world rankings.
Check the internet on Saturday evening or Sunday morning and cue mass Bok hysteria (in the way of optimism). All of a sudden coach Rassie has the Midas touch. Faf has come back bigger and better than ever. Nkosi and Dyantyi are as close to the finished product (i.e. Habana) as Pepsi is to Coca Cola. All of a sudden there is no issue with regard to the make-up and balance of our loose trio and those that felt that Duane was past his best is now nowhere to be seen.
I actually missed most of the game live myself but after seeing all the hype I couldn’t wait for my relaxed in-depth Sunday morning analyses with a strong cup of coffee in hand. Here is my takeaway from my vantage point on the couch. As a spoiler I am of the opinion that no one should be too hasty to sit celebrate the fact that the poor family (SA Rugby of course) in their shack have all of a sudden upgraded to a mansion just yet.
- Dyantyi and Nkosi showed what we’ve all seen in Super Rugby – plenty of fire and spark on attack. They were however caught out on defence a few times, especially Aphiwe shooting up on a few occasions when he should have held his width, position. Of course this comes with youthful exuberance. I expect England to make use of the high kick on the wingers a bit more in the next test and one just hopes that the selectors and the public have patience whilst these youngsters learn their trade as they won’t always run in the tries to plaster over their few missteps.
- Fans were lauding the impact of Vermeulen and hailing Kolisi the new leader of the tribe. The jury it seems is still out on what Jean-luc has brought to the next level. The coach talked of having to approve at the breakdown post-match but with no specialist fetchers in his squad there are no real personnel changes that can be made. For mind the balance of the loose trio has still not quite been answered to satisfaction as the skipper was quiet and du Preez didn’t shine. Thor clearly had the handle on things and boy did our Superhero wield the hammer attached to that handle with devastating effect.
- I was never in favour of Faf being chased away like the neighbour’s dog when pisses on your front lawn. He has always had plenty of spunk and now seems to have polished the technical aspects of his game as well. Still, despite his Man of the Match showing I can recall two poor box kicks from his boot. Also, who his backup will be is something that must still worry Erasmus as I doubt Van Zyl is All Black ready.
- The pack did a decent job but more questions will have to be answered during the rest of the international season, especially if disco light DJ Rassie goes back to Trevor as his first choice.
- It was an absolute delight seeing both Pollard and Willie le Roux hit the ball on the run, flat on the advantage line at times and boy did it pay dividends. One hopes they will continue this trend going forward and when confronted with a solid rush defence it will be intriguing to see how they adjust their tactics.
- Nienaber is seen as the Yoda of the art of defence and the guru will have to spend a lot of time on this as it was scary with how much ease the English were able to find space in attack.
In conclusion yes it was a heart-warming attacking display from the Boks. But there is a rather fine line between thinking you are enjoying champagne whilst soaking in a jacuzzi when instead it’s only apple juice and the bubbles have a natural source (from down below) rather than a motorised one. Let’s keep that champagne on ice a bit longer and please allow the team and management some space to settle into their tactics.
In typical fashion a Kiwi team were stuck at the red traffic light in what had appeared to only be a 1.3 VW Citi Golf. The Renault fancied it’s chances of taking the opponent to the cleaners as they got off the line impressively only to see that this Golf clearly had a Porche engine under the hood as it screeched passed in a blur in the second part of the dice. No one was more Porche like than Damian McKenzie as the Frogs struggled laying a hand on the lightning footed replacement back. Codie Taylor had a huge game in the pack.
In Aus the Wallabies came home strong to come back from a mid-second half slumber to put the Irish away in the final quarter of an hour. After what had been a disappointing Super Rugby campaign for the Aussies thus far it was an important victory for Cheika and his chargers.
With the English doing the Blitzbokke a huge favour in knocking the Fijians out of the Cup Competition the runway was cleared for landing for the South Africanswith regard to their series title aspirations. Needing to go all the way and win the Tournament the Blitzies almost ran out of runway as what was supposed to be a rather easy quarterfinal outing against Spain almost when horrifyingly wrong. A score by the Spanish after the hooter tied the scores and a not-too-difficult conversion (not at all from the far corner) would have ended the dream of Powell and his merry men. Cue the biting of nails…
After the WTF Moment the Blitzbokke remarkable pulled up their socks and were able to dispatch of both the New Zealanders and English to claim the ultimate honours, winning the tournament and the series overall. It was an incredible effort in consistency throughout the season from the Blitzbokke and an impressive show of mental and physical BMT from the South Africans. More importantly this Blitzbokke team is the ultimate example to everyone in South African rugby – how the side is managed by the decision makers; how they are coached; how they carry themselves on and off the field as ambassadors of the country; and how they perform with heart and soul on the pitch itself is something truly special and worth trying the replicate.
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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