Two South African-born elements of England’s narrow Six Nations victory over old enemies Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday have earned laurels for their contributions.
Rob Houwing, Sport24
Durban-born midfield debutant Brad Barritt, in particular, won English press approval for his defensive stoutness, while fire-in-the-belly lock Mouritz Botha, his Saracens team-mate who was born in Vryheid, also didn’t go unnoticed in the 13-6 win.
Even former England hooker Brian Moore, who is not always well disposed to anything South African, was moved to say in the Daily Telegraph: “You can’t under-estimate what this win will have done for (England’s) inner confidence.
“They were disciplined and did not give away kickable penalties … they are also to be praised for their tenacity in defence because although the first-up tackles were not always solid they scrambled to make amends with Brad Barritt and Mouritz Botha to the fore.”
Former British and Irish Lions lock Paul Ackford, in the same paper, gave Botha a match rating of eight out of 10: “Mr Industrious, his red scrum cap was all over the place. A few too many errors for this level, but hugely courageous.”
And in rating former Sharks favourite Barritt a 7/10, he said: “Defensively sound which was what he was brought into the side to do. Will settle in over the next few games.”
Meanwhile in The Guardian, another ex-international, Dean Ryan, wrote: “Barritt isn’t the fastest centre in the world but he is strong and very good defensively and he makes up for that lack of speed with his speed of thought.”
Ironically the player-of-the-match award went to a member of the losing side, No 8 David Denton, who is a 21-year-old born in Marondera, Zimbabwe, and educated at Kingswood College in Grahamstown. It was his first start for his adopted country.
*The Springboks play a three-Test home series against England in mid-year, Heyneke Meyer’s debut as new Bok coach.