Home Opinion More than just a test

More than just a test

Pieter-Steph du Toit of South Africa during the 2017 Castle Lager Rugby Championship game between South Africa and New Zealand at Newlands Rugby Stadium on 7 October 2017 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

You do not have to look far to understand that any test between the All Blacks and the Springboks is something special.

Throughout the years this has been one of those test matches that just brings out the self believe in either one of the teams even when a certain team are down than out.

Since rugby turned professional it was mostly the Springboks that had to dig deep to beat the All Blacks. The record books will show that they have been the better team when they meet on the rugby field.

This weekend test will be another huge spectacle, not just for the game but for both teams.

I remember how Jake White spoke about the importance of winning against England before the World Cup 2007 was for the team to believe that they can take them on in the pool stages.

This is even more relevant for both sides to get that edge working towards next years world cup when they face each other in the first weekend of the tournament.

If you look back at the history of Springbok rugby you will find that we always had that huge forward pack that can dominate or at least be on par with the great teams out there.

Without a solid pack that is doing their job you will not beat the top teams in the world and that is a fact.

Luck or no luck, but the reason the Springboks won the test in Wellington was because of their defence. It created pressure on the All Black team with the Springboks scoring two tries from that pressure.

The All Blacks have been the one side in the world that thrives on the mistakes of other teams.

Their ability to turn pressure defence into tries put them above any other team in the world.

Now add the skills and their quality players to that and you have a team that have been dominating the world scene for more than 9 years now.

So to beat the All Blacks it comes down to doing the basics of the game 100% for 80 minutes and use the opportunities that comes your way.

Even Jake White was praising Erasmus this week in saying that the Springboks are busy going back to their strengths, which is a solid platform with even greater defence which allows them to score tries.

‘I remember being in France and getting criticised for the Boks being too defensive, but we finished the 2007 Rugby World Cup with the leading try-scorer, the leading points-scorer and the trophy.

People say “that’s not how you play the game,” but the Boks are showing that’s exactly how you win.

South Africa understood that reality in 2007 and it looks like we’re starting to understand it again. Some of the other sides in the world don’t grasp it; they’ve been seduced by the perception that passes and offloads and sidesteps win matches. They don’t see the whole picture.

All of this and especially the Wellington test need to be taken in as a first step of still a long journey ahead for Rassie Erasmus Springboks.

We said it before, beating the All Blacks at home does not suddenly make everything right in South African rugby.

We must remember that in June, Rassie Springboks won two and lost two.

In the Rugby Championships the Springboks started well at home against the Pumas with a bonus point win in Durban but then had two really poor performances in Argentina and Australia.

Against the Pumas they were not even close to be in the game to win it and in Australia we seemed to be panicking and at the end throw the game away more than Australia won it.

Last weekend test in PE was a win but it was as ugly as you can get.

The team never pitch up for that second half and only desperate defence at stage won us the game. There was plenty of opportunities to put Australia away but we just made to many mistakes.

To win a test on a day you are so way off is also a good thing for the team but that should not be the norm for the Springboks. You can not have the same off day against the All Blacks.

The Boks are defending very well now which have some good signs about the the team and their systems put in place by Rassie.

Their defence have created opportunities but only in the Wellington test it really came off.

As Patrick McKendry said in the week in the NZ Herald:Hansen often talks about the players’ backsides edging a little closer to the front of their seats following a loss. Can the Boks find it in themselves to go the same way following a victory?

If they can then the rebuild of South African rugby has definitely started and the rest of the world should be put on notice. If not then we might have to wait a while yet.

Call me a dreamer but what ever happens on Saturday at a packed Loftus, the hope from is at least that we are starting to go back to the great rivalry between the All Blacks and the Springboks which made this the greatest test of them all.

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  1. I’m hoping the Boks take it a step further on Saturday – not just 7 billion tackles but take the game to the ABs for long periods of play. Starts from the top, Mallett had that self belief, so did The Great One. No need to scrimp and cower for punte. They were the best and knew it.

  2. @cab:

    This team is not near the quality man-to-man to that of Smit’s 2009 starting side that beat the AB’s.

    But yes there are plenty of holes that need fixing in win or loss this weekend… from possession, to territory, to kicking, to the ruck-zone, defensive flaws and everything in-betwixt.

  3. Anyone who underrates this Bok side and coach, will do so at their peril. This team got every chance to be same as 2009, maybe even better. Once a few players return from injury, this could be one helluva squad, with more depth than 2009.

    Only difference is this squad doesn’t have a brussow equivalent (but maybe Velleman or MvS put hand up) and it doesn’t yet have same scrumhalf depth, but tight 5 and TH depth is better.

  4. This weekend the Boks have everything against them. The Boks and all blacks have played 5 games at Loftus, the Boks only won the first one in 1970 I think. Avg score is a 20 point victory for the AB’s.

    We haven’t mastered the new gameplan yet with players still found out of position on defense and only some mad sceambling keeping the Aussies down to 2 tries last weekend. Kudos to the Boks never say die attitude.

    I see the AB’s have chosen sbw and goodhue as midfield pair. Goodhue runs really good lines and we could just be facing a massive score if sbw gets his offloads to goodhue running of his shoulder. We need to stop their attack at source. Control the contact position.

    Then also we threw away plenty try scoring opportunities last weekend. We won’t get a lot against the AB defence. We need to take every single scoring opportunity. Like we did in NZ.

    Good luck to our beloved Boks. We certainly need it. It would be great to have the whitewash over NZ, even though we still end second in RC. This is the last game before some time off. One last huge effort needed. One more passionate performance leaving nothing on the field. The much deserved break would feel so much better after a win. Go BOKKE!

  5. Bwahahaha what absolute bollocks… you seemingly forgot the centres, not to mention loose-forward back-up, making light of half-back deficiencies, or 15… the list goes on.

    You seem to confuse your ‘opinion’ on a player’s worth or ‘potential’, is more valid than what they’ve actually achieved or achieving currently on the pitch… and on that level these teams are light-years apart.

    You can count on one hand, with fingers to spare how many of the current players would make it into the AB’s 23… the 2009 side ‘huge’ difference. This Bok squad is severely lacking in genuine world class players (not world class attitudes)… not even worth the debate.

  6. @bryce_in_oz: agreed. Beating them is the pinnacle of rugby for now.

    @bryce_in_oz: We lack depth in basically the whole back line. We have very little backup at 2 in the forwards and a real issue at 8 is DV and ww goes down, like now. Other than that I reckon we have depth, maybe need more looseheads because after the 2 in the squad the cupboard is pretty bare.

  7. When was the last time we had props like kitshoff beast Koch malherbe Louw?

    Centres you got DDA, Serfontein, Steyn, rJvR, Kriel, etc. What’s the problem?

  8. Hi Guys, I am new here, but would like to give my view on this upcoming test.

    The major improvement we have seen over the last 3months, has been well planned, I recon.

    This same team, 3 months ago would have taken 57 points against the ABs. But now we are competitive, again. I recon, that there was a lot of lessons learnt, within the Camp during this campaing.
    What I love, at the moment, is the fact, that we are not hearing a lot a noise and voices from out of the Bok Camp.
    On the other side, the ABs and all their pundits have been loud and all over the show.
    Hansen is quoted. The Kirwins and his mates on their Rugby Show is busy and asking questions about everything, from the colour of the grass to the breakdown and referee.

    I recon the ABs are under pressure and feeling it. And as they have mentioned, this is their most important test in 5years.

    Can not wait to see which haka wil be performed. Recon, it will be the one where they go down on their knees at the end.

    I love test rugby

  9. @bryce_in_oz: Cab believes – and that is more than enough for a Bok supporter. The day we start to accept losses (even against the ABs), we should just switch to soccer…

  10. @KoosKlontjies: Image the impossible – if we beat them again on Saturday! I guess the NZ government will double suicide hotline funding – with emergency welfare support for the thousands of abused sheep! And then the doubts will set in for the world cup…

  11. @cab:

    DDA 30 plus test caps and never had a world class game, Kriel the same after similar test caps, Frans Steyn is not even in the equation (but in 2009 had no peer at 15/utility), Serfontein is out injured and has a handful of class games if that, RJVR is not even in contention.

    Not one of those TH’s has done a single thing above and beyond what they are supposed to at test level, not one. Granted Koche was at least the form club TH in the Northern Hemisphere last year. Kitschoff yes… this Beast 2018 is not fit to the one from a decade ago (with all due respect to the man).

    The list goes on across almost every position.. but this is boring now…

  12. @bekke: as I said.
    I have never heard so much noise from an AB Camp ever.
    They have to feel the pressure.

    Which is good for World Rugby.

  13. @KoosKlontjies:

    Welcome mate… I’m not so sure about ‘hearing from the Bok camp’… I’ve been wanting Rassie and co to shut the hell up this entire season.

    From the Kiwi’s I’ve heard nothing more than usual… albeit a few cocky chirps from Ryan Crotty.

    Something interesting I heard recently from SChalk Burger Snr… is that local media should be almost harassing visiting test sides to the point of hostility which he felt has not been happening in RSA of late.

  14. @KoosKlontjies: I’m not to sure about the noise from the AB camp. The pressure is definitely on though. This AB side is the best team since the advent of professionalism and would hate to be whitewashed. Hansen said they put themselves under massive pressure to win every game, so a loss is never taken kindly.

    But we have been just as busy in the press. Pollard and Kriel has been talking, kitschoff. Make no mistake, we are under even more pressure. Haven’t won at Loftus since readmission against them and after beating them in NZ, the whole world is expecting things to go back to normal and the AB’s to rectify their faults. If we do not win or at the very least, be in with a shot at winning in the end, the win will be seen as a fluke. Rassie does not want this, neither does this bok team, who has shown wonderful commitment over the last 2 games. Time to up the anti.

    Lastly, welcome and please comment as often as possible. Oh and cab for all his faults, and there are plenty, is the caller of the upset.

  15. I see there is a movie about that Japan game coming.

    Now I hated that moment, but don’t really find myself upset about the movie. I need terms of fairytales, it is right up there. You have one of the most successful World Cup teams ever, up against minnows Japan. No one gives them a chance. Yet they go out and beat us. That is proper David vs Goliath stuff. They beat the side that went on to lose by 2 against NZ in the semi final and end up in third position at that same tournament. What a great story to make a movie off. I hope they throw in some interviews with players and coaches at the end.

    Okay back to being a bok fan. Go BOKKE!

  16. Jeez on rankings it was number 2 against 11 on 2015 form. In soccer that is no boggy, but in rugby no one outside of the top 5 normally beats other teams in the top 5.

  17. Howdy Koos – yeah think you right. ABs will be in major shit if the Boks beat them again, but that’s a big if.

  18. @Aldo: At least nobody has considered making a movie about THAT run-out between Kluesner and Alan Donald – yet! Still impacts my soul every time I see a clip of that!
    Agree with the Japan game – my whole family cheered for Japan with that final try! Maybe it was because I hated Hak Hak so much (for his love relationship with geriatric Bulls), or maybe that we all admired their absolute believe to go for a win, and not just a draw.

  19. @Aldo ; My remark with regards to the “noise”; –

    I was specifically refereeing to the Coaching Staff.
    I watched the NZ Rugby Show early this morning. I have never heard them so verbal on certain issues before.
    The importance of the game.
    The Breakdown
    The Ref.

    Jeff Wilson and Kerwin usually are often very outspoken. This was different.

    Hansen, certainly is more verbal than in than in the past. I do not think he has been under this much pressure before. To call this test the most important in 5 years….?

    The Pollard and Kriel interviews are standard and it needed to be them, as they are Loftus boytjies.

    I noticed that the management team was more reserved than usual. The only coach I have seen, was Proudfoot. But that might have been to get him away from the Buffet Breakfast Table ….

  20. @KoosKlontjies:

    I can only imagine the days of Proudfoot and Thelo ‘the Hut’ Wakefield at the buffet table… no wonder WPRU are bankrupt…


    Yep had just arrived in Aus for the first time that week after years in Eng, to a house with a few teams of Aussies… definitely the biggest choke South African teams have had for mine…

  21. @Craven:

    Yep… and that side could have been improved too with Schalk Britz in sublime form and having just left for England as he knew he’d play second fiddle to Ralepelle no matter what. Ruan Pienaar was another that could have been used better from the bench booting Jacobs into touch (or Olivier).

  22. @Craven: I will argue that we have better 1,2,3,4,7, 10 and 11 now (compared to both 2007 and 9). Don’t think we will have a Jaque Fourie, Du Preez or Frans Steyn anytime soon though!
    (watch the Juan Smith fans jump on me!! but I think Stef can be the best in the world at 7 – Rassie should just get him more involved in the lineouts)

  23. @Bekke:

    For me 2007 John Smit and 2009 Bismarck du Plessis are a match for 2018 Malcolm Marx. And they were very good at the basics of hooker play.

    Eben vs 2007 / 2009 vintage Bakkies? THat would be something to see.

    2007 / 2009 Habana vs Aphiwe? One was at the height of his powers, the other is only starting his Bok career, not really a fair comparison at this stage.

  24. @Craven:

    Monty vs Willie?
    JPP vs Kolbe?
    Steyn /JdV vs Dealende?
    FDP vs Faf?
    Danie Rossouw /Spies vs Notshe?
    Matfield vs Mostert?
    Schalla vs Kolisi?

    I don’t think I’m all that biased, 2007/9 was a pretty good vintage, these boys might with time become the men those boys were, but in my estimation they’re still a long way out.


  25. Brendon thinks that Jesse is comparable to Jacques Fourie, I suspect the Cape draught affected his vision somewhat, the poor man.

  26. @Bekke:

    When you mention Frannie… what position are you thinking?

    A 15 that has everything and the insane drop-goals in his arsenal is something I’ve never seen replicated since. What a worry for opposition.

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