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Mother of all chokes!

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Chris Rattue: The Springboks blew it more than All Blacks won it

7 Oct, 2018 12:18pm

 4 minutes to read

The All Blacks weigh in following their amazing comeback against the Springboks.

Unbelievable…and that’s putting it mildly.

The All Blacks weren’t just dead and buried at Loftus Versfeld. They were already decomposing, the scones and sausage rolls long since gone.

You could just feel what was coming up in Rugby Land. The post-mortems were already in the post. A shocked nation was already shooting daggers at coach Steve Hansen.

And then what happened? At first it felt like one of the great comebacks. It still does to a degree.

But let’s face it. The Springboks produced a monumental choke, a confidence-sapper which negates the advances achieved in Wellington.

They absolutely blew it, more than the All Blacks won it.

The home side were all over the All Blacks leading by 30 – 13 with 20 minutes to play, and on course for a shock second consecutive victory over the world champions.

New Zealand's players celebrate at the end the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria. Photo / AP
New Zealand’s players celebrate at the end the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria. Photo / AP

With under 10 minutes left little halfback Faf de Klerk, surely the man of the match, applauded the crowd as he left the field, in what now looks like an act of risky triumphalism. Maybe it just comes across that way in hindsight.

Here’s an irony. The Springboks could have sealed the game with a pot when Beauden Barrett was ruled to have thrown a long forward pass in front of his posts. They didn’t even attempt it.

Then again, we all thought they had it in the bag, didn’t we? There was no way back from there.

Wrong.

The ‘Boks should be highly embarrassed, the two point loss continuing a horror run against the All Blacks in Pretoria.

It’s not hard to identify the main chokers.

New Zealand's players celebrate at the end the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria. Photo / AP
New Zealand’s players celebrate at the end the Rugby Championship match between South Africa and New Zealand at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria. Photo / AP

Then replacement tighthead prop Vincent Koch copped an admittedly tough penalty at the resulting scrum. Then Cheslin Kolbe made a poor defensive choice as Rieko Ioane cantered over from a long Beauden Barrett pass. Game on.

With so much on the line, it’s hard to believe the ‘Boks could undo so much amazing work, on home soil. Still, it made for wonderful viewing.

When rugby is played like this, it is the greatest game on earth. Start with large doses of the All Blacks and a dash of anybody else, and we are in a golden era of the game.

The All Blacks are setting unimaginable standards, including in the drama department. Great sport isn’t always about great standards, it’s about the contest. That’s what we got from Pretoria – a fantastic morning of sport.

All power to the ‘Boks, for their alleged revival.

But put the boot on the other foot and All Black fans would put the boot in. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory on home soil would never rate as some sort of victory. Not even close. Hansen would not only get a large ‘please explain’, he’d be asking a lot of questions himself and of himself, a lot more than he will be anyway.

And Springboks captain Siya Kolisi certainly wasn’t trumpeting progress.

Not on your life, because this was the mother of all chokes.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. In all fairness:
    * if this was England against All Blacks
    * and England leading with 13 (and 12 minutes to go)
    * and then lose so easily within the last 10 minutes
    – we would all label this a massive CHOKE. So yes, we were like hare in headlights in those last 12 minutes – with one amateur mistake after another. Despite all the narrative about “learning, building, upwards…” – it was a choke. Who to blame is another debate.

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  2. I mean, where in the world will you get 2 international players, with multiple test under their belt (Flow and Etsebeth) NOT nominating to take a kick-off? Amateurs – or do we blame the lack of continuity in team selection? Why did Klobe rushed in to tackle the inside centre – leaving a massive overlap for Willie to cover? I think it is obvious that thi sis under instruction of Nienaber. Why did Kolbe or Willemse not cover the penalty kick from the ABs with 3 minutes to go – where exactly were they (having a chat somewhere????). Why take De Allende off – if not trying to fast-track your quota numbers with 2 minutes to go? Obvious that the en-masse changes with 5 minutes to go, were all to replace white players with non-white (Bongi, Jantjes, Papier, Notshe, Beast) – this does not reflect well on Rassie.
    A lot of work remaining if we want to win the WW trophy.

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  3. @Jacques: actually making stupid mistakes you wouldn’t normally make is the definition of a choke. Don’t get me wrong, NZ were in fact deserved winners and we probably outplayed them for 60min like no other team in recent history. Really good work.

    But let’s be honest for a minute. We squandered a 17 point lead in just about 10 minutes. A 12 point lead in 5 mins. Rassie is to blame for the bench players not having experience needed. No one else. Like Bekke says above. In what universe is it okay for seasoned campaigners not to nominate a kick off. Also in what universe is it okay for the wing and fullback to be so out of position, that they can’t take a penalty kick that did not go out. It was a choke, better to admit it and take the lessons on board and learn from it than to deny deny deny and next year still lose close games.

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  4. In my opinion the Boks played 100% better than what we did in Wellington. Like Houwing said points in the three matches between NZ and Boks was dead even AB 91 Springboks 90.

    Look at the 2017 season 2017 (0-57), and the respective encounters of 2016: 15-57 and 13-41.

    Points for NZ? 155. Point for SA? 28.

    We can not ignore the progress by the team.
    We actually made NZ look ordinary for 70 minutes of that game, who else had done this in the last ten years?

    We now had three test were there was no dividing the two teams, any team could have won any of those last three test.

    We have a solid pack with plenty of backup which has been created this year by Rassie, The back is not there yet and injuries did not help but it is night and day between what we saw from the back this year than the previous two years.

    There are also two many errors by certain players still which is letting the team down, I am confident that this can be corrected as they go forward.

    We may not all like the selections but from last in Championship last year to second also shown the improvement.

    Rassie and his Springboks will have a shot next year in WC and they gonna get better, Eddie Jones wanted to play the AB the last two years, he is shitting himself now playing this Bok side and AB in two weekends.

    Add players like Whiteley, Thor, Steyn, Coetzee and even maybe Serfontein to the mix and you start to having a world class team.

    I am very happy with the progress and looking forward to the EOY tour…We need to win all four test in Nov and Rassie knows it.

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  5. @Jacques: Bunny, I understand your feeling that only you may be critical on issues you feel fit – but that will not prevent others from voicing their opinions as well. Do yourself a favour and google “the definition of choke in sport” – you will get:
    “In sports, a choke is the failure of a sportsperson or team in a game in a situation where maintaining their performance is highly important. This can occur in a game or tournament that they are strongly favored to win, or in an instance where THEY HAVE A LARGE LEAD THAT THEY SQUANDER IN THE LATE STAGES OF THE EVENT”. Now it is your right to disagree with global definitions, but I think that sums up the last 12 minutes of that game?

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  6. It was a bit of a choke but what this rattle doesn’t mention us that it was totally 1-sided at times. I’ve never seen the ABs get drilled like that since 2005. They were actually made to look ordinary. If the Boks has kept up their intensity it would’ve been 45 points past supposedly one of the best team of all time.

    All this Bok team needs is self bekeueg and it’s going to develop. EPY will be v tough but if this Bok team keeps playing each and every test as a test – watch net.

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  7. We also urgently need 2nd choice scrumhalve (Pienaar?), loosehead (Nyakane?), loose forward (Ackerman?), centre (Snertfontein / Frans Steyn?), and Whitely / Thor / Nkosi to recover. Compared to Toetie, this is a completely new generation. End of year tour (in bloody cold weather and away from supporters for 4 weeks), will show their guts.

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  8. I most certainly agree with most the sentiments posted above in the replies. But I’d have to say the ‘mother of all chokes this weekend’ was arguably the Pumas/Wallabies game.

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