Keba Mothoagae for AllOutRugby
It could turn into a messy weekend. But hey, you can’t say you didn’t see it coming!
After a 27-27 draw between the Boks and Wallabies in Bloem last Saturday, coach Allister Coetzee and assistant coach Brendan Venter went on record with some alarming statements.
“To think that this team after three months together can topple the All Blacks easily, it’s living in a fool’s paradise,” said Coetzee.
Are you kidding me! It’s tough enough getting behind a team that has, on average, lost 52-9 against the All Blacks during Coetzee’s term, but having the coach admit surrender is unbearable.
In June, I regretfully backed the coaches after the 3-0 whitewash of France. I didn’t care how poor Les Bleus were because ‘you play what’s in front of you’.
The Boks looked more than capable of a comfortable second-placed finish in the Rugby Championship, noting Argentina’s regression and Australia’s directionless state. And, after a dreadful 2016 campaign, four victories in the four nations tournament would have been a vast improvement.
The Boks got their two wins over Los Pumas, but blew two opportunities against the Wallabies. In between was the biggest loss in Bok history, an embarrassing 57-0 drubbing in the Land Of The Long White Cloud.
A loss in Cape Town, combined with a win for Australia in Mendoza, will see South Africa finish in third place.
When all of this is taken into account, the 2017 campaign is another failure – not yet as abject as last year’s, but still. And yet Coetzee has accused fans of living in a fool’s paradise for holding onto the small hope of a win this week.
Twitter-blocker-in-chief, Venter told justified sceptics to go shove it, saying that “if winning is all you see. Stop watching. Boys deserve respect, not criticism.”[sic].
It’s alright to defend yourself against critics, but to say this to people who are not apathetic to the Boks’ struggles is arrogantly ungrateful! I know Venter is refreshingly outspoken in an environment where the fear to offend is almost paralysing, but if it were up to me he’d get the sack for this.
The national team is beholden to the people, and not the other way around. We supporters are a lot more knowledgeable about the game than he thinks, and a lot of us are correct with the diagnoses of what is wrong with the team and how it can be fixed.
Venter and Coetzee’s statements are indicative of a low-expectation mentality coupled with not being held accountable by their bosses at SARU.
Can you imagine Steven Hansen or Ian Foster saying something similar? New Zealand would be in a uproar with dire consequences!
The match at Newlands is a contest between Test rugby’s greatest teams historically and statistically. At 77% and 63% respectively, the All Blacks and Springboks boast two formidable win-loss ratios that are barely comparable across all international team sports.
Unfortunately, the rivalry is dead, for now.
If anything, the Boks current malaise has made the All Blacks all the more fearful of an ignominious loss in Cape Town. And this translates to them making sure they will humiliate us at any given opportunity to underline their dominance over us.
Their ruthlessness is that absolute.
FRESH TAKE is an initiative to identify, feature and develop talented rugby writers who are not yet part of the mainstream media.
If that sounds like you, send us a sample of a story you’d like to write to email@example.com