Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rugby World Cup


I have waited for the hoopla and the hype to settle before making a comment.
Congratulations to the Springboks and their coaching staff, especially Jake White. The team showed their ability and dominance, it might not have been pretty all the time, but like Tests of old, the final was ground out in the trenches.
John Smit lead from the front. He may not be the best hooker (wtf do hookers do nowdays that the ball is never put in straight) but he was part of a very succesful lineout.
Percy Montgomery has become a world class fullback. After a start to his career where he blew hot and cold, missed more kicks at poles than he converted, he showed what a dependable and solid FB he is.
JP Pietersen is a young man with a huge future. One tackle defined his commitment and his early jitters seem to have go away.
Bryan Habana, IRB player of the year, now equals Jono's record for number of tries scored in a RWC. He is still a young man with years ahead as a world class player.
Young Francios Steyn has played in many positions in the Springbok team, but showed that he is a natural No. 12. He has a precocious talent that will develop and make him one of the great players of all time.
Fourie du Preez is quite simply an all round No. 9, but biting at his heels is the multi-talented Ruan Pienaar.
Juan Smith, was to me the outstanding loose forward of the tournament. Quitely got the job done with consumate ease.
Matfield played a monster of a tournament and deserves to mentioned in the same sentence as Colin Meads, Martin Johnson, Frik du Preez and John Eales. Don't underestimate the contribution of Bakkies in the 2nd row and Juan Smith in the line out.
Os du Randt last won a RWC 12 years ago, but played like a demon. What a great player he has been. The front row might have struggled against the English and the Argies but they both have really good front rows and it is no shame to be shunted by them.
The rest of the team were more than capable - Jaques Fourie very competant, Burger an incredibly hard player with endless stamina, Roussow played above his ability, Wickus van Heerden very underrated, CJ and BJ above average tightheads.
It was a team that showed no weaknesses and never really seemed to be pushed to their limits.
They are deserving champions.
Now their greatest challenges face them. In a country where the politicians are more interested in putting the white man down than taking a long term view of developing what must be the greatest untapped pool of talent, where the high road leads to world domination in union and the low road to destruction of a top class rugby playing country. Initial reports are of a countrywide, interracial euphoria with the win. The top eschelon of the ANC seem to be saying the right things, but it is very dependant on what the lower eschelon - the minister of sport, the self-agrandised administrators of the game, the politicians who are trying to make their names by stirring up the poor by 'making' rugby 'the white game', do.
Great teams cannot be made by putting players in who are, quite simply, not good enough. Players need to be developed, developed in the grassroots clubs around SA, but no money has been allocated to the poorest areas by the current government. Instead there is the rhetoric of quotas - as if this can solve the problems.
2011 sees the soccer World Cup in SA. The chronically under-performing Bifana Bifana, the national soccer team could take a leaf out of the Springboks book and learn the value of commitment and discipline.
WELL DONE BOKKE, you have made us proud.

1 comment:

MK said...

Yep, congrats are in order, well deserved.