The bones, after an extended spell in rehab, are back and predicting carnage for those yesterday’s heroes, who on Saturday will parade as a World XV.
Bob Dwyer’s all-star European club XV, at least that’s the media spin, is really a combination of some great players who are long past their sell by date and some players who never quite cracked the great descriptive.
You only had to look at the World XV’s schedule to know that they’re here for the golf, the golf and the golf. They’ve been living it up at Sun City all week and their liver has taken more of a pounding than their calves. They’ve partied more than they’ve tried and rightly so when you consider the tradition of these World XV teams.
The aim in putting together such a team is simple. Pick name players, who inspire thoughts of greatness because of their past exploits. But make sure these players are exactly that — past players. No local team invites a World XV with the capacity to embarrass the home team.
The Boks will get just what they need prior to the two-test series against Scotland, which is a decent workout. They’ll be forced to make a few tackles, they’ll get to play expansive footie and they’ll score big on the field. The World XV will score bigger off the field, which means both teams leave Johannesburg victorious.
The five Kiwis will have to be monitored afterwards and it would be wise to ensure no handbags are left within the reach of this quintet. But the Carlos Spencer and Justin Marshall-inspired Kiwis will probably prove more of a nuisance in the pub afterwards than they will do on the field.
Individually, there are some in the World XV who will give it horns, but collectively they will be unable to find the structure needed to be successful against an established international team.
The Boks will play with the greater structure and purpose because they are the ones with everything to lose. The World XV have nothing to prove to anybody and nothing to gain from the match.
The greatest beneficiary is the South African Rugby Players Association. Had they had half a commercial brain cell they would have dropped all the ticket prices to R150 and ensured they got 60 000 to the game. Instead they will be lucky to get 40 000 at what they’re asking. The former would have given them more dollars in the kitty.
It is ironic, though, how they now have no problem with ticket prices (as they are the ones who’ll see the cash), just like they have no problem with an additional match (as they are the ones to benefit). Cash … it’s a killer to the morality of SARPA.
But I digress.
The Boks, despite fielding a second-string pack, have put out their first choice back division (with the exception of Bryan Habana) and they will win comfortably enough. Of more interest than the scoreline will be Ruan Pienaar’s first introduction to the international arena, although he would have played tougher matches in this year’s Super 14.
For the record, the bones have picked a high scoring match, with the Boks to triumph 55-30.