Bok coach Jake White told South Africans to cheer up. No one died at Ellis Park on Saturday.
White, addressing the media in Durban ahead of Saturday’s test season opener against Scotland, said he was surprised at the vitriol and backlash following the Boks 30-27 win against the World XV.
He acknowledged it was not a good game of rugby, but he felt the criticism was over the top.
“I donâ€™t know, it feels like there is a lot of doom and gloom going around. I donâ€™t know why. It is almost as if someone has died,â€ said White. “Ellis Park was not a great spectacle, it was not a great game of rugby. But sometimes you get those, it happens from all levels, from under-13 upwards. Not every game can be a great spectacle, not every game can be all about tries and running rugby. Saturday was just one of those games that happen every now and then.”
White said the fact that the Boks did not score a try did not mean his team could not score tries.
“Suddenly everyone is saying that we cannot score tries, that we only score tries from intercepts. I think we should hold perspective,” said White, who reminded the media that a Bok team lost the series against the Lions because they could not kick goals … not because they could not score tries.
He said his team would be capable of scoring tries and creating enough pressure to get over the line against Scotland. He said his side had scored six tries against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2004, but that he could not remember the critics being hugely excited about it.
White’s memory, though, must have taken a pounding from Tappe Henning’s whistle on Saturday. When the Boks hammered Scotland 45-10, playing with just 13 men at one stage, the necessary plaudits were delivered. In the context of the match, however, it may have seemed subdued because the result came a week after the 32-16 pounding against England.
White, by all accounts, was defensive when addressing the media, but if he talks about perspective, then part of that is the expectation of the Boks since he took charge. The rugby public have a right to demand a certain quality, based on what the team has shown itself capable of delivering.
White should not be worried by the criticism of the 30-27 win against the World XV. When critics start applauding that kind of victory, then he should know he (and his team) are in trouble.
â€œI think maybe the expectations were just too high before Ellis Park, but it was never going to be a Uruguay type of game (the Boks went on the rampage against Uruguay in the opening match last season).â€
White also said inexperience had cost his team. However, this is a moot point. Those drafted into the starting team hardly lacked experience. Gaffie du Toit made his test debut in 1998, Andre Snyman is one of the most experienced test backs around, AJ Venter has played test rugby since 2001, Wikus van Heerden made his test debut in 2003, Deon Carstens played test rugby in 2002 and Albert van den Berg, Danie Rossouw and Hanyani Shimange have all been in his test squad since 2004.