The Springboks are fighting for the redemption of South African sport on Saturday as much as they are battling their current standing in world rugby.
In a week where the chaos among the Bok squad continues from Sydney and the Australian media are regularly laughing at the Bok management, the task has now fallen to John Smit and his team to lead South African sport towards some kind of light after the cricketers embarrassed themselves against the spin of Murali in Colombo, not to mention the application of the Sri Lankan top order.
Soccer is on the backburner for now and with Bafana Bafana not playing, at least they can’t be losing. Not so the other Proteas, our not so esteemed netball team. They’ve just copped a record 95-24 beating against New Zealand’s Silver Ferns – a New Zealand team who a week ago lost 48-38 to Australia.
It is the 16th successive defeat for the Proteas against New Zealand, which looks pretty similar to the Boks’ eight wins in 31 tests against the All Blacks since 1992. There was a time when our netballers ranked themselves among the game’s elite. Not any more.
Just like our cricketers, the netballers were humiliated and proved an embarrassment for the sport.
So, in the last fortnight we’ve had the Australians beat the Boks 49-0, the Sri Lankans win a test match by an innings and 153 runs and the Kiwis beat our netballers by a margin of 71!
But we should be comforted with the confidence of the Bok assistant coaches who told the Australian media that the Wallabies held no fear for the Boks. It is just as comforting as hearing Mickey Arthur tell the media that he thought the Proteas’ batsmen ‘were playing Murali a lot better’. This after Murali had taken 10 wickets in the match.
And then we also have the netball coach telling the media that she has to go back to South Africa and find ‘some taller girls’ to play in her team! This after saying she could not understand the result as the Proteas were so much better in losing by ‘only 40′ when the two teams met at the Commonwealth Games.
It seems to be getting more ridiculous with every press conference one of our coaches holds.
Fortunately someone in the Bok management managed to keep Jake White away from the press conference in Sydney on Monday because the only person yet to be blamed for the ills of the Boks is God.
And we wouldn’t want Jake upsetting the Christians as well.
White has blamed the lack of depth, the lack of fitness, the over-playing of players, the insufficient playing of players, the lack of support within SARU, the lack of media support, the lack of a manager, the lack of a communications manager within the team, the alleged friendship between me and him, transformation, politics, the Super 14 coaches, the Currie Cup coaches and … and …
Not once has he blamed his selections, his game plan or his match strategy. No that would be too obvious to explain the last three defeats to France, Australia and New Zealand.
In White’s absence the management have now also taken to blaming an Aussie ambush of their preparations.
The latest one from the team management is the lack of training facilities in Sydney.
In Sydney, as first world as you’ll get when it comes to training grounds, the Boks did not have a plan B when the Australian Rugby Union informed them their original training ground could not be used. They did this two hours before training and that crippled the Bok management, who settled for a third grade piece of paddock 30 minutes drive from the team hotel.
Bok operations manager Mac Hendriks told the media that he smelt a rat. Vusi Kama, yes there is apparently a media manager on tour with the Boks, confirmed the late change of venue had been a cause of concern to the management, and the ARU simply gave the Boks the same third-grade venue for a second successive day.
Perhaps the hosts have taken the view that the opposition has got to score a point to get a decent training ground. If that’s the case the Boks can have no complaints after their zero in Brisbane.
But SARU president Regan Hoskins remains insistent that team morale is high and that spirits are good.
Now that we know that, the onus falls to White, Smit and those given green jumpers on Saturday to restore some dignity to our national sporting psyche.
We know the cricketers aren’t going to do it, no matter how much better Mickey Arthur thinks they are coping with Murali. Finding tall lasses back in South Africa is not going to improve our netballers, especially when the tallest one we had was wearing black against us in the form of Irene van Dyk, and torturing our defence.
We know Bafana Bafana won’t do it in the near future.
So it’s up to the Boks to fight for redemption and if we are to believe their president, who is in Sydney, we must have faith that all is well and all will be even better on Saturday.
What’s that chant I hear …
‘Bokke, Bokke, Bokke …’
Thanks, Mr President.