Irish eyes should not be smiling

Keo, in his Business Day column, writes that the Boks should never lose to Ireland.

Toulouse, a traditional powerhouse of French rugby, slaughtered 30-3 by Ulster at Ravenhill in Belfast at the weekend. Gloucester, no mugs, were hammered by Leinster at Lansdowne Road and Munster — 21-19 winners against Leicester — supposedly in a crisis.

Ireland, under Eddie O’Sullivan, were always a combination of Munster’s pack and halfbacks and Leinster’s backs. There’s been a sprinkling of English-based players and a handful of Ulster’s finest. Now there’s a bit more on show as O’Sullivan aims to do the double on Jake White’s Springboks, come November 11.

The Irish last year played superbly, and just won. The Boks were poor, and were still in a position to win. It was the breakdown that hurt the Boks most. White’s choice of looseforwards suggests it could be a deja vu afternoon on November 11.

Will the Boks lose against Ireland? Or, rather, should the Boks lose to Ireland? The answer to the latter question is undoubtedly no. The Boks should never lose to Ireland. The answer to the former is not as emphatic.

White has again challenged the media’s questioning of his selections. Like a little boy who doesn’t want his irrational behaviour cross-examined by a teacher, White has pleaded for criticism to go away and for everyone to be happy. He has thrown a tantrum, and put his head under the duvet in the hope it will all go away.

Well, it won’t.

White, in his world, does not rate Kabamba Floors and Luke Watson, and what’s irritating him is that so few will accept that. Why can’t they look at the supposed brilliance of those whom he has chosen?

White, in his world, is right and Nick Mallett, Rassie Erasmus, Eugene Eloff, Heyneke Meyer and every one else who believes Watson and Floors should be on tour with the Boks are wrong.

The same White who told the world Solly Tyibilika was the best openside flanker in SA when the Boks played the All Blacks in Wellington, wants us to believe those he has chosen are the best?

Hence the unstable relation-ship between White, the media and a rugby public who deserve a bit more credit when it comes to their knowledge of the game.

The prejudice against Watson and, to a lesser degree, Floors, is such that when Pedrie Wannenburg withdrew from the tour at the weekend, White refused to replace him.

Surely, White’s bosses should be asking why 28 players were chosen in the first place when the national coach is now comfortable to travel with 27.

Wannenburg’s withdrawal saves the number crunchers close on R200000 in business-class flights, five-star accommodation and match fees.

Why originally make that money available for a 28th squad member if the coach isn’t prepared to make the replacement?

Could it be that White would have to contradict himself in selecting Floors or Watson, two players he condemned to the sidelines (as not fitting in to his style) just a week ago?

White added another contradiction to his growing list, talking about Jaco van der Westhuyzen.

The Bok coach said the player would have to return to SA (from Japan) to make the World Cup squad. The standard of rugby in Japan just wasn’t good enough.

White, when asked the same question about Van der Westhuyzen 18 months ago, said Japan was the perfect move for Van der Westhuyzen. The environment would help him to work on weaker aspects of his game, and minimal game time would help the player’s conditioning. One of White’s many communications specialists should be giving him a daily run-through of what he says — and has said — if only to avoid further embarrassment.

White got it right in 2004 when he said Ireland should never beat the Boks. Our players, he said at the time, were too good to lose to their players. That remains true. But for it to be true in Dublin, SA’s best players have to play. This weekend’s European Cup results, in Dublin and Belfast, reinforced the belief that a second-rate Bok team will get SA a second-rate result on November 11.

Should the Boks lose in Dublin? Never.

Will they lose? That’s something Jake can answer with team selection