Springbok flyhalf Butch James had a nightmare for Bath while Heyneke Meyer can do no wrong with Leicester.
James missed four penalties and a conversion and had a kicked charged down which resulted in a try as Bath crashed to a 21-17 defeat to Gloucester.
James had earlier told The Guardian that the demands of the rugby schedule were having a seriously adverse effect on his game and this contributed to his decision to retire from international rugby after the Lions Tour in 2009. The match at The Rec was the flyhalf’s 34th of the season.
He went straight from a Super 14 campaign in 2007 into the mid-year Tests with the Springboks, then on to the Tri-Nations and the World Cup before joining Bath, where he played 16 matches in the season (it would have been more had he not been injured for a lengthy period). He returned to the Springboks just days after he played in Bath’s European Challenge Cup final and has played the bulk of the Tests in 2008. Burnout was inevitable.
“It’s not sustainable,” James said. “It’s pretty tough and I don’t think it’s advisable either. You’re going to break down somewhere along the line. There’s no way I could continue doing this. You can feel when it’s time and I think it’ll be time next July.”
He added: “There are a lot of guys at home [in South Africa] who started their Test careers very young and you can see how sore their bodies are.
“I don’t think there’s any way they’ll still be going into their early thirties. Someone like Schalk Burger really throws his body around in every single game. I don’t think he’s going to be able to play much beyond 28 if he wants to play with his kids one day.”
But while one South African was struggling to cope in England another was excelling. Heyneke Meyer maintained his perfect record with Leicester when they downed London Irish 24-22.
Despite the victory over a side who’ll have title ambitions, Meyer wasn’t pleased with the performance.
“There are a lot of areas that we need to improve. They pushed us very hard in midfield. We will need to work very hard in Monday. It was a win but there is still a very long way to go. We should have scored more tries.
“It will take time for us to adapt to the interpretation of the rules but that is no excuse – we should have dealt with that better. I will always take an ugly win over a pretty loss.”