Will Boks bash Lions?
23 Apr 2009
What do you think of the British & Irish Lions squad?
Let SA Rugby magazine know and you could win a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.
You can also tell us how you rate the Boks’ chances, your ideal Bok XV, and where you think the Test series will be won and lost.
Send your letters to email@example.com and keep them to 400 words or less.
Last month’s winner was Gareth Deniner, who had this to say about the Lions tour:
I am a little concerned at the degree of confidence that Clinton van der Berg showed in his column (SAR143) about the Lions tour. I hope that the prevailing view back home (I’m a South African living in London) is not sprinkled with the same unhealthy dose of over-confidence.
While I agree that southern-hemisphere rugby still holds pre-eminence over the northern-hemisphere variety, we should note the recent uptick in performances, by the Celtic nations in particular.
Of the four players Van der Berg mentioned (Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mike Blair and Andy Powell), I think only O’Connell and Powell will make Ian McGeechan’s starting line-up. McGeechan is a seasoned, experienced Lions coach and it is precisely this kind of dismissive writing-off of his players that he uses to create the laager, ‘us-against-them’ mindset that has come to typify successful Lions tourists. Also remember: he picks teams to beat the opposition, not just the strongest XV on paper.
There are a number of players who could cause the Springboks trouble. Guys like the imposing Mike Phillips (who matches Fourie du Preez for a solid mix of physical presence, power and speed), Ronan O’Gara (who plays as flat, if not closer to the advantage line, as Ruan Pienaar), Jamie Roberts (who has impressive pace off the mark in midfield), Euan Murray (who, with the exception of BJ Botha, is pound-for-pound the best scrummager in world rugby right now), the towering presence of Alun Wyn Jones (Bismarck du Plessis had better get his throws straight at the lineout) and of course, big-name players like Shane Williams and Brian O’Driscoll. McGeechan also possesses significantly greater know-how and tactical nous than his Bok counterpart.
The Boks under-estimated the Lions in 1974 and in 1997 and we all know what happened then. So please, let’s not give McGeechan and company something to stick up on the wall of their dressing room.