No positives from latest loss
15 Aug 2011
MARK KEOHANE, in his weekly Business Day column, says the Boks’ defeat in Durban provided the final confirmation of the passing of a great team.
It was the reality check the Springboks needed, even if too many in the media and among the rugby public did the old ostrich trick and buried their heads even deeper in the sand.
Finding positives in the Boks losing at home? The result being secondary to the performance?
There is never a positive in losing at home. Never.
The day we excuse that is the day we become the Wales of rugby; a once proud warrior now content with the occasional big scalp.
If the Springboks defend their World Cup it will be a shock. If they return from New Zealand just another beaten team it would be consistent with their performances and results in the last 18 months. There is no need for panic; just perspective.
The most experienced Bok team in the history of the game played with the tactical expression of a dinosaur and Australia’s young vintage gave another damning lesson to South Africans that life (even in rugby) had moved on since the Springboks won the World Cup in 2007.
The greats ones among the Boks (Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez) gave the odd reminder of why they have dwarfed the opposition in the last decade but overall there were too many reminders of why the reference is made in the past tense.
The Boks latest defeat (their ninth in their last 11 Tri Nations matches) was expected and that tells you about the sorry state of the Bok World Cup defence.
When the Boks are expected to lose at home against an Australian team that a week earlier took a beating against the All Blacks in Auckland you know the time for panic has long passed and what we have to endure now is the painful conclusion to the miserable coaching tenure of Peter de Villiers and his coaching gravy train companions Dick Muir and Gary Gold.
Ever flown from Auckland to Cape Town with no stop over? That’s I feel about the Boks under De Villiers. It’s a bloody tiring experience and the last hour feels like an eternity. That’s how it is with these Boks. The flight can’t end early, but it also can’t end soon enough.
Listening to esteemed former Boks searching for a positive on SuperSport was as embarrassing – and predictable – as the Boks’ second half display. How to sell your soul for a few bucks.
South Africa, as a society, needs debate and honest reflection. So too our rugby. It serve no one to lie about our rugby, even if the lies add to the illusion and make a few of you feel better about life this morning.
Our Boks are in quicksand and there is no way out.
Beating an All Blacks team missing eight regulars, including the incomparable Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, in Port Elizabeth this Saturday will only offer temporary relief to the heartburn, but it won’t make it go away.
The Springboks, at full strength, should beat any team in South Africa. That has to be the expectation and the only statistic that matters is the one on the scoreboard, despite De Villiers (and sections of the media) trying to dismiss the scoreline as being secondary to the performance.
The scoreline favoured the Wallabies, as did the performance. What did the Boks create on attack? Fourie du Preez produced one exceptional kick that Quade Cooper allowed to bounce in goal and almost led to a try to Jaque Fourie. What other try-scoring opportunity was there? None.
The Wallabies were a pass away from scoring a try five minutes into the match and a pass away from scoring a second within five seconds of the half-time whistle. They missed a penalty kick, as did South Africa. The Australians, on balance through chances created, were 10 points better in Durban, which means the Boks, at this juncture, are 20 points off the pace for winning in Australia and New Zealand. Historically (and statistically) South African home ground advantage has always been worth 10-15 points against Australia and New Zealand when compared with how the team performs in Australia and New Zealand.
The Boks, at full strength, lost 32-12 and 31-17 in New Zealand in 2010. Carter also kicked only one from seven in the 31-17 triumph.
The same players in 2011 produced a result on par with the away defeats in 2010.
South Africa’s only hope for World Cup success is to avoid Australia or New Zealand, as happened in 2007.
The Durban defeat can’t be wished away. It provided the final confirmation of the passing of a great team, even though the television and written media wizards who have sold their souls will try and tell you the result was secondary to a performance, which they tell you was not secondary.
Poppycock or as the Dutch would say Pappekak.