This weekends rugby match against the All Blacks doesn’t get much bigger. One versus two. For the first time since 2010 the All Blacks are wary of the giant which has slumbered in Africa since 2009. A giant which if awoken has the potential to crush all before them. History dictates that the Springboks stand almost zero chance of claiming a win in Auckland, however, this wouldn’t be the first time this season that the Springboks have rewritten the history books.
The All Blacks called it: this is their biggest test since the 2011 Rugby World Cup final. They have been near unstoppable since that evening with one solitary loss – to a pumped up English side at Twickenham in 2012 – the only bump in the road. To be honest I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Kiwi outfit as they are pure class and have shown this season that nothing has – or will – change in the land of the long white cloud despite the loss of a few key figures. Their confidence – which often borders on arrogance – is somewhat warranted yet will be put to the test this weekend as they come up against a Springbok team on the rise.
I mentioned earlier in the week that there is a special vibe growing within the Springbok camp. Something which we as supporters haven’t seen since the Jake White era. Now whilst I am in no way comparing this era to that, it’s heartening to see the growth and exciting to see the potential which lies within. No one ever expected the Boks to struggle against the Pumas and although the Mendoza match was a slight hiccup, their true test was always going to be against their Australasian foes. Against Australia last weekend the Springboks made a huge statement to the world: we are back and we didn’t come here to dick around. This weekend they face their biggest challenge yet.
The result of this match will have a far greater impact on the two teams than just the standings in the Rugby Championship. In fact I would go so far as to say that this result will be felt at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The Boks need to start believing that they can beat the All Blacks on any given day. Sure it’s tough to win away from home but lets not forget that the next RWC will be played away from home anyway. This is about a mental edge over their closest rivals. An edge which the All Blacks have all too long-held over the Boks. It is about placing doubt in their opponents minds whether they can beat the Springboks whilst installing the confidence in their own.
It would certainly be presumptuous of me to expect the Springboks to win this weekend. Naturally this is what I hope for but at the same time I am fully aware of the challenge which lies before them. I’m a realist at the best of times and know that a win is unlikely but would want to see the Springboks push the All Blacks for the full 80. The first 20 min will be crucial in deciding whether the Springboks keep in touch with the All Blacks whilst taking the chances offered to them will make the difference between winning and loosing. Dare I say it? Between living and dying.
There are a few areas which will be key for the Springboks if they want to stay in the hunt:
- The scrums – which the Boks have been brilliant at. Can we keep at it?
- The break down – can Flo Louw and Duane Vermeulen dominate Sam Cane? I believe this is the AB’s biggest weakness
- Kicking – both at poles and for territory. It is crucial to play in the right areas of the field against the AB’s and to take the 3 when on offer.
- Discipline – in the past this has been our biggest downfall against the AB’s. Can we keep our shit together and stay on the right side of the ref?
- Defence – we know the AB’s are going to run at us.
Forgetting where my allegiances lie, this is going to be a monumental Test match. The two heavy weights of world rugby to go toe-to-toe for 80 minutes down under. As mentioned above: it doesn’t get much better. I know where I’m going to be at 09h30 on Saturday morning. What about you?
You stay classy.