This weekend’s rugby match is set to be an epic encounter between the top two teams in world rugby at the moment. Whilst part one was easily the biggest anticlimax of the past two seasons, part two’s outcome seems to have a greater weight. The mountain that the Bokke have to climb to claim the Rugby Championships title is rather large and in my opinion it feels like we as Springbok supporters are setting ourselves up for a fall as the focus seems to be on whether we will score the bonus point rather than whether will we win.
The Boks have to beat the All Blacks, score a four try bonus point themselves whilst preventing their opposition from picking up any form of bonus points. That is the task which lies ahead of our boys. Against any other team in this competition you would feel that the Boks have a decent shot at achieving this task however the All Blacks are not any other team. They are the team and this weekend’s result needs to be kept in perspective.
I firmly believe that the Springboks should challenge and beat the best in the world on a regular occasion. Why sugar coat it? The All Blacks are the best and therefore I firmly believe that the Springboks should beat the All Blacks on a regular occasion, both home and away. For whatever reason we struggle with transition phases every time we get a new coach and therefore it always feels like we are rebuilding whilst the AB’s manage to keep things on a constant plain. What has been heartening is to see the vast improvement the Boks have made this season and as mentioned in a previous post (here) there is a feeling of unity within the squad which excites me. It shows the growth as a unit and the results this season confirm this. Before the Rugby Championships started, if offered an away loss and home win to the All Blacks, whilst beating both Australia and Argentina away and at home on the way to losing the Championship to the All Blacks by a single log point, I think most of you would have taken that.
That being said the chances that this crop of players achieving this feat are certainly worth taking note of. Their willingness to spread the ball and look for the tries is a welcome change to the kick-and-chase-borethon we were forced to sit though last season and indicates a serious change in attitude and confidence within the squad. Tank Lanning (@TankLanning) from Front Row Grunt couldn’t have put it any better in an article posted on his blog yesterday when he said:
“The fact that it is not completely out of the question is worthy of celebration in itself, and a credit to the kind of rugby this side is playing at the moment. And that, for me, is perhaps the most exciting thing about Springbok rugby right now – to hear coach Heyneke Meyer talking about embracing a more ball in hand type game is U2 to my ears. It is not only the way forward for Bok rugby, but rugby in general.”
I’d go with Oasis rather than U2. But that’s just me and besides the point. Yet what is worrying is that 84% of Sport24 readers predict a Springbok win against the All Blacks at Ellis Park, whilst 27% felt the Boks would get the fourth try and denying the All Blacks a bonus point. Whilst I love the confidence, I feel that these views have been caught up in the sensationalism of the occasion and that we may be in for an “if only” conversation around the braai after the game.
Do I believe we can beat the All Blacks at Ellis Park this weekend? Yes. Can we score four tries against the AB’s this weekend? Yes. Will we? Doubtful. Can we stop the All Blacks from scoring four tries? Absolutely. Will we? No doubt. Can we beat the AB’s by more than 7? Sure. Will we? Unlikely.
This extraordinary feat can be achieved yet perhaps we should not expect it to be and rather view it as an added bonus to a possible W this weekend. Of course this is one occasion where I would love to be proved wrong. The opportunity for greatness lies before the Springboks. It’s within reach. We wait with bated breath to see if our boys grab for it.
You stay classy.