It’s tough to put down in words how much I admire Jean de Villiers. I remember watching him jamming for Maties back in the day – which was a Wednesday by the way – and thinking to myself this chap can play rugby! It took some time before the world saw the talent he possessed, but once given the chance he soon establishing himself as one of the premium inside centres in the world. He has always had captain written all over him and it was only a matter of time before it got offered to him. He was my choice to pick up the mantle once The Race Pig retired and I was chuffed for him. I talk about JdeV as if he is one of my mates simply because that’s the impression he gives. Jean seems to be another one of the mates around the braai talking rugby. Except this mate is about to become only the fifth South African to play 100 Test matches for his country.
I cannot put my finger on why I’ve avoided writing about the Springboks during this years Rugby Championships. Perhaps it’s because I have felt uninspired by them. Or perhaps, with all due respect to the Pumas, I first wanted to see what they could do against those
wankers chaps from Australasia as the true test of any team is how they perform against the Wallabies and most importantly the All Blacks. This weekend’s result was a tough pill to swallow and whilst it would be far easier to lambaste the team, I wouldn’t consider that to be constructive. Alternatively, I feel there are a few questions which Heyneke Meyer has yet to answer and the fact that these questions are still being asked a year outside of the Rugby World Cup is of a far greater concern than losing by a whisker to an average Wallabies team.
Bryan Habana is on the eve of becoming only the 4th South African to play 100 rugby Test matches for his country and in the process truly cement himself as a Springbok great. He’s already the leading try scorer for the Boks, is revered around the world as one of the fastest wings in Rugby Union and his 56 Test tries places him fourth on the list of all-time international try scorers. There is no denying the brilliance of the man as he epitomizes the saying “form is temporary, class is permanent” and below is a tribute to the man with jet-shoes. Forgive the soundtrack and enjoy the tries.
The International window saw a welcome break from Super Rugby as the lads from up North made the trek to their Southern rivals. One Hemisphere in the process of finishing off their season whilst the other raring to get it started. Bless the Northern Hemisphere sides, for they tried their best, yet came up second best. Again. The English put up a decent fight in all but one of their Tests against the AB’s, the Welsh tried their best in both Durban and Nelspruit, the Scots were outclassed and the poor French were simply dreadful. Looking back at the month, some fantastic rugby was played by the three Southern Hemisphere heavyweights and the entertainment which awaits us during this year’s Rugby Championships is mouth-watering. All in all, the three Southern Hemisphere teams outscored their Northern counterparts by 303 points to 143. Check out some of the month’s highlights.
We all know that their season has been one to forget and with two rounds left to play in this year’s Super Rugby comp, it’s time to salvage what we can in terms of pride and focus on the future. It feels as though a weight has been lifted off the players and their supporters as the possibility of making the playoffs fell away some time ago and this has seen the team win four of their last five matches. Whilst I would naturally love to see us in a position to win the comp, it’s somewhat surreal watching the players having a go without the weight of expectation upon them. This can most certainly be construed as a defeatist attitude, yet I feel that it is important to take as many positives as we can from a poor season. Forget what’s happening on the log, this is what I’m looking forward to from the Stormers against the Bulls this weekend.
The Boks put together a scrappy performance this past weekend against an enthusiastic Welsh side and still walked away with the victory. One might argue that despite their poor effort, the Springboks still managed to squeak the victory and in so doing, showed their character. I’m certainly not going to sugar coat it, we were lucky, but a win is a win and I’ll take it any way I can, at the end of the day. It seems clichéd because it is and my lack of literary imagination is perhaps indicative of the weekends performance. In all honesty, it was something of a meh game to watch after the previous weeks excitement and raised a few pointers worth discussing.
Frans Steyn dropped a bombshell on SA Rugby this week when he made himself quite suddenly unavailable for Springbok selection. No explanation was forthcoming from either SARU or the player himself at the time and this resulted in various rumours bouncing around various social media platforms in the days that followed as to the reason for Steyn’s decision. Now that the air has cleared and something of a reason has been given – by the player’s father no less – I find myself asking one question: Has the pride in donning the Springbok jersey diminished to such an extent that it gets brought to its knees by one player?