This is more of a phoney war
July 28, 2011 Leave a comment
Never mind calling it the Tri-Nations, as far as the Springboks are concerned, this is more of a phoney war they are waging in Sydney and Wellington. Actually it is more of a pantomime considering the real Springboks are in a training camp in Rustenburg, most of them not injured at all, while a plainly second-string side is being outclassed overseas.
The work-hard play-hard jol going on in Rustenburg is being denied, as is the fact that this Springbok squad is mostly back-up players and few of them have a chance of making the World Cup squad of 30.
One wonders how veterans such as John Smit and Danie Rossouw feel about slogging it out in the Antoipodes, knowing that they are going to get pumped, putting on brave faces and trying to get the most out of players that are either the future Springboks stars or just plain also-rans, while their old mates are in camp with amongst others, technical analyst Rassie Erasmus and kicking coach Percy Montgomery.
Just as they all were in 2007. The blue print of that World Cup year is being followed in 2011 with the difference that this time it is being attempted under a veil of secrecy. Issues are skirted or denied, probably because the South African Rugby Union felt the wrath of SANZAR in 2007 for devaluing the Tri-Nations and was ordered to do no such thing again.
But everybody knows what is really going on here. The world is too small these days for things to happen quietly behind doors with nobody picking it up. If 21 or so Boks are at a Rustenburg retreat (the place where England stayed during the soccer World Cup) it is going to be tweeted and face-booked sooner rather than later. In a mattter of minutes the whole world knows.
When the Boks arrived at Wellington airport yesterday they were ambushed by the Kiwi media, and all they wanted to know about was the “secret camp”. The Boks had been sped through arrivals so by the time the travelling South African media came through customs, it was all over bar the reprisals to come in the local media.
One local website hours later quoted De Villiers saying this at the airport regarding so-called injured players: “So-called is not the right word to use, they’re injured,” de Villiers said. “We know that the long Super 15 season is the cause of this and we just have to abide by that. They’re not training. It (reports that they are) doesn’t surprise me because there’s always mischief everywhere.”
Oh dear, here we go again, I have a feeling this story is going to run for some time … probably until the Tri-Nations is over and the real rugby business of 2011 begins.
The thing is, there are just 43 days to the first World Cup game, and by the time New Zealand kick it all off with their match against Tonga on September 9, the Springbok shenanigans will have been forgotten.
Just as the results in Sydney and Wellington won’t matter quite so much to Springbok supporters if the Boks once again go all the way.
It is about short term pain and long term gain, but it is also about cheapening the Springbok jersey for a fortnight or so and there are purists who contend that this should never happen. If the Boks cop 50 from the All Blacks on Saturday, I will be among those who wonder if it is worth it.
by Mike Greenaway