Everyone hates losing to arrogant England

What is it about matches between the South Africa and England over the last 106 years that they so often have been must-win occasions for the Springboks?

The first few encounters need no explanation given that in 1906 South Africa travelled to London to play a maiden match against England just four years after the end of the Anglo Boer war, and with a good percentage of the male population of South Africa still in prisoner of war camps in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka).

No wonder hostilities continued on the field of play and England only beat South Africa for the first time in a Test in 1969 (there were only six Tests between 1906 and 1969)

Bu the pain of the concentration camps waned – yes England, not the Nazis, were the first to start them (in 1901) – and post Second World War, England have fared much better.

Heading into the modern era, they had that notable run of seven wins a row between 2000 and 2006 before the Boks overturned that in the second Test of 2006 to subsequently win seven in a row to date.

And many of those games since 2000 have been enormously important to South Africa, although not always of the same consequence to England. It might have something in common with the famously Colonial quote of former All Blacks flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens, who said: “Everyone hates losing to arrogant England – they are such pricks when they win.”

Mind you, England have been playing France, Wales, Ireland and Scotland forever, so they don’t know anything but “enemy” status!

But as far as the Boks are concerned, they for instance HAD to win in 1998 in London to secure a world record of 18 consecutive wins – they lost; they HAD to win the first game of the 2003 Rugby World Cup to stand a chance in the tournament and save Rudolf Straeuli’s job – they lost; they had to win in 2006 to save Jake White’s skin – they won! And have not lost since including a stunning Pool win at the 2007 World Cup and indeed victory in the final of that event. They have not lost to England since.

Which brings us to 2012, and Durban, a city that remarkably has never hosted a Test between the countries, despite being the Last Outpost of the British Empire and, more importantly, the dawning of the Heyneke Meyer era. Once again, it is a must-win for the Boks in their first match after the 2011 World Cup watershead . They have a new coach, a new captain and just six players that started against Australia in the quarter-final in Wellington are starting tomorrow – Jannie du Plessis and Pierre Spies in the pack and in the backline, Morne Steyn, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen.

The England team has been similarly revamped although where elder Springbok statesmen quietly moved on, new England coach Stuart Lancaster cut loose the pop stars that infamously cavorted about Queenstown in the New Zealand Alps.

Where Lancaster has stolen a march on Meyer is that he started afresh in the Six Nations in January and after a shaky start, his new recruits rebounded to finish second, including wins over Ireland and France to finish second in the competition.

“The last seven wins are not going to help us tomorrow, grinned Meyer. “ Statistics are nice for the supporters and media too look at but they will be of no use to us come kick-off.

“What I can say about England is that they showed a lot of mental toughness in the Six Nations because they also had a new coach and not a lot of time to prepare. They got stronger as the competition went on. One thing that stood out is that they have mental toughness and character. To beat France away from home is not easy, and they won three away games. They’ll be a confident team; you can’t look at the past.

“They’ve played six games as a new team but this will be our first but what counts in our favour is that this is South African soil and every player in the green and gold will give his all.”

Referee: Steve Walsh

Springboks: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jean de Villiers (capt), 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (v/c), 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Substitutes: Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Keegan Daniel, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Wynand Olivier.

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Ben Foden, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.

Substitutes: Lee Mears, Paul Doran Jones, Tom Palmer, Phil Dowson, Lee Dickson, Toby Flood, Jonathan Joseph

by Mike Greenaway www.iol.co.za

About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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