Viva the Boks winning Rugby Word Cup 2019

IN eight previous World Cup finals there had been nothing remotely like it … I’m talking about the jaw-dropping, eyebrow-raising magnificence of the Springbok pack that blew Eddie Jones’ cocky England to smithereens, sweeping the South Africans to a 20-point winning margin, the second biggest ever in a final.

Just a week before, the world had marvelled at how England had dismantled New Zealand with a power game that their cock-a-hoop media described as the most complete England performance ever.

Very few folk outside of South Africa gave the Boks a chance, and almost none at all would have predicted such an emphatic conquest. Never had a team lost a Pool game and gone on to win the Cup…

But rugby remains an incredibly simple game. The essence of it has not changed in 150 years, and that is if you control possession by dominating the opposition in the set scrums, the line-outs, the restarts, plus you boss the breakdown battle, you control the game’s destiny.

When the two packs of forwards went down for the very first scrum, just 90 seconds into the game, and the green phalanx inched relentlessly forward, there was a collective roar across South Africa, and how Eddie’s heart must have sunk.

This was not going to be the forward arm wrestle of previous finals… And it got worse for the England pack, with Jerome Garces repeatedly blowing them for scrum infringements when they could not deal with the destructive force powering at them, and Handre Pollard duly nailed the penalty goals.

But if the pack is to quite rightly praised to the rafters, and the finishing of Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe celebrated long and lustily, there was another area of the Springbok game that trumped all else in securing their magnificent win.

And that was a seven-minute period not long after half time when England laid siege to the Bok line, sensing they could take the game by the throat. Wave after Red Rose wave foundered on the Springbok rock. Almost every England player flung himself at the line and every single one was repulsed. A few, in fact, managed to get over the line but before the ball could be grounded they were ferociously repelled.

Owen Farrell eventually settled for three points and the fact that it was not seven for all of that effort was a vital psychological victory for the Boks. The England heads went down, the South African chests puffed out, and for me that was the winning of the game.

The Boks to a man were exceptional but it would be churlish not to give praise where it is due in the case of fullback Willie le Roux. Seldom has a Springbok player been so vilified and understandably so given his wavering form in the tournament, but when it counted Le Roux came to the party. He was outstanding under the high ball and when he came in at first receiver he directed traffic commandingly.

Rassie Erasmus kept faith with the veteran and he came good when it mattered.

Faf de Klerk has also been the butt of social media jokes but he had the last laugh yesterday with a performance that brought to mind Jones’ description of the scrumhalf last year: “a painful little buzz saw.”

By Mike Greenaway

Who will be the new Springbok rugby coach ?

It would seem there is no chance of the South African Rugby Union (Saru) making an impetuous appointment of the new Springbok coach and there are gathering reports that the governing body will go so far as to make an interim appointment until they have found the right man to take the Boks to the next World Cup.

Rassie Erasmus, the enigmatic former Cheetahs coach and current Saru High Performance General Manager, is hotly tipped to fulfill a caretaker role for the June series against touring Ireland.

Saru are tight-lipped on the conjecture and have said that while the matter of Springbok coach is on the agenda for their Council meeting in March, there will be “no comment on the Springbok coaching position until there is an appointment,” a Saru spokesman said yesterday.

The shortlist of candidates for the job is, to be facetious, rather short, and it might well have shortened even further if news out of Japan is to be believed regarding Allister Coetzee, who for so long has been the front-runner for the position vacated by Heyneke Meyer.

The former Stormers coach has been reported as saying he would “definitely be returning to the Kobe Kobelco Steelers next year”, although this could also be taken with a pinch of salt. If Coetzee is offered the Bok coach job, he could do an “Eddie Jones” and take advantage of an inevitable out clause in his contract with the Steelers regarding an offer to coach an international team.

Coetzee in white T Shirt -with OTC team on Heart 104.9fm..airs every Saturday from 9-10am

Another name bandied about is that of John Plumtree, the former Sharks coach and former Ireland assistant coach who is now second-in-charge at the Hurricanes, last year’s beaten Super Rugby finalists.

Plumtree has always said that he wanted to end his coaching days in Wellington, the New Zealand capital city that he often referred to as “home.” It would take a lot to lure him away from Wellington but Plumtree some time ago also told The Mercury that the Springbok coaching position would appeal to him.

Erasmus, meanwhile, has often stated that he does not want to return to the spotlight of a high-profile coaching job. But as a Saru employee, he might well be coerced into an interim Bok coach role for a three-Test home series.

Saru, it has to be said, are to be commended for not rushing into an appointment. Bok supporters want a winning team and it is imperative that Saru get it right. Time is on their side. Rugby World Cup Japan is just under four years away.

By Mike Greenaway

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