What a difference a week makes in the rugby world! After walking around moping and sulking for the last week we can at least go into this week with a big smile and look forward to what should be a cracker of a game against Scotland. The game will take place just south of the Scottish border and in the city of Newcastle. Apart from the thousands of Scots making the journey across the border for the tartan army the game should also be a 1st for St. James Park, home ground to the Newcastle football team or The Magpies as referred to by the locals. I look even more forward to this game than most of you and I will tell you exactly why in a moment.
Let’s go back to the Samoa game and touch on some of the areas of improvement from last weekend against Japan. We also need to look at the number of tries we scored and wasn’t it just fantastic to see that our wingers scored 4 of these scintillating tries. That’s exactly what wing play is all about and even though the speedsters just finished the move off, the hard work was done way earlier in the build up to these tries. Welcome Back JP Pietersen.
The Boks love playing against Samoa and the structure of Bok rugby suits this sort of game down to the proverbial tee. We drove well, we scrum well, we kicked well and we defended well. In fact not only did we defend well but we defended like a team that wanted to make the extra tackle. We looked like a team defending our try line and the gain line really meant something to us and that we almost took it personally. We could see that every tackle had intend and that we wanted the stop the big Samoans in their tracks and behind the gain line. In the process we denied the Samoans of scoring any tries in 80 minutes of play and that was the most impressive statistic to me on the day.
Structure, structure and some more structure!
Even though The Boks love playing against Samoa and we always do well against them Saturday’s win came at a cost as so many times before in this fixture. Jean De Villiers’s Rugby World Cup is officially over after it being in doubt for almost a year. Jean made a near miraculous recovery after that horrific knee injury against Wales in Cardiff in November and then broke his jaw in the gut wrenching defeat to Argentina in Durban. After making another near miraculous recovery from the broken jaw injury and losing 6 kg’s in the process he eventually got on that flight to The UK to lead his team. The jaw is broken again and Jean will take no further part in this rugby showpiece. We wish him a speedy recovery and congratulate him on a fantastic test rugby career.
The Boks are very fortunate to have 2 youngsters playing like old seasoned pros in the 12 and 13 jerseys, the very same jersey that Jean occupied for over a 100 test matches. In Damian de Allende and Jessie Kriel we have 2 world-class players who showed against The Wallabies and much fancied All Blacks centre pairing of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith that they can compete at the highest level and against the best in the world. People often ask questions about the age of players playing international rugby and I always tell them……….. ‘when you good enough you are old enough’. When in doubt just think back to Rugby World Cup 2007 and a young Frans Steyn setting the tournament alight in the place of the injured Jean De Villiers becoming the youngest ever Rugby World Cup winner at the age of 20.
I mentioned earlier that I am particularly excited about the Scottish game this coming weekend. My next column I will be writing from Newcastle and be sure to give Dunlop a follow on Twitter @JohnBoydSA and also myself @StefanT15 to catch all the action and news as it unfolds from the game at St. James Park.
Let your passion drive this team.
So who would have thought that after months of eagerly awaiting the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, speculating about team selection and planning our October’s around fixtures to fit in all the games come play-offs time it would come down to this? The Springboks most important game of this year’s tournament late in September! Yes, believe it or not, it is true. If we lose this game tomorrow against the hard hitting Samoans we might as well pack our bags and catch the 1st flight back to sunny South Africa.
I sincerely hope that after a slow start to my Rugby World Cup, by getting results wrong and backing the wrong teams, this will be a good weekend prediction-wise and my turnaround in this tournament along with The Boks. Just like The Springboks, we are all in need of a massive rugby lift after last week’s disastrous opener against Japan.
Don’t despair, we will not lose against Samoa tomorrow and I think that we will win with a few points to spare. We have always done well against Samoa when we play them in World Cups and I think tomorrow will be no different.
Heyneke Meyer made 8 changes to his team and, with the players he’s selected, they are sure to make an impact and difference to this team. I have been in a Bok team after a defeat and all you want to do as a player is to get back on the pitch and make amends for a poor showing. Very few players played to their full potential last weekend and for some this will be the last throw of the rugby dice. Victor Matfield and Bok captain Jean de Villiers will be under immense pressure to perform well. For Jean there will be extra pressure to lead his team well and to a victory at the very least. Should he not do this it could very well be the end of his test rugby career for the Springboks.
How do we beat Samoa? I wish I could give you all, including Heyneke Meyer, a fail proof copy of the game plan but there are certain things that a team needs to do when they play these big, hard hitting and free running islanders in order to get the desired result.
Structure, structure and again some more structure!
I have no doubt that playing a team like Samoa is just perfect for a Springbok team desperate to get back to winning ways. We are a team that enjoys structure and a team that needs to build an innings. With this I mean a team that needs to build a lead first before we start throwing the ball around and scoring tries from our own half. We need to wear Samoa down with our structure, our driving line-outs, our clever kicks in behind their defence- also starving them of possession and especially turnover ball in the process. If we do this you will see a very different Samoa team trying to rectify the situation with reckless and dangerous play and some bone crushing and, more often than not, illegal tackles.
Rugby is really a very simple game and very often complicated by fancy game plans and tactics. Tomorrow it really comes down to doing the basics of the game exceptionally well in order to get a spectacular result.
Tomorrow the nation will be holding its collective breath for 80 minutes. We need a simple but comprehensive performance not only to lift the nation but also this desperate Springbok team.
Let your passion drive this team.
So, from writing the easiest of columns on Friday with the opening of RWC 2015 a few hours away and The Boks certain to win their opening fixture in Brighton against The Japanese to writing this one. It just goes to show that you are only as good as your last game and what a BIG difference a weekend or one game can make to your outlook on life and general wellbeing. I know it is only a game but when The Springboks lose we can easily go into a mild state of depression especially when they do so against a team full of players most of us have never heard of and who’s surnames we can hardly pronounce.
Well played Japan and you fully deserved your victory as you dominated The Springboks in all facets of play.
It was significant result for 2 very different reasons and for 2 very different teams. For Japan it was a significant win. It was their 1st ever win against The Springbok and only their 2nd ever win in a Rugby World Cup. I think we all saw from the visuals coming live from Brighton not only what it meant to this team, management and players alike but also what it meant to their supporters in the stands with tears of joy flowing freely. This will be a significant boost to rugby in their country and will give it a much needed lift in the build up to Japan hosting the next Rugby World Cup in 2019.
For South Africa and for The Springboks it was a significant loss. For The Boks to lose this game in this fashion they did it only means disaster not only for test matches in years to come but in particular for this tournament. The Springboks and the All Blacks have been the 2 most feared rugby teams in the world for many years. The All Blacks for the haka, their skill of forwards and backs and for the speed they play the game at while The Boks are feared for their big physical hard running players. Trust me I have played rugby overseas in teams full of players from all over and they respect and at times fear taking the field against either The All Blacks or Springboks.
On Saturday the Boks not only lost the game but also lost that small psychological edge we might have had when taking the field and wearing the famous Green and Gold. Remember that the difference between winning and losing at international level is a fraction of a percentage. You need all the help you can get and if the jersey that you are wearing gives you that, you will gladly accept.
With time up on the clock on Saturday, the score at 22-19 to the Boks and with 14 men on the field the Japanese had a penalty right in front of the uprights and could have easily have drawn the game to cause a major upset against The Boks. They turned down the penalty, took the scrum and got their reward with a try in the 83rd minute of play. This should never ever happen when any team play The Boks, not even the mighty All Blacks.
The Boks lost that edge on Saturday and teams will duly take notice and accept it with open hands. The 2-4% edge we had before taken the field is now gone and it will take a mammoth effort for this team to lift the William Web Ellis Trophy on the 31st of October. No team has ever lost a pool game and then gone on to win The Cup. If we do so this team would have made history twice in one tournament. Stranger things have happened on the rugby field.
Let your passion drive this team.
This should really been the easiest piece of journalism for me to write…….ever! I have had lots of time to prepare and get my rugby mind into action. You know how life works and most things creep up on us and before you know it, it’s time! This Rugby World Cup is no different and I can't actually believe that we are on the eve of yet another Rugby World Cup tournament. We've had 4 years to recover from that dreadful quarter final back in 2011 and the shock defeat to Bryce Lawrence, sorry I meant Australia. We should be ready for yet another phase of Rugby World Cup history.
I’m delighted to spend this tournament with you and to have a real and honest conversation about this rugby showpiece taking place in England. I have had the privilege to represent South Africa in 2 Rugby World Cups and they are really as special as everyone makes them out to be. My name is Stefan Terblanche!
The Springbok team is off and I for one am delighted that they finally made it to England for their last bit of preparation and fine tuning before kick-off against Japan on Saturday.
As South Africans, we are used to the normal drama and debate surrounding team selection of any Springbok team and this year was no different with the added spice of selecting a Rugby World Cup squad. Yes, we don’t all agree on team selection and that’s another whole debate for another day and to be fair, when will we ever agree on provincial squad selection, let alone Bok selection?
Playing team sports is a wonderful privilege and I learned so much from it throughout my playing days. Teams and individuals are very aware of what’s happening around them and trust me, they all know when the nation is not 100% behind them. Let's unite and get behind our boys - Go Bokke!
Talking about team selection and Heyneke Meyer wasted no time in making a few changes to his starting 15 against Japan and raised more than a few eyebrows in the process. One must feel intensely for Willie Le Roux and especially Damian De Allande. Allande did everything and more of what was expected of him in the build- up to this tournament and now he finds himself not on the bench but in the stands watching this game. Jean De Villiers is the touring captain and he needs to play, according to Meyer. I spoke briefly about team sports and their lessons but this is an extreme case of lessons learned, harsh or fair.
So much to say and so few words in which to do so but I have to at least make a few predictions. The 1st weekend all games should go according to rankings and the top ones will all get off to a winning start. The Fijians are making a lot of noise about their opener against the hosts, England on Friday. England is just too structured and too organized at the set piece for a Fijian team that’s full of free running backs, even in the forwards. Expect a few big tackles from the islanders and 1 or 2 run away tries but the result will go to the team dressed in all white.
I am so looking forward to this tournament and it should be one of the hardest and closely contested Rugby World Cups ever. I said good bye to my wife this morning for the next 6 weeks - rugby functions, games to watch and 2 trips to this rugby spectacle will be keeping me busy. I will do my best to stay calm, have a bit of fun and to keep you up to date with all that’s happening throughout.
Hold fast, this will be over before we know it but not without drama and upsets.
Score Prediction: Boks to win 62-17.
Your passion will drive the Bok Team!
Stefan Terblanche is the Chief Executive Officer of South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA). He previously captained and played for the Natal Sharks as well at the Springbok Rugby Team.
Terblanche played in 37 tests for South Africa, scoring 19 tries, including a South African test record of four tries on debut against Ireland at Bloemfontein on 13 June 1998, which he later bettered by scoring a then record five tries against Italy on 19 June 1999.
Terblanche started his career under the guidance of Nick Mallet at the Boland Cavaliers. He made his debut in 1999 for the Natal Sharks and played for the Ospreys in Wales. Terblanche moved back to the Natal Sharks for the 2007 Currie Cup season in South Africa. He played his return game for the Durban-based franchise at Fullback and scored two tries and claimed man of the match in the Shark's 32–16 defeat over Western Province, the team who has won the Currie Cup title a record 32 times. This was also his 100th match played for the Sharks. He is known as a great finisher—his test try per match ratio of 0.51 is among the highest in Springbok history.
Terblanche, since has taken up the role of CEO of the South African Rugby Legends Association. SARLA, founded in 2004 is a registered non-profit organisation whose key objectives are developing rugby at grass root levels and supporting the needs and interest of Rugby Legends.
Development projects under the name of VUKA (a SARLA initiative), focuses on young players in disadvantaged communities who have traditionally been excluded from structured rugby training and grassroots level competition. By nurturing the personal growth and athletic potential of these youngsters, SARLA aims to uplift individuals, and by extension communities to create advancement opportunities for talented players and a deeper, broader pool of professional level talent.
Rugby Legends contribute to projects through coaching, training, fundraising, organising matches and ‘passing on the passion’ of the game. Their enthusiasm for giving back to the rugby community is critical to SARLA success. SARLA strives to give Rugby Legends a home base for building careers off the field, supported by camaraderie, loyalty and shared passion.
Rugby Legends not only include former players, but also all the other hard-working folk who have contributed over so many years; the coaches, administrators, referees and all those who have supported the sport from the side of the field. The Legends have access to International Rugby Board certification training. Legends also participate in local and international tours under the SARLA banner. Rugby clubs across the country are supported by Legends who contribute toward their individual community projects.