Springboks Reaction: National Pride Restored


It’s been nearly two years since the Springboks were competitive against the All Blacks, the last time being in a World Cup semi-final where they lost 20-18 which basically came down to a Daniel Carter drop goal, and this past weekend the margin between rugby’s two biggest traditional rivals was a decent and respectable one compared to the last 3 games since the appointment of Coach Allister Coetzee.

After the 57-0 slaughtering by the All Blacks in Albany there were talks of the rivalry being dead, that the traditional foe’s don’t respect us anymore heading into this past weekend’s clash and to a certain extent, it was noticeable as they used their “Ka Mate” haka instead of “Kapa O Pango” which they reserve against teams they feel stand a chance against  them and whom they show utmost respect to.

With a fair bit of local support, and the Rugby Championship already bagged the week before (and the Boks drawing with Australia AGAIN) most fans, including myself, expected another hiding by at least 20 points. But, a wounded Springbok is a dangerous one; they played with an intensity and aggression we haven’t seen from a Bok side in years, they kept it simple but effective and allowed the All Blacks’ attacking backs very little room to showcase their sublime skills.

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Malcom Marx was a beast for nearly 90 minutes considering that the first half almost went to 50 minutes! Eben Etzebeth lead from the front by smashing anyone in his way with powerful carries, providing good forward momentum and making sure the All Blacks don’t have an inch to work with.

One aspect of the match that stands out is that the All Blacks didn’t work for a single one of their tries scored, where in the Springboks’ case, they did. A kick charged down by Barrett that lead to Crotty’s (rather controversial) try, an intercept try by Rieko Ioane and a runaway try by McKenzie which he actually never should have scored due to a moment of weakness by the Bok defence to not get in aligned after the kick ahead which Havili gave to Mckenzie who went on to run in an open space to score, shows that if you can nullify an attacking side with a dominant direct approach,  you can beat anyone on any day.

Coach Allister Coetzee is still under immense pressure, and rightly so as he must win the rest of the games to have any chance to retain his job as head coach, but the boardroom cases aside, after Saturday one can feel proud again to wear a Springbok Jersey after a match against the All Blacks regardless of the result. The guys played for the pride of that jersey and left it in a better state than what they received it and it would be interesting to see whether this was a once-off or if they will continue to build on this past weekend’s performance and end 2017 on a high!



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