Boks, don’t blow this lead – Jake

Jake White

For the past three seasons, the unhappy Springbok fan has been choosing to mow the lawn on a Saturday afternoon. He’s refused to watch “until we get a new coach… and a new flyhalf!”

After what happened at Ellis Park, that guy is probably going to start paying for a garden service, and have a beer while he watches the rugby.

If you had bought a ticket to last week’s Test match, you’ll now be thinking, “It can’t get any better than that, can it?”

I don’t think it can. We won’t experience that sense of nostalgia and euphoria again. People will say it won’t be the same in Bloemfontein, but the reality is that we will never have that moment again under a new coach, the first black captain and three debutants.

In what was quite symbolic of the state of rugby in South Africa, the Boks, trailing 24-3 after 20 minutes and on the brink of getting a big hiding, needed someone to say “from here, no more”. Siya Kolisi stepped up, regrouping the team behind the poles.

Two wingers, making their debut, sparked the comeback. Obviously, with Sbu Nkosi being a Jeppe old boy, I’m proud of him scoring two tries, and Aphiwe Dyantyi scored one on the other wing. The way they combined for one of the tries – with that inside pass from Dyantyi to Nkosi – was significant. We’ve been waiting a long time to see that from players who are said to be more seasoned, and they haven’t got those subtleties right.

RG Snyman was special. In his first Test match, he was carrying up on slow ball, all the lineouts were going to him, and defensively and physically he looked like he’s been a pro for a long time.

And this was after just one week of training – the coaching group must be complemented. People say that you play as well as you train, and I’m saying the Boks must have had an incredible week of training to get all of those things so spot on.

The lineouts were good with Bongi Mbonambi, the mauling was good, the catch-and-pass was good, the defence was oiled at times, the attack was good and, if Handre Pollard had kicked well, we could have scored 55 points against a team that has won two of the last three Six Nations titles.

There were also a lot of things that were tactically spot on, such as the substitutions. It’s easy to say so in hindsight, because, when Pieter-Steph du Toit and Steven Kitshoff were introduced, it worked. But those changes could quite easily have been made earlier or later, with different results.

You have to compliment SA Rugby because they’ve given Rassie Erasmus everything he’s asked for, and the three overseas guys he brought back made a massive difference and the Boks won.

If you package all of that together, the feel-good story is that what happened in that match is a microcosm of where we are in South African rugby. Six months ago, we were staring down the barrel; now we’ve got Siya Kolisi rallying the boys for an amazing comeback against England.

To take it further, that performance has given this new era a big head start, and the challenge is making sure that – on and off the field – we don’t waste it like England did.

The Boks completed their take-off checklist at Ellis Park. We’ve got a black captain, the team is on a high, sponsors want to jump in, the product you’re selling to the fan is fantastic, and kids all over the country would have dusted off their rugby boots on Sunday.

So what do we do now, going forward? Don’t make mistakes like England did to let us back in the game. We’ve got to find a way to bottle that performance and use it again. England will go away, reflect on what happened and, because they’ve got more experience as a team, they’ll be able to make the most of the lessons learnt.

But, if the world ended today, people would say the Springboks were on the brink of a winning run. Let’s make sure we don’t blow this lead.

- Jake White

Let's chat

  • James

    Agree with Jake 100%. It’s clear that these boks are very well coached (aside from the defensive lapses on the wings), and I can’t remember when I saw the boks boss territory and possession to such an extent. And that was only after being together for a short period, having some very inexperienced players, and a number of injuries. Things can surely only get better.

  • Nick

    Good ole benefit of hindsight. ‘I told you so’ sort of stuff, Describing what we all saw on Saturday. fanks man!

    The real pearl here is that we musn’t ‘blow our lead’. Wow!……. Do you think Rassie and the Boks are planning to lose it?

    C’mon Jake, give us a bit more. How do you think the team should look on Saturday? What game do you think we should play? What can we expect from the mud islanders? What effect will altitude have on the separate teams? Stuff like that…..

    Give us some hope in our self proclaimed rugby intelligentsia.

    • Chad

      The problem with that is that nobody knows what Rassie will do next…nobody could have predicted what he would do after the team fell behind…so Jake does not know…that is why he chose to write what he did!

    • Bokfan1

      Nick, of course no one “plans” to blow this lead, but it has happened before in Bok rugby. Bok teams tend to let a bit of success go to their heads and go off the boil. Bok teams are at their best when their backs are to the wall and they are the underdogs.

      One example – 2009 was a brilliant season. The Bok coaches realise the starting players need a break and they must blood new players so they take a bunch of new okes on EOYT. Bokke lost to Saracens and worse.

      2010 started amazing. We beat France in a series and then Bulls and Stormers compete for SR title.

      BUT (the big but)… Pdiv mentions it in his book too – the Bok team got a bit “complacent” and expected to turn up and win.

      Bokke go to NZ… Jimmy The Coward Cowan pulls Bakkies back by his jersey from a chargedown, so Bakkies headbutts him. That game ends in 20 point loss. The Boks try and combine Stormers style at breakdown (due to their success there in Sr and Francois Louw, Schalk in the team) with Bulls rugby (FduP, Matfield, Morne et al). It doesnt work.

      There are other examples (1996, 2000, 2005, 2015) and it is a valid point.

      If Dyanti had knocked on that ball that he juggled, a lot of people would now be calling him a quota and calling for Combrink (or similar sentiment).

      If Bloem is a boring Test, if the young wingers make mistakes, if Faf gets injured, if, if if, Rassie can very quickly become public enemy #1. It happened to Mallet, Jake, Heyneke and others. The SA public have unfortunately very little patience with the Bokke. And SARU eventually bow to public pressure in order to sell more merch and keep themselves in a job.

      Rassie and co-coaches need to keep the team’s collective feet on the ground. And we as the supporters must give a young team and a new coach time to grow and learn.

      • John Minto

        “Jimmy The Coward Cowan pulls Bakkies back by his jersey from a chargedown, so Bakkies headbutts him. ”

        Biggest man on the field headbutts the smallest and the smallest is the coward? Really?

        • Bokfan1

          Uhhh John, if you are on the field and a guy illegally and blatantly pulls you back by your jersey, you dont stop to compare size if you decide to nut him.

          1. even if it was the biggest AB, Bakkies would’ve koppestamped him bro, dont you worry :-)
          2. Doesnt detract from the fact that the ref did not blow Cowan up for a blatantly illegal act. AGAIN the ABs get away with an illegal act.
          3. The point of mentioning that was to give an example of even when teams dont plan to give away impetus and momentum, unforeseen things can happen

        • SweetAz

          Actually that wasn’t a headbutt, he simply slipped up over the slippery, slimy little cowards back and ended up clashing heads. A headbutt or Liverpool kiss is a good front-on snap to the bridge of the nose. Everybody knows that,—for crying out loud, you are more likely to do yourself an injury than cause one when you try to headbutt the back of someone’s head.

      • minging

        Jake White couldn’t quite wax more lyrical any more positively if he tried Nick… so your comments are moot.

        England will be a different beast this weekend once they revert back to their more Saracen’s like game rather than the one they caught the Bok defence napping with. But they are still a team that was beaten by everyone bar Italy and are on a 7 match losing streak.

  • Ulrich

    I hope the younger guys learn to step up, particularly at no 9 where we may be a little at sea should Faf not be available.

    • John Comyn

      Yes that is a major concern. Faf demonstrated how important a good scrumhalf is and we don’t look like we got any rising stars. Rassie has said both the Bulls scrummies have potential so lets hope. Ireland, NZ and England all have good 9’s.

      • Greg Shark

        Really think that Cameron Wright could also develop into a great scrummie…. pity that Rassie has released him from the squad

  • Nick.

    Bokfan 1; minging….Point taken, and yes, we have seen Bok teams get complacent, the Bokke are at their best when they have their backs against the wall. We know this. Bokfan1, your summary of past examples is a good one. We have seen this happen before for various reasons.

    But if we need to tell Rassie and his team that they need to be mindful of this, then we have the wrong coach and players. I personally doubt that Rassie and the team are basking in their own glory and have let this all go to their heads. Really I do. They are not high school kids.

    In fact the biggest criticism of the team and himself has come from Rassie. I think he knows what is at stake. The Boks BTW are still only at no 7 in world rankings despite the win. No. I do not think this is a team of half wits and kids that think they have now arrived. I rate them more highly than that. They will want to kill this series now.

    In fact, I see the English team as being more difficult in this next test as they are more experienced and have a better idea of what to expect. They are also desperate like we are.

    The point I am making is that Jakes’ ‘analysis’, if we can call it that, could be a lot more interesting than ‘I hope the boys do not lose’.

    • Bokfan1

      Thanks Nick! Kind of you to say. And I get your point now. It was not a lecture aimed at you, just a discussion building on what you said.

      I dont believe that Rassie and team “need” to be told. Jake has a contract to write a column for the site and he has decided on this topic :-)

      I agree with you that they are not basking in the glory too much. Rassie said from the first post-Test conference about how there is lots to fix and so on.

      I agree Eng will be more difficult, they will be better prepared.

  • Herman Schroder?

    I know this is minor point but Jake insisted that Kolisi rallied the troops behind the posts which brought about the change. Yet R G Snyman admits in an article on News 24 it was Vermeulen who did the rallying ? I can understand Kolisi being a bit more shell shocked than Vermeulen because Vermeulen is quite used to it when playing for the Boks these past few years. Fortunately for us this was one of the few times it did in fact work.

    Jake mentions Pollard’s poor kicking which seems to have been ignored by most. I would love to have seen what would have been said if we had lost the game. Poor old Jantjies was flogged every time he missed one even when we won the game but for Pollard it’s OK . Jantjies was flogged again every time he missed a tackle, yet in Pollard’s case it’s again OK. How fickle indeed are our selective memories.

    • Rant

      Yawn! I think this is actually Jantjies commenting under a pseudonym. How can someone be so convinced by a player who every man, his dog and even the blind old lady sitting on the corner of the round table can see is not up to international standard? Herman, it’s time for your nap.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Dear Mr Rant, he is still the best flyhalf in SA when the expansive game plan is employed. Like all his Bok team mates he went down the drain under Coetzee playing dom krag rubbish which made us the laughing stock of world rugby. Our opponents never used to bother with discussing how to counter the Boks in their match prep because they knew exactly what the Boks were going to do. Even last Saturday Rassie admits going in with a conservative game plan and Eddie knew it and they ran the Boks off their feet in the first tweny minutes. Sound familiar ?

        Now I’ve given my reasons why I disagree with you so kindly tell me exactly why Jantjies is not up to standard and not drivel out these generalizations and misconceptions to try and put the guy down. Please be specific and don’t try the usual old duck and dive. Cheers.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Gee I really get the impression Jake is looking for a job with the Boks. One might say his comments are positive but hey there is a limit. The comment about the Boks one week of preparation is a bit off the mark. Hasn’t Rassie being preparing for this for months and had more buy in from the Franchises than poor old Allister ever had during his disastrous tenure ? Rassie being able to ‘import’ as many players as he wanted to as well ? He had coaching clinics, indaba’s etc and most of the players available two weeks before the test. Eddie Jones had more of a challenge if truth be told.

    I did say before the test that the Bok team needed a warm up game to prepare for England and after 20 minutes one would have thought that Proudfoot and Nienaber had never coached before and that Rassie spent most of his time planning the player’s menu’s. Thanks to Faf and Willie that all changed for the better although Rassie did admit it was never his game plan to play the way the Boks did and that it was the players that took the initiative. My my what a fine line there is between success and failure..

    • Rant

      Lol. You are about 96 degrees on your turn around. Next week you’ll be saying that Bongi did well.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Dear Mr Rant, Brevity is not your strong suit, you need to be more specific with your claims and explain the 96 degrees turn around bit ?? I have changed nothing from my pre test predictions but in fact was proven right once more. Sniping at posts is an art form, you need to brush up your technique old chap and take your blinkers off while you’re at it.. Cheers.

        • Rant

          A wee look through your comments a few weeks ago prove my turn around point. One example is how you wrote your preference for Coetzee instead of Willie at fullback.

          Oh and talking about blinkers is very hypocritical Mr Lionsfan. But then again every time you try to belittle someone with your domkrag banter you prove your hypocrisy and incompetence.

          Go back to bed, you’re getting kranky again.

  • Billy

    Yes Jake is trying his best to join the Boks but that isn’t going to happen. He must stay in Japan

  • Nick.

    The Caveat he adds to ALL comments on this issue is ‘Rassie has got everything he wants’, [Which is true], but it’s Jake’s way of saying he could have actually been better if he had it all his way too. Can sort of understand that sentiment.

    One of the things Jake wanted [insisted on] was that Matfield cut his hair or he was going to send him home from NZ…Hilarious. Just the other day he expressed his disgust in the possibility of a Bok with a pony tail.
    The truth. I kid you not.

    Point being, not everything Jake thinks should be taken very seriously.

  • Chad

    Why do you have to say that we now have a “Black Captain”, why can’t you just say that we now have a very inspirational captain…something which has been sorely lacking in the Bok team for a long time!!!

  • Wayne

    I don’t understand how we have forgotten about our victorious bok teams of the past and that one of the core elements of our try scoring machine, in those teams, was always a lightening fast and unpredictable scrumhalf. Faf is approaching the energy levels of Joost and hopefully match time will give him the reliability edge which he does lack sometimes because of over exuberance. I do not rare any if our scrumhalves at the moment. Jake’s comments are so PC. Behind Kolisi is Duane Vermeulen, experienced, skillfull and as calm a player on field with his discipline as the likes of Richie Mccaw. I like Kolisi but until he leads from the front for 80 minutes we’ll not beat NZ who’s players last 80 minutes plus. Vermeulen on the other hand has a work rate that far outstrips most international players and I’m so glad he’s back. I’m also unsure of Allende. X carries and 5 times he got the ball stripped. Against NZ those critical losses in possession could have led to counter attacks and tries. He wouldn’t make any of the counties teams in NZ, simply overrated in my book. Also our two new wings need to keep their heads up for the first 10 minutes. They’re young and full of potential but international rugby requires balanced restraint and positional responsibility is core. Looking forward to the Rugby Championship but I’m not at all confident about the guys breating NZ in New Zealand. We still have some huge issues to sort out!

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