The greatest Bok comeback

Dan Retief

For sheer drama and the full gamut of emotions, from deep despair to unbridled euphoria, there have been few rugby Tests to rival the epic match at Ellis Park on Saturday – it was the greatest come-from-behind victory in Springbok history.

Trailing 3-24 after 17 shell-shocked minutes, the collective heart of the nation sank and nightmarish visions arose of this young Springbok team being condemned to a similar 53-3 humiliation as that suffered at the hands of a different England side in 2003.

Following the dismal performance against Wales in Washington, it was too awful to contemplate.

Instead of a new dawn it was a bleak sunset. Rassie Erasmus’ tenure as coach was off to the most disastrous start imaginable; Siya Kolisi’s hugely significant moment would be spoiled; the new caps would have their budding careers ruined, and the old hands called back would be ridiculed.

England’s dismemberment of the Springboks had been so clinical, so swift, so unexpected and worse, so easy, that I found myself wondering how I would be able to avoid a mood of utter depression in writing a post mortem.

Placed alongside the ham-handed bungling of the Welsh Test one could see no way back for the Boks; 21 points in arrears, three converted tries just to draw level, seemed an impossible margin to overturn.

That Siya and his men managed it not only got the new Springbok era back on track but ensured for the Test a place in the annals as one of the most memorable ever.

I had been puzzled by Erasmus’ handling of his first few weeks in charge. The Wales Test was an unnecessary curve-ball but I have to confess I struggled to grasp the logic of picking two completely different sides.

It seemed to demean the value of Test matches, to cheapen the jersey.

But all that changed through the gritty determination of a team that revealed the never-say-die attitude of old… and, who knows, perhaps even an element of mysticism that the magic of Madiba in a No 6 jersey still permeates the place.

Faf de Klerk was the flint that provided the spark (I still wonder why he was discarded). The returning elders Duane Vermeulen and Willie le Roux were magnificent, as were homeboys Handré Pollard (surely the flyhalf debate is now settled) and Tenda Mtawarira. And the replacements turned the screws just when it was needed.

The three debutants, Sbu Nkosi, RG Snyman and Aphiwe Dyantyi showed themselves to be inspired selections.

Most of all, though, one must give credit to Siya Kolisi. As Jean de Villiers meaningfully reminded us afterwards – when a side overturns a 21-point deficit a lot of the credit accrues to the leader.

The margin wiped out represents the greatest comeback in Springbok history; surpassing an 18-point deficit (5-23 after 67 minutes) overturned by Gary Teichmann’s Boks against the All Blacks in Durban in 1998 to win 24-23.

Prior to that, South Africa came back from 14 points down to beat Wales 28-20 at Wembley in 1998 and from 13 points behind (12-25) to beat Scotland in Durban in 2003.

It was good to be able to cheer again, but the Boks need to quickly switch from deserved euphoria to sensible practicality because there were still too many flaws. England scored five tries, defensive structures were found wanting, tackles were missed, too many passes were misdirected and the opposition were let back into the game when it should have been closed out.

On another day silly turnovers, bad passes, brainless chances taken, exposing the ball and things like Ivan van Zyl’s failure to simply put the ball into touch with three minutes left to play (which presented Maro Itoje and Johnny May with tries) could be more damaging.

In the end, the helmsman miraculously managed to avoid the iceberg and we can confidently talk of a new dawn. Eddie Jones will be plotting his Bloemfontein gambit and England will again be formidable, but for now the momentum is with the Boks.

Well done to all. You made us proud.

- Dan Retief

Let's chat

  • Rant

    I didn’t expect this result as I predicted England by 5. I think Siya as well as the senior Boks such as Duane, Beast and Willie, proved that they are more.than deserving. But what about Nkosi and Dyantyi? I think we finally have some proper fire power out wide. Take a bow chaps, what a debut.

    Nice work but still a work in progress. Lots to work on and hopefully it’s an upward curve in performance.

  • Herman Schroder?

    While it will be petty of me to try to diminish what happened on Saturday there are further factors that need to be considered.

    1. Going into this game without a rigorous dress rehearsal of some sort to settle the new combinations was a huge risk. Twenty minutes later in the test and you are 21 points behind. A team like AB’s team with that lead would have creamed us in the same situation.

    2. Rassie admitted he got it wrong and kudos to him for admitting it but he still got it wrong. Compare his attitude to Alistair ‘excuses’ Coetzee’s though.

    3. We had a lot of prep time by all accounts and our defence coach is considered by some to be the best in the world and yet he could not prepare us for a team playing expansively ? From 10 to 14 the tackling was poor, very much like our SR teams in fact.

    4. Rassie clearly went into the game with Dom Krag Plan A. Twenty minutes into the game and that all changed. To his credit he may have pressed the panic button and givin the players free rein. Either that or Faf and Willie had other ideas. In any case the outstanding skills of Willie and Faf ( not SR players note ) came to the fore and turned the game on it’s head. IMO without them it would have been goodnight Irene.

    5. We must also all accept that the Boks had the rub of the green ( not a sin ) and O’Keefe did play a big part in this. 17 England penalties to 4 against the Boks in 80 minutes ?? Methinks the SR ‘rules’ did not help the English cause at all. Add to that the yellow card which gave the Boks a much needed advantage and a brain explosion by the England full back for Nkosi’s first try and yeah this was one that truly got away from England on the day.

    A plus for me is Rassie’s realistic attitude that there is still plenty of work ahead but I’m a bit troubled by his comments that there will still be many changes along the way and we may still lose some tests going forward. Probably this comes with his six year contract and his strictly sticking to ‘transformation’ criteria giving him some comfort but this country needs him to do what Eddie Jones did with England three years ago. Bok fans have suffered enough since 2009 and we need a quick fix, after all he is billed as a ‘meticulous planner’ with loads of experience so one assumes he will be able to give us more hope. Losing to Wales and his own admission that SA needed a ‘get out of jail free card’ against England is not a very auspicious start but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt until the end of the England series.

    • Simnikiwe.xabanisa Xabanisa

      Jesus Herman, has your beer glass ever been half-full? No? Ok.

      • Herman Schroder?

        The Boks haven’t won a trophy since 2009 so pardon me for knocking the system old chap. I come from an era where the Bok jersey was revered throughout the world not laughed at. I’ve seen too many false dawns to be drawn into yet another possible fiasco. Rassie needs to earn my respect but with a loss to Wales second team and a rub of the green victory over England in his first two tests he still has a long way to go. Maybe my expectations are far higher than yours my friend but if he does turn the ship around with positive rugby I will be the first to congratulate him.

        And to answer your question,yes it’s actually been empty after too many celebrations way back in 2009 a feeling you may not be familiar with, lol. Cheers.

    • Chris Mouton

      Ja, Herman, Rassie expected a lot of kicks with so many kickers in the English team and then Jones did the opposite. Still gotta give credit to the comeback and how they changed tack. The 3 debutants and the 3 imports really showed their value. What you also need to remember is that this entire team had new combinations and little experience. There’s still a lot of room for improvement. At least the team didn’t just lay down.

      You’re right, the defense in the 10/12 channel was quite bad even though Jantjies made no effort whatsoever with the last English try. I’d play Esterhuizen instead of De Allende as I think he brings more to the table. He was one of the standout players in the Washington fiasco.

      In my opinion the English were lucky not to get more yellow cards sooner. There were so many off-the-ball moments against Faf. The one particular moment I can remember was when he made a box kick and the Itoje shoulder charged him late. I honestly thought Faf was injured because I didn’t see him in play for a while. If you watch the game again you’ll maybe pick it up as well.

      The Springboks should’ve buried the English in the last 20min, but somehow lost momentum. What is clear though is that we look a lot more dangerous with ball in hand and we should have that approach. I think it’s a good start for SA, but there’s still a lot of work ahead. No doubt Jones has a few cards up his sleeve. I’m personally looking forward to the series. May the best team win.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Thanks for that and your spot on appraisel. Cheers.

    • Rant

      Someone’s changed their tune…

      • John Comyn

        Just a heads up Rant – Froda Baggins never admits he got it wrong. He’s an one dimensional thinker! I started reading the above claptrap and gave up after the 1st paragraph.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Could also be comprehension and concentration problems on your part, lol. Cheers.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Not really, Predicted a ‘stone cold’ problem and underestimating England and it came to pass. But for the magnificent contributions of Willie and a man of the match performance from that discarded Lions player Faf, Rassie would have been looking over his shoulder already this week. Some more Lions in the team and we would not have nearly lost, lol. Cheers.

        • Rant

          I do recall you being absolutely against the inclusion of foreign players even to the extent of saying Willie is a has been. The worst player on the day was Elton Jantjies…your favourite though.

          Really looking forward to your prediction for next week. I’m going England by 2 to square the series and then SA win the Cape Town test by 5.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Dera Mr Rant, I still am, especially the ‘long in toothers’, like Bismark and Frans Steyn. Duane played well no doubt but remember his cop out in 2016 when the Boks lost to Ireland and he took the first train back home and his Toulon form has been pretty average. Perhaps he had a bit of an Energade fix to get his work rate up.

            In any case according to Rassie he will not be using Vermeulen in the RC, what’s that all about ?. IMO Vermeulen has come here for a 3 test bonus cheque before heading off to who knows where. Maybe it’s Japan where they will think Thor has arrived to bully the ‘lighties’. Ah well to each his own.

            I have already commented on Willie in another response to you so kindly do your homework before repeating yourself. As for Jantjies. If you can judge a player after being on the park for a few minutes then you are a better judge than I am. But one thing I’m certain of, if Jantjies was playing with Faf and Willie at the back under those circumstances we would have thumped the Engelse. He is the only SA flyhalf that can effectively play expansive rugby but he would need a few decent centres to continue his vision. D’ullende wouldn’t make my pun team on a Sunday morning after a piss up.

            Of course Rassie has already indicated in the press that Bloemfontein will be Dom Krag 101which is just what Eddie would like. Jeremy Guscott said the only way to beat England is playing wide but having won one test out of two Rassie is already creeping into his shell. Even he admits expansive rugby was not on the table last Saturday and that the players took the initiative. As I said before, thank the heavens for Faf the Lionhearted and Willie. So we won despite the coach ? go figure. Cheers.

        • Dean

          Willie was never a Lions player. How about the crucial turnovers by Duane when England were on the attack. That lineout steal by RG who had a brilliant debut. The wings were very threatening on attack. Pollard was a general. The forwards were immense. More Lions players? Lol! Like who? Elton was rubbish when he came on.

          • Dean

            Judge a player after a few minutes? How about his performances last year, average except against a weak French side. Then again, against a second string Welsh team. Rassie is going to rest Duane to try out other combinations. He wants to found out what his most balanced loose trio would be.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Who said Willie was ?? See my response to Mr Rant above re Jantjies. Cheers.

  • Sharky

    “… surely the flyhalf debate is now settled.”

    Nope. Not yet. Are you forgetting the on-form Pat Lambie who is currently injured? Let the Lambie/Pollard/Janjies arguments continue….

    Apart from that – the Boks showed good character and a willingness to give the ball air (and not only from the boot). A lot to work on, yes. But a good win none-the-less. And probably the most entertaining game of rugby I’ve watched for years.

    But if I was a Pom I would be a bit upset about the ref. Some calls did inexplicably to go the Bok’s way – maybe Ben O’Keeffe didn’t get the “get the Jarpies” memo this time :)

    • Herman Schroder?

      With Willie and Faf, Rassie can seriously consider playing expansively going forward. If so there is no better flyhalf in this country than Jantjies. Jantjies has been branded as a non tackler, which is rubbish, but the supposed flyhalf answer, Pollard is pretty woeful in his own right. As for ‘D’ullendig’ well he reminded me of Curwin ‘Waltzing Matilda’ Bosch with his tackling effort leading to England’s first try. Am wasn’t much better by the way.

      Willie at the back, Faf, Jantjies, Ruan Janse van Rensburg and Venter from the Cheetahs plus Saturday’s two wings ( with plenty of tackle bag sessions ) and there you have the makings of a decent backline with power, speed, distribution skills and most importantly rugby nous. If dom krag is the option then you can pick any of the players in the current squad as they are all much of a muchness ( average SR standard ) and good luck to Rassie and Co. Cheers.

      • Chris Mouton

        RJvR is out of form (he’s not even starting for the Lions), Jantjies can’t tackle at all whereas Pollard missed one or two at the beginning, Am was quite solid and Nkosi didn’t miss a tackle (check the stats). I agree, Die Allende was kak, I’d replace him with Esterhuizen. You sound like a broken record with the “domkrag” comments. Everyone could see that the players and the game has evolved. I agree regarding Van Zyl. We need better scrummies.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Thanks for that, If you were going to pick consistently in form players then hardly any Stormers, Sharks or Bulls would qualify imo. They’ve won 15 games in SR out 40 between them, that’s 37 miserable % ). If so many in the 43 man squad ( 29, that’s two full teams ) were supposedly ”in form” Springboks then why aren’t they even in the playoffs where more teams qualify for the play offs than don’t, lol.

          Re Jantjies tackling. I think you’re being a bit unfair. I’ve seen him make many a crucial tackle but due to his smallish frame he can be run over by a bulldozer, like most players at some time or another. Anyway I’m not a great believer in stats they are far too subjective. Certain players bail out of tackles with a smart drop in pace ( D’Allende a prime culprit ) which doesn’t show on the stats, while others go for it despite knowing they are going to get hammered, that’s Jantjies. I suppose one can then apply that to Pollard as well.

          See my response to Rant above re Rassie’s admission about Saturdays original game plan and how the players took matters into their own hands and his further comments re Saturdays 2nd test tactics. Cheers.

      • Rant

        Lol. A week ago this guy hated Willie and Duane.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Hi Mr Rant, if you read my recent posts you would have seen that I backed Willie if Rassie was going to play expansive rugby and I was basing my comment on his awesome distribution skills when Heyneke first picked him. That Heyneke then reduced him to a stumbling wreck with his dom krag Plan A and nothing else is of course well documented. On Saturday he proved his worth because we were FORCED to play expansively.

          Duane had a good game for sure but I still believe he is not really interested in Bok rugby. He pulled out in 2016 and if truth be told watching him in Top 14 with Toulon he looked like a spent force imo. Can he repeat his game this weekend, let’s wait and see old chap, one swallow dost not make a summer. Cheers.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Dean, don’t believe the press, Bismark and Frans Steyn are not interested, full stop. Lambie is just plain and simply too fragile for modern test rugby. He’s been on the injury list far more than he has played in the past few years. Damien Willemse is a two step pony and not much else. Until his injury in the U20’s and his last few games for the woeful Stormers he has been pretty ordinary to poor and still has got a lot of learning to do.

          If Rassie decides that dom krag is his plan A then by all means bring in the carthorses like Pollard and Co, But if he wants to embrace expansive rugby as his Plan A ( not like Saturday when the Boks were FORCED to play expansively ) then there is only one flyhalf capable of blending with Willie and Faf and that is of course twice SR finalist Elton Jantjies. By the way Cronje is better than either van Zyl ( is he really a Springbok ?? ) and Papier. Cronje has experience and rugby nous and you can’t just go and buy that at Checkers with a discount voucher. Cheers.

  • Lee

    Put into context, 1998 comeback against NZ still remains the greatest comeback ever by the Boks, albeit lesser points difference.
    The way they came back so late against a formidable All Black side.Extra special.

    • Stoffel

      Yes, absolutely agree, I was at that match at Kings park. lost my voice for a week. What made that comeback so special was the class of the opposition. I mean the All Blacks weren’t on a 4 match losing streak at the time, they were top of the pile.

    • Karl

      Yes I agree. Ironically, also initiated by a scrumhalf – Joost.

  • Brom Ponie

    Seems almost to be unnoticed, but I think that yellow card was uncalled for…

    • John Comyn

      I disagree with your assessment. It was bordering on a red card. England’s discipline was poor throughout. It appeared that the game plan was to take us on at our own game by winning the physical war.

    • Mike Stoop

      I think the card came because it was the third time that Faf had been taken high or late. Granted the previous times it was by Itoje. Vunipola actualy lifted his elbow to ensure he hit Faf. The card was deserved.

      • Chris Mouton

        I agree, Mike. There was so much off-the-ball action against Faf that I was surprised that there weren’t any cards earlier. That one late hit from Itoje left Faf on the ground for a while. I was actually worried that he got hurt.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Agreed, very harsh. Cheers.

      • Mike Stoop

        You seem to want to be proved right, just so you can say I told you so. The fact that the Boks played some decent rugby with a limited number of Lions players really sticks in the craw, doesn’t it? I am very happy to have been wrong about the wings, the centres, the flyhalf and the locks. Even Bongi impressed me. He is no Marx, but he does deliver all he has. I still think we need to go overseas for a loose forward, like Chris Cloete or Marcel Coetzee to fetch (I know they are injured, but for the world cup, both should be in the match day 23). That takes Du Preez out of it as dropping Siya would be political suicide.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Mike, I did not want to be proven right, I was right. Your ‘craw’ comment is a wee bit off side my friend. Faf ( LIONS ) and Willie playing LIONS rugby turned this game on it’s head so who knows what would have happened with more Lions on the pitch, lol.

          I feel we are relying just too much on the overseas contingent. You cannot build a winning culture like the AB’s with Boks drawn from outside SA come the test windows. NZ doesn’t do it and the results speak for themselves. Australia just beat Ireland with home grown players.

          A team culture needs to be built right here otherwise we may just as well have a coach who gets called in from outside just to prepare a Bok team flown in from France and the UK just before a test. Never mind the damage to the local setup and their aspirations, It simply wont work especially with the club bosses over there calling all the shots.

          By the way I’m not sure if you visit the Rugbypass site but they scored the Boks far more realistically than Rob Houwing did. Wilco scored 4/10 and Du Preez 5/10. Mind you they also gave D’Allende 6/10 so what the hell do they know. Cheers.

          • Rant

            Jeez this guy is a stuck record player. Lion lion lions. He must have some shares in the Lions. Lol

          • Mike Stoop

            Bias, bias, bias all the time. No rational assessment can be expected from you.

            Willie has played the way he does since he played for the Paul Roos first team as a flyhalf. He played the same rugby for Boland, Griekwas and the Cheetahs. He played the way he did long before John Mitchell arrived at the Lions. There is not a single player in the Lions team who can do what he did. Especially no fullbacks. How can it be “Lions Rugby”, if there are no Lions who can do what he did.

            Faf never started for the Lions in his last season with them. Ackerman preferred the “steady” but very slow Cronje. That is why he left. The Lions took his opportunity to regain form away from him. If the Lions coach does not like the way a scrumhalf plays, how can you attribute the player’s success to the Lions? Was Faf ever contracted to the Lions? As I recall, he was contracted to the Pumas and only loaned to the Lions. He went back to Nelspruit for the Currie Cup each year. Yet you claim him as having been developed by the Lions. Really?

            Your comment about the Rugbypass site shows how preconceived your ideas are. You accept their ratings, but only those that suit your point of view. Pro-Lions, never pro-Boks. You are the personification of South African provincialism. Quintes van Rooyen reincarnated.

  • Dean

    I’d like to see a strong defensive effort in the second Test. I can see it being more of a grind because I doubt England will play like that again. I’m sure they will be more tactful and cautious in their approach. This game was helter skelter. It was great to watch and very encouraging to see the talent SA has, shine through.

    This team can only get stronger when Whiteley, Eben, Lood and Marx (all key players) return. Then you have Qcoboka, Nyakane, Coenie, Jaco Kriel, Frans Steyn, Bismarck, Lambie and Serfontein all out injured too. Rassie is in a very fortunate position that he can pick from experienced veterans and some seriously talented players in SA. I thought the half back pairing from the bench were lost at sea. They were the same against Wales. When Damian Willemse comes onto the international seen, it’s bye bye Elton. I’d also back Papier ahead of van Zyl.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Dean, don’t believe the press, Bismark and Frans Steyn are not interested, full stop. Lambie is just plain and simply too fragile for modern test rugby. He’s been on the injury list far more than he has played in the past few years. Damien Willemse is a two step pony and not much else. Until his injury in the U20’s and his last few games for the woeful Stormers he has been pretty ordinary to poor and still has got a lot of learning to do.

      If Rassie decides that dom krag is his plan A then by all means bring in the carthorses like Pollard and Co, But if he wants to embrace expansive rugby as his Plan A ( not like Saturday when the Boks were FORCED to play expansively ) then there is only one flyhalf capable of blending with Willie and Faf and that is of course twice SR finalist Elton Jantjies. By the way Cronje is better than either van Zyl ( is he really a Springbok ?? ) and Papier. Cronje has experience and rugby nous and you can’t just go and buy that at Checkers with a discount voucher. Cheers.

      • Dean

        Herman, Damian Willemse is the most exciting talent to come out of South Africa in a long time. He has the ability to become one of the best flyhalves we have ever had. The guy is an all round player. Given time, he will surpass Elton and possibly Handre. The guy is only 20 yet you are being so hard on him. Beauden Barrett started off the bench for the All Blacks in about 20 Test matches before he got a start and took over from Carter (only when he retired). As for Cronje, Andries Coetzee and Elton, 2 years for the Boks and they were inconsistent. We finally have 3 wings in Mapimpi, Nkosi and Dyantyi who are all good under the high ball, strong on defense, physical and have pace to burn. Their decision making with very little space to work in is sublime. Skosan and Rhule were very average last year and they were given extended runs. I know you’d like to see an all Lions backline but luckily Rassie doesn’t see it that way. Vorster and RJRV have been very poor this season and Combrinck is out of form. De Allende had a very good game against England. If you didn’t see that, you weren’t watching closely. He created space for the wingers on his outside. He also gave us go forward up the middle of the park for Faf and Pollard to launch from. I watched the game twice. Maybe you should do yourself a favour and do the same.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Dean let me answer in point form.
          1. I never said Willemse was a lost cause I said he needs more time just like Curwin Bosch needs more time to mature. Willemse’s real problem is playing for the Stormers with Fleck as coach. He needs to have a coach who believes in the expansive game like Mitchell and De Bruyn to bring him on.

          2 It’s funny you mention Beauden Barrett and how he was weaned into the test team. Jantjies had three tests under his belt when he was picked for the Ireland test in 2016 under that ‘coaching challenged’ Alistair Coetzee. Barrett had the best coaches in the world in a settled world class team. Maybe you forget last years AB test at Newlands. Jantjies ( against Barrett ) gets replaced by Pollard in the 56th minute with the Boks leading 10-8. Final score Boks 24, AB’s 25, go figure.

          3. I know I’m repeating this again but I challenge you to please name me any player who performed like a Bok in the two years Coetzee was at the helm ??. Why do you mention only the Lions players ?

          4.Again you mention how poor and inconsistent the Lions backs are in SR this year. The Lions haven’t been beaten by a SA team in THREE years. The most inconsistent players have been from the other three Franchises who are nowhere on the SR overall log. Where are all these superstars when, between the three Franchises, they can only manage to win 37% of their games ?? The Sharks are given superstar status because of their two performances this year, Hurricanes and Highlanders, yet the Lions have been doing it for years. So lack of form is only applicable to the Lions players when choosing a Bok squad ?. Thirteen Sharks in the current squad, give me a break.

          5. You let yourself down by pumping for D’Allende my man. He is THE most overrated centre of all time. He was so poor these past few years that when he managed to string a pass together this year he was suddenly elevated to superstar quality. First of all he can’t tackle for toffee ( behold his Waltzing Matilda performance on Saturday ala Curwin Bosch ) He bails out of potential tackles to keep his missed tackle count down to a minimum. His distribution skills overall are mostly poor and the odd time he gets it right we are so surprised we think he’s actually quite good. Some of his passes are wayward or ‘rollers. For all his ‘bulk’ he is too easily brought to ground and watch him after he makes a pass he drops back instead of supporting the ball carrier. He seems to have fooled you though.

          I suppose we can debate this issue till the cows come home so let’s just agree to disagree. But my final point. The Lions players in general have shown the ability to blend into a team based on an exciting game plan with gees and dedication and a never say die attitude. They have been to the top of the mountain so BMT is hardly a problem. You don’t just lose those qualities overnight they are embedded in you. Can you honestly say that for the other three failed Franchises and their players these past few years ? Cheers.

          • Rant

            I really enjoy reading your replies because each week they do change a bit and I’m sure if I keep copying and pasting into my new book, Herman’s Joking of Life, I will have a complete 180 degree turn over the period of several months. Lol

      • Mike Stoop

        Elton has had every opportunity over the last three years. He is not an international flyhalf. At 60 I think I might still have a chance to outrun Cronje. As Lambie is fragile, these two guys are simply too slow in a straight line. At international level, pace is important for a back.

        And you personally interviewed Vermeulen, Steyn and Bismarck about their commitment to Springbok rugby. Personally I find you incredibly and tediously biased towards Lions players.

        The reason why the Lions outperformed the other franchises over the last four years was because they had a young squad, which turned into a settled squad because of player retention. The stars left the other franchises for greener pastures. On top of that the Lions had the advantage of an excellent coaching team, who stuck to the blueprint provided by John Mitchell. The philosophy was quite simple: I your team is the fittest team on the field, they will prevail. It is a New Zeeland thing. The other teams are slowly catching up. It does not make every Lions player the best in his position. It makes him part of the best team in the competition. Let it rest and start to support your country.

        • Dean

          I saw De Allende take a couple of brilliant catches of the high ball. Some rampaging runs up midfield when we were beginning to shift the momentum our way. He also did a spin and neat pass to put Nkosi into space for his first try. You even play down Vermeulen’s influence on the game yet he was our best player over the ball, winning turnovers to stop England’s attack in our half. He also took some great high balls and was at the front of every driving maul. The whole of the South African pack were awesome in that game. Jean-Luc was a bit quiet but that’s because we used to seeing him setting up and scoring tries. He did the hard yards. Wilco Louw was there at almost every ruck. It’s often the hardest working players off the ball that go unnoticed.

          Take the blinkers off. Those people that write off South African players in Europe ate their words last weekend.

          • Mike Stoop

            All I can say to that, Dean, is Amen

        • Herman Schroder?

          Mike I think we have covered these points before over the past few weeks and your failure to either assimilate or counter my arguments may tend to make me appear tedious when I have to repeat myself.

          Please read my post to Dean just above here for some more insight and the Jantjies conundrum.

          One doesn’t need to be inside the heads of players to read between the lines. Vermeulen left in 2016 with a ‘mystery niggle. Bismark and Steyn likewise this year and believe it or not that self same ‘injury niggle’. Sounds like an epidemic. Vermeulen still hasn’t committed himself to SA rugby except to accept his three bonus cheques over the next few weeks. Way to go guy.

          As for the Lions here I go again and you wonder why I repeat myself. Mitchell’s tenure at the Lions was a disaster actually. In his last SR campaign the Lions finished stone last without winning a game. He buggered off as is his won’t ( and watch this space the Bulls may well be next ) and the Lions were duly relegated in favour of the Kings. Mitchell may have brought a bit of the NZ flavour but appeared incapable of implementing it effectively. The rise and rise of a band of refugees and discards under a visionary coach and staff in two years is the stuff of movies and books and but for a ‘knee jerk’ red card by Jackass Peyper they would have held the trophy aloft last year. It was not to be but the other Franchises could only look up on in awe of the only team to give us some respectability on the ‘international’ stage these past few years. I’ll need to save this so I can ‘cut and paste’ it for you in future.

          I do agree that they had superior fitness and it just goes to show how ‘retarded’ the other Franchises were that they couldn’t even get that simple adjustment right over the years. Ooh boy.

          As for your final tilt at me re ‘support your country’ let me just once more explain myself. I’m not sure if you are fully aware of just how poor SA rugby has become since 2009 ? Some of us seem to be more aware of it than others it seems. There are those who cry in their beers and go home and kick the dog around while accepting their fate and there are those who choose to take on the system and take those responsible to task. I prefer the latter and am quite prepared to give my reasons and opinions which you of course are fully entitled to criticize and reject as well. I allow you the space please do not tell me how to use my space.

          Who is the negative one here and who is the positive one by the way. Being negative is ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. Being positive is trying to weed out the cancer and challenge the powers that be to change their destructive ways, again I prefer the latter. I rest my case, M’Lord. Cheers.

          • Mike Stoop

            No case made. You remain a severely biased Lions supporter who sells his opinions as facts. You “read between the lines” and sell it as fact. Pure nonsense. As for Mitchell, he did end up last in his first year as super rugby coach of the Lions, but won the Currie Cup against all odds against the Sharks in the same year. He left in the middle of the next season (2012) He was suspended because of complaints by players. Again distorting the facts by telling half a story. Surely a man who can read minds, should know the truth.

            As for ignoring problems: I suggest you take a good look at some of your favourite players and analyse their play very carefully. You may find that you have been ignoring some serious flaws all the time.

            By the way. Calling a player “a two step pony and not much else” and then claiming that you said “he needs more work” is plain dishonest. If you put forward an opinion at least be willing to own up to it and apologise or stand by it. Don’t lie to save face.

            And stop writing these books. It makes for tedious reading. Just say:”I love the Lions players and I think every other player in South Africa is not worth my time.” At least we don’t have to keep on reading in the hope that somewhere we could find a kernel of truth or fairness that may justify our giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  • Nick.

    Herman, Herman, You confuse facts with opinions.

    Are you involved in coaching? if not you should be.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Nick, it would help if you were more specific about my ‘confusion’ so I can respond appropriately. Cheers.

      • Rant

        It might be your bedtime.

  • Nick.

    You seem to have a hell of a lot of access to the thoughts and motives of so many big hitters in the Bok scene.
    Bismark, Fransie, Rassie and others.

    • Herman Schroder?

      I get it from years and years of experience posting on these forums while watching the fall of the Springbok ’empire’. Years and years of the same dom krag experts taking our rugby into free fall while all my predictions came to pass. Although frankly you didn’t even need to be a Nostradamus to predict it, our dinosaur coaches predictability saw to that. I didn’t want to toot my own horn but you did ask the question.

      Poor old Rassie we beat England and are still ranked 7th in the world. Only France of the original eight superpowers are below us in the pecking order, go figure. Will Rassie take us into the expansive age as Plan A and not an emergency measure forced on him ? The next two games should answer that question so good luck Rassie the ball’s in your court..

      • Rant

        I know you saw the first ever Springbok match, but that era is long gone. It’s 2018, want some coffee?

      • Mike Stoop

        Herman, he did not compliment you. He was being sarcastic.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Mike, Which compliment was that ? but you do know that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit old chap ?

          Re your comments on the Mitchell / Lions saga on a previous post on which you denied me the right of reply.
          Firstly you seem to do precisely what you accuse me of, doctoring the facts to suit the argument. In 2011 ( SIX years before the Lions reached their first SR final ) the Golden Lions won the watered down Currie Cup, which as you know is a very poor cousin compared to SR. So the true Currie Cup champions can only be measured on a double round at full strength against the other ‘Provinces. Seeing as the other Provinces / Franchises haven’t beaten the Lions in three years,one can easily deduce that they would have won the real CC based on that criteria at a doddle. Ouch.

          Mitchell has never persevered with anyone after he was sacked as AB coach. Can all these clubs / teams / countries he has coached since then be problematic and not him ? Mark my words the Bulls are next. All those superstar Bok players yet 11th on the current SR log ? Ooh boy.

          As for Damien Willemse and your accusing me of being a liar ( which I take exception to by the way, let’s keep this exchange free of insults in the spirit of this forum ) please do not take my comments out of context. I did say ‘one trick pony’ but ended by saying he stills needs to do a lot of learning. On another site I also mentioned he was undeniably a talent but……etc. Again your accusing me of the very thing thing you are just as guilty of, being economical with the truth.

          Then it’s your old fallback when you feel it’s time to do a bit of censorship on these forums, telling me to curtail my writing. What a cheek. If you have problems with my ‘long’ posts then ignore them I don’t recall imploring you to please read me ? We all have different ways of expressing ourselves and it’s not for me ( or you ) to dictate to others how to do so. I mentioned your ‘ touch of arrogance’ before but it seems your little ‘rants’ are now bordering on being petty and spiteful. Chill brother this is only a rugby forum not world hunger.

          And finally ( again ). I support the Lions and I make no excuses for it. For the last few years, including this one where the other Franchises are actually worse than they were previous years despite being talked up by all and sundry at the beginning of the season, the Lions have outperformed all the others and until the other Franchises get their house’s in order and start doing something for SA rugby I will hold them to account. I beat the Lions drum not because I’m biased but because there is absolutely nothing I can compare them with and the records will show I am correct. Again, I rest my case M’Rant. Cheers.

  • Herman Schroder?

    I get it from years and years of experience posting on these forums while watching the fall of the Springbok ’empire’. Years and years of the same dom krag experts taking our rugby into free fall while all my predictions came to pass. Although frankly you didn’t even need to be a Nostradamus to predict it, our dinosaur coaches predictability saw to that. I didn’t want to toot my own horn but you did ask the question.

    Poor old Rassie we beat England and are still ranked 7th in the world. Only France of the original eight superpowers are below us in the pecking order, go figure. Will Rassie take us into the expansive age as Plan A and not an emergency measure forced on him ? The next two games should answer that question so good luck Rassie the ball’s in your court..

    • Rant

      Dinosaurs were your pets.

  • minging

    Greatest comeback ever? Sure maybe if you are a bit of an Emo. But there are much better examples in the past against much better teams than one at the end of their season already on a huge losing streak. There are a fair few against New Zealand and most of them to comeback and take the Trinations. Think the Mallet era in the away comeback… or even the White era 3N win after the second worst Bok year in History since that dope Coetzee. But a win is a win.

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