What next for the Boks?


What next for the Boks?

After their defeat against Ireland, LOUIS DE VILLIERS looks at the Springbok coach's options. Whatever is decided, he's just glad it's not him who has to choose.


THERE is this and that, and then the Boks who hit the skids against Ireland. Astonishingly enough, people passed through the various phases quickly.

Not first, as in scrums and lineouts and kick-offs, or second, as in scrums, or even 16th, as in yet another bloody 15th ruck.

Phases, as in the five we go through as we approach death.

Who among you has seen Bob Fosse's film masterpiece, All That Jazz? If not, give it a chance.

Lees hierdie artikel in Afrikaans:

I was looking for an original Cliff Gorman version and realised it was only recorded for the film, so I still have to wonder how acceptance would work in terms of this.

As we all probably do.

With creative editing. 

We are South African, after all, and our rugby team just lost against Ireland.

In this tournament, I have already predicted that South Africa will beat Ireland, Argentina will beat England, Fiji will beat Wales and Australia will actually beat Fiji as a result of the last-mentioned blunder.

So don't just believe me.

Or just anyone — except for the pathetic old Pumas, all the results were back and forth and from here to there, five or six points in either direction.

With only tomorrow's Fiji/Georgia match likely to bring some tension and with the knockout rounds virtually a lock, there is so much to discuss regarding future tournament formats and whatnot that I ask for your indulgence if we chat about a couple of other topics first.

Antoine Dupont's fractured cheekbone is a moral dilemma.

He's the best player in the world, probably the best scrumhalf in history, and this tough guy from the Pyrenean backwaters is ready to make medical history against the Springboks in the quarter-finals.

It will require new technology for a face mask, but they are working around the clock to make this possible. With him, France probably win; without him, probably South Africa. As a rugby fan and a South African, I therefore wish him to be in peak condition, fit and healthy and ready to play the worst match of his entire career on Sunday, October 15, totally intact.

The chances are slim.

Don't believe the other old chaps — he is better than all the number nines of the last half-century. I have also seen them all.

But on the day, I hope he fumbles throughout without his health being affected in any way.

Dupont is so beloved in France that even the right-wing opposition started promoting him as a rural icon — to such an extent that he had to distance himself from them.

The French rugby team is, after all, as multicultural as the Springboks and, as a result, like them, stronger for it.

There was some brief online speculation by people more stupid than you or I that the Sprinkboks might have lost on purpose against Ireland.

Nobody loses on purpose these days, although I'm still scratching my head about Duane Vermeulen's absence and the unnecessary penalty attempts at the posts when Manie Libbok's accurate corner kicks would have made more sense.

I guess it is a trump card for another day, and that the first team one or two of these tricks are being kept for is France, in the last-eight standing.

I hope we are not being too clever for our own good.

It has even been suggested that Dupont's possible absence in the quarterfinals could have made a difference in how the Boks applied themselves against Ireland. But c'mon! That was real Test rugby!

And it's a relatively senseless suggestion, as these types of things tend to be these days.

However, before I become rugby's hyper-optimistic Doc Pangloss (after all, it's Voltaire's France and tout va pour le mieux dans le mei... oh, heck, forget it, it's October), there are, of course, issues that bother me.

Every time Libbok aims at the goal posts and Deon Fourie is thrown into the lineout, I half bite my teeth and hold my thumbs tight and stifle a minor panic attack. These are two of my favourite players, but the lump in my throat is as real as my dry mouth.

It's pretty windgat to accept that our team will play against Ireland again.

But if that were to happen, the Springboks' set pieces and their play around the loose rucks would have to be much better.

So too, of course, Ireland's lineouts, which were so rotten last Saturday that if they had been better, the Test outcome could have been a formality at half-time.

So, do ​​you drop Manie Libbok and the possibility of two extra tries or Handré Pollard and the possibility of three additional penalties? Don't ask me.

I lean towards the idea of ​​10-Libbok, 12-Pollard. But how on earth can we expect Pollard to stop his likely opponents, the Frenchman Jonathan Danty or the Irishman Bundee Aki, in their tracks for 80 minutes?

Whatever is decided, I'm glad it's not me who has to choose.

I believe in the old-fashioned Make Soft And Then Strike Back approach, but this statement has many shades.

But when the 7/1 version of the Bomb Squad ran onto the field against Ireland, then not that much.

The young Irish loosehead prop Andrew Porter, for example, lasted 71 minutes against Frans Malherbe and Trevor Nyakane.

And then, when the reserve hooker and lock Dan Sheehan and Iain Henderson entered the battle with the Bomb Squad, the Irish lineouts were suddenly hunky-dory and those of the Boks suddenly not.

Rugby justice?

After Johan Deysel was handed a severe but almost acceptable six-game suspension for a clumsy tackle that perhaps ended Dupont's tournament, it was interesting for me to see that the great advocate Adam Casselden SC, who punished him, was the same cretin who withdrew the Englishman Owen Farrell's red card.

For the exact offence.

Dali Mpofu is also a SC, so that means less than we reckon. As is a former friend and fellow law student whose name regularly appears in questionable South African disciplinary committee decisions, although he has never understood or even shown any interest in rugby.

If we want to see rugby justice done, the coffin chasers must somehow be removed from the picture.

Handré Pollard during the men's national rugby team training at Stade Omnisports des Fauvettes in France.
Handré Pollard during the men's national rugby team training at Stade Omnisports des Fauvettes in France.

Okay, so this week we play against Tonga.

Sione 'Aleki, with his magic ukulele, is one of the Friendly Islands' most famous musicians (after all, there are only 120,000 people on the approximately 750 islands of Tonga) and played at the opening of the Sydney Opera House.

I saw this bra play his ukulele at a massive party in Nuku'alofa. With his teeth. And his toes. 

It was irresistible tropical cheese.

Please check it out, if only for the kind of showmanship that long ago made a young man feel like he was in a cool Somerset Maugham short story.

At the end, the audience stuffs money into his shirt, and trouser pockets and shoes, as is the custom in Tonga.

It's Friday, and here's Joe Gideon from All That Jazz once again to try to motivate you a bit. It's Showtime!

♦ VWB ♦

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