Gary Boshoff

Bulls title defence on track

2011-06-14 15:23
Sport24 columnist Gary Boshoff (File)
Gary Boshoff

The Bulls have once again seized the initiative from the Stormers and Sharks as they head into the final weekend of Super Rugby. 

This display of mental toughness “under fire” against a team that all but overwhelmed them in all facets of the game barely 10 weeks ago, epitomises the Bulls’ success in Super Rugby. 

Their return into contention for their third consecutive Super Rugby title is as remarkable as the winning of the first two titles in 2009 and 2010!

While the very slim winning margin can be ascribed to an inexplicable slump in form by the Stormers on the one hand and the masterful hand of Victor Matfield on the other, it still required meticulous execution and loads of patience and discipline to outlast the Stormers on Saturday.

It was indeed worrying to see seasoned performers, many of whom who will go to the RWC, wane and totter when it mattered the most. 

Players like Gio Aplon, Bryan Habana, Ricky Januarie, Andries Bekker and Tiaan Liebenberg did not rise to the level that the occasion required - they succumbed to the pressure. 

The Bulls, on the other hand, were cool and calm and executed their game plan to perfection under the astute direction of Victor Matfield, who despite the absence of Bakkies Botha and Fourie du Preez, led his team with proficiency.

Outstanding performances by Francois Hougaard (who displayed his tactical kicking skills on more than one occasion), Morné Steyn, Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies, Werner Kruger, Bjorn Basson and to a certain extent, Wynand Olivier, have strengthened the arguments for their inclusion into the final RWC squad.

The Springbok selectors are spoiled for choice when it comes to scrumhalves, No 8s, flanks, locks, flyhalves and centres, an ideal position to be in ahead of the RWC. 

The main selection challenge will be to get the combinations right and to ensure that the team is mentally ready when they team up against the Welsh, Irish, Wallabies and All Blacks.

This time around the Springboks will most probably have to beat either the All Blacks or Wallabies to win the RWC - there will be no easy ride as in 2007 in France. 

They will have to be at their very best from the outset as teams like Wales and Samoa have improved their professional structures significantly since 2007 and beating them is no longer just a formality, but will require focus and 100% preparedness.

That is why the return to form of the Bulls and especially stalwarts like Matfield, Steyn, Spies and Du Preez has been critical in gauging the chances of the Springboks as a team.

Just by weighing up the comments from the top rugby scribes it seems that there is general consensus that coach Peter de Villiers has got it right with his squad selections and that as things presently stand, the strongest possible Springbok team will contest the RWC in September. 

This does not happen often in rugby and it is ironic that it should happen under the reign of De Villiers who has attracted a fair share of criticism for his selection choices since his appointment as Springbok coach.

De Villiers’s Springboks are on the verge of achieving yet another milestone: they can be the first country to successfully defend their RWC title as well as the first country to win three RWC titles. 

The recent performances of the Stormers, Cheetahs and Lions in New Zealand are proof that South African teams can win over there.

Given the occasion, there is certainly no reason why the Springboks cannot retain the Webb Ellis Cup on October 23, 2011.

Gary Boshoff is a former SARU player and current Afrikaans rugby commentator on SuperSport.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    super 15  |  rwc


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk
Most Read


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

The game of Heyneke’s life
Kriel braced for titanic Welsh clash
VIDEO: The Boks training at Pennyhill Park
O'Connell - Ireland's warrior king
/World Cup
Love 2 Meet

Take a photographical trip down memory lane and remind yourself of how the Springboks fared in their five previous Rugby World Cup campaigns. In addition, pick your all-time Springbok Rugby World Cup Dream Team and you could win R3 000!

Latest blogs

The Springboks will face Wales in the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals at Twickenham on Saturday. Who will walk away victorious?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.