JJ Harmse

All over bar the shouting

2011-10-20 10:16
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
JJ Harmse

The final result of the 2011 Rugby World Cup looks to be all over bar the shouting and there's still of course a totally insignificant match between Wales and Australia.

On Sunday, New Zealand should become the Webb Ellis Cup winners for the second time, to add to the title they won in the inaugural 1987 tournament.

It is really very difficult to see how they could lose to France, despite the unpredictability of the French and the uncanny ability they have in beating the All Blacks in World Cup tournaments.

New Zealand were rocked by the injuries to Dan Carter and Colin Slade shortly afterwards, but they deserve credit for the way they got back into their stride almost immediately.

The French have been in turmoil from day one, even losing to Tonga, before outlasting both England and Wales to set up a repeat of the 1987 final.

We all know of course that South Africa did not play in that tournament and as Louis Luyt famously said in 1995, many South Africans did not really accepted the results of 1987 and 1991, because the Springboks weren't present.

Well, this time we did and we all know what happened on that fateful afternoon in Wellington.

I so wished for the Springboks to play against the All Blacks in the semi-finals, but unfortunately it never happened. All that did happen was a bad dose of ‘if only’ and some straight forward refereeing by Craig Joubert to sort out the breakdown antics of both Richie McCaw, and, in particular, David Pocock.

The most important thing that Joubert managed out of that semi-final was that suddenly both teams had an equal chance to play. The Springboks simply never had that opportunity in Wellington and will always look back with regret, anger and a real sense of tragedy as to what happened to them.

The International Rugby Board has indicated that they have achieved their targets with regards to ticket sales and that is great news for New Zealand. The tournament will still be a money losing operation and because of that, the Kiwis will probably never host the event again, but no disputing the fact that this was one hell of a tournament.

Also, with New Zealand on the verge of finally winning this thing, it will also be a huge relief to the people of the country and this desperate need they have to be World Cup champions.

France will have other plans, but whether they will work on the day, remains to be seen.

Coach Marc Lievremont has once again decided to play Morgan Parra at flyhalf, and although the Clermont player has coped well since donning the No 10 jersey, it may just as well cost them the World Cup.

Francois Trinh-Duc has played so well when given the opportunity against England and in the match against Wales, the game was crying out for his introduction.
But Lievremont never used him. I was left wondering afterwards why and the only explanation I could come up with was that the coach has some personal issues with the player. Unfortunately, that is never going to deliver the right result for any team, just ask Peter de Villiers.

His inability to detach himself emotionally from some players - in particular John Smit and Bryan Habana - lead to wrong team selections and failed results.

Let us hope Lievremont does not pay the same price.

The quarter-final knock-out punch to the Springboks has of course now given some real spice and life to the Currie Cup playoffs.

As we saw last weekend, the introduction of players like Bismarck du Plessis and Willem Alberts to the Sharks team has had a dramatic effect. Same with Western Province, where Jean de Villiers proved pretty effective against the Pumas.
With their Boks back in the fold, the Sharks should have way too much firepower for the Cheetahs and should be a shoo-in for the final.

The Lions v WP match should be much closer. Yes, the Lions have being playing well and will have home advantage, but the fact of the matter is that WP suddenly have some real venom back in their fangs.

De Villiers, Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon can still cut any side to shreds and it might just happen in Johannesburg.

Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.

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.

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