JJ Harmse

Boks fan favourites at RWC

2011-09-22 13:20
Sport24 columnist JJ Harmse (File)
JJ Harmse

We have had a scandal (according to some), a scam (according to some), a scare (according to some) and the controversy (according to some), but also many, many highlights thus far at the Rugby World Cup.

The scandal of course would be Mike Tindall's apparent indiscretions with a blonde down in Queenstown. Lady Zara flew into New Zealand this week, so one can only imagine the frosty reception of that reunion down on the South Island.

The scam, according to the New Zealand Herald, is because the French had the audacity to field a weakened team against the All Blacks this weekend. This match, according to the newspaper, is the most anticipated one of all the Pool matches and now the French have diluted it by not naming their best team. This was of course, even before Graham Henry named his side and when he did, it was not full strength either, albeit due to Kieran Reid still injured and Mils Muliaina being dropped for Israel Dagg.

Not that the Herald had any factual evidence of the so called scam, but nevertheless. Let’s just hope it does not blow up in their faces.

Their article was based on a column in their own paper, written by Peter Bills, suggesting that the French were throwing the game to get to the 'easy side' of the draw.

Only they will know how they can publish a lead story based on the opinion of one of their own writers, but then, maybe there was no car accident or delayed train to report about in the greater Auckland area.

The scare was off course when both Richie McCaw and Dan Carter were withdrawn from the All Blacks' match against Japan and their team doctor was interviewed on national radio, urging fans to stay calm, as the injuries were not tournament threatening, sort of speak.

Then there was the "controversy" when it was reported that our own coach, Peter de Villiers, insulted the Haka.

This is nonsense of course, as De Villiers did not say anything insulting towards the Haka.

He was interviewed after the Springboks attended a special haka performance at the site where the original kamate haka was devised and where the cry ‘to kill, to kill” was heard the first time.

At the function, where the Boks stood in freezing conditions for almost two hours, watching one version of the haka after another, the coach afterwards said warned that the haka will be devalued if it is performed at every possible official opportunity. He certainly did not insult anyone and did put things in perspective.

Of course, some New Zealand media have been frustrated by the lack of “P Divvy-isms” at this event and were looking to stoke the fire.

Allow me to congratulate the Boks for their behaviour off the field this far in the tournament. They are of course, fairly protected by tournament rules and regulations, but their public appearances have been a huge success.

Their most recent one, early in the week in Taupo, was attended by hundreds and hundreds of fans and surprisingly not only expat South Africans.

The Boks took a long time to sign autographs, pose for photographs and to chat with the locals. Great stuff indeed and very fittingly, as Taupo is the home of King Country, the province where the great Colin Meads played.

This was also the venue where the 1994 Springbok tour to New Zealand started and a special exhibition display about that day can be seen in their clubhouse.

Some team members took to some jet boat riding on the crystal clear waters of the Waikato River, while others spent their free time with family who had flown in to join the players.

After their win over Wales and ruthless dismantling of both Fiji and Namibia, the Boks are suddenly again being talked up as possible winners.

With a possible quarter-final against the Wallabies and a semi-final against the All Blacks a week later, the way to the final is certainly a steep one.

A lot has happened thus far and a lot can still happen in the games over the next two weeks, but I am feeling confident that the Boks are in the right space. Their off the field behaviour shows a relaxed, confident side and their performances on the field is proof of that.

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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