Why a wobble in November?
Our Grand Slam is gone, but the All Blacks remain on track to nail another one when they take on Wales on Saturday.
I was wondering, after watching the Springboks’ shocking performance against the Scots, how the Kiwi team always seems to stroll through their November tour, but the Boks always find a way to trip themselves up?
Even last year, after the Boks had a clean sweep over Graham Henry’s men, they conquered Europe with some ease, while we lost to France and Ireland.
I know the weather conditions had a role to play, but how is it possible for the All Blacks to put almost 50 past the Scots, only for us to lose against the same team?
South African rugby sides were notoriously poor travellers in the 1990’s, but have since improved a lot, as seen by our Super Rugby teams when they travel down to Australasia.
We are now expecting them to win at least one, but probably two games when on tour.
When the Boks go north in November every year, which should be easier for them as there are no real time zone issues, there is never massive confidence in the possibility of them coming home undefeated.
This time, many people thought that the Boks would be lucky to win one game (Scotland?) and lose the rest.
Now, with one more Test to go against England, chances are that we can go 3-1 on tour.
Despite that, no one is happy, as we are not playing great rugby.
We are nowhere near as fluent and brutal as the All Blacks are and there is certainly no doubt in the Europeans minds who the best team in the world are.
Unfortunately for us, it is not the Springboks at the moment.
I believe we have what it takes to beat New Zealand, not only now, but also in next year’s World Cup, providing of course, that we have all our big guns like Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie and Gurthrö Steenkamp back and firing.
Why is it then that we wobble every November, but the All Blacks cruise through their tour?
Does their style of play work better in the Northern Hemisphere than ours? Are their players better rested? Or is there no reason other than the fact that they are simply better than us at the moment?
I certainly can’t put my finger on one particular issue. What do you think are the reasons?
On a more personal note, I attended the funeral of a great rugby man yesterday.
Gert Grobler, who used to be president of Mpumalanga Rugby and a member of the President’s Council at SARU, passed away last weekend after a battle with cancer.
Grobler was still old school in his views on rugby and placed huge emphasis on the basic principles of the game. Respect was one of them and that was returned to Grobler in a massive way. He was well respected by all who knew him and had to deal with him.
In a time when the President’s Council was in disarray and rugby politics quite ugly, Grobler’s firm stand on issues helped solve many a problem.
One always knew what he believed in as he was never scared to speak his mind.
He was a big man, as expected from a former Northern Transvaal loose forward, but he will be remembered for much, much more than his career as a player.
Very few people who had dealings with him will forget ‘oom Gert’ and it was heart-warming to see so many Pumas players, current and former, at the service.
It is often said that there are only two types of administrators, those that need rugby to survive and those who don’t.
Grobler certainly belonged to the last group and gave much more to rugby than the game could ever give back to him. But he never expected anything back in return and that is not something that you find anymore these days.
Allow me to use this space to say goodbye to a great man. Rugby will certainly be poorer without oom Gert. The problem is, administrators like him do not often come around anymore.
Read JJ every Sunday in Rapport.
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