Boks on Tour

Div: 2010 a very good year

2010-12-05 20:59
Stephen Nell

London – If the late Boy Louw had been there listening to Peter de Villiers on Saturday night, he would probably have lifted the roof of Twickenham’s Good Health Bar with a shout of “Looks at the scoreboard!”.

Even so, the Springbok coach grabbed the opportunity after his team’s 20-26 defeat to the Barbarians to make the point that South African rugby is indeed in good health and well-positioned ahead of next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.

“It was a very good year, one of the best of my life. The scoreboard did not look good, but it was a good year because we pulled together through adversity. I now understand each individual better,” said De Villiers.

“If one looks at the scoreboard from the past year then you all have the right to be critical. We lost the game today, but won in other areas. This was not a Test match. It was a test of our young players and depth. We won that test and lost the game.”

That point is in itself debatable and many South Africans will be deeply concerned that the Springboks have won only 9 of their last 17 Tests and also lost to Leicester, Saracens and the Barbarians.

Irrespective of the circumstances, it cannot be said that things are going well with Springbok rugby.

De Villiers did make the valid point that only two players in the team on Saturday – Juan Smith and Bakkies Botha – would regularly play Test rugby. His injury list at the start of the tour included Fourie du Preez, Jaque Fourie, JP Pietersen, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, Juan de Jongh, Wynand Olivier, Gurthrö Steenkamp, John Smit and Heinrich Brüssow.

“I actually think the injuries were a blessing, because I may have been tempted to overplay some guys,” said De Villiers.

“You cannot use them when they are injured. There are other players that have stepped up now.

“There are 49 players from which we can pick the squad for next year’s World Cup. That is a healthy position to be in.”

While newcomers such as Willem Alberts, Lwazi Mvovo and Patrick Lambie all experienced good moments on tour, De Villiers praised his senior players for their contribution on a tour that yielded three wins in four Tests.

“It’s the older guys that really impressed me. They pulled us through,” he said.

“The young guys brought a lot of energy to our training sessions. Elton Jantjies was not bad, Patrick Lambie showed his talent, Lwazi Mvovo proved that he can make it at a high level and Willem Alberts made a big name for himself. I’m very happy.”

De Villiers now hopes that the players can be managed correctly so that they can be at the best at the World Cup next year.

“My big fear is Super rugby. It’s a long competition and I believe we will also start games better if we manage the players well. The guys now need a good break so that they come back hungry.”


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