Salutes pour in for Baby Boks
Shaun Adendorff on the charge (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - We may be in the midst of a Test series between the two countries at senior level, but the Baby Boks rightly commanded centre stage on Tuesday for a fabulous surge to victory over England
in the IRB Junior World Championship.
The young South Africans needed to win with a bonus point in their final pool match at Cape Town Stadium to make the semi-final cut and frankly looked stone-dead as far as that prospect was concerned at the break - they trailed 3-0 after being knocked backwards in most respects and defeat even seemed a pretty strong likelihood.
But, clearly responding to coach Dawie Theron’s urgent cry for them to “put heart and soul on the line” in the second 40 minutes, a near-staggering turnaround saw them score the required four tries, win by the comfortable margin of 28-15 and qualify to meet Argentina in one of the semis (the other pits New Zealand against Wales) at Newlands on Sunday.
It will go down as one of the most famous Baby Bok triumphs in the relatively fledgling history of the competition, regardless of whether the hosts end up going all the way to the silverware or not.
Perhaps the match also marked a key springboard for rugby at the slightly troubled World Cup 2010 soccer stadium; the lower tiers of the large venue were well populated on a chilly but rainless night and fans clearly revelled in the occasion.
Immediately afterwards, Twitter tributes to the team - inspiringly led out at the eleventh hour by William Small-Smith after Wiaan Liebenberg’s withdrawal due to injury
- flooded in from senior icons of the South African game.“Well done Baby Boks, great game of rugga!”
enthused World Cup 2007-winning captain John Smit (@JohnSmit123).
Another former Bok stalwart and now SuperSport pundit Ashwin Willemse (@Ashwinwillemse) said: “Great win by the Junior Bokkies! Semi-final here we come; our Cup hopes still alive.”
Tearaway loose forward of the 1980s Rob Louw (@roblouw6) enthused: “Great 2nd half ... standouts 13 (centre Small-Smith), (prop Steven) Kitshoff, (right wing Paul) Jordaan, (flank Shaun) Adendorff.”
Ex-Stormers and Bok wing crowd-pleaser Breyton Paulse (@BreytonPaulse) boasted: “Told you so! Great team effort by Baby Boks, that’s the gees. They looked down and out but rose to the occasion. Proudly South African, BOKBEF*K!”
Current Springbok No 8 Pierre Spies (@Pierrespies8), taking time out from preparation for the second senior Test at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday, said: “Well done Baby Boks! Great win, guys. #finishingstrong.”
JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo also joined the most rapid praise-singers on Twitter, while the Stormers’ Bok-capped flyhalf Peter Grant (@PeterGrant_) interestingly noted: “Awesome vibe at the Baby Boks game. I really dig Newlands but the CT Stadium is pretty damn cool!”Results form the IRB Junior World Championship on Tuesday:Pool A
Wales 74, Samoa 3
New Zealand 33, Fiji 12Pool B
Ireland 41, Italy 12South Africa 28
, England 15Pool C
Argentina 17, Scotland 12
France 31, Australia 7Fixtures:June 17Ninth place semi-finals
Scotland v Italy
Fiji v SamoaFifth place semi-finals
France v Australia
Ireland v EnglandSemi-finals
Wales v New ZealandSouth Africa
v Argentina *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing