Why a wobble in November?

2010-11-25 10:28

JJ Harmse

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.

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.


  • shavenrules - 2010-11-25 11:26

    the last time we didn't wobble was the last time we had a truly excellent coach. Nick Mallet

      stivvler - 2010-11-25 11:46

      Are you smoking your socks?

      Rory - 2010-11-25 12:12

      nick never won the world cup old boy.. remember jack white ?

      Ammie - 2010-11-25 20:29

      jake white nothingt- we won the world cup against giants like fidji/samoa/tonga/usa/ poor england ans the pumas. untill sum dumb idiot decided that nick was not gud enough for the morons. he was outstanding. biggest mistake he made was do drop teichman and my and afrikaans stupid capt

      AJ - 2010-11-26 06:50

      Jake White I remeber?

      jamie.stockley - 2010-11-27 09:48

      Flip chap...where you been ?

  • glenn.paton - 2010-11-25 12:11

    The All Blacks are synonymous for burying lower ranked teams whilst South Africa and to a lesser extent, the Wallabies struggle to. When it comes to the big games, the AB's slip up every now and again, where the Boks perform at their best when their backs are against the wall. The All Blacks require two key personnel to effectively implement their game plan: Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Although their plan remains the same when either of these two aren't playing, they are not nearly as effective. Richie slows down the oppositions ball, and Daniel Carter sets his backline alight or with his pinpoint accuracy plays to the corners when needed. These two cogs are vital for the AB's and NZ wait with baited breath on a clean bill of healthy rugby players heading into the World Cup in 2011. The Boks have a plethora of injuries (resting) at the moment and this has put a serious stall on their pre-world cup campaign.Don't get me wrong, the AB's and the Wallabies are missing key players as well,but not nearly to the extent the Boks are. Are the AB's really that good or is this dejavu?I really do think if the AB's have Richie and Carter next year they will canter to their first trophy since 1987.But at the same time, the Boks had a horrendous year in 2006 and ended up being the talk of the town in Paris. An exciting year ahead, but first we have this weekends final matchups.The Boks backs are against the wall! A win will be huge for their confidence and for the players back home..

      BardofAvon - 2010-11-25 17:41

      The EOYT doesn't amount to a row of beans, although it sure hurts to see the Boks lose. What does amount to a row of beans is the World Cup. I am glad we are now losing (if we had beaten Scotland it would have papered over the cracks) because now we will not be complacent when it comes to the WC. That is going to be the All Blacks' problem - complacency. And once you have it, you cannot get rid of it no matter how hard you try, so to speak. As you know, glenn, the All Blacks have only won one WC (in '87 - when the Boks did not play) and whatever the state of SA rugby is right now, the only thing that counts is the second half of the WC knock-out games in NZ next year. Which will depend on the mental state of the team that day.

  • Len - 2010-11-25 12:18

    Our seletion policies caught up. We have a number of players out of form and who needs to be dropped to reflect. Most noteably Morne Steyn. And maybe the plan was to play Butch or Derick H. which would have been great.Yes I would also like to see Lambie play but in the NH with an axe hanging over the coaches head? He has shown that he is human with 2 vital missed kicks... but most of have this 6th sense that he is the ONE. He will not be broken. He will only grow. But the coaches jobs are on the line, so we will not experiment, so players get intp a comfort zone, steyn de villiers, spies, habana... In the AB team you can be dropped any day except if you are RM or DC, but then they are the ultimate.

  • themantshepo - 2010-11-25 13:04

    wobbled badly in the tri nations if you remeber.... this team has been wobbling since their lucky win in the tri nations last year..... they narrowly beat the mighty all blacks last year in all 3 games, had those games each been an extra 5 minutes longer the all blacks would have beaten the proteas last year for sure.... the truth is this team has fallen off the wagon and are plain cr@p

      Pooh-Bear - 2010-11-25 13:48

      On the other hand, you could argue that the if that infamous game at Soccer City was 2mins shorter we'd have at least pulled off a draw, and our loss to Australia was also decided in the last few minutes!

  • FYC - 2010-11-25 18:09

    I think the AB just play their game, whether it be against weak opposition or strong. Wet weather they run it, dry weather....they run it. If they play Japan or England, their game plan stays the same. With us, on the other hand, we read soooo much into conditions, players, referees, coaches etc. when in actual fact what we should be doing is just playing our game (the same game that won us the WC). hard defense with a good kicking game. I cant remeber when the AB didn't come out running against a team - even if they had lost. Stick to what works?? I dont know

  • malansgh - 2010-11-26 11:13

    Individuals, and teams, rise to the level expected of them. Everyone expects the All Blacks to win, and they expect it of themselves, so they do win most of the time. With the Springboks everyone expects them to win some and lose some, depending on the weather, the ref, whether Matfield feels like playing lock or centre, Habana makes the intercept or not, etc. So they do win some and they do lose some, and we've all gotten used to it. No chance they will improve until more is expected of them. We should not just hope that they win, we should demand and expect it. Until we do they will just wobble along.

      FYC - 2010-11-26 17:20

      100% dude. We always hope that the other team doesn't play well. Thats how we win, instead of winning before we set foot on the pitch.

  • clarke - 2010-11-26 14:53

    I think that the AB's are always out to prove a point, they choke time and time again in world cups but are still consistently the best team in the world, I think that if they were current world champions they would loose more games, they would have less to prove to themselves and their supporters. I also think the make up and style of their S14 teams is similar making the All Black transition easier, where as Springboks have contrasting styles which are hard to gel, sending a sharks / bulls / or province team over would probably yield better results but obviously not politically possible. Springboks didn't look like a team last year on the EOYT or at ALL this year...they are gradually deteriorating, with all our provincial success, talent and experience on the field, we should be putting big points in the North...

  • Mazwi - 2010-11-27 04:42

    This is no rocket science. All Blacks play one brand of rugby, be it in the rain, dry, against whoever. They dont have an obsession with heavy fields, and the type of players to choose for a particular tour and all that. They stick to wht they know, and it is good enough. It'simple Boks need to keep ball in hand and use their athlets, like the AB do, and stop kicking away possession. Oh, and find a flyhalf who's a playmaker, not a kicker

  • marco - 2010-11-27 10:49

    Good post JJ Harmse and fair observations.Now for the "armchair professionals" to make a reply for their comments which follows below and above no doubt will have an excellent response to what you've said.And they'll tell you quite frankly they are entitled to an opinion most notably on PDV and his support staff.Some though will be a bit more sarcastic and evil but most of them cynical and ill advised in their reply to what you've said you watch that mate.

  • jannie - 2010-11-27 11:56

    @JJ Harmse. The reason why we wobble is because come rain, sun, North, South, West, East, the Springboks always try to play the Blue Bulls gameplan every single game. Bash it up with the forwards, and kick kick kick. Nick Mallet had a 17-in-a-row win as Springboks, but after that, he went down because the All Blacks and Aussies adapted their game plans, and his tried and tested plans did not change. Same now, the Springboks are playing the same gameplan since 2008. And stop blaming the coach. Any New Zealand supported will tell you in 2008 Graham Henry was the most hated man in New Zealand. Everybody was calling for his head. New Zealand Rugby just kept believing in him. Now how can New Zealand have gone from piss poor under Henry, to super good under Henry. Same with Clive Woodward and England. From 1999 to 2001 England was one of the worst rugby nations. Clive Woodward coached them to WC victory in 2003, but before that everybody called for his head. England stuck to him, and the rest is history. That is something the South African rugby public must learn, is that you just dont fire a coach when everything is not well. Graham Henry and Clive Woodward showed that.

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