Boks in fine health for 2011

2010-06-12 22:30

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Rustenburg – The Springboks moved into “power fifth” against France at Newlands on Saturday, reminding the planet that they firmly intend becoming the first side yet to successfully defend a World Cup crown in New Zealand next year.

There has been some talk over the past year that a few veteran Boks will be creaking dangerously by then – we can bury that notion for the time being.

As much as the introduction of numerous fresh faces has been a pleasing hallmark of their first two Tests of the year, the core of South Africa’s senior statesmen hardly look as if they are losing their zest or mettle.

That much was evident in the 42-17 romp against the Six Nations champions in Cape Town, and featuring a decisive five tries to two against a sometimes bogey team in recent times.

Three of those mostly thrilling Bok dot-downs were shared by Young Turks in the form of hometown favourites Gio Aplon and Francois Louw, with the former going on to earn man-of-the-match for his twinkle-toed thrust and pace and the latter earning high praise from SuperSport’s visiting Welsh pundit and Lions legend Scott Gibbs.

“(Louw) was so destructive on the floor … he brought the Boks an extra dimension today,” the meaty former centre enthused.

But this heart-warming win – amazingly South Africa’s first against France at Newlands after two draws many moons ago and a visiting triumph in 2006 – was also marked by the dominance of a front five in which seasoned soldiers like Victor Matfield, Danie Rossouw and Gurthro Steenkamp got stuck in with great aplomb.

That was primarily what caused the French, typically still hell-bent on running the ball audaciously, to have to orchestrate many of their attacking moves from behind the advantage line and then, just as often, get unceremoniously rocked back in the tackle.

France missed a few key players but they still fielded the nucleus of their squad which currently boasts northern hemisphere superiority and looked a rattled and ragged outfit for much of the contest, even if there were moments of gorgeous backline dazzle from them.

The Boks were expected to face a severe examination in the engine room, but they ruled the roost(ers) in the lineouts with Matfield at his canny best in deciphering the opposition plans and then poaching the ball demoralisingly from under their jumpers’ noses.

Rossouw was all fire and brimstone generally, as he had been in the altogether less polished victory over Wales last week, while Steenkamp had a fairytale game at loosehead prop on his 29th birthday.

The bald Bulls stalwart not only played a leading role in the Bok scrum unexpectedly getting the better of their renowned opponents, but he also ran in a try to remember as he latched onto a lovely, floated Morne Steyn pass on the blind side and there was no stopping the thundering rhino.

Pleasingly, South Africa continued to boss the set-piece even after the disprution of losing captain John Smit at halftime to a hamstring injury and then Jannie du Plessis replacing BJ Botha at No 3 before the final quarter, not long after the latter hurt his neck.

As Smit’s replacement, Chiliboy Ralepelle joyously grabbed the opportunity to silence some of his detractors - the once injury-jinxed 23-year-old shone at just about all of his required tasks for 40 minutes.

Another often unpopular selection, scrumhalf Ricky Januarie, similarly excelled with his constant sniping and darting and willingness to turn “loosie” for a turnover or two, into the bargain.

There were odd occasions when he was not at home for a desired quick pass from a ruck, it is true, but overall this was a strong performance from the Stormers’ mostly reserve No 9.

Jaque Fourie was as industrious as he has been all year so far at outside centre, marshalling the awesomely aggressive Bok defence and proving a handful with ball in hand too.

I am still not fully comfortable yet about Zane Kirchner at fullback: just when you’ve marvelled at one of his deft touches, he goes and loses focus for a fatal second as a frustrating little gremlin creeps into his play.

Mind you, maybe a solid run in the side will pay dividends for him?

For so early in the international season, Springbok discipline through the ranks was a notable feature, particularly in the first half.

France only got their first penalty out of Bryce Lawrence in the 37th minute and by then the Boks had already earned some seven of their own.

South Africa move onto two relative backwater Tests against Italy and, despite a likely temptation for continuity in some respects, surely now they must “manage” some of their older legs by keeping them in the stands for these outings in pursuit of the much, much bigger picture …


  • blou bul - 2010-06-12 17:31

    Just drop Smit from the team, then we will be even better

  • Mark - 2010-06-12 17:36

    Thanks Rob - another enjoyable read...

  • Greg - 2010-06-12 17:55

    South African rugby is in top shape at the moment. The depth is fantastic. If we move forward like this the Springboks will be the first team to defend the World Cup. Well done on the convincing win against France.

  • Eugene - 2010-06-12 18:19

    Great game! Please remove Zane Kirchner though.... every time he touches the ball something goes wrong. Great Article Rob.

  • Blue machine - 2010-06-12 18:20

    Spies is the best number 8 in SA.He is close to being complete.

  • Priester - 2010-06-12 18:38

    Great read! I did not see the game but it is my humble opinion that Zane should get more opportunities to grow and mature.

  • john - 2010-06-12 19:04

    Could someone please teach Habanna to look at where he passes a ball. These blind passes is a disease that has crept into SA rugby and should be sorted out ASAP. This blind pass was refered to the 'Bang Broek' pass in my school days.(late 50's early 60's)

  • BALSAK(alias Blue Bul Hater) - 2010-06-12 19:14

    Spies is one dimensional, PLEASE what MORE must Duanne Vermeulen do to PROOF that he is the BEST no.8 in SA???? Can some idiot please tell me???

  • Rudi - 2010-06-12 19:20

    What a game- who dubbed soccer the beautiful game?? I like he idea of bringing young players in to gain experience. The last thing we want to do is to peak between World Cups and burn our players out. Frans Steyn should be in the nr 15 jersey - too much talent to ignore.

  • blou bul - 2010-06-12 19:34

    @balsak, hum, idiot, jy drink te veel van julle koloniale uitvoer produk - cheap papsakke, gaan slaap liwers dan more as jy wakker word dan kan jy sien op die supersport kykkweer kanale hoekom spies die BESTE is

  • Douw Nortier - 2010-06-12 20:15

    Enjoyable read but one-sided, the french had the boks number in the scrums up to halftime. BJ Botha is not the strong enough at tighthead. John Smit is the better captain and deserve his place. Jannie du Plessis or CJ v.d. Linde s/b tighthead in my opinion. January and Ralapelle closed the mouths of their critics. Francois Louw is a gem and with Dewald Potgieter backing up Juan Smith great depth at 7. No 6 Brussow , Botes for that man Burger, talent galore... Well done to the Bokke!

  • Tjoppie - 2010-06-12 20:34

    O, no. Zane must go. @balsak vra ek ook. Nice article.

  • Gerhard - 2010-06-12 21:40

    Welldone Bokke!!! You made us proud. There will be some experiments coming in the next two matches. I would like to see some of the seniors being reste too. Some good options to play in the Italy tests. John will be rested for the next 2 tests, but may be back for the trinations, if not, it also may be a blessing in descize. The core of the team is great. We just need the bence to be tweeked a bit. @Balsak: Spies is the best no8 in SA and arguably in the world, get used to it and get over yourself, one eyed biased Stormer supporter!!!

  • Jerome - 2010-06-12 22:04

    Don't judge Zane for only one game. He is the best solid full back in SA.

  • Gerhard - 2010-06-12 22:36

    Welldone Bokke!!! You made us proud. There will be some experiments coming in the next two matches. I would like to see some of the seniors being reste too. Some good options to play in the Italy tests. John will be rested for the next 2 tests, but may be back for the trinations, if not, it also may be a blessing in descize. The core of the team is great. We just need the bence to be tweeked a bit. @Balsak: Spies is the best no8 in SA and arguably in the world, get used to it and get over yourself, one eyed biased Stormer supporter!!!

  • @Balsak - 2010-06-12 22:56

    My bet is that you are a shemale, or even totally female. You are always looking for an argument and have no evidence or understanding to back up your futile arguments. If you have nothing better to do than bitch and moan all the time, may I suggest that you get married, or even better, get a real life.

  • Springbok Fan - 2010-06-12 22:58

    It's easy Balsak. All he has to do is win 3 X S14. Oh crap that might be to tough, seeing he hasn't won any yet. Thats right he and the rest of the Stompies choked and choked and choked. As a matter of fact they have been choking the the last 9 years. Get it visvoet. Now back back to your cheap sweet wine and your bokkems, a&&hole

  • Chaos - 2010-06-13 00:16

    Was Wynand playing today??

  • venna - 2010-06-13 01:34

    i didnt see the game myself but the article express the true bok tradition of playing decent rugby. i am a big fan of zane he is very good under the high ball and likes his attacking runs and has the mentality to read a game from the back position though he can get a bit ahead of himself and deliver a few knock ons as we have seen through the whole super 14 season but give him a fair chance to grow in his position. nothing against francois steyn but he became to arrogant because he thought hes the only long distance kicker but morne proved that he is the "generaal" and kicks his distance too. thanx bokke you proved the world were on track for 2011. you have my support

  • Wynand - 2010-06-13 03:37

    Gerhard, if someone calls himself Balsak on a public much read paper, then what comes out of the mouth to be ignored. We have a team, now to build around it and strenthen it from the outside. There is a place for all the names being mentioned, but the core is there and it is time everybody support them, the Super14 is done and dusted. It is SA/Bokke now all the way

  • blou oog - 2010-06-13 05:55

    Rob we have bigger problems at tight head than full back. I do think Frans Steyn is the best option but PDV will not make the change. He has the 5 players of colour his politics asked for. Ricky did well but is still no FDP or R Pienaar. Gio Aplon did really well.

  • Rugby Fan - 2010-06-13 07:36

    Dear BALSAK, You're name suggests you know more about soccer than rugby! Forget about your issues with the Super 14 winners and think realistically about your comment you made regarding Pierre Spies. Obviously you think you are correct to say Spies is not as good as Vermeulen and that's why (most probably) you are the only idiot in the world with that comment!

  • Slimey - 2010-06-13 07:42

    Excellent game! Plan was carried out to perfection. Tri-Colors did not know what hit them! Smit leads from the front and Chilli-Boy and January had cracker games! Spies CREATED so many advantages, why would ANYONE even consider Vermeulen? He does not carry that ball like Spies does! I believe Habana's sell-by date will be up sooner than you think.

  • k*k is k*k - 2010-06-13 08:28

    Ralepelle is k*k. Wat het hy eintlik gedoen om sy plek te regverdig? Sy algemene spel was op provinsiale vlak. Garry Botha is die man, maar 'n politieke inkorrekte keuse. Die vraag is wat moet Garry (of Tiaan as alternatief) nog doen om hom te bewys as SA se beste haker? Zane is k*k. Eers was Snorre getroud met Rose, maar nou is dit Zane. Januarie is k*k. Selfs die Stormers weet dit. Olivier het baie talent, maar op die dag se spel was hy k*k - hopenlik net oorspeel. Ligpunte was veral Matfield (wat 'n speler, wat 'n leier!), Spies (na aan die beste in die wereld), Aplon (reeds 'n legende in wording), Steenkamp (ysterman) en Louw (wie het met hom op die veld vir Schalk Burger nodig).

  • Jakes - 2010-06-13 08:47

    Gio, what a boytjie, splendid runs and tries yesterday, and afterwards when they talked to the guy, (Man of the Match), he went up a couple of notches in my book again. Well done Bokke, Matfield stealing their ball, Danie with thumping tackles, Louw and Spies in the loose, and Gurthie scoring a try... heartwarming stuff. The whole team excelled, well done boys.

  • @blou bul - 2010-06-13 09:13

    You are an idiot! It's as soon as your Blue Bull Chiliboy came on that we struggled.

  • James - 2010-06-13 09:28

    Well done Boks. Zane must go. Piter de Villiers made a big deal that Frans Steyn had played badly in the Wales Test - he said that "if you looked very closely" that this was apparant. I beg to disagree - I couldn't see any obvious errors and he earned us 3 points from a long range penalty that at the end of the day was vital in securing the victory. You didn't have to look closely to see that Zane cost us a try by dropping the high ball in the Wales test and on Saturday he fumbled the ball close to our try line. Pieter e Villiers made a bid deal that it was necessary for players to play in the Super 14 which was far tougher than the overseas leagues - if that is indeed so then I would like him to explain why our dirt tracker side lost both of their games last year (I think to Saracens and Harlequins). What does Zane bring? He looks uncomfortable and lacking in confidence. And surely, the benefit of Steyn's boot is a deminsion that no other international team can produce.

  • Emile - 2010-06-13 09:57

    Unexpected thrashing and therefore well done. Positives: Aplon's attacking game is exceptional, Louw must be one of the finds of the season and must be our No.1 choice now (before Smith), Rossouw currently at his best ever and Matfield dominating again. Maybe the current lock combination is actually our best combination. Just a couple of concerns though. Aplon must gain some "body". Too often players just run right over him or thow him aside. Schalk Burger is playing as hard as ever, but seems to be a bit behind the pace all the time, Habana is absolutely nowhere - except for his intercept try every 5th or so game, he is just nowhere. BJ is not performing - I don't know which game Rob was watching, but I saw BJ's head getting scrummed right through his ass (for a second week in a row). As with Habana, Pienaar is totally lost on the field. He looks like a deer in extra bright headlights. Last and most disturbing is the diabolical use of substitutions by Snorre. He simply doesn't learn and soon it is gonna cost us the game. Snorre should go a learn this trade at the Super 14 coaches. After this weekend the European sides must be wondering what the hell is going on down south. It seems as if the southern hemosphere teams are playing in a different league currently. If Snorre stays sane, the BOKS should fight with the All Blacks for the cup next year. Currently I don't see any other contenders, unless the Aussies come up with some new tricks (cheats) again at scrum time and at the breakdown.

  • Waldo Pepper - 2010-06-13 10:12

    Dear Div, I owe you an apology - you proved me wrong - big time! I was wrong about Gio, Ricky and even Smit. Sorry! But I still think Chilly is a joke. Anyway, I will keep my mouth shut for a while. Well done, the Boks!

  • Emile - 2010-06-13 10:29

    Just to add to my previous comments and will probably get blasted again by provincialists, but here goes. What happened to Ruan Pienaar and Habanna this past season. Maybe the move to the Cape was not in the best interest of Habana. I think he was quite out of form this entire season. He is just nowhere on the field. Except for his intercepts every now and then, he has no impact on any game - being for the Boks or Stormers. Currently there are a numbe rof better wings in SA and I hope Snorre will somehow help him out of this slump. All he does on the field is hugging or kissing try scorers and making funny faces. Ruan Pienaar is an even bigger concern. He is totally lost. Why the hell do they keep using him at flyhalf. He is NO flyhalf and we have Butch as cover, who is a flyhalf. Maybe the blame must go to the Sharks for totally stuffing up his rugby. Stop using him as an utility - he is a fu@#ing scrumhalf and could become a great one. January is showing promising signs and currently deserving of his place as replacement for Du Preez. I don't like him, but must admit that he is playing well (not doing his basics well though). Zane Kirchner is also not convincing at all. He does great things, but boy oh boy, he can really stuff it up as well. He is not consistent enough to be our WC fullback. Snorre must stop his kak now and pick Steyn. Steyn and only Steyn can be our WC fullback. If it is a colour thing still in this sick society of ours, then paint him black. Just must mention Louw as well. I can't imagine him being dropped for Smit at this point. This guy is on fire. To have a guy at 113kg stealing balls on the deck is just a frightning sight. I would love to see him pairing with Potgieter as the two flanks. Potgieter brings much more to the game than Schalk Burger, who has been a great Bok for many years. I said it after the Super 14 final and I will say it again: Schalk is currently chasing the game. Most of the time his impact is to late at the breakdown. I think the game has become a bit too fast for him. Just as physical as ever, but the impact is gone. If the Aussies could move beyond the George Smith & Phil Waugh era, then it is high time we move beyond the Burger era. Lastly. What is it that Snorre sees in BJ Botha? After the past two games, BJ must be smelling shit, as his head is constantly scrummed to where the sun doesn't shine. This is maybe the one position that we have a serious problem. I'm not sure if we have anyone better, but we need to find a tighthead very quickly. Doctor Du Plessis is also no improvement. Glad to see Smit at hooker - what an improvement and I hope Snorre has finally realized that he is no prop. What happened to Bismark?

  • @ BALSAK(alias Blue Bul Hater) - 2010-06-13 10:39

    Please get real. Just stirring again or you are really as stupit as your name suggests. Two totally different type of players (hard to notice for you probably). On a wet, soft and heavy field - Vermeulen would be my No.1 choice too. In any other conditions, Spies stands way above any other No.8 in world rugby. I'm also frustrated about the fact that Kanko is preferred to Vermeulen, but there is no way in hell that anyone would pick Vermeulen before Spies - except you!!!. So just maybe you need serious help to get over your permanent obsession with Spies. Hope you enjoyed his dominance over Vermeulen in the Super 14 final.

  • @ Tjoppie & BALSAK(alias Blue Bul Hater) - 2010-06-13 10:44

    Julle name pas nogal by julle. Julle is seker nie WeePee ondersteunertjies nie, nê? As die lig ooit vir julle tweetjies aankom sal julle hopelik sien ons is lankal very die Super 14. Dis nou BOK-tyd outjies. So as julle weer wil saamgesels, praat bietjie sense.

  • Zinny - 2010-06-13 10:46

    Thank God the All Blacks are not the favourates to win the 2011 World Cup, they are the underdogs....whoooha, I repeat the underdogs. Please spread the word that the Boks just need to show up to.

  • KOBUS @ BALSAK(alias Blue Bul Hater) - 2010-06-13 10:48

    I'm a Stormer myself, but really. Get to grips with your emptions, we will take the Super 14 next time. Please stop with your stupid comments. I would love to have Spies in my team any day. I support rugby and I suggest you also try. Maybe you will enjoy rugby and life in general. You must be one miserable individual.

  • Ridewaan - 2010-06-13 10:49

    Smit was good, but his time has come. We have many quality hookers and Matty should lead the team to the world cup. Habana is also close to his sellby date. Zane is ok at fullback, but definately not for the world cup, Gio is more solid and creative - ala Cristen Cullen - and should be given more time at the back.

  • kirchner must go - 2010-06-13 10:49

    Kirchner has been given numerous chances to perform for the boks, and not one good performance. he must go.

  • Dgs - 2010-06-13 11:18

    I must say that Ricky 'The Michelin Man' Januarie certainly made me eat my words yeaterday. He has an excellent game. I am afraid that Kirchner is not Springbk material. Play either Frans Steyn or Joe Pietersen at full back

  • Great boys! - 2010-06-13 11:24

    Fantastic and very clinical overall performance by the Boks. January played well (yes yes I know he is not FDP but who is!?) Kirchner is NOT Bok material. If he couldn’t shine on Saturday he will disappear against the AB’s and Ausies. However, if Snor and Frans Steyn have problems and Joe Pietersen is gone who the hell do you play at 15......Pienaar, Aplon? Nothing wrong with Aplon but wont his length count against him....then again how tall is Mills (AB’s)? Francois Louw was brilliant and if Juan Smith or Brussow want to get into this Bok side they will have to step up big time. It is really annoying to hear how, especially Bobby Skinstad, campaigns for Chilliboy. Bob, Chilli is not good enough mate easy as that! Stop sucking up to these guys its pathetic! I will try Juan de Villiers at 14 and Aplon at 15 for the next test. Keep Meisiekind at 12 but give de Jongh 40 minutes as well. Morne Steyn is still the best fly half by far in SA but it was clear that he missed FDP at scrumhalf. Let’s hope he plays better in NZ against the AB’s where he will have a lot more pressure than Saturday. His goal kicking was excellent like always but his line kicks wasn’t THAT far? GUTHRO scored a great try and he plays to his potential now. It is time for Matfield to take over from Smit who is now, without a doubt, the fattest Bok in the team with Chilli 2nd and January 3rd!Please Snor give Flip vd Merwe another go. He was over eager and made a stupid mistake. Lastly let Bakkies prove himself first before getting rid of Danie Rossouw and/or Flip vd Merwe.

  • Duncan - 2010-06-13 11:29

    The weakest link = Zane (the pain) Kirchner! The other 21 excelled. He was awful last week and gave away a try, this week no better. He is no international player and does not have BMT!

  • Fabio - 2010-06-13 11:36

    Advice to PdV. Plse drop Ricky as he's to slow, indicisive & one dimensional. No arguments about his defensive abilities. Give Ruan a few oppurtunities in this position till du Preez returns from injury. Drop Zane from fullback.. play Pietersen or F. Steyn in that position and South Africa will become the first nation to retain the world cup.

  • Capey - 2010-06-13 12:29

    Well done to the Boks. I am humbled!!!

  • Ag Man - 2010-06-13 13:02

    PdV must sort out his differences with Frans Steyn. Frans is a World Cup winner. He should be our No 15 and should be given an extended run in that position to come of age. Frans's boot sunk NZ in the T3 last year, that alone is a formidable weapon that PdV should use rather than shun. PdV is deliberately leaving out the world's best full-back, and a real match winner. Wake up PdV, play to our strengths where those strengths are so flippin obvious!!!!!!!! Be a man and make amends. Frans's success would be yours too.

  • @Emile - 2010-06-13 13:13

    You need to understand the game of rugby before passing comments. Habana had an exceptional game apart from the one dodgy pass. His rush defence caused the French to make mistakes.....he broke away from two tacklers to create Spies's try. His defence was excellent. He is marked in every game he plays, thats the respect shown by the opposition. Remember after the world saw how good Breyton was, it was alot harder for him to score tries. And lastly, you comment on the fact that all he does is the od intercept try, that is not an easy thing to do, and takes huge balls to break your defensive line to risk it. His reading of a game is brilliant.

  • EMILE @@Emile - 2010-06-13 17:18

    I actually agree with you, but his form is not what it should be and that was the same during the Super 14. I have no boubts in his ability and when he is on fire, there is no wing even close to his class. My concern is that NZ & AUS will not mind this at all and they might actually use it. Remember, every time he goes for the intercept, he breaks our defensive line and NZ/AUS will punish us severely if that doesn't come off. Yesterday he went for it way too much and luckily the French players were really poor.

  • Props - 2010-06-13 20:03

    Sorry BJ but Jannie played 100 times better then you. You went backward in every scrum. Where Jannie went forward even when we were 7 in the scrum had did well and remember that was with useless Chilli next to him. Please let Jannie start on Saturday.

  • Sarel - 2010-06-13 23:35

    Zane, sorry but you are not near at being Springbok material at all....I think what Peter de Villiers should do is put Joe Petersen on full back and take the Super 14 fullback of the Sharks ( P. Lambie ) as replacement for Joe.

  • Tank - 2010-06-14 14:50

    @balsak ai jy hou seker daar van om n dom swaap genoem te word as jy nie iets met n bietjie logika kan skryf nie los maar dan net ek hou daarvan om te kom lees wat is van die mense se siening oor sa rugby ens maar jy mors net plek hier die S14 is nou verby en jy maak net jou naam gat kom nou dink voor jy skryf ASB!!

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