Springbok captain Victor Matfield still believes the Boks have what it takes to defend their World Cup crown in New Zealand next year, but only if they are “brutally honest” about their failings of 2010.
Matfield writes an insightful article entitled “How to win a World Cup” in the latest IRB Yearbook, which was launched before the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens in the desert city this week.
In the article, the lock ponders how difficult it will be to escape the limelight in rugby mad New Zealand and warns that unless there is some honest talking in Springbok ranks to “change things” the team may not be able to become the first nation to successfully defend the William Webb Ellis trophy.
“Our form going into the tournament has not been great and our performances in the 2010 Tri-Nations were disappointing but I’m still confident we are capable of lifting the trophy,” Matfield writes, “Our recent results have not been part of the grand plan but the way we struggled in 2010 reminds me of the team’s problems in 2006 and we showed then it is possible to turn the ship around.
“We have to be brutally honest about what has gone wrong and not be afraid to change things,” he adds, “It worked for us four years ago and I don’t believe there is currently any shortage of talent in South African rugby.” Matfield points to the Bulls and Stormers contesting an all-South African Super rugby final earlier this year as the perfect example of the amount of rugby talent in the country.
“The fact the Bulls and Stormers contested an all-South African final in Super Rugby in 2010 tells its own story and there are young players on the domestic scene who are keeping the older, more experienced players on their toes.
“We know we have no divine right to lift the World Cup again but we definitely won’t come up short in terms of preparation or commitment. We will probably be one of the most experienced squads in New Zealand and when it comes down to tournament rugby, that’s a huge asset.”
Despite New Zealand’s dominance of the world rugby scene and their favourite status, Matfield doesn’t believe it counts for much in a World Cup.
“At this stage I really don’t think there is a favourite for the trophy,” Matfield adds, “ Previous tournaments have proved that form and reputation can often count for little and I’m sure it will be the same in New Zealand.”