Stefan Terblanche (Gallo Images)
It’s really been a whirlwind last couple of weeks for us all and I can hardly believe that we are down to the last 8 and starting with the knock-out stages of Rugby World Cup 2015.
I think that we would all agree that this year’s World Cup has been the best to date and that the tournament certainly lived up to the hype and excitement prior to kick-off.
With crowd attendances smashing previous records, upsets on the field, many injuries and suspensions, I can honestly say that rugby has well and truly arrived as a world class sport in terms of entertainment and organisation and the game’s global appeal is growing by the day.
If we look at the teams all vying for Rugby World supremacy there are hardly any real surprises in the final 8 remaining in the competition.
A lot has been said before about England’s chances and that they must be one of the firm favourites to win the Rugby World Cup on home soil. To be fair and honest to the point and I, along with many others, can’t really understand where all this hype came from apart from home ground advantage.
Apart from Japan, I am very happy with the quarter-finalists. Japan might not be there yet to consistently compete with the big 8 but they have been the best coached team at this year’s competition. Japan really work with what they have available in players, they have a certain game plan and strategy and they execute that to near perfection. Well done Eddie Jones and your team, it’s been a pleasure to watch and I’ve learned so much from a Tier 2 nation during the last 6 weeks - who would have thought.
So that brings us to the final 8 and we will look specifically to the Boks facing the injury ravaged Wales on Saturday. I begged Heyneke Meyer to select the best possible team and to allow the form players to pull this one through for us with the Welsh Dragon breathing fire all tournament long. He has done just that and I honestly believe that he might just have won not only the game but also a place in the final with this specific team and the selection thereof.
We have had the experience debate all Rugby World Cup long now but we have more than enough experience in that team to go all the way. Between Bryan Habana and Fourie du Preez alone we have almost the same number of caps as the whole Rudolf Straueli team in Rugby World Cup 2003. I think we will be OK in the experience department for this one.
The Welsh have lost six of their starting line-up before and during this tournament through injury. I know that the Bok players will not be fooled by this statistic and that’s exactly the way it should be. As spectators and supporters we can look at these numbers and think that it should make a difference to the performance of the Welsh.
Imagine The Boks losing six players from their starting line-up and having to face Wales on Saturday with that team. In saying this we must remember that Wales did not lose them all in one go and that gave the newcomers to the team some time to settle in.
Wales have done exceptionally well under circumstances and they will push the Boks hard again on Saturday in the quarter-finals but it will be one bridge too far for these brave men to cross. I have played rugby and lived in Wales for four years and I know what this sport means not only to the players but to this small nation west of England. I absolutely love them, adore them and owe them so much for what they taught me about life in the four years spent there. I am South African through and through and want the Boks to win on Saturday but I would have loved a quarter-final against the best possible Welsh team available to give the Welsh a fair go not only at the game but a possible title.
In saying this I think a Bok victory by about 12 points but a very tough first 60 minutes at Twickenham. Australia, All Blacks and Argentina will also book their semi-final spots this Saturday.
Bring it on!
Let you passion drive this team.