Boks still have a lot to play for

2015-10-30 14:57
Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It's fresh and wet in London and winter is just starting to show itself.

One could be forgiven for not remembering the hustle and bustle of this huge city when coming from laid-back and sometimes just plain slow Durban on the sunny East Coast of Southern Africa.

READ: Springboks' Test record against Argentina

READ: 15 stats and facts - Boks v Argentina

READ: Bok record holders at the Olympic Stadium

In some areas, most Londoners are oblivious to the fact that the Rugby World Cup final will take place tomorrow afternoon right on their doorstep and not even mentioning the 3rd and 4th place play-off on Friday evening between the Boks and Los Pumas from Argentina.

I have been asked many times this week exactly what the purpose of this presumably dead rubber for 3rd and 4th place is, not only at Rugby World Cups but at all other major team sporting events in the world.

Please bear in mind that it is incredibly hard to get yourself physically and, more importantly, psychologically in the right frame of mind after a disappointing defeat for both teams in a tough semi-final 6 days ago.

I had the opportunity to play in this very same game at the Rugby World Cup in 1999 and for me it was yet another opportunity to represent my country, to wear the Springbok jersey and to do so against the All Blacks made it even more special for me.

We won that game, by the way, and took home the bronze medal for all our efforts and hard work, but do these play-off games serve any purpose and will these two teams arrive in the right frame of mind to put their bodies on the line once again?

Personally, I think the Springboks will be desperate to get a positive result. They have had a tough Rugby World Cup and will be looking to give themselves and their loyal supporters something to cheer about.

Some players in this team will more than likely make their last appearance in a Bok jersey and they will be keen to add another accolade and achievement to some of their very impressive trophy cabinets. A bronze medal at a Rugby World Cup may not seem like much at this stage of the competition but it is still a major achievement regardless of what some people might say.

Heyneke Meyer has been and will be under immense pressure not only tonight but when back in South Africa and putting forward his bid to continue as Bok coach. If rumours from a very reliable source are anything to go by Meyer can sign his 4-year extension whenever he is ready to do so.

After the performance of the Boks at this year’s Rugby World Cup this process will not be as easy as that and many would like to see a full report not only of Meyer’s Rugby World Cup but also the Boks overall performance under Meyer in the last few years.

Will a victory on Friday suffice to keep Meyer in his job for the next 4 years? Only time will tell but I believe that tonight’s game should be taken out of the equation when assessing his overall performance as Bok coach.

So we have a desperate coach, some hungry older players keen to add some more trophies to their cabinets and end their careers on a high, some hungry youngsters ready to die for that jersey every time they wear it, a wet field and an Argentinian team disrupted by injuries.

This should be an easy call to make then and we can all call an easy and comfortable Bok victory - this is exactly what I am going for but please bear in mind that an easy and comfortable victory is not always determined by a big point’s difference.

Often you can win comfortably with scores quite tight. I think that is exactly what the case will be tonight for the Boks.

We of course have a massive final taking place tomorrow between our arch rivals Australia and New Zealand - without a doubt the best two teams at this year’s tournament. I will give you my thoughts and perspective on how I think that game will pan out in a few hours.

For now it’s off to the closest coffee shop for some much needed refreshment in a chilly London.

Let your passion drive this team.

Stefan

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