Cape Town - No more ifs and no more buts, this is
One missed tackle in defence or one pass too early or a millisecond too
late in attack and it could mean the difference between winning and losing, lifting
the trophy or being labelled as an “also
ran” at RWC 2015.
I am not quite sure if the rugby public fully comprehends
what is really at stake tomorrow when the Boks face the All Blacks. I mean this
in the nicest possible way and no disrespect to the rugby public, but let me
For many players this will be the biggest game in their rugby playing
careers to date. I think of Jessie Kriel, Lood de Jager and Damian De Allande.
For some, this might even be the biggest game they will play ever. Rugby World
Cups only come along every four years and some of the world’s best players and
rugby hall of famers will never ever have the opportunity to get their hands on
that trophy - Christian Cullen, Justin Marshall to name just two. This is huge!
On Saturday the Boks are facing the best
team in the world, without a doubt. The All Blacks have been consistently
occupying the number one position in World Rugby rankings for the last decade
and since they were crowned Rugby World Cup winners in New Zealand in 2011,
they have only lost four odd games in four years. That in itself is an impressive
statistic. Just looking at the above-mentioned paragraph and you don’t need to
be a rugby expert to work out what the Boks are well and truly up against tomorrow. It gets worse.
Going into this game and into the
Rugby World Cup, the Boks have been far from impressive in instilling the
belief in us all supporting them through thick and thin. Going onto the Rugby
World Cup, the Boks only won two of their last six games and the road during RWC
2015 has been very rocky indeed. We have shown some progress and improvement
after the Japanese debacle but last weekend against a depleted Welsh team we
only just managed to pull through.
On the other side of the pitch we
have seen a team on the rise during the tournament, even though they were pushed and
sometimes tested early on by the likes of Argentina and Tonga.
Last weekend, the All Blacks
literally wiped the floor with their bogey team and made a statement as big as
our beloved President’s house at Nkandla. The French were sent packing on the
early Eurostar back to France and the world took notice and stood in awe of a
brutal yet finely finessed performance from the All Blacks machine.
In saying this, I think that last
weekend’s results and the way in which they came about in both quarter-finals
were the best possible results and process for the Boks. They had
to work really hard to get a result and now they know exactly what it will take
to win a game during the knockout stages at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Looking back and we realise that the Boks have been playing knockout rugby
since week two after the slip up against Japan in week one. The only thing that
keeps on changing is obviously the opposition.
For the All Blacks, it just happened
against the French who should have just stayed in the changing room after the
half time break. As brilliant and as entertaining as the French can be, they
were equally as bad and sometimes bordering on embarrassment and non-commitment.
Losing is one thing but not being committed to die for the cause is unforgiving
and tells a story far deeper than just what you saw on the rugby field. We can discuss
this another time.
So how do we beat this All Blacks
machine and is it possible at all? From a rugby and form point of view there
are very few, if any indicators pointing to a Springbok victory. In terms of
form, style of play and creating opportunities, the Boks are way off the pace.
Throw into that equation the kicking away of possession to an All Black back three of Smith, Savea and Milner-Skudder and we should pray to Eskom for some load
shedding at 17:00 on Saturday and save us all from the massacre about to take place
Hang on … It’s a semi-final of a Rugby
World Cup, the Boks are firm underdogs and we are facing the old enemy for
another epic encounter. When you look at this way, you will see that form
counts for nothing, past results count for nothing and it only comes down to
belief, sheer guts and determination to decide the result. Trust me when I say
that there will be plenty of that on the pitch from both sides. Who wants and, more importantly, who believes it the
most will get the result in this game. Hang onto your seats!
Let your passion drive this team.