5 positives to take from the Springboks in 2017

2017-12-05 09:01
Allister Coetzee (Getty)

Cape Town - It has been another frustrating year for Springbok rugby and while it was nowhere near the horror of 2016, it was still far from a success. 

The Boks managed seven wins from 13 in 2017 - four against France, two against Argentina and one against Italy. 

It is an obvious improvement on the four wins from 12 recorded last year, but there is still an overwhelming sense of disappointment accompanying this side after record losses to the All Blacks and Ireland. 

With coach Allister Coetzee's win percentage over two years sitting at 44%, the general consensus is that he will lose his job this month. 

Yet, even in the face of adversity, Coetzee has remained surprisingly positive. He insists that the Boks are on the right track under his leadership and that things are looking healthy in the preparation for the 2019 World Cup. 

We decided that it would be a good idea to try and identify exactly what the positives from 2017 were. 

1. Malcolm Marx

Marx will win the SA Rugby Player of the Year award for 2017. He has been so good that it is not even a contest. This was a breakthrough year for the Lions man, who was given a crack at the No 2 jersey following the retirement of Adriaan Strauss last year. His physicality on both defence and attack is immense while his ability to force turnovers on the ground has been a real stand-out. In a year in which things have not always gone the Boks' way, Marx has stood tall and given reassurances that when South Africa go to Japan in 2019, they will do so when one of the best hookers in the world. 

2. Young talent

Coetzee has spoken about this a lot as a positive, and it is. Frustratingly, he has not really given the young talent as much of an opportunity as some would have liked. Still, the likes of Warrick Gelant, Curwin Bosch, Jean-Luc du Preez, Dan du Preez, Lukhanyo Am, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi and Marx have been given varying tastes of Bok rugby this year.

3. The pack

It may be a bit of a reach given some of the set piece woes earlier in the year, but the Bok forwards have done their bit for the most part. It hasn't always been attractive, but especially in the second half of the year the engine room has got the job done up front. The northern hemisphere tour highlighted this, and the pack actually looks in a healthy state with 2019 in mind. Marx, Kitshoff, Louw, Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi ... these players have all had good years and they provide an element of encouragement heading into 2019. 

4. France whitewashed

It may have been a French team that is in the middle of its own crisis, but the Boks had no trouble in securing a 3-0 series when Les Bleus visited in June. At that stage, there was certainly a sense of optimism surrounding the Boks. Coetzee then made it 4-0 against the French when the Boks bounced back from their loss to Ireland to squeeze out an 18-17 win in Paris. South Africa only beat three teams in 2017, but their dominance of France was a highlight. 

5. Fans still care

It's been another tough year for Coetzee, with an abundance of criticism launched his way. He has tried his best to convince everyone of the positives, but for the most part the South African rugby public has had none of it. They expect more, and that is a good thing. The record losses in Albany and Dublin and even the loss to Wales and draws to Australia were not acceptable to South Africans, and that shows that we still have high standards as a rugby nation. Hopefully, we will start living up to those expectations from 2018. 

Pictures: Gallo Images

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Read more on:    springboks  |  allister coetzee  |  rugby


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