Boks: Jean won the ‘PR’ too

2014-11-16 17:30
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – An ungracious post-match television interview by England captain Chris Robshaw slightly soured a thrilling Test contest edged 31-28 by South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Maybe the home side’s skipper was more generous at the official written-press briefing later on, but in the immediate, obligatory on-field grilling soon after the final whistle -- transmitted live to the rugby-watching world -- Springbok counterpart Jean de Villiers handed a poker-faced Robshaw another, more comprehensive beating.

In short, he was all over him from a public-relations perspective ... if anything De Villiers was overly generous in his assessment of how close the game had been, as even some of the more illustrious London newspaper scribes felt in their match reports that the Boks ought to have triumphed by more than the eventual margin of just three points.

Robshaw could not muster a word in specific praise for the visitors, who have now won 11 and drawn one of the last 12 bilateral meetings.

Here are the transcriptions of virtually all of the respective TV interviews; De Villiers went first:

Jean de Villiers

Interviewer’s opening question: “Jean, congratulations, does that feel like a game you won twice?”

De Villiers: “(Smiling) Oh no, it was a very tough game, that I can assure you. We were very pleased with the win. We made it tough for ourselves but I’m going to say it again: this England team is a team on the up and they could easily have beaten us today.

“We were on the lucky side (of the result) tonight but a lot of credit must go to England for the way they played.

“We probably got points on the board at the right times. But we left quite a lot out there and could also have conceded a couple (of points) more, so definitely not the perfect game but once again credit to the opposition; you can only play as well as they allow you to.

“We showed good composure to come back into it (after England’s fightback) -- it was slipping away at one stage. That’s what you call experience and you only gain experience by going through those situations. So tonight was a bit of a learning experience for us again.”

Interviewer: “Why don’t you lose to England?”

De Villiers: “We get lucky! We were on a pretty bad run before we started our run, you know. We lost a few games consecutively to England at one stage ... it’s never easy to come here. It’s fantastic to come here, to play rugby here. It’s never easy and I can assure you there’ll be sore bodies tomorrow.

“I again want to thank the crowd for an unbelievable atmosphere. This is a great place to play rugby.”

Interviewer: “You’re always welcome, thank you.”

Chris Robshaw

Interviewer’s opening question: “Commiserations ... do you concede the better side won today?”

Robshaw: “Uuh, aah ... I just think we were a little bit reactive today. We allowed them to get ahead of us and then we were playing catch-up, weren’t we? We got a few driving mauls going ... unfortunately we allowed them to get some going too.

“It’s tough to take, especially at home, but we’ll have to work hard before next week.”

Interviewer: “In hindsight, does that feel like a game that got away from you in the first half, rather than the second?”

Robshaw: “Yeah, like I said we were always playing a bit of catch-up today. We didn’t start as strongly as we’d have liked but it happens. Credit to all the guys (England), we got ourselves back into the game but we couldn’t quite finish it.

“We’re probably not doing ourselves justice in the way we want to play ... we all know the way we train ... today and last week we probably haven’t put it on the pitch the way we’d have liked.

“Whether it’s the opposition putting us under pressure or ourselves, eventually ... it’s a huge thing for us to work on, to get our shape going again. We’re upset today, we’ll lick our wounds and it’s a big week for us to bounce back.”

Interviewer: “Thank you.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


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