Springboks (Getty Images)
Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 24-13 win over Argentina in the Rugby World Cup’s Bronze Final.
1. Habana too over-eager for record
Bok wing Bryan Habana was very keen to score a 16th Rugby World Cup try and break the record his shares with New Zealand’s Jonah Lomu.
Unfortunately, Habana’s over-eagerness impacted negatively on his performance. He was denied a try on several occasions, mostly due to his inability to catch the ball.
Ex-Bok Breyton Paulse perhaps summed it up perfectly when he said in the SuperSport studio afterwards: “Bryan couldn’t catch a cold out there tonight.”
The veteran wing was replaced by Jan Serfontein in the 67th minute which in all likelihood means the 32-year-old will not get a chance to break the World Cup try-record.
2. Conservative Boks
It again pains me to say that the Springboks are ‘light-years’ away from the All Blacks when it comes to displaying impetus on attack.
Leading 16-0 at the break against an injury-depleted Argentine side was the perfect opportunity to run the opposition ragged.
Instead, Los Pumas came out and won the second half 13-8.
One moment that summed up the Boks’ conservatism was in the 68th minute when they won a penalty.
The Boks were leading 24-6 at the time and it was decided that Handre Pollard should have a shot a goal.
Were they afraid of losing the game from that position? The crowd was right to boo the decision and I’ll admit I was not disappointed to see Pollard hit the posts with his penalty attempt...
3. Rudy Paige keeping the bench warm
With the game done and dusted and the Boks leading by a healthy margin, both teams decided to clean out their substitute benches. All eight Argentine reserves were on, while the Boks had seven replacements on, except scrumhalf Rudy Paige.
Poor old Paige was only brought on in the 77th minute. Coach Heyneke Meyer explained afterwards it was because Victor Matfield had been substituted so he needed the leadership of Ruan Pienaar.
A potential future Bok captain in Duane Vermeulen was still on the field and the Boks gained nothing from keeping Pienaar on.
It would have been ideal to see Paige come on with the Boks leading 16-0 at half-time.
The word 'conservative' springs to mind yet again…
4. Time to scrap the Bronze Final?
The Bronze Final may make commercial sense, but World Rugby would do well to discard it for future World Cups.
The atmosphere was not quite the same as the rest of the games during the tournament, and the teams’ performance on the field showed as much.
When the crowd starts doing the ‘Mexican wave’ it gives the sense of a festival match rather than a World Cup match...
5. ANC-backed Heyneke hits back at critics
After his team claimed the bronze medal, coach Heyneke Meyer furiously hit back at critics who believe he should be fired.
Meyer firmly believes he has the right game plan to take the team forward and has no intention to call it a day.
“I get unbelievable support from our politicians. I received SMSes from leading ANC members saying, ‘Well done, we are proud of you’,” Meyer told Afrikaans newspaper Rapport at the weekend.
“People who question my ability as coach, should look in the mirror and ask themselves if what they are doing and saying are for the right reasons. I feel the team did well and is transformed. I sleep well at night, and those guys (who criticise) have hidden agendas.”
It was also reported at the weekend that Meyer had already signed a new four-year Bok deal believed to be R5m per year.