An unlikely victory! (AP)
Cape Town - The Springboks' stunning defeat by Japan in their opening match of
the Rugby World Cup has shocked South Africa, casting doubt on the
team's chances of progressing to the final stages of the tournament.
"Ultimate Bok Humiliation", "Boks Humiliated" - were some of the headlines in South Africa's main newspapers on Sunday.
Sunday Times stated that the defeat by the team ranked 13 in the world
"rocked the game to its very foundations" - South Africa are ranked
number three and have twice won the World Cup.
Under the headline
"Bok heads to roll", the paper said the future of coach Heyneke Meyer
may be in doubt following the shock defeat.
It also said the explosive match exposed flaws in Meyer's "old man" game plan.
team included world cup veterans like Victor Matfield and Bryan Habana
and was the most experienced South African outfit ever to take the to
field with a combined total of 851 caps across the 15 starters.
his column, former Springbok Ashwin Willemse wrote that the impact of
the defeat "may be so devastating that we might not even make it past
the quarter-finals or be lucky to even reach that stage".
rugby-mad country, the 34-32 defeat also drew widespread shock and
surprise from fans, who expected the Springboks to cruise past a Japan
side that had not won a World Cup match since 1991.
"I thought it
was an absolute farce, I was expecting South Africa to win by a way, way
big margin," said Wayne Saralina, a 46-year-old fan.
Springboks went to the World Cup under the usual cloud of a race row
over the selection of the team. Critics, including top government
officials have repeatedly accused the sport's administrators of
maintaining elitism by mostly selecting white players.
Times said "the pressure on the South African Rugby Union to transform
the Springboks team will grow from many quarters"
Even labour unions waded in, with the powerful confederation of trade unions, Cosatu lambasting Meyer.
'old' injured white men were just useless and gave Japan the space to
play a great game," said a statement by the Western Cape branch of
"In the first half, Heyneke had all white players except the back three, and they were completely outplayed by Japan."
media was a mix of criticism for the Springboks, particularly the
obsession of coach Heyneke Meyer with veterans, and praise for Japan.
"Most appalling effort I have ever seen ... you should be ashamed," tweeted Vlam Viljoen.
are the new Bafana Bafana," said Fana Mokoena, referring to the
national football team that suffered a humiliating Africa Cup of Nations
qualifying defeat in Mauritania two weekends ago.
the great Bok coaches and captains we have had and how most would have
resigned after a loss to Japan," was the view of Lusty Len.
"Old men should not have played. Why not use young talent?" asked Heidi Middleton.
"Tough, painful and, most of all, humiliating," was the summary of Fire Cracker.
"Meyer has a cunning plan to finish second in group and avoid New Zealand in semi-finals," joked Wordfish.
Chris Lee hailed Japan: "This is what sport is all about ... a huge victory for team spirit and hard work."
admire and respect dedication, determination and heart," tweeted Esme
Nortje, saying Japan were now her second favourite World Cup team after
Japan play Scotland on Wednesday in their second
Pool B game while South Africa have an additional three days to recover
before meeting Samoa on Saturday.