UK press: Boks ‘pariahs to princes’

2015-09-28 12:00
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)

Birmingham – The Springboks woke to a deservedly leisurely, sunny Sunday morning here mortified by the confirmed loss of their captain for the tournament ... but reinstated in English newspapers as credible candidates for the World Cup trophy.

A statement from the Bok camp just after 11:00 local time, confirmed what already seemed inevitable in the closing stages of their polished 46-6 dismantling of Samoa at Villa Park a day earlier: that Jean de Villiers, who has wrestled a career-long RWC injury hoodoo, broke his jaw for a second time in a few weeks in an accidental collision in the 72nd minute.

It was a savage way for the 34-year-old De Villiers to end his international career after 109 caps – he had stressed before RWC 2015 that he wouldn’t play any further Test rugby after it – but some consolation was that he exited with honour after heading up a rousing Bok bounce-back triumph.

In a cruel irony, the veteran midfielder was just starting to show the champagne attacking touches of old before he bumped heads with Tim Nanai-Williams late in the physical but engrossing clash.

The Guardian’s ( Michael Aylwin said of De Villiers’ performance: “The most doubted (player) of all, his speed of hand was accurate enough to unlock the Samoan defence time and again.”

Scrumhalf Fourie du Preez was described as “masterful”, Schalk Burger “rampant”, and young lock Eben Etzebeth hailed for bringing “mighty heft to proceedings”.

The writer added: “We are going to have to reinstate (the Boks). The World Cup has yet another contender – as if we ever doubted that South Africa remained just that.

“This was about as perfect a demonstration of how to beat Samoa as any beleaguered coach could have conceived.”

Meanwhile in the Sunday Telegraph ( Oliver Brown wrote, under a headline “Villa Park rocks to sound of Bok party” that it was seldom any team “can morph from pariahs to princes in the space of 80 minutes”.

He went on: “In the teeth of their countrymen’s vitriol (after the Japan humiliation) they did so with emphasis ... this was atonement writ large.

Try hat-trick hero JP Pietersen was lauded as a “model of opportunistic brilliance”, whilst flyhalf Handre Pollard earned a laurel for his sound temperament.

“(He) shouldered the expectation of a restless nation with admirable aplomb (and) won the man-of-the-match award despite performing to only a fraction of his capabilities.”

Matt Lawton of The Mail on Sunday ( said: “This time there was no need to apologise to a nation; no concern that they might break the country apart.

“The ‘bunch of losers’ who performed so poorly (in Brighton) emerged as convincing winners here, surviving a bruising encounter and setting up what now looks like a pivotal group game against Scotland next weekend.”   

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing. Rob is attended the pool phase of the Bok RWC campaign to provide news and analysis for Sport24 readers.

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