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
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
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 (www.guardian.com) 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 (www.telegraph.co.uk) 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 (www.dailymail.co.uk) 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.”
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.