Springboks Let Themselves Down Against the British and Irish Lions
The Springbok lost the 3rd Test at Ellis Park 28-9.
Whilst they won the series 2-1, the 3rd test result was extremely disappointing, and one of the worst displays since the 49-0 loss to Australia in 2006.
The Lions started off the test with great intensity, and showed they would not lie down lightly. Their intensity at the breakdown was phenomenal, and they outplayed the Springboks here which was the key to their victory.
Their pack played superb rugby as a unit, they dominated the scrums, were solid at the lineouts and at the breakdown contested everything. They also caused plenty of turnovers which led to their first two tries.
In this regard, they were superbly led by Paul O'Connell and also benefited from playing a specialist open side in Martyn Williams. Whilst I think they weren't always legal in their tactics at the rucks, and got away with being offside far too often, the Boks need to be more street-smart to deal with those sorts of occurrences and adjust their game plan accordingly. The Boks were never able to get any sort of phase play going, nor produce any prolonged period of sustained pressure. Mind you, that has been the case all series.
Over the three tests, the British and Irish Lions have looked the more constructive side, and their backs showed what they can make their own space and get their team going forward. They also linked up well with their forwards and continually threatened the Springbok defense, which has looked decidedly shaky under Peter de Villiers' coaching.
With 10 changes made by the Boks, and the series already won, many may suggest there was an air of complacency and lack of intensity exhibited by the Boks. However, the Lions also had eight changes and would have been looking forward to getting home after a long season.
As professionals, and playing for starting spots for the tri-nations, I feel very let down by the lack of integrity for the Springbok jersey. The 10 changes are not what lost this game for the Springboks; lack of professionalism, hunger to win and poor execution cost them the win.
Whilst the Lions played well and should be commended, how often have we seen in the past, whenever the Boks should win easily, they don't?. As highlighted in my article "The problem with SA rugby," the Springboks lack the killer edge and ability to put sides away. They could take a leaf out of the Bulls' book as they showed in the Semi and Final of the Super 14. It seems a long time ago since the Super 14 Final when South African rugby was riding the crest of the wave and seemingly invincible.
I was also shocked that de Villiers decided to give every player a go against the British and Irish Lions. I've never heard of anything so absurd.
The priority should be to put out a strong squad and win every game. Since players such as Kankowski and Ndungane didn't deserve a chance, will others such as Habana, JP Pietersen and Spies need to keep playing?
With the Sevens title, the Super 14 Title, the World Cup and a Lions series victory, this Springbok side should have won the series 3-0, and performed a lot better than we saw today.
The only consistency under Peter de Villiers is the inconsistency. I hope we finally get it together in the Tri-Nations week in week out, else it's time for Mr de Villiers to go. Be warned, this is your last chance to produce some results buddy!
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