Just How Good Are South Africa?
There has been a lot written over the last few weeks about the South African rugby team being worthy contenders to the crown of Rugby World Cup champions. But is this a lot of hype or are the South Africans as good as many believe?
There is a lot of good, I must grudgingly admit. Victor Matfield and Bakkes Botha are two of the best locks in the world. Not far behind, in the great stakes comes Schalk Burger –his wild blonde hair crying out for world-wide attention. With Bryan Habana and Fourie du Preez, two who can no doubt carve up the attacking opposition as good as any Wallaby or All Black and Eddie Jones adding some fizz into the backline structure, the Boks finally can have an attack which isn’t all rush defense and intercepting passes off pacific basketball.
However, it could be argued that the Springbok front row is verging on the cusp as a creaking pack of aging baldies. And when John Smit is not around, the scrum particularly goes on the wane. Of course, the loosies are world class but when one gets behind the scrum (and leaves out Habana and du Preez, there doesn't seem much to write home about. With Jean de Villiers out and injured for the rest of the tournament, the backline took a major blow.
Sure, Franz Stein is a precocious youngster with a powerful boot, but as is all too often; it is easy to look classy against the minnows. Against the All Blacks in the first tri-nations test of 2007 (and yes, the Springboks were at full strength and playing on home turf) he was made to look inexperienced and ineffectual.
Ruggerblogger's Springbok weaklink? It has to be Percy Montgomery. Yes, he has great games but they’re normally against the likes of England (when the red rose army has been prescribed valium the night before to get over their depression of being coached by Andy Robinson). Percy hasn’t been tested at all in this tournament and when he will be tested, I'm picking that he will be the one to crumble.
South Africa to win the world Cup? Maybe. Or maybe not.