Why I Love the Stumbling Boks
Struggling to win is glorious.
There is a lot of pessimism about the rugby Springboks at the moment – not all of it unfounded.
No longer can we bash the likes of Ireland and Argentina over. We have to struggle for every win. The Bulls template no longer works. It is all about skill in getting out of your half and then holding onto the ball on attack with offloading and quick recycling.
And that’s hard for our players, raised on a diet of schoolboy koppestamp on the platteland. For decades we believed our ultra-competitive schoolboy game was our biggest asset. Now it is a liability, because all our young players learn how to play ultra-conservative rugby without much freedom to express themselves and take risks.
So to see them embracing a new game of speed and skill is actually really exciting for me, as a longtime rugby pundit.
Four years of Heyneke Meyer’s obsessive neuroses set us back a lot more than people realise.
Overall, it is good that we have a young team going for broke, who are finding ways to win games they probably should lose.
There are plenty of critics out there who believe quotas and transformation priorities are killing our rugby and cricket.
I certainly don’t think it is good to mix politics with sport, but, that said, it did become obvious under Meyer that players who did not share his background struggled for opportunities.
And, currently, as in cricket, our players of colour are actually all exciting and deserving players.
White supporters are really just going to have to get over this issue. If we can all get excited about a new era in our sport, just maybe it can rub off into an enthusiasm about a country that is certainly bleeding and stumbling, but is not down and out yet.