No Test walkovers
01 June 2012 | JON SWIFT
England may well have arrived in South Africa on winter-whitened legs, but they do so in the wake of a tough Six Nations tournament and a full round of European rugby.
But to dismiss them going into the three Test matches to come – and the two Wednesday games – would be courting disaster.
It is a mindset which worked against South Africa in the single Test at Ellis Park in 1972 when fullback Sam Doble kicked a makeshift Springbok team to perdition.
And a bit like the arrogance with which the Boks approached the two-Test series against England in 1994, when flyhalf Rob Andrew caught everyone napping to light the fuse of a 32-15 victory with an individualistic tap penalty that left the Boks grasping at fresh air in the first Test at Loftus.
Yes, we got our own back with a 27-9 win in the second Test at Newlands, but any hopes of winning the series had disappeared in the thin atmosphere of the highveld.
Simply put, England are not to be underestimated, and this particular England side are, to borrow loosely from the idiom of former Bok coach Peter de Villiers, not a bunch likely to pull on ballet shoes and tutus in the change room.
In this year’s Six Nations, England – typified as an experimental side under an acting coach and with a young, largely untried skipper – built momentum perfectly.
They somehow got past Scotland, beat Italy, lost to eventual winners Wales, then came of age by doing the near unthinkable and beating France in Paris, before rounding out their tournament with a 30-9 win over Ireland at Twickenham.
We must also take cognisance of the fact that South Africa are in a very similar position right now.
Meyer is new to the job and has had little time to gather his thoughts before being rushed into a series slotted into an artificial gap in a bruising Super Rugby campaign.
He will have a new captain in a line-up where options have been shaved to the bone by a spate of injuries that would choke any emergency ward.
And the coach will not have the luxury of one of the world’s great lock pairings, with Victor Matfield retired and Bakkies Botha in France.
To add to the lineout woes, England lock Mouritz Botha was born in Vryheid, so calls of the “een, drie, nege” variety on the Springbok put in will hardly be foreign to his ruck-roughened ears.
Still, this is home soil and we should win, but it’s no freewheel.
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN
looklocal Pretoria North
looklocal Kempton Park
looklocal Randfontein Westonaria
looklocal Pretoria Moot
looklocal Pretoria North