Let’s hope the Boks can bounce back
Two weeks ago, the All Blacks hammered the Springboks 57-0 – the worst Test defeat in South Africa’s history.
Pieter-Steph du Toit played one of his best games in a Springboks jersey. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images.
After the Boks’ disastrous 2016, national rugby supporters a few weeks ago started to believe the team had turned the corner.
They whitewashed an out-of-sorts French outfit 3-0 in the June Tests, beat Argentina home and away in their opening two Rugby Championship clashes and then earned a credible 23-23 draw against Australia in Perth.
That gave Allister Coetzee’s men a run of six unbeaten matches from six Tests this year – a huge improvement on last year, where they only managed to win four from 12 Tests.
Then came the “Albany annihilation”. Two weeks ago, the All Blacks hammered the Springboks 57-0 – the worst Test defeat in South Africa’s history.
The three-time world champions exposed SA in every aspect on the field, running in eight tries as the visitors could not even manage a point. The defeat hurt on the day, and it still hurts.
It will take a long time to ease that pain. In the lead-up to today’s Test against Australia in Bloemfontein, much of the talk has centred on the Springboks’ ability to bounce back.
As a team they have to deliver a strong performance today. A loss in Bloemfontein will open up scars that will be difficult to patch up and heal, bearing in mind that there is just two years until the next World Cup in Japan.
Moving forward, the Springboks have made three changes to their starting line-up and insisted the Albany loss is in the past.
“We have buried it,” said Coetzee. “It was a sub-standard performance from us that is now in the past as we plan a turnaround strategy. The key now is how we respond against the Wallabies.”
The Wallabies smell blood and will come out guns blazing this afternoon. After 80 minutes we’ll know if that All Black defeat is a one-off, or if Springbok rugby is in crisis. Let’s hope it is not the latter.