Sport / Columnists

Jon Swift
3 minute read
28 Jun 2017
1:12 pm

Happy days as Boks wake up from a trance

Jon Swift

As the final whistle went at Ellis Park to end the third Test against the touring French, Dave the Silent hunched his shoulders over the libation before him and disappeared into what can only be described as a temporary trance.

Jon Swift

It was a crystal clear indication that he was mulling things over before talking about the history which had been unrolled before him in the 35-12 Springbok victory over the Tricolores.

“Well,” he eventually said, “that was truly worth watching. And though I have mentioned on several occasions in the past that I would never have the temerity to claim any expertise as a rugby pundit, it does strike me that the difference between this season’s Springboks and the disjointed team which turned out last year is astounding.”

The nods from the usual suspects who go to make up the company which habitually assembles to watch sport over the weekends, showed graphically that they were in full agreement with the Silent One.

“It is almost as if some enchanted being had suddenly arrived and awoken them from a deep sleep. And while it would be stretching the bounds of credulity to draw the comparison with Sleeping Beauty, for it strikes me that several players are lucky they can play rugby because they certainly are not pretty. It all seems to be working swimmingly for the Boks.”

At this juncture it must be said that the oblique reference to the classic tale by the Brothers Grimm went straight past the Arithmetically-challenged Golfer, a self-styled expert who tends to take himself far too seriously. But he did pick up on the dearth of film star looks in the Bok side.

“I’ll give you that Eben Etzebeth is not exactly an oil painting, but what do you want a Springbok forward to look like? Brad Pitt?

“You also miss the point that his job is to help fire up the motor in the South African scrum, not pose for pictures.” It was a point the Silent One was more than willing to concede, but couldn’t resist adding a rider to.

“I am sorry if I said anything to upset you over your favourite player. This was not my intention at all. “I think though that the Boks seem to have a new purpose and a more concentrated direction. It is almost as if they have collectively shaken their heads and awoken to what it is they are doing out in the middle.

“There are very few sides who could lose a captain like Warren Whiteley on the very eve of a Test match and throw Etzebeth in at the deep end as a replacement skipper, reshuffle the scrum to include a debutant, start with a stand-by scrumhalf and still come up with the goods. It truly points to a team who are confident in what they do and play together as a disciplined unit.

“That opening of the conscious about what it means to operate as a team and play for one another rather than as a bunch of directionless individuals, strikes me as being the prime factor.” In this summation, the Silent One showed that his understanding of the game of rugby football was perhaps far deeper than he owned up to.

“Now,” he said, “if the South African cricket side are able to embrace this aspect, I am sure they would do far better.” It is now a matter of record that this passed the Proteas by in their T20 against England in Cardiff, losing by 19 runs for yet another flop in the shortest form of the game.

Not surprisingly perhaps, the Silent One had heeded his own warnings and had not arrived to watch.