Yes, the Springboks have been disappointing. Yes, they’ve failed to reach the high standards we expect of them. But it’s certainly not all doom and gloom.
It’s been a poor and underwhelming year for the Boks so far, and it’s hardly surprising to hear fans saying Heyneke Meyer’s team don’t stand a chance at next year’s World Cup.
I heard some Bok fans at Salta Airport on Sunday afternoon saying they wouldn’t make the effort to go to England next year if the Boks continue to produce the kind of rugby they’re currently dishing up. It’s understandable there’s concern right now – and even Meyer would agree there are problems to be sorted out.
But the World Cup is still some way off and what happens now is hardly an indicator of what’ll happen in a year’s time.
Now, I’m not excusing the Boks’ performances in 2014, but it’s also short-sighted to say they don’t stand a chance in England. If you consider who’s not in the squad at the moment – either because of injury or unavailability – the Boks are not even close to being at full strength. Yet, Meyer’s team have not lost this year, and they’ve won nine out of their last 10 games on the road. That’s impressive in anyone’s book.
What must encourage South African fans is that by this time next year, Meyer will have a strong group of 40 or more players to pick from – and remember only 30 go to the World Cup. He’ll have depth and he’ll know that should injuries strike, the man coming in won’t be a rookie and won’t be overawed by what’s in front of him.
Let’s also not take anything away from the Pumas. They’re a team very much on the up and have always given the Boks an uphill time on home soil. Historically it’s not easy to win in Argentina and I’ll tell you now the Boks won’t come up against a better scrummaging side this year. So that’s a positive.
Australia, and to a lesser extent, New Zealand, could also be in for a hard time in the coming weeks, but we also mustn’t forget that by the time those two nations get to Argentina, Los Pumas would have had four games behind them, including trips to Australia and New Zealand. They may be a spent force by then; that is why a change in schedule for next year wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’d like to see a fresh Pumas, at the start of the competition, host Australia, especially.
Meyer and the Boks have far too much going for them to be written off. Yes, they’ve struggled recently, but put a Wallaby or All Blacks shirt in front of them and I guarantee you we’ll see a different Bok side to the one that’s run out in recent weeks. - The Star