The Currie Cup final yesterday. A Test match against England at Twickenham next Saturday.
Elite-level rugby comes fast and heavy these days.
South African rugby is in a happy state of sorts. There’s less politics about. Fine young players abound.
Some even remain in SA. And the Springboks are on an encouraging trajectory.
But much of this goodwill will crash and burn if the Boks turn to mush on their year-end jaunt.
Rassie Erasmus has done a tremendous job in turning things around quickly. He’s identified the players who matter, handed them an exciting playbook and got them firing.
Successes against New Zealand and Australia were vital, chiefly because no match against either is ever easy, but also because that’s who we routinely match ourselves against.
Our collective egos have been badly bruised in recent years, so these successes have come as a big relief.
The usual sub-themes will inform Erasmus’ planning – injuries, unavailability, form – and his ambition will be more on than just winning.
It will focus on finding answers to the questions that abound in the build-up to the World Cup, a mere 11 months away.
Can he develop a full-blooded back-up to Faf de Klerk, whose mongrel attitude has been so central to Springbok success?
You suspect not, given the more classical qualities of Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl.
In that case, the Boks must find a way to compensate, perhaps through sharper passing and deadlier kicking. This was how Fourie du Preez did it so memorably in 2007.
Duane Vermeulen looks to be a certainty at number eight and his return is an immense boost. He hurt England in the mid-year home series.
They won’t be keen to see his ugly mug rumbling their way at Twickenham on Saturday.
Less certain is the composition of the back-row. Given Siya Kolisi’s importance in the pecking order, he must start.
But who, then, to slot in on the other side? Pieter-Steph du Toit did the job when the Boks triumphed in Wellington, but Warren Whiteley was at eight that day, so we can’t be sure this blend will work.
South Africa’s other great win came in the first Test against England from 24-3 down. That day, Jean-Luc du Preez wore the number seven jersey.
You get the idea. Getting it right is like juggling mercury. If nothing else, solving this riddle will ensure Erasmus earns every cent of his hefty pay packet.
It’s a similar situation at midfield: who is the best pairing involving André Esterhuizen, Jesse Kriel, Lionel Mapoe, Damien de Allende and Lukhanyo Am? The real issue is SA lacking a truly imaginative inside centre.
Let's do this! The Springboks who arrived on Sunday morning in London had a nice gym workout to kick off preparations for the #CastleLagerOutgoingTour@MTNza @ASICS_ZA #LoveRugby pic.twitter.com/wlHoPJUIR4— South African Rugby (@Springboks) October 28, 2018
Much of the rest sit comfortably with pace and power in healthy supply. It’s something England, in turn, may battle with.
They’re in a mess, with injuries having wreaked havoc – Billy Vunipola will be sorely missed – and the odd decision to name two captains for the end-of-year internationals.
The last thing England need is to add to the confusion in their ranks.
The Springboks arrived in two groups in London. The second, bigger group arrived at their Kensington hotel a few minutes ago. #CastleLagerOutgoingTour@MTNza @ASICS_ZA #LoveRugby pic.twitter.com/WOffX1FggX— South African Rugby (@Springboks) October 28, 2018
France, Scotland and Wales follow. None of these is an easy-beat, but if the Boks are to kick on from recent months, these are the sort of opponents who must be dealt with.
They must ally savage instincts with their usual relish. No more soft options please.@ClintonV