Springboks tour success: 3-0! Neil's take on the game against France
Captained Rhodesia 1962 – 1969 Rector of Michaelhouse. (1978-1986)
"Rugby is a thinking game – its’ not a running or a kicking game. This mania for running with the ball and playing open rugby at all costs is stupid – you must adapt yourself to the circumstances and play to your strength"
Now 50 years later Niel Jardine writes for Frosty Rugby Fans ...
SA vs FRANCE 23/1 1/2013
The tour was a success; 3-0. Wins against Wales and even a 'weak' (poorly coached) French team are impressive. Scotland is another story – small pool of players, average coaching. Determination and guts are not enough. But the Boks kept up the pressure enough to secure victory.
The game against France was closer than one thought, until the last few minutes when Lambie goaled a penalty – score 19-10. Turning points: JP Pietersen's charge-down try in the first 2 minutes, something of a game-changer; failure to award a try to Francois Louw from a brilliant grubber from Willie le Roux i.e. right distance, kicked 'softly' while running at speed, through defence – well the French defender might have touched it first?; failure to award Jaque Fourie's try – the awful high pass to Morne Steyn was NOT knocked on - we could see the 22 line and the ball go backwards and the ref was perfectly placed to show or say 'backwards'; (Again, an unnecessary referral to the TIMO who, I think, is visually-challenged. Do refs and TMO's have their eyesight tested on a regular basis?); the place-kicking of Morne Steyn – 'Deadeye Dick'. His territorial kicking also played a big part in how the game progressed.
Generally, the Springbok forwards out-generalled the opposition in scrums (two 'tight-head heels!', now there's a rare sight), lineouts (though not as organised as against the Welsh and Scots.)Mauls were effective on the whole and the French did well in this department too. Our defence was, once again, outstanding. Only one blemish when we fumbled a kick-off and Huget scored in the corner just before half-time. Passing was OK but both sides tend to give a misdirected pass at crucial moments. Tension because a try is 'on'? (In their match against the Wallabies, a final pass to the Scots left wing, Lamont, or was it Seymour?, was high and slightly behind him. He had to 'check' for an instant. That's all it took and the cover defence got him).
I won't go on about the turf and the scrum resets – too boring and irritating. But discipline? There are still some players who behave like schoolboy bullies in the playground. Pathetic.
On the whole, our discipline was controlled and helped with our cohesion and clinical attention to detail. Willie le Roux – one can't ignore the man! - once again put in some pin-point tactical kicks and was his usual inventive self. We dominated possession and territory and kept our heads 'when all about 'us were losing theirs' – thank you Rudyard Kipling. I have almost begun to accept that rugby is the only game where the ref coaches professional players throughout the match – 'stay back', 'don't touch him', 'retreat!' and so on. Why? Are these highly-paid players not truly professional? Can't they work it out themselves? I'm sure there's an answer that escapes me.
Then there were the after match 'interviews' where the so-called interviewer continues to ask 'Yes/No' questions, answers the question in his question, and so on. A final thing, and it's personal. I am seriously pissed off with these 'thanks to the Lord' gestures and remarks, that have crept into the game. Which Lord? What position does he play? Where is he when we lose to the All Blacks? If both sides are praying in the dressing room, who does he favour? I find it nauseating. But I'm may very well be in a minority.
A stanza from J.C. Squire's First World War poem says it all:
'God heard the embattled nations shout,
'Gott strafe Engeland!' 'God save the King!'
God this, God that, and God the other thing.
'Good God!' said God, ' I've got my work cut out.'