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South Africa VS New Zealand

Neil Jardine

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 ...

I've never seen a match with so much intensity, drive, concentration, and focus on the try line.

Undeniably the All Blacks were the better side and five tries to four says it all. Rugby is a sport of small margins and our lapses at crucial moments cost us dearly e.g. poor defense by Morne Steyn, Jannie du Plessis and Juandre Strydom; a disastrous kick by Kirschner into touch on the full, which allowed the All Blacks to scrum in our 22 from which they scored the decision by Coach Meyer to replace Bismarck du Plessis with Adriaan Strauss before a scrum five meters from the All Blacks try line, a perfect position for someone with the strength of Bismarck. Inexplicable! No one doubts the greatness of Strauss but the timing of the replacement was bizarre. Much more serious was an example of poor leadership and judgement before half-time. We won the ball just before the hooter went. Du Preez, who must have had a concentration-bypass because, instead of encouraging the forwards to keep the ball until the hooter went,  he passed the ball to Morne Steyn who kicked it out on the 22 -  All Blacks ball.

The lineout ensued, the hooter went and from an attacking base, characterized by outstanding support play and slick passing, Messum scored! It was a devastating blow from which the Boks never really recovered. Our handling of kick-offs was puerile, the stuff of an under eleven team – they found us out. Juandre Strydom was appalling, dropping two and missing another altogether. Our scrumming in the first half was powerful and effective, then fell away in the second half, for part of which the All Blacks had only seven men in their scrum. (Ben Franks got a yellow for entering a ruck with a 'swinging arm', a euphemism for trying to smack an opponent in the face; it happens all too often these days. Do coaches coach against it?)

Our missed tackles on Read, Ben Smith and others were below par for international players. Etsebeth had an outstanding game, running like a Springbok (pun intended) and tackling ferociously. Habana's two tries were pure magic'. For me one of the great moments of the match was Kolisi's tackle on the massive Nonu, preventing an almost certain try through strength and presence of mind, (is he better than Alberts on current form?) De Villiers' try was a triumph of determination, skill and clever running; Willie le Roux, on the whole, was his usual inventive self.

Our loose forwards, particularly Louw and Vermeulen, were committed, aggressive and decisive.

Then the farce of the illegal replacement came from the All Blacks bench by someone whose name wasn't on the squad list. It was a moment which would have made any French playwright from the age of exaggerated comedy green with envy. The reason given for the mistake was a 'typing error'. De Villiers showed mature leadership and sportsmanship in accepting the player's presence on the field. (By that stage we couldn't win anyway.) So the replacement played on. (My wife, June, was bewildered. She said, “Do you mean 'Typing Error' is being allowed to play? What next?)”

Overall, the match bristled with power, skill and the All Blacks superb basic skills and support play. They missed very few tackles. If one had to pick one aspect of the Bok's play which cost us the match it was inconsistent defense and a failure to sustain pressure and possession.

The referee? Well I thought he did well, but then I'm no expert. (I look forward to the analyses of Kingsley Went and Mike Whiley, two experienced and excellent referees from last year.)

This match was an advertisement for rugby I've hardly seen bettered.

 

Neil Jardine

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Comments

Desi

Thanks Neil for the fantastic blog and it was such a treat to watch the game with you and June.
We had such fun. Desi + Sian

John Jagoe

Great match…one for the archive, and a perfect analysis Neil (thanks Boet). I was happy that we demonstrated how close we are behind the ABs. I thought Nigel Owens had a superb game in the middle. The problems you identified are easily fixed…drop ZK, FdP will be having nightmares about his decision before HT, tackling, defence and restarts need work to be sure, but that is simple enough….but the spirit shown…well that is not easy to reproduce and needs to be remembered and preserved. And I have never felt so good about losing…the ABs deserved to win and I am just so satisfied that we made them dig so deep. It is an honour to play against these guys and deeply satisfying to have watched the Boks play their part in the match of decades…maybe the best game since 1973?

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