The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Worrying Of Castle Lager Springbok Showdown

Photo credit: Gallo Images

During the much-hyped Castle Lager Springbok Showdown, not many players left the field with their reputation still intact. One has to credit Rassie and his coaching staff with the winning of the World Cup with the type of rugby that was played yesterday. Unfortunately one can also not ignore some glaring areas of concern that was for all to see yesterday.

My first major area of concern must be the captaincy of both captains on the day. Duane Vermeulen was for all purposes the only captain on the field and had a lot to do with the calmness the Green team absorbed the early on pressure from the Gold team. Unfortunately with the current political situation, Siya Kolisi WILL be the Springboks' captain until the next indigenous black captain is identified and able to lead. However, it must be said that I do believe if Siya is stripped of the captaincy he is still good enough to be selected at six for the Springboks.

Fortunately for South Africa, Phendulani "Phepsi" Buthelezi is coming through the ranks and should be a shoo-in as captain in a few years. If he is the next "captain" then he must be moved to #6 asap as at 188cm he is almost too short for an international loosie. May we pray that Duane's career lasts that long as he is "already" 34 years old?

If Siya wants the respect of South Africa as captain he needs to step up and do the job required of a captain. Enough of the good cop bad cop bull that is being fed to the rugby public.

My second major area of concern yesterday was the lack of height at the loosies. Apart from Duane Vermeulen (1.90m), it was only Vincent Tshituka (1.95m) that was taller than 1.90m which explained both teams opting for jumpers at 2 and 4 in the line-outs apart from a ball or two that was thrown to Duane Vermeulen. Our World Player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit is 2,00m tall and we urgently need an understudy for him at #7. To compete in the lineouts at international level one can not go to war with only two line-out options.

The third area of concern must be that apart from Marvin Orie who mastered the two hands catching of line-out balls the other locks on the day believed that to "klap" the lineout ball is the way to go. The uncontrolled deflection of lineout ball only results in unnecessary pressure on the scrumhalves and defence at the lineout. A sure way of turning an attacking opportunity in a defensive nightmare.

If we want to bully our way to the next World Championship we need quick fixes to the abovementioned areas of concern.

Unfortunately, the back five were mostly spectators on the day and one can not help to wonder why all the backs do not look and play like Frans Steyn. No flair, speed and talent needed.

The Good

The star of the day must be Duane Vermeulen who played as if COVID19 did not exist. His form is already at the level expected from test players as well as an international captain.

Elton Jantjies showed his class and controlled the game as expected from an international flyhalf. I do believe that he can be as good and even better than Pollard if more attention is given to the type of scrumhalf that is selected as his partner. Nohamba with his erratic passes did nothing to assist Jantjies yesterday, maybe a consistent Ivan van Zyl would have been a better match.

Steven Kitshoff performance in the loose must make him the best loose-head in the world. During the 20 minutes of the game, he struggled against Luan de Bruin in the scrums but slowly took control and were in full control when de Bruin left the field.

However, Ox Nche showed that he is a very close second-best at loosehead. Admittingly Carlu Sadie, who is definately the best up and coming tighthead gave Ox big problems when he came on Ox weathered the storm and ended in control after only a few scrums. The conditioning of OX as well as Kitshoff maybe the difference between professionals and wannabees.

Sanele Nohamba did more than enough to confirm that he is a definite contender at scrum-half. His kicking from behind the scrum makes him the ideal candidate for Rassie's gameplan. He was however erratic under pressure and made primary school errors that are not expected from an international scrumhalf. With Jantjies and kie established international scrumhalves it would be wise to slowly introduce this young man to international rugby.

The Bad

Damian Willemse is seen by many, myself included as the next superstar of South African rugby. Unfortunately, he does not live up to the hype at this stage. His goal kicking and decision making are well below par. He needs to sit back with his coaches and advisors and completely remap his way forward. South Africa can not let a talent like this disappear.

The Ugly

The gameplan followed by both teams is similar to the one the Boks used during their World Cup triumph in 2019. Unfortunately, it robbed the paying public to witness the abundance of talent that was present. 

Just a small reminder to all. The World has already analysed our WorldCup winning gameplan and to keep up with the same will be catastrophic. Just saying.