“They say they want to make the country proud but at the moment they just make us the moer in!” was Springbok legend Frik du Preez’s reaction to South Africa’s shock World Cup defeat at the hands of Japan over the weekend.
Japan beat the Springboks 34-32 in Brighton to register arguably the biggest upset in rugby history and cast into serious doubt the two-time champions’ ability to even make the knockout stages.
“We are all shocked and bleeding. Never mind the biggest shock in World Cup history, this is the biggest shock in rugby history, in my personal opinion. You have to look at the players – they were selected to represent South Africa but they were up to kak. When your senior players are getting 3/10 rankings then you’re in serious trouble. But you also have to blame the people who select them,” Du Preez, who was named as the Springboks’ player of the 21st century, told The Citizen from BelaBela on Sunday.
“Japan played wonderful rugby, but our Golden Lions team would beat them. Rugby is a simple game and there’s a simple truth in all sport and that’s that you have to qualify to play in a World Cup or the Olympics. You can’t just send anybody to a World Cup. We should have identified players from Super Rugby and sent them instead of a whole lot of injured players. They were brilliant in their day, but you can’t select on past form, you must select on current form,” Du Preez added.
Mark Andrews, another great Springbok lock and a 1995 World Cup winner, said he feared that every international rugby team now knows how to beat the Springboks.
“Teams have worked out how to beat us and that’s by stopping our momentum. They dominate our forwards, make sure we get slow ball and get quick ball for themselves. It’s because we don’t have players like Bakkies Botha or Os du Randt making the big hits. There were no significant big-hitters in the team against Japan and so we couldn’t get momentum.
“The pack is meant to be focusing on the breakdown, but every time they’re all standing in the backline, there’s nobody smashing guys on the gain-line anymore. We didn’t dominate the shortest team in the world either up front or in the aerial game. There are certain fundamentals of the game and the guys need to climb in up front,” Andrews said.
The performance of the senior players was also slammed by Andrews.
“Heyneke Meyer mentions all the experience in the side every time, but if you look at the senior players against Japan, they looked shellshocked! In 1995, we played Australia with about 40 caps between us compared to them having over 600 and we won; the number of caps really doesn’t matter unless those players are on form,” Andrews said.