In exactly one year and one day from today, the Springboks will hopefully be involved in the quarter-finals of Rugby World Cup 2015 in England and Wales.
South Africa, in Pool B, has arguably the easiest route, having to contend with Samoa, Scotland, Japan and the USA. At first glance, it may seem like an easy pool, apart from Samoa, where the concern is more about injuries to key players than not being able to finish at the top.
There is another side to this. If your first four matches are against relatively easy opponents, you may need to be mentally sharp when facing any of the three sides in Pool A mentioned above.
Should they finish on top, they will face the runners-up from Pool A, where Australia, England, Wales and Fiji will contest the first two places.
In Pool C, New Zealand has to fend off mainly Argentina and Tonga, which should prove no problem. Their opponents from Pool D in the quarter-finals could be France or Ireland. For my money, I back France who always plays at their best against the All Blacks.
The Five Nations sides have a major advantage, given the expected wet and slow pitches in England and Wales. Hopefully this will not dampen the adventurous spirit displayed by the Springboks lately, or lead to the coach deciding to revert to a constant kicking game by re-employing those best suited to this kind of game. You know who I mean.
If you want to get into the mood so long, click here to visit the official RWC 2015 website.
Currie Cup Semi-finals
The semi-finals this weekend will not be as one-sided as many may want to predict. The two home sides were on fire from early on in the competition, while their opponents took the diesel engine route, and are now warmed up to post a real threat.
The battle at Newlands appears to head for a vintage North-South encounter, almost like that classic Marvin Hagler/Sugar Ray Leonard fight on 6 April 1987.
In those years, the likes of the Du Plessis brothers, notably Carel and Michal appeared unstoppable with ball in hand, while the men from Pretoria had an ace in Naas Botha, freshly back from America, and scoring all his sides 24 points with four penalties and four drop goals against Transvaal in the final in 1987. Dawie Snyman as coach and his team won the cup the preceding 5 years. On Saturday, the Bulls have the new prodigy, Pollard, in their side. Everyone expects him to emulate the feat of the golden boy in 1987.
The match at Ellis Park will be much of the same, and I do not expect the Lions to revert to a conservative approach now that bonus points are not an issue. The factors weighing in favour of the home side must be their cohesion after having played Super 15 with most of the present incumbents, and the crowd behind them. Their demolition job on the Cheetahs last weekend will no doubt add to their confidence.
Time will tell if the Sharks have overcome the internal rumblings after Jake White’s sudden departure, but the return of players like Cobus Reinach will bolster the side substantially. The tussle up front and in the line-outs will be crucial to the outcome, as will be countering the highly effective Lions loose trio – all 5 of them.
The outcome of neither of the two matches is a forgone conclusion, which is an indicator of the very healthy status of South African rugby at the moment.
How not to score a try
My colleague, Bobby Londt, sent me this clip. It reminded me of a similar incident some years ago involving the current Western Province backline coach. For personal reasons, I hope he does not get the same surprise on Saturday. You could almost say he was Kaysered.