If the teams in the RWC semi-finals can carry over last week’s form to this weekend, it will be a great rugby spectacle with four very evenly matched sides battling for a spot in the final. We can actually enjoy the game as spectators, rather than as tense supporters. I will miss “…the beer I had for breakfast..” though, and the “…one more for dessert…” is no longer justifiable.
Readers must please bear with me if my confidence appears to be a little low. Last week I jokingly commented on Bafana Bafana and lo and behold, they are axed from the CAF cup for the weirdest reason. In the same article I predicted a win for the Springboks and siedaar: they fall out in the most bizarre manner ever in RWC history. On Tuesday I decided, on the spur of the moment, to upgrade to a new Blackberry phone. Need I say more?
This why I am so reluctant to say something about that other game where each side also fields eleven players. The T-20 matches and candy floss do not differ much – both are blown out of proportion and is little more than opium for the instant gratification masses.
The reception by the crowd of Graeme Smith and his performance with the bat will be a far more interesting side-show than the actual outcome of the match. The Proteas are entering an exiting new phase, with some of the more experienced players likely to exit the scene in the foreseeable future. Some young guns are putting up their hands, and Gary Kirsten, with his very successful track record as both coach and player, is the ideal person to guide them in the international arena.
Gary actually played with a number of the older hands, and one can feel certain that he will not discard experience willy-nilly (ugly word that at my age).
Every coach has his own ideas and favourites, and some players discarded in the recent past may just come back into favour, provided that their performance compels the coach to consider them. Jacques Rudolph is a case in point of someone with oodles of experience, a wealth of talent, and enough playing years ahead of him to help form a solid backbone around which Gary can build his new team.
The aplomb with which John Smit and his team handled their disappointing exit from the world stage rankled many an unruffled feather (sounds a bit PdV-like, that). It reminded many fans of events after our national side got bundled out of the cricket world cup, and how the captain, despite saying that the team would just have to take it on the chin, disappeared overseas, leaving the rest of management to face the music. It earned him the nickname of Lockjaw from my friend Manie.
Ou Maans het glo self hierdie bynaam op ‘n stadium gehad. Wanneer hy as jong boer die naweek dorp toe ry, het die Engelse meisies se ma’s mekaar glo gebel en gesê: Lock jaw daughter away – Maans is in town.” Of so iets.