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The Bok culture is more important than any one player

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, RWC 2011, Springboks on 6 Apr 2011 at 11:42
Tagged with : , , , ,

A recent article by Rob Houwing on News24 yet again highlighted the general feeling surrounding the importance of some of the core Springboks if we are to be successful in our quest to retain the Rugby World Cup later this year in New Zealand.

Houwing, like many other pundits, highlighted the importance of looking after our core Springboks and in his specific example, Victor Matfield.

It got me thinking about debates around blogs in recent months specifically when it comes to incumbent Boks being out of form and new, exciting youngsters challenging for their positions.

The general feeling is that most of our senior core players are ‘past-it’, and if we look to retain the World Cup, we had better wake up to this fact and include the new breed or generation of rugby players.

Examples of this are everywhere.  There is the John Smit/Bismarck debate, Victor Matfield/Andries Bekker debate, Schalk/Brussow, Spies/Alberts, Morne Steyn/Lambie and so I could go on and basically list the whole team or every position.

But then came the light bulb moment (I don’t have these very often)…

‘I could basically name the whole team’

When Peter de Villiers took over as coach of the Springboks in 2008, one of his aims was to establish a group of 40-odd players good enough to run out for the Springboks on any given day in any given test.

Over the course of these three years, we have seen players re-introduced to the Springbok setup, players moved to other positions and establish themselves as world class, and of course, players making their debut and leaving little doubt they can step up to the plate.

I am not going to list these players, you can feel free to do so on your own, the point really is, the fact that we can passionately debate the inclusion or non-inclusion of certain players for the Rugby World Cup later this year with a hope of actually winning the crown, is a position Springbok rugby seldom finds itself in.

It is the culture of excellence that has been created that has made the Springbok team of the last 6 years one of the best ever.  The old-guard is mainly responsible for this culture but rather than fearing it as supporters, we should embrace it.  It is this very culture that has allowed the new generation of Springboks not only to fill the boots of these legends, but perhaps, even surpass them.

For fear of not falling into the All Blacks 2007 trap of having three teams that can win the Cup, let me be clear that combinations, experience, discipline and leadership will still have to form the basis of our approach towards the World Cup, but I won’t be having sleepless nights if we do lose Matfield, or Smit, or Burger or most of our senior, established Springboks.

Would I prefer to have Smit there for the Rugby World Cup?  Of course, I want him there as much as I would prefer to have a fit and fighting Matfield, Burger, Steyn and all of our experienced players in the squad.

Can we win the World Cup without one or two of these players?  Well, yes…


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