Every great rugby team has had the hard men who run the show. Rugby is a brutal game, and the Hollywood stars that we saw during the 2010 Soccer World Cup simply would not survive.
Getting a head butt from Bakkies Botha would have had most soccer players demanding a stretcher yet in rugby, the All Black scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan just picked himself off the turf and got on with the game. Rugby truly sorts the men out from the boys.
Saturday was a good wake up call for the Boks when they got a good snot klap from the All Blacks. Perhaps Pieter de Villiers didn’t take the message seriously coming from New Zealand that revenge was necessary after being soundly beaten by the Springboks in 2009.
The All Blacks, just like the Springboks have pride and that was the difference between the two teams in the opening match of the Tri Nations in New Zealand. South African captain John Smit said after the game that some in the Bok camp have allowed their ego’s to become too big, in a thinly veiled reference to Bakkies Botha’s idiotic head butt and subsequent yellow carding for another incident, that probably cost the Springbok’s the game.
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(Above: Bakkies Botha doing what he should be doing: winning line out ball)
Yet, good can come this. After all, who remembers who won which Tri Nations two years after the event? Everyone remembers who won a World Cup though. And the Springboks have the ability to become the first team to ever defend a World Cup title.
The core of the 2007 winners is still in the team. Bakkies Botha however, needs to decide whether he wants to be part of the 2011 campaign and start using his head properly. South Africa cannot afford to defend our title with 14 men on the field.
In true South African style, there is another hard man making his presence felt on the rugby field. Andries Bekker has had a great season for the Stormers and shows he can sort out things that even the New Zealand commentators couldn’t take offence to.