Sunday, 1 July 2007

All White on the night?

With the All Blacks receiving a timely wake up call at the hands of the Aussies in this weekend's Tri- Nations action, what will the impact be of Jake White's decision to rest several of his senior players for the away section of South Africa's Tri Nations campaign?

It strikes me that perhaps White appears to be satisfied that his South Africa team are no longer work in progress but are now the finished article. In the last few months he's made many comparisions bewteen this Springbok squad and Clive Woodward's England squad pre-2003 Rugby World Cup, especially in terms of experience and the ability to win tight games.

However, what Woodward's England team had was far more than that. By the time the 2003 Rugby World Cup came around it had the knowledge (far, far more powerful than mere belief) that it could beat any team in the world anywhere in the world. This is something the Springboks simply don't have. Yes, they've performed well at home this summer (and yet still lost to the All Blacks) but have a poor track record outside of South Africa (assuming they don't take too much solace from the win over an England in crisis last November).

Who knows? This may be a master stroke by Jake White. His frontline players might get the rest they need while his second string perform heroics down under, adding valuable strength in depth to his squad. However, I can't help feeling that White's nerve has failed, that the chance was there to build the sort of mometum that England achieved going into the 2003 event, a chance that (despite his bravado) White hasn't had the bottle to take.

1 comment:

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