Boks benefited from June hitout
- 02 Jul 2013
While the crowds were poor, the Springboks would have taken a lot out of the recent quadrangular Test series, writes former Bok hooker JOHN ALLAN.
The IRB and Saru showed good foresight by arranging three Saturdays of double-headers in June, a first for rugby. Samoa, Scotland and Italy aren't among the very best sides in the world, but they still provided good opposition for the Boks at this time of the year.
Saru must have hoped that fans who came to watch the Springboks would also watch the earlier match involving the other teams, and that the prospect of watching two Tests for the price of one would fill the stadiums. However, the crowds were poor, which is a shame as the rugby was entertaining. Fans voted with their feet due to the high ticket prices and from a financial perspective, I can only assume it was a failure for Saru. Hopefully, the powers that be learn from this and find a happy medium regarding ticket prices, so that the costs of staging the matches are covered and families can afford to attend them.
As far as the rugby itself was concerned, many people thought Samoa were going to get hammered after their terrible showing against the Golden Lions, without considering the fact that most of their players hadn't yet arrived, as their clubs in France and England release them only for Tests. One week later Samoa were back with their battle-hardened first-choice players and they literally ran over Scotland, and then Italy the following week.
Scotland have a small pool of rugby players and can only compete if they have their first-choice players. With four representing the British & Irish Lions and another five injured, all they could rely on was passion, which they did against the Springboks. They had a chance to win that game and certainly gave the Boks a scare.
Italy showed that they can compete at the highest level and never disgraced themselves in any of their games. Hopefully they can play more matches against southern hemispheres teams as they need to take themselves out of their comfort zone. If this happens, I believe they will go from strength to strength.
The Springboks won the tournament but more importantly, they blooded new players. Centres JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein, flanks Arno Botha and Siya Kolisi and fullback Willie le Roux all came through with flying colours and the Boks have increased their depth in those positions as a result.
The Boks would also have taken great confidence from the way they beat Samoa in the series decider. They played well tactically, with skill and passion, and got in the faces of Samoa. If they continue to play like this they will do well in the Rugby Championship.
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
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