Patriotism has blinded Springbok supporters to the possibility that their team will return from the World Cup having relinquished their crown, according to MARK KEOHANE.
Defending champions, the Boks head to the global showpiece having endured the most mixed build-up of the top nations, and were rocked by the loss of three key players – Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Lood de Jager.
Siya Kolisi’s name was among those chosen to travel to France, but there are doubts that the inspirational loose forward will be fit in time to lead his country, and he only has a couple of games to pick up momentum before the tournament kicks off.
This, compounded by an uneasiness around Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber’s plans after a heavily-rotated team salvaged a warm-up win in Argentina, following a disappointing Rugby Championship.
It’s an edgy time for South Africa, and in his latest TimesLIVE column, Keohane reminds the nation that the Boks have statistically lost 37% of their Test matches, and in seven tournament appearances have lost more World Cups than they have won.
“Patriotism, especially among South African rugby supporters is a given,” he writes. “Ask any Bok supporter on the Friday of any Test match to pick a winner and the answer comes with a hallowed chant: ‘BOKKE’. It is usually followed by a score prediction: ‘BOKKE by 10.’
“But in the context of what is to come in the World Cup those loyalists deserve a bit of science; a bit of perspective as to how their romance of the Boks weighs up against the current reality of the Boks.
“Absolutely, the three titles from seven is a Rugby World Cup tournament best, but on four occasions they’ve arrived and left before prom night.
“Perspective, people … just a little bit of perspective and then marry the optimism with the obvious statistics that the Boks since winning the World Cup in 2019 have been inconsistent, out of sorts and never good enough to be ranked No 1.”