What the Welsh newspapers are saying on Sunday about the Test against the Springboks.
Wales beat the Boks 24-22 on Saturday. The result marked the Dragons’ third successive win against the Boks in Cardiff, and the first time they have managed back-to-back victories against the South Africans.
Today’s local papers have celebrated the result as well as the emergence of a new star. The New Zealand-born Hadleigh Parkes scored two tries at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and features prominently in the papers today.
At the same time, many local journalists feel that the win must be seen in context. The Boks were poor, especially in the first half.
The fact that the media believe that Wales – who are missing a host of first- and second-choice players due to injuries and club commitments – should have won by more says a lot about the opinion of the Boks, and indeed South African rugby, in these parts.
Wales on Sunday has led with images of Parkes on the front and back pages, and on the front of the sport section. ‘A Walk In the Parkes’ reads the headline of the latter.
Inside this section, however, rugby editor Delme Parfitt says that the win against South Africa ‘needs to be put in context’.
‘Wales beat the Boks, but they got across the line by the skin of their teeth when it should have been so much easier,’ Parfitt writes.
‘Pointing out the deficiencies of South Africa might be considered churlish by some Welsh supporters. The bald fact is that the Springboks are still at one of the lowest ebbs in their history.
‘To be blunt, this current bunch still looks unrecognisable from the great individuals and teams that South Africa have produced down the years. The errors, the lack of physicality, the lack of stardust in the backline, you could go on all day.
‘If Wales think they’ve achieved some historic feat worthy of unqualified adoration, then they’re just kidding themselves.’
In the same paper, former front-rower Graham Prices says that the game was ‘awful’, He did praise the performance of Bok hooker Malcolm Marx, though, whom he feels ‘is aptly named because he was always working for the common good’.
‘Pure Boks Office’ reads the headline on the front page of the Sunday Times. The paper has led with Parkes on the front of its sport section. ‘Any more where you come from?’ it asks, referring to the success of the New Zealand-born star on debut.
Respected writer Stephen Jones notes how South Africa’s scrum ‘made mincemeat of Wales and their driving was good’. He then goes on to say that the Boks fielded a ‘speedy back-three who could not defend for toffee.
‘Handré Pollard marshalled things well. It was one of the most catastrophic coaching decisions of the decade when Pollard was taken off with the match in the balance and the fallible Elton Jantjies came on for about 10 minutes of blundering.
‘There were one or two up front, such as Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi, who looked like true Boks. The others were making up the numbers.’
In the Sunday Telegraph, Mick Cleary says that the game showed ‘how devalued a force South African rugby has become’. In the same paper, Ian McGeechan writes that Wales need to evolve to the point where they are scoring more tries.
‘There is a lack of cutting edge on the pitch. Yesterday’s entertaining, if nerve-jangling, win over, let’s face it, a poor South Africa, was a case in point,’ the former British & Irish Lions coach says.
‘Yes Wales scored three tries, but they came from horrendous Springbok errors.’
By Jon Cardinelli in Cardiff