Jean de Villiers says the result at the Millennium Stadium will determine the success of the Springboks’ 2014 season, reports JON CARDINELLI in Cardiff.
On Friday, the Bok captain drew a line in the sand. De Villiers feels there is more to play for this Saturday than simply another win. For the Boks, there is evidently a lot more at stake.
‘A win would mark this season as a successful one,’ he said. ‘The result is also very important in the context of next year. This is a big step with regards to our World Cup preparations.
‘If we don’t succeed on Saturday it will feel like we’ve taken a step backwards. This game is almost like a World Cup final in itself.’
De Villiers may have a point about the Boks’ preparations for the 2015 World Cup. They will want to end their season on a high, and take some confidence into the most important phase of the four-year cycle. It will also mean that Meyer’s men have won nine from 10 in the northern hemisphere over the past three seasons.
Whether the result this Saturday means much in the context of the 2014 season, however, is debatable. The Boks won all three Tests in June, but failed to crack on and win the Rugby Championship.
They managed to beat the All Blacks at Ellis Park in the last clash of that tournament, and that result ended a five-game losing streak to the New Zealanders. That win alone could be viewed as a big positive, and a sign of progress.
And yet, the final standings of the Rugby Championship will reflect that they finished second behind New Zealand for the third successive season. They also lost the first match of their European tour, going down 29-15 to Ireland.
The Boks are expected to beat Wales this Saturday, and that result would make for a happier ending to the 2014 season. It would also make for better reading to see a tour scorecard that reflects three wins from four games. And overall, it would take the Boks’ 2014 tally to 10 from 13.
That would render the season a qualified success. Another victory would lift the Boks' 2014 win percentage to 77%, but the fact remains they still failed to win the Rugby Championship.
Photo: Andrew Yates/AFP Photo