It’s been rather quiet on the mind-games front this week ahead of the World Cup final. England coach Eddie Jones has left JOHN GOLIATH confused and a little disappointed.
I was really looking forward to a blockbuster week of banter between Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus and England guru Eddie Jones. A buildup to the World Cup final filled with enough shade throwing to cover ‘Table Top Mountain’.
Jones has a reputation of instigating verbal fights and playing mind games with his counterparts in the lead-up to Test matches.
He was in fine form before and after their famous semi-final against the All Blacks. ‘No one expects us to win … the pressure is going to chase New Zealand down the street.’ BOOM! The All Blacks ended up playing their worst game of rugby since their 2007 World Cup quarter-final defeat at the hands of France.
l thought for sure Jones would lead out with a couple of jabs about the Boks’ ‘ugly’ brand of rugby, how limited they are. Maybe even try to bait Erasmus to come out all guns blazing on Saturday. My money was firmly on ‘Mate, the Boks are almost as boring as Rassie’s hairstyle.’
But Jones has so far been very courteous of the Boks and their coach. Annoyingly so.
‘Rassie is a cunning coach and has done a great job with the Springboks. We are prepared for the unexpected and they can play different ways. You saw Faf de Klerk doing 15-20 box kicks. Handre Pollard is an excellent kicker of the ball and he was smooth and had a nice touch on the ball.
‘They can play differently but we also know they can come through the front door. Not many Springbok teams you play don’t come through the front door, so we will be ready at the front door and have enough cover for the back door if that happens.’
No man, Eddie! We wanted some fireworks this week. After all, next week is Guy Fawkes Day. You could have even mentioned Rassie’s obsession with disco lights in Bloemfontein is still the biggest jol that ‘dorpie’ has ever seen.
I hope Jones isn’t worried that some of his taunts are going to go over Erasmus’ head just because he grew up in Despatch in the Eastern Cape, where the people only speak English in self-defence. Rassie coached in Ireland, Eddie. If an Afrikaans bra from Despatch can understand what the hell Irish are slurring, he can probably make out your Aussie twang.
But maybe Jones feels that Erasmus is smart enough not to fall for all the clever things that comes out of his mouth.
Or maybe he is just trying to cozy up to South Africans to get another Super Rugby job after he finishes with England. Or even the Bok job. We all know one of Rassie’s many hats he wears is director of rugby. You never know …
Maybe the fact that the Aussie has cooled down his verbal jousting is some sort of mind game of it’s own. But that’s clutching at straws. Or is it? It’s certainly left all of us just a little perplexed.