• Jean: Players to blame

    Jean de Villiers says the Springbok players rather than the coach must cop the flak for the shock defeat to Ireland, reports JON CARDINELLI in Dublin.

    Following the 29-15 result at the Aviva Stadium, Heyneke Meyer cut a dejected, exhausted and somewhat confused figure. The Bok coach told the press that his team couldn’t have been better prepared for the game against Ireland, and for the four-Test tour in entirety.

    ‘The three training sessions we had this past week were the best I’ve witnessed during my time as Bok coach,’ he said.

    Typically, Meyer tried to take responsibility for the loss, and refused to point a finger at the players. This much was done by the skipper, who was more disgusted than disappointed with the performance.

    ‘We just couldn’t hang on to the ball,' De Villiers said. 'It’s nothing complicated, it’s grade one rugby. Catch and pass. We didn’t play badly [as far as the game plan was concerned], it was our failure to hold onto the ball that let us down.

    ‘They got ahead [on the scoreboard], and then kept us in our half. We battled to catch up. The players must take responsibility for this performance. It was not good enough. Credit to Ireland who played well, but from our point of view, it wasn’t good enough for the Bok jersey.’

    De Villiers himself is not exempt of blame. A decision to kick a penalty to touch and set the lineout maul paid off in the second half, and got the Boks back into the game. However, the captain won’t want to watch the replay of the first half.

    De Villiers turned down two kickable penalties. Had the Boks taken the points at that juncture, they would have narrowed the deficit. The game may have panned out differently.

    ‘It’s always tough,’ he said afterwards. ‘We back each other on the field, and I backed the lineout maul to score.

    ‘If you add it all up, there were three chances [where the Boks opted to kick for touch] and we could have gone for posts on all three occasions and got nine points. We ended up getting seven points out of those chances, so the difference is only really two points. We had to make up some ground at that point.’

    The Boks will now travel to London, where England lie in wait. Chris Robshaw’s men lost to the All Blacks this Saturday, and will be desperate to make a statement against the Boks.

    De Villiers said this Bok team will also have plenty to prove at Twickenham next week.

    ‘We will be hard on each other over the next few days, and then shift our focus to England,’ he said. ‘We certainly need to lift our game for that Test.’

    Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

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    Jon Cardinelli