Defeat at the hands of Japan at the 2015 World Cup is ironically paying dividends for the Springboks now, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
I’m no FBI or CIA lip reader, but I’m pretty sure former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said ‘Asseblief Vader’ (Please, Father) while looking to the sky during the Boks’ ill-fated World Cup match against Japan in Brighton four years ago.
It’s probably better than current Springbok boss Rassie Erasmus’ ‘Woes’ (I said I was no lip-reading expert …) against the All Blacks in Wellington this year, but something that stuck with a lot of South Africans in the aftermath of that shock defeat by the Japanese.
It was the biggest upset in the history of the game, and quite possibly one of the biggest in the history of all sport. It’s like Tannie Evita knocking out Mike Tyson in the ring, or Lance Amstrong, on a bicycle, beating Lewis Hamilton in a Formula One car. Doesn’t matter how fast you can pedal on drugs, that ain’t happening.
But it happened to the Boks, as South Africans endured one the worst morning-after babelaases of all time. We lost to Japan – words we thought we would only hear at the Karate World Cup.
For four years heading into this World Cup that dark cloud hovered above Boks as a team. They have been reminded about that loss like an old meme that your mother keeps texting you, with the disclaimer: ‘Send to five people and you will meet your wife in the next 24 hours’.
The Boks, however, got revenge against the Japanese last Friday. Pride was salvaged. We now have a 50% winning record against the Brave Blossoms. We can now focus all our energies on the All Blacks on 21 September. Sigh.
However, there seems to be one positive thing that came out of that Brighton defeat. No, it’s not that walkie-talkies are being treated with much more respect these days. It’s the fact that the Boks are actually, err, big in Japan at the moment.
The Boks arrived a week before most of the other nations and have enjoyed a warm reception wherever they have travelled to in the country.
That result in Brighton definitely helped boost the profile of the game in the country, which is possibly why the Boks have enjoyed some much attention and a lot of love from the locals. Despite them gaining revenge last Friday, there seems to be no hard feelings.
On Monday, a reported 7,000 people turned up at the Bok training session, which was held in very hot and humid conditions, while another 2,000 pitched up on Tuesday.
To put it into perspective: 7,982 supporters attended the Vodacom Super Rugby match between the Bulls and Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld in April, while only 7,483 rocked up at the same venue to watch the Bulls take on the Waratahs a month later.
It seems like the Japanese are adopting the Boks as their ‘second team’ at the World Cup. The South Africans will enjoy good support at the World Cup, and all because of that shock defeat four years ago.
Finally, folks, something good has come out of the Miracle ( Nightmare …) of Brighton.
Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images