De Villiers' Boks are as clueless as their coach

After an undignified week the world champions descended into disarray

Now try telling the South African public everything is fine in their rugby garden. Try, too, suggesting that this Test did not matter, that with the series won it was a dead rubber, of no interest to the Springboks. What, with a 118-year record to break? If the world champions were short on motivation with a first whitewash against the Lions within touching distance, they should not have been out there.

The fact was, the Springboks were desperately poor, a weak shadow of the side they ought to be. But can we be surprised, given that they played for only the first 50 minutes in Durban and the last 20 in Pretoria ? Here, they faced a Lions side without probably its five top players yet they looked second best throughout.

The ludicrous build-up to this Test, with the Springbok coach again the focus of attention, was a clear distraction. Peter de Villiers' lunatic antics and crazy statements are starting to have a direct effect on the performances of his team on the field.

The world champions were all over the place, just as they had been for an hour in Pretoria. Sure, they were without eight of their best players but the talent coming through is such that they ought to have been able to beat a similarly depleted Lions side.

The fact that the Springboks were so outplayed was a dire indictment of what is going on within their camp. Mistakes can always be made by individuals – that is inevitable and excusable. What is not acceptable is a complete lack of structure within a team that calls itself the world champions. Certain players looked only moderately interested – others quickly realised that, given the general mess and mediocrity, they had little chance of turning the tide. A couple of the youngsters brought back into the fray in the second half – Ruan Pienaar (as a scrum-half, after playing at fly-half in the first two Tests) and Frans Steyn (replacing a centre after playing full-back), raged against the dying of the light and the mess around them. But too few others managed much.

To see a South African side so lacking in shape and discipline was a worry with the Tri-Nations so close. De Villiers sought to suggest that inferior performances by players unable to make the step up from Super 14 to Test rugby lay behind the Boks' failure. Yet how come many of those players had looked world class for the Bulls in the Super 14 final only recently? Can they play or can't they? It appears they can, in certain situations. For sure, they never did in Johannesburg yesterday.

Heinrich Brussow did his best to make an impact up front and the flanker won some useful turnovers. But the Lions had a greater belief in what they were trying to do, much better organisation and far more commitment. Sub-standard displays of this nature by the South Africans just will not do. If they thought it did not much matter, they were sadly mistaken. For no side can be happy when their play fluctuates so wildly from the sublime to the ridiculous. That is the Springboks' problem right now.

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities