De Villiers' Boks are as clueless as their coach - International - Rugby Union - The Independent

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
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week