The schedule for next year’s Tri-Nations competition has been released, and it will end with the Australia v New Zealand fixture in Brisbane just two weeks before the 2011 World Cup begins with the All Blacks hosts taking on Tonga on September 9.
The Springboks’ last match is against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth on August 20.
There are two ways of looking at this:
1. The Tri-Nations teams could peak going into the World Cup
2. The teams could be burnt out by the time they get into the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Perhaps a third alternative is that it could benefit the Springboks (who finish the Tri-Nations one week earlier) than Australia and New Zealand.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Ryan Sandes, winner of the 2009 Jungle Marathon in Brazil, returns to South Africa tomorrow, arriving at Cape Town International Airport (domestic arrivals) at 11.40am.
The big question, however, is whether ANC Youth League president Julius Malema will be there to greet SA’s newest hero.
Malema wasn’t able to make the Springbok return from the Tri-Nations, but he did drag himself off to greet Caster Semenya in August.
Like Semenya, Sandes is a runner. And my theory is that because Malema obviously prefers athletes to rugby players, he’ll surely be there … NOT!!!!
If any Springboks hope to catch the 2010 Soccer World Cup final live at Soccer City on July 11 next year, they will have to get themselves dropped from the squad to be there.
According to the Tri-Nations schedule released today, the Boks begin their title defence with a double-header against the All Blacks – in Auckland on July 10 and in Wellington on July 17 – and then a week later they’ll take on Australia in Brisbane. Talk about a tough start!
While the Boks will miss the World Cup final, I reckon Bafana Bafana won’t be there either – well, not on the pitch anyway.
I can recall as a 14-year-old rugby fan going to Stellenbosch one Saturday afternoon to watch the club team I supported, Villagers, take on Victorians, Maties’ second team.
Villagers won the match, I think 30-21, but they lost the try count 4-3. A win may have been a win, but there was always a menacing element to being on the wrong side of the try count statistic. That’s probably because I was brought up on the principle that rugby is about scoring tries. Luckily for me, Villagers tightened up their defence and they never leaked that number of tries again that season, going on to clinch the Western Province league as well as the knockout competition.
I admit that the game of rugby is substantially different now to what it was back then, but even still, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something to be read into Saturday’s Tri-Nations match – comfortably won by the Boks 29-17, but with Australia taking the try count 2-1.
I wonder what will happen when the Boks get matched up front and have to use their backs to swing the match? The lack of creativity behind the pack (with the exception of the phenomenal Fourie du Preez) is a worrying factor for me. Yes, Victor Matfield’s try was a superb piece of play, sparked by John Smit’s grubber, but it’s a sad day when the forwards possess more flair than the backs.
Long may the Bok pack – and Morne Steyn’s boot – rule the rugby park!