'Bloody cheating All Blacks'

"MA'A NONU, RICHIE MCCAW, ANDREW HORE (insert any other All Black name here) - Bloody Cheats, The Lot Of Them!"


There are few things that I enjoy more from Cape Talk afternoon host John Maytham than him launching into one of his famous rants.

It's great radio and I imagine people in equal numbers wishing they could reach into their radios to high-five him or alternatively throttle him.

The above would be a typical start to a segment on his show which will brilliantly introduce the topic that eventually comes to a head in a reasoned, balanced analysis. And in this case, about one of his great loves, rugby (John, feel free to use it by the way).

He has adequately summed up the average Springbok-supporting fan's response, when we watch 'our mighty warriors take on the world's best - always with a hand tied behind our backs'.

Yawn, how tiring.

It's an all too common trait in South African sport to criticise blindly without applying balanced reason to form an opinion or argument from there. If you apply a more balanced approach, you support with a far clearer understanding and, trust me, it'll make the experience far more enjoyable.

There is of course also a portion of Maytham's listeners who, given the faintest whiff of an All Black, go jelly-kneed. Or better yet, those who take photos with the players but then ask colleagues for all of their names the next day. You know who you are.

It's not something that bothers me one iota, support who you like, lest we forget that this is after all sport.

Tomorrow's test at Ellis Park will evoke all these emotions again.

Every decision against the Boks will be seen as referee Nigel Owens's bias because he's Welsh and Wales are coached by Warren Gatland who's a Kiwi and therefore they know each other well, have beers three times a week and are members of the Illuminati with their sole purpose to conspire against the Springboks. Oh and he's also from the Northern Hemisphere so he knows nothing about rugby [Note: I haven't written anything about Romain Poite].

For the record, not much in the previous paragraph is true other than that Owens is Welsh and is refereeing the test match.

The fact of the matter is that in their last two matches the Springboks have been shown four yellow cards, a statistic which makes it exceedingly difficult to win test matches.

Through their continued dialogue with the match officials, Springbok management have to believe they've done all in their power prior to the match to gather a complete understanding of how they'll interpret the game. Captain Jean de Villiers also needs to keep his onfield communication incisive, clear and most of all respectful.

I will admit that it is hard to sometimes reason with the citings or lack thereof against players from other countries but that really is beyond the Springbok's control, so let's keep that focus on ourselves rather.

What Flip van der Merwe did last week (led with the elbow) was reckless, and in my opinion, he has been correctly sanctioned. It's the worst possible scenario for Coach Heyneke Meyer because Number 5 lock is the one position in the team that really concerns him now and will concern him going forward.

Juandré Kruger's elevation to the starting line-up is obvious but this isn't Italy in Durban or Scotland in Nelspruit, this is the biggest test involving the Springboks since they were knocked out of the World Cup in 2011 and there's a debutant lock in Franco van der Merwe on the bench. It's a huge ask.

Last week, the Springboks missed a real opportunity, despite a 20-point victory over Australia, to make a real statement in how they've developed. In the long run though, that could be a blessing as every step to the top needs to be climbed individually.

With that in mind, I'm predicting the Boks to win the battle at Ellis Park by 10 points but ultimately not the war in capturing the Rugby Championship title.

On a personal note, I won't be attending the game as I'll be at a wedding. As a warm-up to the main event, I'll be playing in a football match for the Wedding XI against the Matjiesfontein XI (I'm told Gordon Igesund will be attending the game), so listen out for the result of that on EWN programming on Saturday afternoon.

And yes, the order of events for the day includes: Springboks v New Zealand from 17h00 until 19h00. I've checked.

The All Blacks tag of invincibility dangles quite comfortably around their neck at the moment despite this, in my view, being a good but not great New Zealand side.

My feeling is that a team just needs to get over the line against them and it could just be the Boks this weekend in Johannesburg.

What's your prediction for the match?

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