Listening to the Springboks being booed off the pitch by a gatvol Ellis Park crowd while trailing 19-3 to Ireland at half-time in the second Test on Saturday, I found my head spinning around like a washing machine drum during its last cycle.
No, it wasn’t a bad reaction between the chilly air blowing through the sixth-floor suite I was privileged to sit in and the splendid refreshments served up by my generous hosts. It was because of an emotional roller-coaster caused by coach Allister Coetzee’s apparent reluctance to correct his selection mistakes which saw the Boks suffer an historic defeat in the first Test at Newlands. During the national anthems I was in a tussle with myself upstairs over which outcome I thought would be best for Bok rugby in general.
Clearly Allister’s preferred personnel was not working out the way he intended, yet he refused to hand starts to a host of quality players who were waiting in the wings. If he wasn’t going to change his team after a loss in Cape Town, he definitely wasn’t going to tweak anything after an unconvincing win either, I figured. The only thing that was going to justify Allister sticking with out-of-sorts players was for them to redeem themselves by making a statement to level the series at Ellis Park.
Clearly this ship had sailed by at half-time. That was the moment when I started doubting my patriotism by thinking that a defeat – embarrassing as it seemed – might be the best way to knock some sense into the stubborn coach’s head. Never did I think the day would come when I might actually want to see a national side lose, but the type of hogwash the Bok side served up in the first half was enough to mess with any rugby fan’s head.
Thankfully I was spared of having to commit myself to that unsavory suggestion, as my potential lack of patriotism was quickly cast aside when Ruan Combrinck ushered in an unlikely revival with his superb debut try. The amazing come-from-behind win actually turned out to be the best of both worlds.
The coach’s first-choice troops failed to rock up again, leaving it to the guys who were overlooked again to clean up the mess and avoid the defeat that seemed very realistic after 40 minutes. Hopefully Allister learned a valuable lesson nice and early in his tenure.
People are not stupid. It doesn’t matter how you spin things, how many excuses you make or how much you deny the obvious. Ask any battered Bafana Bafana fan – they have extensive experience.
Despite the Lions being head and shoulders above the rest of the other five South African Super Rugby franchises, Allister remained reluctant to opt for too many Lions in his starting line-up. And he even tried to blame Super Rugby after the first Test. Quite fittingly things boiled over right here in the Lions den.
Tens of thousands of people who saw first-hand how their beloved players romped to the Currie Cup title and the second spot on the overall Super Rugby table over the last 10 months simply had had enough of the rubbish they were forced to put up with. The Ellis Park faithful voiced their dissatisfaction and Allister gave in by unleashing some manes. They obliged by turning their jeers into cheers.
Let’s hope Allister remembers the deafening roar in the den after the final whistle when he selects his team for the third Test.
Source: The Citizen Sport
Full Story: Lions proved they are kings of Bok jungle