Boks must finish in style
WHILE satisfied with the results on this European tour, Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is demanding a more rounded performance from his charges when they line up against England at Twickenham on Saturday.
The Boks go into the game on the back of wins against Ireland and Scotland, but neither victory was convincing, the Boks having to fight hard in the second half in Dublin, while in Edinburgh last Saturday the tourists fell away completely in the second half.
De Villiers, who will earn his 84th Test cap on Saturday, becoming the fifth-most capped Bok, said his side needed a big 80-minute effort.
“I suppose results-wise the tour’s been pretty successful, but we need to step up from a playing point of view. Certain facets of our game, like our attack, needs to be stepped up and we need to continue where we left off defensively last week.”
De Villiers, however, added that this did not mean the Boks would necessarily play a more expansive game against England.
“The ambition (to play more entertaining rugby) is always there, but the opportunities don’t always allow you to do that.
“At the end of the day, you’re judged by the results. In years to come people will only look at the result.”
The Boks have come under some criticism in recent days for playing boring, one dimensional rugby, but there is an expectation that they may look to change that today. For one thing, flyhalf Pat Lambie has been told by coach Heyneke Meyer to play his “natural game”, meaning he will play closer to the gain line.
De Villiers, though, continued to say the result was far more important than pleasing critics.
“If we get the right result by playing an exciting brand of rugby then that’s great, but I’ll take a one-point win any time.
“The important thing is that we, as a team, mustn’t lose focus of where we are going. We need to continue to focus on the positives. We know what we’re good at and if we continue to play that way and win, then I’ll be happy. We can’t please everyone, that’s not possible.”
De Villiers did admit the pressure the public put on the team, by demanding more and wanting a win every time they play, kept the Boks on their toes which, he said, wasn’t a bad thing. “It’s frustrating (to hear all these demands), but on the other side it’s also a good thing. It motivates us to play better and lift our standards.”
A win for the Boks would give them and Meyer seven victories from 12 games this year, with two draws and three defeats. De Villiers said losing, giving them only a 50 percent win ratio for the season, would not be good enough.
“It would be way below the standards we set for ourselves so in that context this is a massive game for us,” he said.
“It’s important we win this one, to finish the year with some confidence and, especially for the youngsters, the guys who’ve come on tour for the first time, to give them confidence going into next year and for the time they’re off during the break. We’ve worked hard to get where we are ... we must now finish it.
“There’s been a good energy, a really positive attitude. It’s a great bunch of guys on tour and I’d really like them to have one more good performance.”
The talking’s over, now it’s time for the Boks to deliver ... for 80 minutes.
FACTS AND FIGURES
*South Africa and England have played each other 35 times since 1906, the Springboks winning 21 Tests and losing 12 with two draws
*The Springboks have scored 733 points and 68 tries, and conceded 549 points and 39 tries for an average score of 21-16
*Jean de Villiers will extend his record as the most-capped Springbok centre with 68 Tests in the position
*JP Pietersen needs two tries against England to equal the Springbok record of six career tries against England held by Bryan Habana
*Ruan Pienaar needs six points to equal the Springbok record of 26 career points at Twickenham held by Braam van Straaten
*De Villiers, Francois Hougaard and Jannie du Plessis will end the season having started in all 12 Tests in 2012
*Adriaan Strauss and Pienaar will have played in all 12 Tests with four and five appearances from the bench respectively
*Flip van der Merwe and Marcell Coetzee could complete a full house of 12 Tests for the season should they be used as substitutes today
Springbok Test records at Twickenham:
*Most points: 21 by Jannie de Beer (6p, d) against Australia on October 30, 1999; 20 by André Pretorius (c, 2p, 4d) against England
on November 25, 2006
*Most tries: 2 by Chester Williams against England on November 18, 1995
*Most conversions: 3 by Ruan Pienaar against England on November 22, 2008
*Most penalty goals: 6 by Jannie de Beer against Australia on October 30, 1999; 4 by Braam van Straaten against England on
December 2, 2000
*Most drop goals: 4 by André Pretorius against England on November 25, 2006