You don’t have to be a biltong-eating, kortbroek-wearing, ref-swearing rugby fan to know that the Springboks are a much better side than their Scotish hosts. They bigger, stronger, (presumably) fitter, more skillful and generally more balanced than their opponents on Saturday. It really should be a walk in the Murrayfield park, shouldn’t it? Yeah, it should, but rugby doesn’t always turn out that way.
Think back just two years ago, when the teams last met at the same venue as tomorrow’s match, when the Scots pulled off a 4-point win over the bigger, stronger, (presumably) fitter, more skillful and generally more balanced Springboks. It was scrappy, yes, but it was what was needed. The Boks missed out on the Grand Slam thanks to the plucky Scots.
But, surely, it’s not going to be the same again this Saturday.
Coach Heyneke Meyer has a point to prove after a decidedly sluggish start to his new job — and one would think that a match against the unfancied Scots is a good place to start. The men in blue had a disasterous Six Nations and you can’t help thinking there’s a decent change of South Africa racking up a big score and kick-starting Meyer’s reign. If there was ever a chance for the Springboks to stretch their legs, it’s tomorrow.
The players brought into the Springboks’ starting line-up — Juan de Jongh and Gurthro Steenkamp — will be good additions, I feel. De Jongh, in particular, has been crying out for a starting place, and finally has his chance to impress. Honestly, I think he will, just like Pat Lambie did last weekend against Ireland.
Look at the facts, look at the teams, and it’s surely a Springbok win — and an easy win at that — tomorrow. Surely. But it doesn’t always go that way.
If you’re a stats person, click here for the history of matches between the two teams. It’s from Wikipedia, so blame them if it’s wrong.