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Great result for the game

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There was a strong feeling that Erasmus had waited too long to give the young scrumhalf a start.

Picture: EPA/Kim Ludbrook

Ireland’s rousing 16-9 victory over the All Blacks in Dublin last Saturday was just the kind of result the game needed, a year before the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

There was a very real fear that New Zealand were dominating to such an extent that the World Cup was a foregone conclusion. Indeed, one prominent New Zealand rugby writer posted a much-talked about article, just a few weeks ago, saying: “Just give the World Cup to the All Blacks already and get it over with.”

Now, all that has changed. Ireland produced a special performance in what has been a special year for them. Irish club Leinster won the European Champions Cup as well as the inaugural Pro 14, while Ireland claimed the Six Nations and a 2-1 series victory over Australia.

What Ireland’s victory, combined with South Africa’s two thrilling games against the Kiwis this year, has done is to confirm that there is now a list of teams who can consider themselves genuine contenders for the trophy – Ireland, England, and of course our own Springboks. Even the likes of Wales, Australia, Argentina and Scotland will feel a new surge of hope.

Speaking of the Boks, Rassie Erasmus and his team have a great chance of further underlining their World Cup credentials with victory over Wales in the final match of their Europe tour in Cardiff tomorrow night.

We are especially looking forward to another appearance from Embrose Papier. There was a strong feeling that Erasmus had waited too long to give the young scrumhalf a start.

But Papier played a lovely part in Jesse Kriel’s try against Scotland – one of the best Bok tries of the season, if not the best of the season.

Papier aside, there have been much more positives than negatives for the Boks this season. Several young stars have found their feet. It’s “game on” for the World Cup. And we can’t wait.