South Africa’s new-found player depth has been one of the major talking points this season, but the match separated the first-choice and those on the fringes
A Springbok team patched together with fringe hopefuls would always have battled to reach the same heights as their first-choice counterparts in the weekend’s Farewell Test against Argentina in Pretoria.
While there was a lot less riding on the result than during the successful Rugby Championship campaign, it still carried some weight ahead of the World Cup in Japan next month.
We look at five things we have learned from the Boks’ last Test before they depart for the Land of the Rising Sun on August 30.
The Bok A-team
South Africa’s new-found player depth has been one of the major talking points this season, but the match separated the first-choice and those on the fringes.
Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus said he had rested 18 players for the match which represented the core of his 31-man World Cup squad except for a few players that played cameo roles on Saturday. It may not be fair to expect a patched-together team to replicate the performances of the team that toured New Zealand and Argentina, but the match clearly showed the difference between this team and the so-called A-team.
Siya Kolisi is back
Inspirational Springbok captain Siya Kolisi had a lengthy run in the Green and Gold and distinguished himself as one of the shining lights for the hosts.
Kolisi may not have been able to go the full 80 minutes but went unscathed for nearly an hour showing no signs of rustiness.
Erasmus said he was delighted to have his captain back in action and they would fine-tune his conditioning and give him a longer run in the warm-up match against Japan.
Stunning Sbu Nkosi
cements World Cup place
Nkosi was runaway train en route to the try-line scoring a brace of spectacular tries playing a central role in the Boks’ victory.
Fellow Bok flyer Aphiwe Dyanti’s injury-enforced absence has been one of the big blows before the start of the Rugby Championship. But Nkosi highlighted that South Africa had no shortage of attacking weapons on the wing. Erasmus confirmed on Saturday that Nkosi had secured his place for the Rugby World Cup.
The Boks can win ugly
The nation has been swept away on a wave of optimism thanks to a rare Rugby Championship title victory and remaining unbeaten so far this season.
The hard-fought victory would rein in some of the sentiments and manage the nation’s expectations. The Boks still managed to secure the win which gives them some positive momentum before they depart for Japan. The side has developed a winning culture, whether it is grinding out an ugly victory or doing it with flair.
does not fill stadiums
The Test attracted just short of 30 000 people which is a half-decent turn-out for a game without any real consequence.
But one would have expected fans to flock to Loftus Versfeld to give the Boks a proper farewell before they depart for the Rugby World Cup. Winning teams alone do not translate into bums on seats, which is disappointing considering the resurgence of the Boks.
The stadium experience seems to be broken, and we need to fix it for the health of the game.
Loud music and flame-throwing do little to attract fans to the stadium.