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Now That Was A Test!

Now That Was A Test!

Now That Was A Test!

SAF_NZ_Oct2017_primary

AS I returned to the hotel after Saturday’s epic test in Cape Town I bumped into an ex All Black forward regarded as one of the “meanies” of his time. A hard man, who I won’t name because I’m sure he wouldn’t want me to.

“Now that’s a proper test match” he growled.

As good a compliment as you’re likely to get from one of the hardest men to wear the black jersey. Who needs all the other superlatives? 

It was a proper test match alright, one for the ages. Everything, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

The Sublime:

Malcolm Marx. We’ve seen Dane Coles do some extraordinary things, but has there ever been a better all-round performance by a hooker than Marx in this test?

Did all the hard stuff, set piece, blah, blah….the rest was quite incredible, ripping four breakdown turnovers, scoring a try,  setting up another and making more ground with ball in hand than any other Springbok.

And then despite his disappointment he was big enough to front for an interview with SKY that he was in no way obliged to do. Class.

Damien McKenzie : Named Man of the Match which was not quite fair to Marx, but still……he has found his feet in test rugby, and is now impacting his freakish talents in the manner he has been doing in Super Rugby.

The All Black bosses continue to insist his future is at 10, but much more of this and….

A true All Black Springbok test.

OK, many Kiwis will have taken delight from the 57-nil massacre at Albany, but is that what the game really needs? Not on your life.

This was one right out of the top drawer of the greatest rivalry the sport has known. Intense, physical to the point of brutal without ever getting dirty, brilliant thrust and counter thrust, multiple lead changes, drama and pure sporting theatre.

Some of the All Black raids from deep in their half were a thing of beauty, but time and again the Boks, playing off that age old refusal to relent, would find a way out of trouble.

The Great:

Being there at Newlands
Cape Tonians were denied an All Black test for nine years because SARU thought the Boks had a better chance of winning at altitude, and having finally get one we’re told it will probably be the last at the historic ground.

Shame, because as Sean Fitzpatrick said, you haven’t experienced everything great in rugby until you’ve been to a test at Newlands. The place was absolutely lit.

Respect.

For all the trappings of the professional era, these guys understand the history. Throughout this encounter was an undercurrent of respect that simply does not exist in other rivalries. 

The Bad: 

Another shoulder injury to Nehe Milner-Skudder. Just as he’s getting back to his nimble of foot, sleight of hand best. Not fair.

The Ridiculous:

This match was so good that not even Jerome Graces could ruin it, although he gave it a shot. The biggest gaffe was the red card against Damien de Allende. Absolutely it was a dumb thing for DdA to do. Penalty yes, yellow maybe, but red? Where was the direct contact to the head, with force, as specified in the guidelines?

Garces appeared to be guessing at scrum time, repeatedly bypassed the laws at the breakdown, missed men in front at pretty much every kick-off and really struggled to keep up with the play. And yes, it absolutely cut both ways.

To appoint him after his role in the Lions series smacked of a certain pig headedness by World Rugby. 

The Strange World of the Cape Crusaders : 

The support of the Cape Coloured population for the All Blacks dates back to 1970 and has been passed down through two or three generations.

It’s quite amazing to see the lengths these people will go to see and touch their heroes, much to the annoyance of other South Africans, and not just white ones.

But while it is appreciated by the players, it sometimes gets out of hand. It becomes quite frenzied to the point where significant levels of security have to be deployed. And, according to some eye witnesses, it can occasionally quite unpleasant, even aggressive towards their Springbok or Stormers supporting countrymen.

I have to confess that having marvelled at it over the years I’m starting to suspect that there is an ulterior motive in play.

You’d think with all the changes in South Africa it is now time to show loyalty to their country of birth, but these are a people who will tell you they were marginalised under the old regime, and are not much better off under the new one.

Supporting the New Zealand teams seems to be one way they can feel important, and bring attention to themselves.