It's wonderful when you get to watch the elite or world rugby play frequently here in the Southern Hemi. Yet not so much fun when your side gets a whumping, as happened to the Springboks last weekend. I can't remember when I saw a side improve so comprehensibly as the All Blacks at Eden Park. Every one of the Boks considerable strengths were nullified. Even Matfield, the peerless no 5, was for the first time I have witnessed it, out jumped and worse ( he is a clever rugby man), outsmarted.
The All Blacks were all over the collision phase, wrapped round each other and driving like a black bulldozer - yes, it seemed like a single unit it was that tight. They slipped few tackles while the Boks shed runners like an old dog drops fleas.
They managed to not only contain the Boks driving maul, but split it legally. The backs were penetrative and Carter commanded the game. Only in the scrum did the Boks have some sort of parity. It was not a thrashing, despite the 32-12 scoreline but it was a real beating. Consider that the Springboks took the All Blacks 3 out of 3 last year.
Will anything change in Wellington for the second Test this Saturday? I doubt it. The Bok brass persist in choosing fat,slow Riki January at scrum-half, it must be a race quota thing. Super centre Jean de Villiers is stuck on the wing, where he looks uncomfortable. Newbie flanker Francois Louw was a mouse in Auckland and despite the snappier , faster Potgeiter being available, Luow is again starting.
Clunker CJ Linde comes in at prop, a ponderous, ageing yellow-card factory who is out of puff in 25 minutes. Jon Smit looks like he should retire. There are at least 4 hookers ahead of him on SA - Liebenburg, Strauss, du Plessis and Botha. So the Bok brass in their wisdom back him with Ralepelle who does not even start Super 14 games - another case of affirmative dreaming. Yet, better players of colour like De Jongh and Basson are not in the team.
In the old days, after 32-12 most of the Bok team would have been scrapped. Here, they are retained. 2011 for the Boks may well turn into will be shades of 2007, where England seemed determined to play everyone who had won in Australia in 2003 - bandages, metal hinges in their joints and false teeth as well.