DUBLIN, Ireland, November 11 – Although most pundits deservedly laid into the Springboks following their 38-3 hiding by Ireland (halftime 14-0) at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday evening, former Bok captain Jean de Villiers stopped just short of slamming the players.
The men in green and gold couldn’t have asked for a worse start to their year-end northern hemisphere tour and are already on the back foot as they head to France for their second tour match next week.
Gone was the energy, intensity and appetite showed just a month ago in a single point defeat against the All Blacks at Newlands as the Boks were out-smarted in every facet of the game and bullied into submission at the breakdowns on a soggy Dublin autumn evening.
Even when they had their backs to the wall, particularly in the last quarter, the Boks lacked any answers, their backline defensive skills disintegrated and their response was lame.
Speaking to local pay television station SuperSport, De Villiers lamented the South Africans’ discipline, poor decision-making, being steamrolled by a vastly superior Irish pack and aimless tactical kicking.
“Credit to Ireland the way they played. Defensively they were very good. Our attack had no sting, moved laterally and when they saw the opportunity, they turned us over. We were never a real threat and ended up chasing the game,” De Villiers told SuperSport.
And as for the potential solutions? “We are all disappointed and none more so than the team. But they need to be accountable for this result and what went down on the field. They can either come together now or start dismantling.”
“It’s up to the players to bounce back against France. It’s a real test of character and a test of the leadership group within the team,” he added.
“If you take into consideration the progress made against NZ in the last game and the effort today, it wasn’t the same. It’s a tough week again for the team and hard work needs to be done in most areas.”
Springbok loose forward Francois Louw ranked this up there with some of the Boks’ worst defeats. “They took massive advantage and you don’t want to be chasing the game like that. They kept us under the pump,” he said afterwards.
His Irish opposite number Sean O’ Brien admitted it was still a tough, physical contest, but the hosts had merely worked hard at retaining possession.
“That was part of our plan. We got a few scraps and a few breaks went our way.”
– African News Agency (ANA)