Monday, November 09, 2009
There was some joy for English rugby fans this weekend as a pumped up Leicester Tigers beat a lacklustre South African XV 22-17 at Welford Road on Friday night.
It was a historic win for the Tigers, who themselves were missing their England players and had a few others out due to injury. The South African side comprised of a group of young Currie Cup players, mixed in with a handful of Test veterans.
Despite an early try to Jongi Nokwe, it was clear that a Springbok scalp was more motivation for the Tigers than vice versa, as the home side ripped into the tourists, dominating them in practically every department. In the scrum came the most humiliation though, as the Bok pack were demolished and conceded penalties on more than one occasion.
Gurthro Steenkamp, who has since left the tour with an injury, was destroyed by Martin Castrogiovanni in the scrums. Captain on the night, Chilliboy Ralepele, was also injured, leaving the field after 20 minutes. It was a shambolic Springbok team, and a poor showing all round.
Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir was shocked at the performance, despite picking nine uncapped players: "I don't think I've ever seen a South Africa pack as bad as that, especially from a coaching perspective. We were given a bit of a lesson at the scrums," he said.
"We just move on. We came over here with an experiment and perhaps it didn't come off as planned. Hats off to the Tigers. They were incredibly strong in that department so we've got to go back to the drawing board."
Tigers coach Richard Cokerill said his scrum was immense. "Rugby can get quite scientific in its analysis these days. Sometimes you just need 15 blokes to come here and roll their sleeves up. The scientists can't quantify that. And that's what we did tonight," he said.
Argentine wing Lucas Amorosino scored a nice try after a neat switch from the highly impressive Manu Tuilagi. Scrumhalf Ben Youngs, only 20 years old, put in a great performance as he kicked his kicks and showed no fear with a few darting runs. He tallied up 17 points on the night, showing maturity beyond his years.
It was a sensational occasion for the 24 000 fans at the ground, and the many more watching at home, as the Leicester Tigers claimed the scalp of the South African dirt trackers, whose coaching staff and selection policies will be questioned following the match.
The senior Springbok side will face France in Toulouse this coming Friday night. After this performance, it's highly doubtful that any of the players on show at Welford Road will make the matchday 22 for that, the first of their three Tests on tour.