i can’t believe it…!
me, the morning after, in my springbok jersey, looking rather bemused.
we won the world cup!
i don’t know what to say…
we beat england 15 – 6, with 4 penalty goals from percy montgomery and one monster 50 metre kick from francois steyn. there weren’t any tries – it was a very, very tight game and both teams had very few opportunities to score a try…
even though its now already tuesday (the match was on saturday) a part of me still can’t believe it… it was weird… england came out looking very good. they varied their game-plan and i was quite surprised and really worried. they were always pushing and pushing and we were… what were we doing? it felt like we were just holding firm – but looking back, i can see that we were doing more than that. in a way we basically played them the way they did france and australia, defending stoutly and keeping the game simple. our game was very pragmatic, just playing for territory and forcing line-outs, and pressuring england into making mistakes.
that was basically what the game was about – pressure. like with most finals, both teams were desperate not to lose, so they played very conservatively. each team tried to put as much pressure on the other team as possible – in the end we were able to apply more pressure than england could us and to take more than they could.
its a real pity that i’m not in south africa for this, though – the atmosphere here isn’t particularly good. when i watched it in the pub there were only about 6 of us supporting south africa, so i didn’t feel really comfortable to enjoy the victory. in fact, the whole tone of the evening was effected by watching it with england supporters and with english commentary, ’cause one sort of sees the game from their perspective (which is probably why it felt like we were just “holding firm” for much of the time…).
here is a selection of the front pages of the newspapers:
those twit princes, pulling stupid faces…
the subsequent reaction and analysis hasn’t been great either. almost all the match reports in the papers and on the internet were about england, how hard they tried, how valiantly they fought, how desperately unlucky they were… but in the end it wasn’t enough. so what did we do? how did we win? most of the newspapers had about 10 articles about the game and the only thing they mentioned about us were the bare facts – montgomery and steyn kicked 5 penalties and matfield won almost all the lineout ball. the supposedly neutral websites said the same. nothing else. there’s been no analysis of how we won. if one didn’t know the game one would think we just turned up with 4 players!
the independant was the only newspaper with a nice big prominent spread. this is the back page – the front page is devoted to “the valiant”. really cool photo. it was taken at the final whistle. you can see francois steyn, right, the number twelve, jumping in the air.
the accolades have been non-existant. i mean it. you’d think we came last, thats how quiet the reaction has been… even the retrospective analyses looking back at the world cup barely mentioned us and none of them offered even a passing reference as to how we made our way through the tournament. much was made of (exciting) fiji and (wonderful) argentina, but ironically the team who beat them both (south africa) weren’t even worth mentioning…
as a result it feels like we didn’t even win it at all. where did we end up? did we even make the knock-out stages?
so my initial disbelief isn’t just the happy kind where you want to pinch yourself to check whether you’re dreaming or not… but a somewhat unawareness of whether it really happened or not. as such i hope you’ll forgive me when in a subsequent post i generate my own victory cheer and tournament analysis.