If we rewind to late May, just about a month ago, the media hype around the Springboks was vastly different. Wales had not managed a single win in SA during the United Rugby Championship. Worse than that, the Welsh had suffered a humiliating defeat to Italy at home in the 6 Nations and the stage was set for a Springbok thrashing of the Dragons... or so we thought.
Climbing into our Uber on the way to Loftus for the first test, we all felt exceedingly confident that a big win was on the cards. The Boks had named a vastly experienced team for the clash and it just seemed like all would come together for a stellar start to the season. My Superbru pick sat on SA by 16, but sitting in the stands I looked around at the packed full stadium and raised mine to Boks by 22. Well as we all know, I was humbled pretty quickly. The Boks managed just a 3 point win (32-29).
Fast forward a week to the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein and the Bokke were putting out a younger side, making a total of 14 changes in the starting XV. After what transpired at Loftus, I had been cautious with my picks and went Boks by 9, admittedly a little arrogant in hindsight. I just thought we would see a lot more from what essentially amounted to a form / fan favorite side taking to the pitch. Wales were having none of it though and Gareth Anscombe slotted an incredible kick at the death to seal the 13 - 12 victory for Wales. It was an incredible moment for the Dragons as they recorded their first ever win in South Africa.
Now we move onto Cape Town for what has ultimately become a final in the series. Ronnie and I will be heading down for the game and I truly hope that this time we get to see the Boks fire in the way we had been hoping for in the last two games. We have now dropped to 3rd in the World Rankings and we have no chance of regaining top spot with a win this weekend. What we do need however is a comprehensive performance from the Bok stars who are selected. This is the time to make a statement and show we can learn and adapt. The last thing I want is to be sitting in the stands on Saturday and again complaining about our inability to put the opposition away.
It doesn't get any easier after this. In two weeks time we face back to back tests against the All Blacks (fortunately in SA) before doubles against both of Australia and Argentina. The Boks in their present form do not look like title contenders for the Rugby Championship and this weekend needs to be the point at which they kick it up a gear.
The end of year tour is arguably even more of a challenge as the Boks will face all of Ireland. France, England and Italy. Another loss to Wales would be catastrophic to the years goals and would only give our opponents a nice morale boost ahead of some crucial clashes in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup next year. So Bokke the time to fire is now, the fans have turned up, now it's your turn.