Amidst the mess it is easy to forget there’s an important Test to be played, one the Springboks will win comfortably. Scotland were woeful against the All Blacks and won’t make the exponential improvements needed to beat the Springboks.
Ryan Vrede, Telegraph Rugby Blog
Scotland v South Africa – predictable cliches in the build-up to this match. Boks saying the Scots will be hurting from last week’s mauling and hence dangerous; the Scots saying SA are confident after two victories and hence dangerous. Provided that the Test is not called off because of the banned but unpronouncable stimulant, South Africa to depress Murrayfield even more. SA by 18.
Eric Janssen, Telegraph
But when the Boks fell to Scotland, the weakest of the home unions and a side ranked No 8 in the world, those living in Lalaland were smacked with a healthy dose of reality.
Jon Cardinelli, Keo.co.za
The reality being: South Africa are not as good as they once were, or Scotland are not as bad as people think we are? Today Scotland became the 6th ranked side in the world, the highest ever. This rise has been based on decent wins against higher ranked teams (Australia, SA, Ireland) and away wins too (Ireland, Argentina). It has been based – the aberrant performance against New Zealand aside – on a solid defence, and a willingness to put points on the board at every opportunity (even if only increments of 3) and Andy Robinson installing what we always knew a Scotland side should have to be successful: backbone.
As usual John Barclay was at the centre of it all, but there were heartening performances from Chunk, Joe Ansbro (on debut) and Graeme Morrison, plus that man Dan Parks. Also encouraging was the way that a couple of guys who had quiet games last week – Richies Grey and Vernon – turned up in force this week, determined to show that they belonged at this level and aimed to stick around. (Although Vernon should not have been on the pitch so early, were it not for another piece of carefully disguised brutality from Bakkies “Justice” Botha. Apparently his faith sustains him when he is banned. Macleod will now miss the Samoa test with a rib injury).
It wasn’t the weather for helter-skelter offload rugby, something in the past Scotland might have tried to ignore and come unstuck. They played perfectly to the conditions whereas the agitated Springboks did not – so it’s a little early for levelling accusations of one-dimensional game plans. But there must be a reason that everyone will applaud Scotland’s good results and then go back to discounting the chance of them or their players doing anything exciting ever again (606 I’m looking at you).
It will still be interesting to see what happens in the spring when it should be a bit drier, and the deficiencies in certain areas of our backline might be shown up, or perhaps some of the players who have yet to have a run of test appearances (Ansbro, Grove, Cairns, Jackson) could provide the missing spark in our attack if they have worked on any perceived defensive issues that may have held them back from Robbo’s mind till now.
South Africa have shown how far you can go with a one-dimensional game, but they also have shown how low you can go: losing to Scotland. Gosh. So I am not for a moment suggesting this is a perfect team of ours, who only need a couple of good matches in the Six Nations to go on and serve up the Webb Ellis trophy to a breathless crowd of 36 people and two sheep on the Royal Mile come 2011. Depth will always be an issue, and Scotland will always have to play out of their skins to compete with the top teams.
But it is reassuring to see them doing it a bit more regularly.