The Springboks 2nd stringer starting line-up we picked to beat the British & Irish Lions in a series decider has been finalised. And here’s how 40 000 readers of SA Rugby Magazine and Keo.co.za voted for their preferred second-string run-on XV. It is different to ours.
Zelim Nel and myself hosted our #WarRoom series on SA Rugby Magazine’s YouTube channel and site and the purpose of the five-part series was to select a Springboks run on XV we believed could beat the Lions. The catch was that we could not include any of the XV who started for the Springboks against England in the victorious 2019 Rugby World Cup.
We started with the fullback position, then the outside backs and midfield, then the halfbacks and in the last week we completed the loose-forwards and the tight five.
There was a recent article in the New Zealand Herald bemoaning the lack of appreciation given to rugby’s piano movers, those front rowers and their second row mates, but in South Africa there is never such an issue because the rugby fans in South Africa know the value of a good tighthead and loosehead prop and they celebrate the strongest tightheads with the enthusiasm most countries rugby supporters celebrate try-scoring wingers and points-scoring flyhalves.
The Springboks 2019 World Cup-winning loosehead prop Tendai Mtawarira has retired, so in his place comes Steven Kitshoff for those players who were ineligible for selection.
Zelim and I believe we have such depth in Springboks rugby that even a second starting XV would be good enough to beat the Lions, that was if every one of the preferred starting XV was ruled out of a series decider.
We debated our selections in each of the five episodes, agreed to a selection in every position and then challenged the readers of SA Rugby Magazine and Keo.co.za to tell us their thoughts, via a voting poll.
Our choices and those of the reader emphasised the talent available to the Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber and the National Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Our team and yours, the reader and viewer, had nine of the same players in the starting XV, with seven in the same position and two in positional switches.
The series was great fun to do, 40 000 of you voted, there were 35 000 YouTube views, 100 000 pages read on the series, which got a Facebook reach in excess of one million.
It underlined the incredible passion among South African rugby supporters and also just how well they know their rugby and their players.