Baby Boks are hulks, but are they incredible?
The Junior Springboks have received praise for their performances in the World Rugby Under-20 Championship currently being played in Italy – and the accolades are not undeserved.
After convincingly winning their opening three games, the Baby Boks are through to the semifinals and are favourites to take the trophy.
The young South Africans topped the overall standings quite comfortably and will take on an England side that does not seem to be equal to last year’s winning outfit in their last-four game.
The junior All Blacks will be up against France in the other semifinal.
However, for me the jury is still out.
I have been disappointed at the brand of rugby dished up by our youngsters.
In their final pool game, the Baby Boks smashed the young Wallabies 46-13 but the game said more about what’s wrong with South African rugby rather than how brilliant it is.
It was apparent as the teams walked on to the field that when it came to the Boks, “baby” was a complete misnomer.
The South Africans were distinctly bigger than their Australian opponents and they proceeded to use this size advantage to bash and batter their way to victory.
But that is exactly where my issue lies. Physical intimidation was at the heart of the Baby Boks’ play – and there was little else that was inventive.
This time it worked because the wee Wallabies just could not stand up to the brute force of Hanro Liebenberg’s hulks.
Yet even with this dominance, the Bokkies kicked the ball too often and crash-balled into opponents too much, while their main method of attack remained the line-out driving maul.
At an age when their play should be infused with joie de vivre, when they should be running and switching the ball around with speed and imagination that dazzles, they produced a fair imitation of their seniors.
So hold the hosannas until the side comes up against a team with a set of forwards who can match them in the set phases and be as robust in the hand-to-hand wrestling parts of the game.
We have seen the Springboks and our Super Rugby sides unable to adapt when held up front, and that will be the real test of these Baby Boks – to show that not only are they bigger but also better.
The semifinals will be played in Calvisano, Italy, tomorrow:
New Zealand vs France: 6.30pm;
South Africa vs England: 8.30pm.