Lions win the game but not on the scoreboard

A piece of me has been missing since Peter de Villiers left the Bok coaching seat at the conclusion of the 2011 season. While results were patchy last year, but very encouraging this year (despite the second-rate opposition), Heyneke Meyer just doesn’t quite cut the mustard when it comes to entertaining — even cringeworthy — interviews.

While seemingly very approachable and described by most in the industry as having a good relation with the media, Meyer is not exactly a journalist’s dream like our Divvy was. Meyer speaks the language of rugby with a noticeable Afrikaans accent, but a very strong grip on English. Then again, he is employed to coach our rugby team, not be a comedian, an actor or a juggler. Though some might argue that those skills do feature in the job description of the Bok coach, albeit manifested in a different way!

Which is why after the second Lions test, I felt a sense of longing for a “witty” soundbite from the Lions’ coach, Warren Gatland, about how his team had won the contest, but lost on the scoreboard. Divvy would have been proud, oh yes he would. But alas, Gatland disappointed and spoke of missed opportunities to seal the series and how the next week would be one of the toughest of his coaching career.

Boring! Divvy would have given us a resounding performance deserving of an Academy Award, and his acceptance speech would have gone viral, nogal!

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 29: Adam Ashley-Cooper of the Wallabies celebrates scoring a try during game two of the International Test Series between the Australian Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions at Etihad Stadium on June 29, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Adam Ashley-Cooper scores the winning try for the Wallabies in the 2nd Test

Jokes aside, Gatland’s focus on winning the most keenly-contested bilateral series that there is — given we don’t see the likes of the All Blacks taking on the Boks in a 3-test series anymore — is a testimony to how special and how career-defining this battle is. It was personified with every tear that came gushing out of Wallabies’ captain James Horwill’s eyes after the narrow win for his team.

Horwill was clearly awash with emotion because this is an opportunity that comes around for the Wallabies – and Boks and All Blacks, mind you – only once every 12 years. His side had been behind the eight-ball all game and, despite looking horrid on attack throughout the game and only moments before their try by Adam Ashley-Cooper, they managed to pull a rabbit from the hat and snatch victory and keep hopes of a series win very well in the balance.

The teams now move to Sydney for what becomes the series decider, and there seem to be a few injuries and question marks around the form of some players mounting in the Lions camp. Who knows how much of a difference that Melbourne’s Etihad scoreboard could make to the eventual outcome of this colossal contest?

Perhaps I should be kinder to Divvy, though. He meant well with his scoreboard line. After all, the Lions proved on Saturday that it is possible to be the better team for nearly 80 minutes and yet land up on the incorrect side of where it counts: the scoreboard.


This article originally appeared on The South African in 2013.

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