CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa’s 57-0 humiliation by New Zealand in their Rugby Championship fixture in Auckland on Saturday shows how far the Springboks have fallen, former captain Jean de Villiers said.
The record defeat for the Boks has been described on social media as ‘embarrassing’ and ‘shocking’ by supporters, as the rampant world champions ran in eight tries in a sparkling display of attacking rugby that had their hapless opponents floundering.
“We all thought last year losing to New Zealand by 42 points was a low point and we didn’t think it could get worse. It did today. It is very difficult to find something positive to say about this game,” De Villiers told SuperSport.
“We need to be honest with ourselves, we got outplayed in every single department of this game and were beaten by a much better team.”
The Boks had been unbeaten in six tests in 2017 having endured their worst ever season in 2016 when they won only four of their 12 matches.
There had been hope within the team that they had turned the corner, but De Villiers says they still have a way to go to match the New Zealanders some two years out from the next Rugby World Cup in Japan.
“When you talk about the improvement of the South African side, yes they have improved, but when they compare themselves to the best in the world there is still a massive gap,” he said.
Former coach Nick Mallett, who led the Boks to third at the 1999 World Cup, was critical of the team in all facets, including the leadership on the pitch.
“Criticising this Bok team is like clubbing a baby seal. The poor guys are defenceless,” Mallett said. “The scrums were a shambles in the second half, the lineouts didn’t go well in the first half. The replacements didn’t make an impact. The scramble defence was nowhere. The first-up defence got worse and worse as the game progressed.
“There isn’t enough leadership in this team at the moment and certainly not enough skills. Not one Springbok would make the All Blacks side.”
The Boks will need to regroup for their next fixture, a home clash in Bloemfontein against Australia on Sept. 30.
Reporting By Nick Said, editing by Pritha Sarkar