We have the facts, and we’re voting yes...
I like the kind of old man portrayed in the intros of most, if not all, stories about the philosophies of love and life - the adorable yet unassuming one who conjures up the profound punchline (mostly in Chinese) in the end, and at the same time makes you dread old age just a little less since you too might one day possess that depth of wisdom.
The old man that approached me as I was waiting for my luggage at Durban Airport, with the retarded grin on his freckled face and less than earnest tongue, was not this kind of old man, and this is not one of those intros to one of those stories.
“You buffoons came all this way just to be shark bait?”
I mean, what kind of person goes out of his way to pull my headphones out of my ear and say something like that? And even worse, who says buffoon, honestly?
And what’s even worse than that - who goes out to prove him right?
I don’t really want to talk about what happened in the game. They were sharper than us, they were more clinical than we were, they were more direct than we were.
They were so much better than us.
I’ve never promised anyone that I’ve never let anyone down, but I never quit. And I didn’t. I did the best I could, but with our pack going backwards most of the time, your desperate endeavours aren’t only in vain, but more likely to translate into mistakes than anything else.
I remember sitting in the dressing room after the game, feeling like my insides wanted to explode. In a way I’m glad I wasn’t the one asked to say something afterwards, since I probably would have vented all the rage and despair in the wrong way - I was way over the edge. It’s very easy to let your emotions take control, but in times like these you need to put them aside.
You need to look at facts.
Fact - we can’t make what happened unhappen. You can’t waste time on things that won’t give you any energy, but only take yours.
Fact - we need to focus on making the playoffs, point. I had someone approach me with a clever story about manipulating preferred quarterfinal fixtures and easier routes towards the final. Honestly, if that’s where your head is at, rather just send the opposition the points right now and start preparing for the Currie Cup. Or preferably just hang up your boots and become a statistician.
Fact - no more excuses. If you want to win this competition, you’re gonna have to beat the best teams in the competition away from home. If you can’t, you’re not the best. You play Super Rugby for 19 weeks just for a chance to play in the playoffs, and if you have to travel, it’s your own fault. Deal with it.
Fact - we can do this. We need to make small adjustments in most facets of play, and we need to adopt the right mindset right now, but, if we do it, we can beat anybody anywhere.
Fact - if you win the next four games, you are champions.
Fact - forget about that for the moment. We need to win the next game at home against the Lions.
This is what it’s all about. The pressure is on, and the big teams will step it up in the next couple of weeks. It’s easy to make it when there are high-fives all around and monuments are being erected in your name, but when the fans are calling for the whole team’s heads, and when you get spat on in your local Woolworths fruit and veg section, and when everybody has written you off for the sixth time in the competition, that’s when it starts getting fun.
I’ve been a part of teams that have made the step-up, and teams that couldn’t. I can’t wait to see who we are.