Be wary of 'The Grudge'

15 November 2012 - 02:39 By Simnikiwe Xabanisa
Simnikiwe Xabanisa
Simnikiwe Xabanisa

The Scots have a history of bearing a grudge.

Maybe it's the haggis, maybe it's weathering the freezing conditions in the highlands in a wee kilt and nothing else, maybe it's having a supposedly crap rugby team - they always seem to lug a sense of injustice around with them.

To be more accurate, the subject of their beef has almost always been the English.

How else does one explain Tom English's book, The Grudge?

The book, an excellent read I'm told, is about a Calcutta Cup game in the Five Nations in March 1990, where Scotland had their Natal versus Northern Transvaal moment by upsetting the Poms to win the Grand Slam.

English weaves other factors like politics and sociology into the book, but you get a sense of how the Scots can hold a grudge by the fact that someone can write a 235-page match report on it.

The Scots' penchant for dishing out rough justice against the establishment has not been limited to just south of the border.

The Springboks and Wallabies found this out recently, with the former losing their last encounter against them in 2010 and the Aussies earlier this year.

In light of that, the Boks must be careful going into Saturday's match against Andy Robinson's side because some of the foundations for an ambush are already there.

In 2010, the Scots had been embarrassed 49-3 by the All Blacks the weekend before they met the Boks, and somehow they bounced back to win 21-17.

Last weekend, the All Blacks put 51 points past a Scotland team that didn't play that badly.

The Boks played their part in the 2010 defeat by resting most of their first-team players and insisting on trying to run the ball in a torrential downpour.

The game was so wretched to watch that my highlight from it was hearing a story about how one of the South African photographers had helped a lady scatter her father's ashes at Murrayfield by slipping her his pass.

Listening to the noises from Edinburgh, Heyneke Meyer's decision to start with Juan de Jongh - a player he's given no indication he actually rates - may well be going down the same route of slightly underestimating Scotland.

Looking on the bright side, there will be one common thread missing from the last two occasions (2002 and 2010) the Boks lost to Scotland when the two teams meet on Saturday.

That would be me (you read that right), Aussie referee Stuart Dickinson and Scottish winger Nikki Walker. I've only ever been to Edinburgh twice, and the poor Boks have copped it both times.

Dickinson's officiating played a significant role in each of South Africa's recent losses at Murrayfield, especially the penalty blitz which got the Scots back in the 2010 game.

And Walker, Scotland's answer to Jonah Lomu at 1.96m and 107kg, usually gets named in the Scottish team when they are about to beat the Boks (the guy's played 24 Tests in 10 years).

The talk of the underdog that doesn't mind biting back reminds me of the immortal words uttered at the only boxing tournament I've ever covered.

It was in Mpumalanga, and a local named Moses was fighting another provincial boxer. Three local farmers, who were dopped up to the gills with brandewyn and Coke, got up in unison and helpfully warned their homeboy: "Pasop Moses, hy slaan terug." (Beware Moses, he hits back). When the other boxer finally landed a punch, one of them jumped up again in excitement and bellowed: "Ek het jou gese hy slaan terug, Moses!" (I told you he hits back).

So, Boks, be warned.