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Fri Apr 18 07:45:54 SAST 2014

Springboks slip down world rankings to lowest point in 4 years

Craig Ray in Auckland | 19 October, 2011 00:060 Comments
Bismarck du Plessis of South Africa tackled during the IRB Rugby World Cup Quarter Final match between South Africa and Australia at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 09, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand
Image by: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

TO COMPOUND the gloom surrounding South Africa's quarterfinal World Cup exit, the Springboks have dropped out of the top three in the world rankings for the first time in nearly five years.

They are now fourth, behind New Zealand, Australia and France.

The Boks fell to No6 in November 2006 before clambering their way back to No1 following their victory at the 2007 World Cup.

Since then, they have never dropped out of the top three. After slipping to third briefly in August of 2008, they reclaimed top spot with victory in the 2009 Tri-Nations.

Since then it has been a slow decline for the Boks, who lost five out of six Tri-Nations matches in 2010 and compounded the misery with a loss to Scotland last November.

This year they lost three out of four Tri-Nations contests and bowed out of the World Cup at the quarterfinal stage.

Although the Boks dominated the quarterfinals against Australia, they lost 11-9 and despite consistently fielding their most experienced team in just about every match in the past two seasons, they've gone backwards.

Admittedly their World Cup loss was heavily prejudiced by a poor refereeing performance, but the decline has been steady and on closer inspection, alarming.

Former coach Jake White, who left the team after winning the 2007 World Cup with a No1 ranking, argued that South Africans should never accept elimination at the quarterfinal stage of the World Cup, regardless of the circumstances.

"You can't blame the referee entirely for the Boks' loss and the reality is that they've slipped well down from No1 in the world," White said.

"Having said that the squad they chose was the right one and you couldn't really say there were players in it that shouldn't have been there. So maybe the problem is elsewhere."

White wouldn't elaborate but clearly he questions the coaching, the game plan, or a combination of both.

While many people will argue White has an axe to grind with SA Rugby after being dumped following World Cup success, the inescapable truth is that the Springboks have been regressing.

When the World Cup ends in failure, years of losses are exposed for what they are - degeneration .

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