South African Rugby
Hoskins hails 'masterful' Springboks
August 10, 2009
SARU boss Oregan Hoskins has heaped praise on his side's achievements so far in 2009 © Getty Images
South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins has heaped praise on the Springboks for their recent on-field achievements ahead of a judgment into their alleged misconduct.
Peter de Villiers' side scored an historic series victory over the British & Irish Lions earlier this year and have since won three straight games in this year's Tri-Nations to take a big step towards what would be only their third success in the battle for the southern hemisphere crown.
However, their season could be derailed by the results of an independent disciplinary panel's investigation into their conduct during their third Test loss to the Lions in Johannesburg last month.
The action arises from players and management wearing armbands as a symbol of solidarity and protest for Bakkies Botha, following the upholding of his two-week suspension by an independent Appeal Committee for dangerously charging into Lions prop Adam Jones at a ruck without binding onto a player.
The misconduct case was heard in Dublin earlier today with the verdict, sanction and judgment set to follow shortly.
Ahead of what could be a damaging ruling, Hoskins has described the latest crop of Springboks as amongst the greatest ever. On Saturday, they rounded off their home fixtures for the year with a comfortable 29-17 Tri-Nations victory over Australia, a win which was their fifth in six matches.
"We have been treated to some masterful performances by a special group of players and management and I would like to congratulate Peter, John Smit and the players for the results they have produced this season," said Hoskins.
"The results have proved that the process we began last season was the right one. A new coach has introduced new players as well as managed to persuade others who had gone overseas to come back home and the blend has taken this team to another level.
"I said before the start of the Lions series that this team had the opportunity to write its name indelibly in the rugby annals and they did that against the Lions and now they have put another great opportunity within their reach."
The win in Cape Town at the weekend also meant it was South Africa's first clean sweep of home Tri-Nations victories since 2005 and their ninth win from their last 10 Tests and leaves them on course for their first Tri-Nations crown since 2004.
They now travel to Australia and New Zealand for three more games - two against the Wallabies - and Hoskins believes there is still work to be done if they are to lift the title.
"No-one knows better than Peter and the players that winning away from home in the Tri-Nations is the very hardest challenge in the game of rugby football," he added.
"All the results so far have gone with home ground advantage and it will take a mighty effort for any side to win away from home this season. But the team has shown great composure and purpose through a daunting sequence of matches at home in 2009 and have richly deserved their status as the world number one-ranked team.
"This squad has grown into one very happy family and has set itself many goals. I regard it as one of the greatest squads and managements we have ever had and I hope supporters will join me in celebrating that fact.
"We wish them well on their travels and know that they will be doing their utmost to add the Tri-Nations to an already long list of significant achievements."