The draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, held in the Japanese city of Kyoto yesterday, poses two serious questions of South African rugby.
Being drawn with the All Blacks in pool B provides both a challenge and an incentive for the underperforming Springboks.
The first poser is simply: does the game in this country have the nerve, or the resources, to match the giant strides New Zealand players have so graphically demonstrated in this year’s Super Rugby season?
Only Johan Ackermann’s Lions have shown the aptitude and intention to match the inventive and intuitive Kiwis.
The second is: will our national team have what it takes to face down the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship Test window between mid-August and the first week of September this year?
As things stand, the reply would almost be a resounding negative, given that by 2019 it will be 12 years since the Springboks – and a different generation of players – won the Webb Ellis Cup.
But All Black coach Steve Hansen welcomed the draw. “Everyone will get excited by it,” he said.
“We know each other pretty well so we’ll just continue to get to understand each other before we get here.” Indeed.