After the roller-coaster ride that was Sundays’ game Big Daddy Rugby was fortunate enough to be granted a private audience with none other than the Springbok Captain, John “Comandante” Smit.
The informal chat took place in a bunker deep below the Wellington “Cake Tin” stadium where the beleaguered Captain was holed up with a few of his bodyguards and a couple of bottles of his favourite Old Brown Sherry.
The atmosphere in the room was tense and we were instructed beforehand that eye contact was to be kept to an absolute minimum and to ensure that we addressed him as “Comandante” at all times.
It’s been a tough last few months for the 2007 World Cup winning Captain, with a growing number of fans back home becoming more and more disgruntled with the state of the national team, and in particular his dismissal of mounting global pressure to step down from the team and head off into exile.
When asked about his suitability to lead the Springboks at this World Cup he laughed loudly and said “We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that the Boks are ruled by anyone other than its people”.
Asked to clarify this statement he shot back: “They love me. All my people with me. They love me all. They would die to protect me”.
He seemed unconcerned about the pressure being applied by Bismarck du Plessis for a starting place in the team, and spoke of fans calling for his retirement as “It is betrayal, they have no morals! Let them be eaten by hungry dogs!”
The “Comandante” also alleged that those questioning his importance to the team “were under the influence of drugs supplied by outsiders” and that they are unable to think like “normal rational human beings”.
Unfortunately, that was pretty much all we were able to get from the “Comandante” on this occasion. As the mood lightened and the conversation started to flow so to did the Old Brown Sherry. Lots and lots of Old Brown Sherry in fact. We’re still not entirely sure if it was Smokeys’ attempt at the Macarena or Silas’s challenge to a “stare down” that tipped him over the edge, but regardless the “Comandante” was not impressed and our nice little chat came to a rather abrupt end…which is maybe something that the “Comandante” might want to consider for himself, no?