Certainly not on this festival night, as the BaaBaas took the sheep thing a bleating too far; oone missed tackle said, follow me, with a beating not far behind.
However, this final note will not distort the overall notation on a career that has reached the dizzying heights at all levels of the game, with the 2007 Rugby World Cup near the extent of this range.
There are many avenues to take when reflecting on one blood of the brotherhood of the Blou Bulle, but in light of the 200cm frame that came to prominence and then dominance out of the Polokwane, let’s see if we can frame his height with my words.
Just before you start chortling; this scribe has not yet said… Go!
So it begins.
It would be easy to nominate his aerial artistry that turned this art into his science, where he held the chair, but progressively made it into a bench with which to rest his lofty frame. Teams with Matfield knew his presence provided them with a possession changer where a gameplan could be constructed with which to supply and demand toward a profitable success. Opposition sides knew they had to not only be devious, but deft, as in the heat of battle, one lost lineout could easily morph into a handful. He will be remembered as the premier lineout forward in his generation, and one who can handle the integration from any other inter-generational challengers in the battle of who was best.
That may turn out the lights for some, but the real worth of an individual is how he impacts on those he plays with, and while this does not eliminate the impact of his emphasis; in a South African context where his role took on coaching proportions, the Matfieldian ability to infuse a sense of confidence, control, and calm, from his sole into a twenty-two, undergirds all else that he offered
Like the Lion King, the mane became a staple of his physical demeanour, as he would strut his stuff, carrying about an air of arrogance that said come what may, we will overcome, as destiny was in the air, and so often he provided the lift off.
His partnership with the human battering ram, Bakkies, will be reminisced about and talked about as one of those combinations that defined an era, however, it would be in the final unsuccessful phase that the man’s legacy in my mind is encapsulated in a memory.
Although the Rugby World Cup campaign in New Zealand will be remembered for a number of different reasons, the leadership of Matfield was in its prime, even as Smit seemed acutely aware that the destroyer desperate for his position was shading his impact and the force of his personality. Yes, Smit was still the Captain, but in my eyes it was Matfield leading from the front, on, but particularly off the field.
All reads right until the happy ending of what “should” have happened next catches the breeze of an ill Wellington wind, from the north.
Sending the Springbok dreams south.
No doubt like the rest of the Bokke nation, there will be perpetual contemplation’s about what could have been in those coming weeks. Nevertheless, Matfield seemed strangely warmed by the intensity of those final embers that were still burning on and in his career, axiomatic as that air up there.
We salute you, Victor Matfield, on a rugby journey that scaled the heights which knew your name as a definitive step in the process toward victory and success.
What Say You?
Shooting from the Lip