The 2011 campaign started off slow and ended-up traumatic. The Bryce Lawrence show over shadowed to a large extend memories of the Springboks tournament.
The pre-WC tri-nation matches was a huge dissapointment but everyone was hoping that things will get back on track once the 'A-team' runs out on the paddock.
There were signs of hope in the last two tri-nation matches in South Africa. The one against Australia South Africa lost but it was the first match of the seasoned internationals against the Aussies in 2011 and when SA won the next match against New Zealand's 'B-team' there was much optimism that things can turn-out OK.
Additional trainers and coaches were added to the mix in the person of Rassie Erasmus an Derek Coetzee. South Africa in the Pool of Death didn't start out well and scraped through against a much improved and highly motivated Wales in a match that they should have lost. The main problem was a certain inability to hang onto the ball and string phases together. The Springboks was totally outplayed by the Welsh at the breakdown but managed to squeeze a win in the end.
Things looked a lot better against Fiji when South Africa surprised with a 'new' strategy to keep the ball alive by not going to ground with it but by off-laoding to a back-up runner supportting more from depth as compared to flat supportive runners so prominnt in all previous games.
Frans Steyn and Danie Rossouw in particular had brilliant matches and it was Steyn with his slick handeling and abrasive running that made the backline suddenly looking sharper and who got them scoring tries.
The match aaginst Namibia was a runaway victory and apart from the fact that SA proceeded with the off-load strategy not much was learned from that match.
The Samoa match was a must win situation and SA totally dominated in the early stages taking a comprehensive lead. They then went on defensive mode which was most annoying to watch especially as it produced a tails-up effect in the Samoan team. The result was lots of off the ball stuff and Paul Willaims got a red card for shuffing Heindrich Brussow to the ground.
In the end SA was never really in a position to loose the match or to be overtaken by Samoa and on the point log. Samoa supporters and players, however, reacted afterwards as if the referee cost them match and as if the really had a change to win it. There was some twitter idiocity between one of the players and the IRB and that jsut added to create a feeling that the tournament suffered as spectacle due to too many dunbious/poor referee disicions/issues.
South Africa lost its next match agains Australia but played the best rugby in probaly three years. They decided to run with the ball; to hang onto the ball and run at the Aussies and although it looked great it was the wrong tactics for a RWC quarter final. They played themselves to a standstill against rock solid defence but were unable to overtake the Aussies on the scoreboard.
South Africa media and spectators was vivid with referee Bryce Lawrence afterwards and the general feeling from most (even Kiwi supporters) was that South Africa was the best team on the field.
This brought an end to the careers of players like Victor Matfield, John Smit and Fourie du Preez. A sad ending for real stalwards of Springbok rugby.
The SA 2011 RWC campaign in my opinion was lost four years earlier in 2007 with the appointment of Peter de Villiers as Springbok coach.
The Springboks scored 19 tries and below is a video showing all 19 tries scored during the 2011 campaign.