WITH less than a month before the Rugby World Cup takes flight in New Zealand, the Springboks need the whole nation, now more than ever, to stand behind them in their quest to defend the world title.

The world champions were recently outclassed 40-7 and 39-20 respectively by traditional rivals New Zealand and Australia in their opening games of the Tri-Nations competition. Even though injuries to key players have restricted coach Peter de Villiers from fielding his strongest line-up, there is evidently a lot of work still to be done by the technical staff before the first game of the title defence on September 11, against Wales.

To add to the world champions’ woes, the recently launched “Springbok Friday”, an initiative encouraging South Africans to show support for the Boks by wearing the team’s match jersey on Fridays, has been given minimal attention.

In comparison to “Football Friday”, a similar initiative during the 2010 Soccer World Cup to support Bafana Bafana, which was overwhelmingly supported by millions, including students, there are hardly any green Boks shirts in sight on Wits campus and the surrounding Johannesburg areas.

With two more return leg Tri-Nations matches scheduled against Australia in Durban tomorrow and the following Saturday against New Zealand in Port Elizabeth, there is a perception that the Boks need to score consecutive wins to build confidence heading to the World Cup.

However, De Villiers said on Supersport.com that the essential issue for the team in the two games before the World Cup is “to get our systems going and then building into it after that”.

 De Villiers said there are two things that the team needs to work hard on in the next two weeks, firstly to show an improvement in defence and, secondly, to be more sharp in attack.

A “killer instinct” is what he said needs to be developed by the Springboks if they are to return from New Zealand in October having successfully defended the most prestigious trophy in world rugby. With the support of the entire nation, the Boks can certainly do it. Good luck, Bokke!