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Springbok camp are disillusioned and dishonest

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Post by Old Man Sun 25 Jul 2021, 8:46 am

I had my doubts during the rugby world cup in 2019. I believed the Boks when facing strong opponents played too conservatively.

Apart from the fact that we had a backline with talented new players, my biggest concerns were the defensive system Jacques Nienaber introduced and the conservative game plan. It can be said the players did eventually grow into the out in defensive system, at least for now, that is still effective.

In fact the conservative game plan was first introduced in 2005 by Heineke Meyer when he took over as the Bulls coach in Super rugby. During that time the Bulls game plan was big pack, kick chase and live off the mistakes of top teams, whilst kicking the threes. The Bulls won Super Rugby in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

After the Boks won the RWC and the Trinations in 2009 beating the the All Blacks three times that year, but then Graham Henry started to complain about this being anti rugby and the breakdown laws were changed. At the time the tackler was deemed to be onside and could pilfer the ball from his tackled position which played into the hands of the SA teams who played the Bulls style.

It is also true that the style of the Bulls once they got momentum in the game could be devastating when the opponents did not match them physically.

Examples of this was the Bulls vs the Blues in 2009, 59-26, and the Bulls beating the Chiefs by 61-17 in the final. During the 2010 season the Bulls racked up 50 against the Brumbies, Cheetahs, and Highlanders.

However at the end of the 2009 season I predicted the Springboks would struggle to continue their success as the game plan was antiquated and need revision. My belief then was that the Springboks should keep their core values but find a more varied attacking platform whilst retaining more possession.

The years after 2010 has proven to be correct as the Springbok record will attest to. Whilst the Springboks did manage to become more competitive against NZ under Rassie Erasmus, the conservative game plan has its pitfalls.

IT ONLY WORKS IF YOU ARE DOMINANT.

During the past few weeks there were some utterances coming from the Bok camp from players such as Handre Pollard suggesting SA rugby and their game plan is a thing of beauty, second only to his wife. Zwandile Stick spoke about our rugby style being part of our DNA and this is the way we play.

Granted, we are under difficult times, preparation could have been better, well to be fair a lot of things could be better, including the manner in which the Springboks play.

What is very evident, what the Springboks did yesterday, was most definitely not a thing of beauty. Considering they did not dominate the set piece, struggled to dominate the collisions after the first thirty minutes, it is clear that their game plan did not work.

The aerial combat was lost, Faf de Klerk’s box kicks were incessant, inaccurate and ineffective. This meant that the Springboks lost most of the contestable chases and continued to hand the Lions possession. It is true that when momentum swings the referee tends to follow the momentum, case in point, when the Boks had the momentum, the penalties went their way, once the momentum swung to the Lions, the penalties went their way.

It is clear that the Springbok mantra of physical dominance in contact, set piece dominance, aerial dominance and counter attack only works as a collective, once you remove one of those aspects, it starts crumbling like a house of cards.

The most important aspect of rugby when you don’t dominate the physical, set piece and aerial aspects of the match, it is likely that you will also lose the territorial aspect of the game, which means momentum and penalties in kickable positions are your outcome.

after having 60% possession in territory in the first thirty minutes the Lions turned those figures on its head and the Lions ended with the Lions share of territory and possession.

Jacques Nienaber needs to instill a need of possession in the Springbok camp. He will need to formulate retention based phase play format to his game plan, you cannot kick possession away all the time.

His fear of not playing possession in the SA half is irrational, he believes it is high risk, it is only high risk if you don’t have the necessary skills to execute, the SA game plan is so predictable, everyone and his dog knows there is either a one off runner or a box kick coming.

Lastly, during Rassie’s tenure as head coach, we had transparency and honesty, it feels that is no longer the case. It suggests a coach that is under pressure and panicking.

Now 10 years on, the game plan has not changed at all, and I believe you cannot score points without the ball.



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Post by doctor_grey Tue 27 Jul 2021, 12:52 am

Old Man wrote:Now 10 years on, the game plan has not changed at all, and I believe you cannot score points without the ball.
Can you please share this missive with England coach Edward Jones who seems to believe the more possession the greater chance of contracting a serious disease.

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Post by profitius Wed 28 Jul 2021, 9:47 pm

doctor_grey wrote:
Old Man wrote:Now 10 years on, the game plan has not changed at all, and I believe you cannot score points without the ball.
Can you please share this missive with England coach Edward Jones who seems to believe the more possession the greater chance of contracting a serious disease.


They have a point, to a degree. Once the ball is slowed down and defences are set, it's hard to score. The easiest thing to do is keep it tight and grind teams down if you have an advantage in the forwards.


Joe Schmidt got success with ireland in a similar way. Basically reducing the game to a scrap by attacking/defending with kicks. He was very strict in allowing offloads or players going off script. The problem for him in the end was teams worked out how to disable irelands aerial game (by legally blocking the kick chasers) and Schmidts rigid structure collapsed.


Probably the worst culprits of conservative rugby is Munster. At least the Boks have world class pack who can take on anyone. Munster had a great team (9 Munster players were selected for the 09 lions tour) but underachieved because they have been too one dimensional.


I think the majority of coaches concentrate on doing the basics well. Set pieces, defence etc. They prefer physicality over skill because it's more reliable and easier to predict. Not that I agree that it's the best way but they've key performance indicators to reach and they'll choose a conservative plan to reach a safe 80% rather than a maverick plan that could go to 70% or 95%.
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Post by Brendan Thu 29 Jul 2021, 9:42 am

I think De Allende sums up the problem for SA. He could pass and keep the defence guessing but the defence assumes he won't and are only wrong once a game.

SA's plan A is great they just need to use plan B more than once a half by throwing a special play here or there and would make their plan A even better.

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Post by Old Man Thu 29 Jul 2021, 10:19 am

Yes, they don’t need to forsake the DNA of South African rugby, but they need to recognise those opportunities where a practiced play or a varied play can be implimented, shifting the point of contact, offloading more regularly and getting their dangerous wings in play, be it the space behind, or running off shoulders at weak defensive shoulders etc will be showing an intent and make their play unpredictable

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Post by Brendan Thu 29 Jul 2021, 12:38 pm

Old Man wrote:Yes, they don’t need to forsake the DNA of South African rugby, but they need to recognise those opportunities where a practiced play or a varied play can be implimented, shifting the point of contact, offloading more regularly and getting their dangerous wings in play, be it the space behind, or running off shoulders at weak defensive shoulders etc will be showing an intent and make their play unpredictable

In years past the Champions Cup could be won by more or less one dimensional teams.  The Munster winners while having players like Howlett were very much forwards based.  Over the last 10 years that has changed.  Now being one dimensional will get you only so far.  Saracens took ages to finally get the win as did Exeter as they had to develop their backs play, they were strong upfront but got caught out when meet by the top teams who could match them up front.  Munster sadly have not learned this yet.

Lam is a great case study of coaches learning to adapt and change (as is Pivac). At SR he failed but believed in his process.  His first year in Connacht he didn't do amazing.  They only won 6 games and lost 16 games picking up 7 LBPs finishing 10th, but got 4TBPs (higher than all but the top 5).  Second season they won 10 and lost 11, picked up 5 LBPs but only 3 TBPs finishing 7th.  Essentially he cut back the running in the bigger games as he developed plans against bigger, stronger teams.  His third year he won the league winning 15 games, losing 7 and picking up 5 LBPs, they also picked up 8 TBPs.  They final year they didn't do as well but still finished 8th with 9 wins. In Europe that year which was their focus they finished with a win v Toulouse and Wasps.  At Bristol his first year in the Premership they got 9 wins and 12 losses, 6 TBPs and 7 LBPs. Year 2 14w, 7L 8 TBPs 3 LBPs. In the second season they scored 50pts more but conceded 100 less.  Last Season they finished top of the regular season  17w 4L, 14 TBPs and 2 LBPs.  Again they score around the same amount but conceded 50 points less.  The increase in the number of TBPs says they were better in attack so go more tries and less penalties.

As the Bulls saw with Benetton being a big strong team is not going to get SA teams very far.  It doesn't help that coaches like Rassie and White coached Munster and Monpellier who both were big packs but never could beat the bigger teams. As a result I think that the Sharks could be better placed to take on the upper ends of Europe.  They have shown with SR that their backs can mix it with the best while their pack isn't exactly weak.  That could also be why there are more Sharks in the SA squad than Bulls.

Super Rugby was great for attacking play but not for defence.  It caused the SA coaches to rely to much on brute force to go through soft defences.  Europe will force SA coaches (and players) to improve plan B or more little plans to negate a much more varied type of game.  SR apart from Crusaders, Brumbies and Jags played the same style to different standards.  Europe on the other hand has teams that focus on so many different things. Just being in the URC will help SA coaches deal better with the breakdown while French teams will challange their phyiscallity (something SR failed at for SA) and English will Challagne their set piece and organisation. They will also learn to better adapt to refs as the URC will provide maybe to much variations while the French and English refs look for different things. Not like SR where the style for most refs was very similar.

Getting into the Challange Cup this year will be a great help to The SA teams and might surprise some fans there the standard of the competition.  Sarries will be odds on favourites but the 8 teams dropping down from the Champions Cup plus Toulon, Lyon, Glaws and Irish will provide plenty of difficulty. Europe is a weird mental test that most new teams and SH players find hard to adjust too the first year. Don't be surprised if one or two of them struggle in games they shouldn't (much like the Rainbow Cup).

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Post by Old Man Thu 29 Jul 2021, 1:20 pm

I think the SA teams will struggle with the European referees in the first season, they will need to adapt quickly to their interpretaions if they want to be successful

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Post by Brendan Thu 29 Jul 2021, 3:53 pm

Old Man wrote:I think the SA teams will struggle with the European referees in the first season, they will need to adapt quickly to their interpretaions if they want to be successful

Do you know if people involved with the Kings or Cheetahs have been sought out to advise on the difficulties they faced.  It would seem silly not to use all the knowledge they accumulated over the three years to help the new teams adjust quicker.

People like Rassie and White have managed in the NH but had a team around them who maybe helped with the ref side of things.

By the time Europe rolls around they will be well use to the refs after the URC refs unleash their skills (or lack thereof) on them.

If the first three rounds are derby matches it might be good to have NH refs do the SA derbies to bring them up to speed and help both teams learn and adjust at the same time.

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Post by Old Man Thu 29 Jul 2021, 4:04 pm

Yeah, having the European referees here for the derbies would be good, but with Covid I doubt that will be practical, hopefully the Cheetahs did share their experiences with the other coaches

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Post by doctor_grey Thu 29 Jul 2021, 8:08 pm

I think how the matches are officiated will work itself out fairly quickly for the SA teams going north and for the northern teams heading south. I think the bigger challenge will be going from firmer ground and summer to the semi frozen, semi earthen, semi muddy grounds in January February and March. I love Galway and kind of support Connacht a little because they always seem to be underdogs. But their pitch is a dog track. That will be different.

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Post by profitius Thu 29 Jul 2021, 10:26 pm

doctor_grey wrote:I think how the matches are officiated will work itself out fairly quickly for the SA teams going north and for the northern teams heading south.  I think the bigger challenge will be going from firmer ground and summer to the semi frozen, semi earthen, semi muddy grounds in January February and March.  I love Galway and kind of support Connacht a little because they always seem to be underdogs. But their pitch is a dog track.  That will be different.

There's an opportunity there. They could have a race for every stoppage in play. 2 sports at the same time. Very Happy
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Post by Old Man Sat 31 Jul 2021, 11:07 pm

But I’m not tired yet. I don’t wanna go to bed Sad

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Post by No 7&1/2 Sat 31 Jul 2021, 11:16 pm

Gatland has made comments similar to those re thevtest vs Australia in the Lions test ie emotional expenditure etc. Not sure that's a good place for the squad next week.

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Post by Old Man Sat 31 Jul 2021, 11:20 pm

He looked a bit knackered himself in the post match interview. For all the stresses and controvery of this tour, the Covid related isolation must be very taxing as well.

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