Irish read Bok lineout calls after Smal’s Afrikaans lessons

2009-12-01 00:00

IF Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has learnt one lesson from the dismal European campaign, it is that his senior players need to be properly managed.

De Villiers yesterday called for an urgent strategy to be adopted to protect South Africa’s leading players ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Responding to the Springboks’ four losses in five games, De Villiers contradicted captain John Smit, who refused to use the 10-month season as a reason for the failures on tour.

“It is fatigue. Our players are cooked,” De Villiers said as he reflected on Saturday’s defeat by Ireland.

“We have no excuses,” he said and then immediately provided one. “There is a spark that is lacking in the team and it is due to exhaustion after a long season,” he said.

A number of the Boks returned to South Africa yesterday, while others remained in London for the Barbarians’ match against the All Blacks on Saturday.

De Villiers made a call for the sensible management of the senior players.

“It is imperative that we monitor the players’ training and playing load with their longer-term well-being in mind,” he said

“This [2009] has been a very long season and it is evident that many players are mentally and physically fatigued.

“The biggest concern, however, is the cumulative effect of the amount of rugby that Springbok players have played over the past three years, as we know that this puts them at risk of injury in the following year.

“In order to get the best out of our players for 2011 we will have to manage their training and playing times during 2010.”

De Villiers said that SA Rugby will call together the provincial unions’ medical and conditioning staff to discuss the welfare of the top players.

“A number of players have played over 2 000 minutes of rugby this year in the Super 14, the British Lions Series, the Tri-Nations and the Currie Cup.”

De Villiers said much had been learnt from the tour.

“We have been able to identify our key focus areas for next year and we have been able to identify some of the players who will take the Springboks forward after 2011,” De Villiers said.

Meanwhile, Bok lock and Victor Matfield has conceded that the Springboks were badly out-thought and outplayed in the lineouts on Saturday and said he was particularly upset that the Irish had picked up his Afrikaans calls.

The Irish forwards were under former Springbok assistant coach Gert Smal and Matfield said the South African played a pivotal role.

“It was a bad day for us,” Matfield told reporters. “After the second lineout, we discovered that Gert [Smal] had to have given the Irish some Afrikaans lessons, because they could read the calls.

“We tried to change things, which did not work either. In the second half it went slightly better, but this was the worst lineout contest I have ever had in my life.

“Our own ball was shocking.

“There is nothing that we can say, but it does not happen everyday,” he added.

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