It’s time for the Boks to evolve

2012-09-01 00:00

WATCHING the Tests between the All Blacks and Australia and the Springboks against Argentina last Saturday proved a few things for me.

The two that stand out are this thing called “rugby evolution” and the fact that the Boks are still walking on all fours and checking each other for ticks.

Argentina today are the Springboks of old — using a big scrum, natural strength, brute force, passion, a never-say-die attitude and not much finesse. It got the Boks to where they are today, and will win or draw the Pumas a game or two, but cannot last forever.

Yet Heyneke Meyer chose to react to that singular strength, select accordingly, and then take the Pumas on at that strength! Sure, the Boks are missing a few man mountains, and had they been available, or had the 22 Boks that ran out in Mendoza played just a little better, they would probably have won the game.

But surely the time has come for the Boks to evolve?

When I raised the issue with a number of top SA coaches, including all the recent Bok head honchos, every single one of them said that we do not have the skill or conditioning to play an expansive, offload-in-the-tackle style of rugby that the All Blacks have adopted.

So how do we change that?

First, we need to want to. It seems obvious, but if the style of SA rugby remains one kick- and-chase, with locks taking first passes from the scrumhalf, then things will never change.

But let’s assume we do want to play a more entertaining and attacking brand of rugby, and the SA Rugby Union work on marketing the new ethos to all the stakeholders.

Then we get a man like Rassie Erasmus to do the job he should be doing for Saru in any case. Seemingly out of Meyer’s inner circle these days, Erasmus and a team of similarly forward-thinking men should be implementing a plan that would produce both skilled and conditioned players for the Bok coach to mould into a unit.

Apart from my school coach — the legendary Basil Bey — Allan Zondagh is probably the only coach who ever had a team I was playing in doing drills aimed at building the skills needed to play a continuity-based game. Simple things, like getting your arms above the tackle, pop passes in the tackle and from the ground after the tackle, and — almost inconceivably — passing to your right!

You watch the most senior sides in SA trying to pass to their right — it’s desperate!

So the blame cannot be placed solely at Meyer or any of his Bok predecessor’s feet, as the top man should not be expected to coach basic skills and condition players.

Saru’s long-term plan has to be to change the mindset of the players and coaches to a more attacking one, implement it at provincial and franchise level, and thus present the national coach with the best possible pool of players to mould into a team that plays a game that can challenge every side in the world.

Erasmus was purpose-built for this role.

So we can’t blame Meyer for the general lack of skills, but, my word, it was still darn silly to take on the Pumas up front with an injured lock, a seriously average No. 7, and an eighthman playing out of position! And while it is exciting to see all of Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Juan de Jongh and Johan Goosen in the squad, it is the game plan that needs tweaking before any new personnel will be able to make a difference.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.