Rugby Championship

Stuart Barnes hits out at Boks' style: 'SA rugby has taken a step backwards'

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English rugby commentator Stuart Barnes. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
English rugby commentator Stuart Barnes. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England flyhalf Stuart Barnes believes the Springboks have "taken a step backwards" despite their 2-1 series win over the British & Irish Lions.

Both teams copped criticism for the conservative style dished up during the series. It was in stark contrast to the All Blacks' enterprising display against Australia in recent weeks.

Rugby pundit Barnes believes despite being world champions and winning the Lions series, the Boks have regressed under director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.

"It's easy to see the All Blacks as the sport's saviour against the muscular conservatism of the Springboks; easy but erroneous," Barnes wrote in his The Times column.

"As a former player, I have immense respect for the heart, spirit and commitment of these Springboks. As a fan, however, I hate to see how they are stripping the international game back to its barest essential when they have so much more to offer in the way of talent.

"Defence became the focus. It still is, with territorial control a crucial component against their rivals. In the South African rugby mindset, if they can beat New Zealand, they can beat anyone. The record stands up to scrutiny.

"To be not necessarily the best, but to beat the best South African rugby has taken a step backwards. New Zealand have long been heading the other way."

Barnes, 58, played 10 Tests for England between 1984 and 1993.He has been a well-known rugby commentator and pundit in recent years.

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