Lions legend gives Boks 8/10, highlights 'over-reliance' on overseas players

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Ian McGeechan (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ian McGeechan (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Dan Mullan

Legendary former British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan has given the Springboks a largely positive report following their year-end tour to the United Kingdom.

In a column for The Telegraph, McGeechan did review of all the top nations involved in the November Tests.

The Springboks beat Wales 23-18 in Cardiff, got the better of Scotland 30-15 in Edinburgh before losing 27-26 to England at Twickenham.

McGeechan, who was the Lions coach when they beat the Boks 2-1 in a series in 1997, gave the South Africans a score of 8 out of 10.

"So impressive up front," McGeechan wrote of the top-ranked team in world rugby. "Strongest pack in the world. And will add more variety to attacking game. Incredible athletes in the backs as well as the forwards. They are settled and with the return of (Cheslin) Kolbe, (Faf) De Klerk and (Pieter-Steph) Du Toit have strong foundations to continue to move their game forward."

McGeechan highlighted lock Eben Etzebeth as the Boks' key player and said the team's weaknesses included their discipline and being "potentially overly reliant on overseas players".

England and Ireland both received 8/10, while France earned 9/10.

Even though the All Blacks suffered losses to Ireland and France, McGeechan still gave the New Zealanders 8/10 in a year that saw them break a number of point-scoring records.

"You cannot judge the All Blacks on the basis of an autumn campaign in which they were clearly running on fumes," McGeechan wrote. "At their best, New Zealand still play a brand of rugby to which the rest can only aspire."

McGeechan, 75, has been honoured with an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to rugby. He was the British & Irish Lions head coach in 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2009. In 2005, he also coached the midweek side on the Lions' tour to New Zealand.

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