• Bok identity crisis – from super to soft every other week

    Bok identity crisis - from super to soft every other week
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    The only consistency the Springboks have shown since the 2019 World Cup final triumph is inconsistency, and it is bloody frustrating that the Boks mentally are proving so vulnerable every second Saturday, writes Mark Keohane.

    The 2019 World Cup-winning coach and SA National Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, the night after the World Cup win in Japan, praised the consistency of the All Blacks in between the 2011 and 2015 World Cups. The All Blacks won both World Cups but in-between also won 90 percent of their Test matches.

    Erasmus, in the clip below that he tweeted on his timeline a fortnight ago, stressed the importance of winning regularly and winning when there was an expectation to win. He said that was going to be the Boks’ biggest challenge in between 2019 and 2023  as the Boks look to emulate the All Blacks and become just the second team to defend a World Cup title.

    The Boks were expected to beat the All Blacks at a packed Emirates Ellis Park. Everything favoured a home team win. The Boks had been together for five years, were settled and were coming off the biggest points differential win against the All Blacks since 1928.

    However, the fact that the Boks had won so well the week before should have been the red flag. These Bok world champions have been hit and miss every alternative Test match and they haven’t managed to string together two successive performances worthy of a world champion outfit.

    It isn’t an opinion but a fact.

    Follow the timeline:

    *Indifferent in their first Test match against Georgia in 2021. Won.

    *Indifferent in their first Test of the three Test series against British & Irish Lions. Lost

    *Outstanding in a record 27-9 win against the Lions in the second Test. Won.

    *Not at the same standard in the series decider and needed a 78th minute penalty to win series. Won.

    *Impressive against the Pumas in the Rugby Championship opener. Won.

    *Indifferent against the Pumas in the Rugby Championship the following week. Won.

    *Indifferent against the Wallabies in Australia. Lost.

    *Woeful against the Wallabies in Australia the next week. Lost.

    *Indifferent against the All Blacks in Australia. Lost.

    *Fantastic second half v All Blacks in Australia the next week. Won.

    *Indifferent against the Welsh in Cardiff. Won through a late surge.

    *Very good against Scotland a week later. Won by 15 points.

    *Poor against England a week later. Lost.

    *Terrible first half and very good second half v Wales in 1st Test. Won with last kick of the game.

    *Decent first half and poor last 20 against Wales in Bloemfontein. Lost with last kick of the game.

    *Very good against Wales in Cape Town to win the series with a 30-16 triumph.

    *Fantastic against the All Blacks in Nelspruit to win 26-10.

    *Awful opening 20 minutes and even worse final five minutes to lose 35-23 a week later to the same All Blacks.

    Jacques Nienaber’s Boks have won 11 from 18 (61 percent) since he took over the head coaching. It is 10 from 17 (58.8 percent) against top 10 nations.

    It isn’t the return of a team anywhere near consistent enough or playing to their potential.

    The Springboks, historically, have a 63 percent win ratio, so Nienaber is not far off matching the norm of Springboks results.

    Where he is some way off is in being the exception to the rule – and with the players at his disposal and the disarray so many of the traditional foes have found themselves in, like Australia and New Zealand, the Boks should be averaging closer to 80 percent than 60 percent.

    Mentally there is a vulnerability in that the Boks have shown themselves incapable of lifting the intensity for two successive matches.


    Keo Uncut

    Mentally frail Springboks bomb

    14 August 2022 – 00:02 BY MARK KEOHANE

    My Sunday Times column and lead on Keo post the match on Saturday focused on this singular factor that the Boks are at their most vulnerable when they are favourites – and the week after a bloody good performance.

    It is said that the only thing man learns from history is that man doesn’t learn from history.

    How true in the context of the Springboks.

    They were true to their history of not being able to back up brilliance and instead bombed big time.

    Inspired All Blacks embarrass sympathetic Springboks

    Article written by

    Keo has written about South African and international rugby professionally for the last 25 years