Siya Kolisi’s boys are not the boring Boks the world is making them out to be. Here’s some analysis to challenge every perception there is on the world champion Springboks, reports Mark Keohane.
If you have an appreciation for analysis and for having an informed opinion, go and have a read of the analysis on THEDEADBALLAREA
Graeme Forbes is the author and he has been producing Rugby Analysis since 2014.
Forbes’s latest offering certainly got the attention of 2019 Springboks World Cup winning coach and SA Rugby’s National Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus.
No sheep this one !!!! https://t.co/0joPEdChkC
— Rassie Erasmus (@RassieRugby) August 31, 2021
Forbes writes: ‘The Springboks are a side that wins first and entertains second, they are also a side that attacks. The scoreboard at the final whistle will win out and at that stage no one cares which team had the more elegant attack.’
My view: Think Australia in winning the Rugby World Cup 12-6 in 1991, think England’s 100th minute Jonny Wilkinson drop goal to beat England in the final of the 2003 World Cup, think the Springboks extra time 15-12 win against the All Blacks in 1995, the Springboks 15-6 win against England in 2007 and the All Blacks 8-7 win against France in 2011. These are just some examples of the biggest results in the biggest games in professional rugby.
You also go through some of the greatest Test matches played over the past 100 years and what gets spoken about is the result and not who wore the nicer jersey, looked easy on the eye or thrilled spectators with touch rugby skills.
Test rugby has always been a different animal. You play for your country and you play to your strengths and you play to win.
There are no prizes for coming second in a Test match.
Forbes accurately dissects the Springboks performances since 2019 and it shatters the perception that the Boks don’t attack and don’t score tries.
I dig Forbes’s articulation: ‘Professional sport is about winning first and foremost. Despite what All Blacks coach Ian Foster will tell you, international teams are not there to win the casual fan over, not there to grow the game of Rugby to new audiences, that’s World Rugby’s job.
‘Let’s be clear, winning and losing is the bench-mark that the vast majority of professional athletes are judged on. They are there to win. ‘
Forbes adds: ‘What is very clear about South Africa is they have the same strict approach to points that all great teams have and that is you don’t waste them. As long as the game has had penalty goals the most successful teams have been built around a gun kicker. Anyone telling you otherwise simply doesn’t know what they are talking about.
‘If you cast your mind back and think about the great Springbok sides of the modern era it’s very clear that is the Bokkes DNA. 1995 had Joel Stransky, 1999 team (the team that fell just short) had Jannie de Beer. 2007 Percy Montgomery, 2009 (Lions) Ruan Pienaar and Morne Steyn, 2019 Handre Pollard.
‘That doesn’t mean these are kicking teams, it just means when points are on offer they took them and kept the scoreboard working in their favour. This current South African team is no different, they play for pressure, build a score and then, once the game is all but won, they play a bit.
‘That’s not boring Rugby, that’s sensible, pragmatic Rugby that every good team in the world executes in tight games.
‘It is clearly not true that the Springboks play boring rugby. In 2018 they beat England by playing brilliant attacking rugby when the game was all but lost. Then as we saw in 2019, they scored tries galore. In fact, only two of their 10 tries in the TRC were scored by forwards, a pick and go by de Jager and Mbonambi went over from a lineout drive. Lood de Jagers try actually came after a scintillating break by Peter Steph du Toit in his own half.
‘Even now in 2021, their boring rugby has produced against the Lions defence 5 of the best tries you’re likely to see in Test Rugby and a further 5 from their two games vs Argentina.
‘I’d argue with anyone who says South Africa don’t play ambitious Rugby. When people say South Africa don’t attack or that they are boring what they mean is they don’t play like the All Blacks but then, no one does and those that do soon find out the Kiwis do it better than them.
‘But what South Africa do consistently for 80 minutes is attack, both with and without the ball.’
Amen Mr Forbes.
Any team that goes to New Zealand and scores five tries and 36 points to beat the All Blacks in their backyard, knows what to do with the ball. Any team that beats England 32-12 in a World Cup final, can play. Any team that beats the British & Irish Lions 27-9 can play. Any team that comes from 24-3 down to beat England 41-38 can play …
And … and … and …
These Boks can play and they do so when they need to and don’t confuse their not wanting to mirror the All Blacks style with not having a potent style of their own.