Have the current Boks hit the ceiling?


Two recent performances from the Springboks have raised some serious questions about the team that should take us to World Cup success next year, and whether the current crop has hit the ceiling, or still has a lot to offer Bok rugby.  We asked Dr. Ross Tucker, an expert in the field of sport science for his opinions on the matter.

For a Springbok team that has been so dominant in recent years, two pretty convincing defeats have left much room for discussion and allegation, playing the blame-game. I must emphasize that no-one really knows for certain why teams stop winning when winning had previously become a habit, and I can speak from experience about how high performance sport follows cycles.

Achieving success is rare, but sustaining it is exceedingly uncommon. Part of the reason for this is that people very rarely learn from success, and they continue to try the same things that worked before.

I think in evaluating the Boks recent performances, a few things must be noted. First, they’ve “only” lost two matches, and they were matches that history suggested we’d lose, thanks to a relatively poor record in New Zealand. Not that I’m condoning defeat, because of course we want to win, and the manner of defeat is more worrying than the result.

However, it’s possible that we’ll return home and enjoy a very good run, as has happened many times in Tri-Nations competitions, and this post (and entire discussion) will be forgotten!

Second, when a team that has been winning suddenly starts losing, it’s very difficult to pinpoint one or two things. In all likelihood, it is the sum of many small factors that are now suddenly negatively affecting performance more than the positive factors that may previously have hidden them!
Winning teams are very rarely judged with the same rigor as losing teams, and so this Springbok team has likely had “inadequacies” for years, but the form and quality of players within in have managed to keep these failures from causing losses.

So the idea that there is one thing to blame, be it fatigue or coaching or old players, is a massive oversimplification of an incredibly complex high performance dynamic.

And I know from experience from within squads that those outside can often create very convincing arguments for things that don’t exist at all! Equally, those inside the squad can rationalize away the problems and be completely oblivious to them.

It’s a delicate situation, and the best coaches are the ones who can shut off the external criticism but still be sensitive to the outsider view. You have to see yourself from outside. But, the point is, we’re all speculating.

Having said that, there are a few things that jumped out at me, and I thought I’d share my personal views on them. As I say, these are somewhat speculative.

First, the issue of player aging and fatigue, since as a sports scientist, this is the one that always comes up.

My mentor Prof Tim Noakes, under whom I studied, has been one of the most vocal advocates for resting players in this window between World Cups because of the need to “preserve” the players. Many will argue that the recent results, and the performances of senior players, strongly supports this notion.

I do agree, to some extent. There is a danger that we now have a “ready-made” excuse every time we lose – “they must be tired”. So one has to be careful not to fall into the default position and blame excessive playing.

However, the signs have been there – Fourie du Preez’s admission towards the end of last year that he didn’t want to see a rugby field again, even if made somewhat tongue-in-cheek, is a telling indictment on the pressure and incessant routine the players may have been under.

The success of this team over the last 3 years has been built around a core of players who have had to respond to match after match of high pressure, and not only in national colours, but in the Super 14.

Remember that for the last few years, the SA teams have dominated that tournament too, and so the same players we expect to perform in Green and Gold are expected to perform in blue or black. That kind of pressure creates a limited shelf-life, especially when teams are successful.

Take for example tennis, a sport which has had 19 players reach the number 1 ranking since 1990, but 11 of them lasted only 8 months, never returning. In women’s tennis, it’s even worse – since 2000, 39 players have reached number 1, one every 3 months! The reality is that staying at the top is very difficult, and a lot of it has to do with mental fatigue, not physical.

We’ve had our fair share of injuries, sure. The afore-mentioned du Preez, Brussouw, Burger, Bekker, and numerous others throughout the Super 14. But linking these injuries to excessive playing is difficult to do.

Rather, I feel the biggest contributor to ‘fatigue’ is the mental burden of having to find motivation to do something you’ve done before. Remember, the core of this team has been at the very top since 2007, winning a World Cup, a Lions Series, the Tri-Nations (including a sweep of NZ), away matches in places they’ve never won at before, plus two Super 14 titles (with others playing in the final).

In short, this is a team of history-makers, and I think we underestimate the psyche of sustaining success like this – if 39 tennis players can reach number 1 and stay there for 3 months on average, then how much more can a team that holds records all over the world for unprecedented results.

And it doesn’t take a lot to swing a result around. We lost heavily in NZ, but the margin between that defeat and winning is actually very small. If 15 players are even 1% “off-key”, it’s enough to change a match.

If 15 players each make 1 error more than usual, because of focus, or desire not being exactly where it needs to be, then that’s 15 errors a match and enough to hand 14 points to the opposition. The players of course wouldn’t ever admit to this, and they may well be unaware. Those 15 guys are certainly trying their best.

But in my experience (and again, this is “soft-science” and speculative), players who achieve the very highest level of success start to come down off that same uncompromising approach to excellence that got them there.

They may cut 5 minutes out of their video session, they may take one or two short-cuts in training, and the cumulative effects of all these tiny things in preparation is a player who makes just one or two more mistakes than they ordinarily would.

Look also at football – only twice in history has a nation defended the World Cup (one was 1938, and the other 1962 – both are in times where sport was not nearly as professional, and so I wouldn’t even count them).

Staying on top for four years is exceedingly difficult, and I believe the main reason for this is that it becomes impossible to “stimulate” players for long enough to do so.

The other reason teams fail having achieved success is that they rely on history far too much in their preparation. The attitude of “It worked last time” is a sure recipe for disaster in sport, because the opposition who are defeated always jump two steps ahead.

Therefore, if you stand in place as the champion, you wake up to discover teams ahead of you. This goes to the tactical and technical approach. And here, my impression is that we were shown up by a very well-prepared and smart NZ side.

If you want a good barometer of the state of preparation of a team, I’ve always found line-outs to be very instructive. They’re easier to analyze, because they’re two-dimensional and static, and you can plan very specifically for them.

On numerous occasions in the last two matches, we’ve been beaten by quick throw-ins, short line-outs, dummies, the so-called “maklike bal” at head-height to the front man. Repeatedly, which gave me the distinct impression that one team was thinking on their feet and well prepared, the other not as much.

Now, that may be harsh, and I certainly don’t mean it as a criticism of the quality of the coaches, because these are men who’ve shown their credentials. But sometimes even great quality isn’t enough, it needs to be translated different ways to provide stimulation.

And here, I think it’s telling that all those rumours exist about the influence of the senior players on the squad. If that’s true, then you can appreciate how mental fatigue/routine and the systematic achieving of goals would erode the level of preparation, not just performance.

If players are relied upon to drive preparation, then it’s far more likely that they will stick to one thing and not evolve, especially if they’re great players who know success. This is the reason why many great players become very poor coaches – they tend to do what worked for them.

The best coaches are often players who had limited ability and had to think very creatively to compensate! Also, if players own too much of the ‘intellect’ and strategy, then it makes the integration of new players difficult, because their dynamic within the squad is complex.

Generally, having the parts of the system drive the system is a bad idea in terms of sustainability, it needs external guidance and drive.

The argument that some of the players are too old, I don’t believe. Remember, a lot of these players didn’t just play well in the Super 14, they dominated it. That was only 8 weeks ago! You don’t age in 8 weeks.

So some of the players who are now being criticized have achieved tremendous success in a different set-up very recently, which leads me to believe that the problem is more with the context of the players, the set-up they find themselves in, whether they are being “stimulated” to prepare as well as usual, and what they are playing for – their purpose.

I realize this may seem like justification for poor results, which I don’t intend. But what I will say is that professional sport is now so advanced that when you are successful for three years, you do begin counting down the days to when it turns around. That’s no excuse, of course, because people knew this possibility (indeed it’s not a new debate), so we can’t say we’re surprised, and thus we might have been able to prevent it.

The question is how to fix it? First, it may not be broken – I’d wait on few more results before making that diagnosis. However, the constant infusion of new ideas, new people and new talent is essential, because it keeps everyone honest.

If Matfield, Smit, Botha, Burger, du Preez and de Villiers are genuinely believed to be our best shot at winning the RWC in 2011, then they don’t need to be great now, they need to be great one year from now.

Therefore, it might be a good time now to leave them out. At worst, you discover a new player, even better than before, and exposed to the highest level already. At best, they come back in 2011 with hunger to write one final chapter in their illustrious Springbok history.

But at the moment, there is a worrying trend, which was entirely predictable, that we may have killed the goose that laid the golden egg by asking them to produce the same level for four years.

The same goes for the coaching staff – it would be helpful to shake it up. New Zealand have done it by switching roles around, and they seem to have found some success. New methods of teaching, new base camps, new support staff, can all invigorate a high performance setup, and that is crucial over four years.

In athletics, you have to periodize training and performance because the human body (and mind) can’t cope with a consistently high level of training and racing. You therefore write off entire seasons, where you may compete in an event different to normal.

You also rest, race sparingly and train with different purposes at different times of the year.

Rugby seems to have demanded a level of excellence from too few players for too long, and over too long a period (a calendar year of high level is very difficult to sustain). There was a feeling ahead of the 2007 RWC that the squad was on the up, on the way to something special.

The feeling at this stage is the exact opposite, and the only way to get it back is to re-invent the approach to the game, in terms of preparation, so that players are challenged more. The Bulls seem to have perfected this, and the Stormers also found that ‘magic’ this year. They would have interesting lessons for the Springboks.

RuggaWorld would like to thank Ross for yet another insightful opinions.  Please be sure to catch more of his views on; http://www.sportsscientists.com.

Facebook Comments


  1. Thanks – great read!

    In athletics, you have to periodize training and performance because the human body (and mind) can’t cope with a consistently high level of training and racing. You therefore write off entire seasons, where you may compete in an event different to normal. You also rest, race sparingly and train with different purposes at different times of the year.

    :agree: still learning how to do this – Rugby you want to win, the players want to win. easier to work with individuals where you can set personal goals but a team is tough and complicated. Especially if you do not have many players so can’t leave guys out even though they are getting burnt out.

  2. Yep, a thought-provoking read. A couple of questions though
    – not only might the AB’s have been better prepared, but might they not be better than their 2 away and 1 home loss to the Boks last year signalled? We lost 2 games away this year to a good side that ended last year with a great EOYT record
    – Ross mentions all the achievements of our current side but why does he not raise the disastrous EOYT by the Boks? Alarm bells should have rung then already.
    – is he not falling into the common trap of concluding that because 2 SA sides contested the S14 finals, the Boks should be good? The experts tell us again and again that there is little correlation between how a nation’s S14 teams perform and how their national team performs?

  3. Great read, Ross and Morne.
    This is the kind of article
    that sometimes separate RW
    from the also-rans

    Equally, those inside the squad can rationalize away the problems and be completely oblivious to them.

    Listening to Snor and some
    senior players I think this
    hits the nail on the head.

  4. Champions staying at the top:

    Well, in all earnest the All
    Blacks are the benchmark.
    Have they ever been out of the
    Top 1-2 ranking?

    I remember them going through
    a bad patch some 15 (??) years
    ago, and that’s it.

    So they must be doing something

  5. Reply to out wide @ 12:57 pm:

    2009 a Carter-less AB’s with players heading OS left right and centre… and an uber young Wobblies team… one redeeming feature is that none of the games were at altitude though…

  6. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 2:02 pm:

    In the BIL, Had it not been for damn stupid fool substitutions in the first test, we would have murdered and mangled them totally in the rest of the series with sheer confidence and momentum gained in the first test, similar to the England June tests in 2007.

  7. Yes we have discussed this and thanks for a good article with more in debt analysis of the cause.

    I think rugby in general trains too much in season.

    In football they train pre-season and then just practise drills in season while games are played. Rugby is veen more demanding physically so why do we not train once a week and work the other sessions on strategy/mental etc?

  8. Thanks for a fantastic read Morne and Ross Tucker.

    Wouldn’t the ultimate victory in the history of the game be winning the worldcup in New Zealand. That alone should be a pretty convincing motivating carrot for the boys, the true test of rugby greatness?

    Comparing 2011 worldcup to 2007 in France, I somehow feel the 2007 worldcup was ever so kind of hollow, sweet as it may have tasted then.

    It wasn’t what I would have called an epic final, not by a long shot.

  9. Hi Folks

    Thanks for the feedback and response to the article. A couple of points.

    First, about the periodization. There’s a Russian 800m runner by the name of Yuriy Borzakovskiy, won the Olympic title in 2004 and has a couple of world titles also. He actually spends the second year after each Olympic games racing exclusively at 400m. He gets hammered, because as good as he is at 800m, his 400m ability is not quite good enough, so he finishes last a lot. You can appreciate that this can’t be fun or easy to do, but he does it, knowing that the speed he gains from it gives him a better chance in the future at his preferred, specialist event.

    I’m not exactly sure what the rugby equivalent of this is – it’s not like they should all go play Sevens for a year (there’s an idea though!). But maybe the equivalent is committing to a weaker squad that might just squeak past Italy, or lose to Ireland, or Wales in an EYOT and not panic about it. The pressure to produce ALL the time is a big issue that hinders this approach. When those subs came on in the Lions tests, and were shown up in the third test, i remember the fall-out, even from De Villiers was to say “You see, these players are not yet up to the level they need to be”.

    Problem is, if they don’t play at that level, they never will be. And when your stalwarts, like Smit, Matfield, de Villiers, suddenly don’t perform, then those guys have to be there. But they were dismissed too soon and didn’t get there.

    Now, I don’t have the stats for this, but I have a feeling that New Zealand have, in the last 5 years, sent very different players to the EYOT than we do. My impression is that they use that Tour to really expose their players. It would be interesting to compare the number of caps of their starting 15s in the EYOT with the caps in the TN. The Aussies were very young, as Bryce says, and they performed below par. But, not below expectations, and that’s the key!

    Because “Out Wide” is quite correct – the cracks appeared last year already.

    Just to respond to the other question about Super 14 success predicting Boks success: Also true. I’m not necessarily falling into that trap, I know it’s a misconception. My point is that the form of the individuals in the Bok side is quite disparate from what they showed in their Super 14 teams. So when we now say they’re too old and should be sent to pasture, we’re forgetting that these players dominated the rugby world in a different set-up. Now they aren’t. So what’s different? The stage – maybe that meant more to them. The set-up? Certainly – new coaches, new culture, new motivation. But it’s not that the players are poor quality or suddenly too old.

    Finally, this team may well pick itself up and dominate the World Cup, because it may be that this is their “end point”. The other lesson we can learn from other sports is that of pacing. A marathon runner could run much faster from 30 to 35km, if he wanted to. But he knows that if he does, then he won’t make the finish line. But once he hits 40km, then the pace is lifted substantially, the so-called “end-spurt”. This current crop of players could well be at their 30km mark, and the RWC in 2011 may well be the end-spurt! So it’s not all lost, but they do seem ‘stale’ and in need of a different stimulation.


  10. Reply to JT @ 2:25 pm:

    NZ won’t loose cheaply in NZ during a worldcup, that they showed us the past 2 weeks.

    I still maintain that the ultimate test of rugby greatness would be to nail NZ in a worldcup in NZ.

    I’m sure it is the all-time favourite wet dream of any professional rugby player, and specially the springboks.

  11. Reply to Ross Tucker @ 2:34 pm:

    I like the marathon analogy.
    stimulation in rugby terms!? you mentioned they should go and play 7s but do you remember just before the 1999 RWC SA toured Argentina and Mallett told the team that they are not allowed to KICK at all unless under pressure 10m from their own try-line. We won the game but it was very close. Do you think mallett did that to stimulate them to try something differnet and so free their minds and get out of the rut they have been in playing the same game-plan for a while!?
    Maybe even bringing in new and fresh push for the players and showing to them that if they see a gap they HAVE the ability to go for it!?
    I think so and I think this is what PdV did in 2008 with the Bokke. And I hope he does it again – NOW!

  12. Reply to Ross Tucker @ 2:34 pm:

    Yes, we should have “blooded”
    all the “fringe” players in the
    tests vs. the Pastas.

    I think the EOY losses by the
    midweek team was much a case
    of underpreparation and weak

    I have an idea that the ABs
    had more or less 3 teams when
    they went for their EOYT, the
    Wobblies 2.

    What is the difference:
    Marathoners run 2-3 races
    a year, but continuously
    train over distances of
    180+ kms per week.
    Does the actual marathon
    (42 km) really take that
    much more out of their

  13. Reply to Ross Tucker @ 2:34 pm:

    AB’s also had three teams playing top-level test rugby this year with the Maori’s beating both Ireland and England and NZ ‘future stars’…

    Australia also had their ‘A’ side play the Eng ‘dirt-trackers’ twice this year…

    For years now we’ve been missing a beat not playing a ‘real’ ‘A’ team and not the sham that is the Emerging Boks…

  14. All good points, agreed on all. The idea of radically changing the gameplan is an interesting one. It helps not only to stimulate a ‘stale’ team, but it also makes you less obvious to read and analyse by the opposition.

    It’s a tough thing to do though – you nearly lose to weak teams, and the coach looks like a fool because players don’t adapt very well, they make mistakes, they’re out of synch and so on. But it would be an interesting experiment.

    Re the marathon, yes, a 42km race is highly demanding, much more than training. But the biggest reason for the long gaps between marathons is that the marathon race is the end result of a training programme that must be put together over 3 to 4 months. So you could race more often, but then you’d train less comprehensively and by compromising your training, your race performance would decline steadily. So to apply to rugby again, it’s saying that if you wish to achieve peak performance, you need to allocate time to preparation, which may affect results along the way. It’s a relatively inaccurate example, but the principle is the same…

  15. Reply to Ross Tucker @ 3:03 pm:

    We have 4 pre-season games planned this season 3 Union games and one league (I hate league but think it may be a good experience for the guys)
    1 of those union games I might just try the same thing. No Kicks & No rucks, off-load before the contact or latest in the tackle. Should be fun

  16. Reply to Ross Tucker @ 3:03 pm:

    I think Ferdi le Grange was the
    first and last EVER to run two
    marathons in 8 days.
    Way back ca. 1970 he finished
    3rd in the London, 2nd in a
    major French marathon.

    Beat some top class internationals
    in the 1969 SA Games in PE.
    Because of isolation had very
    few chances.

    And BTW he became a medical doctor.

  17. Great article.

    Henry was lambasted for his team rotation policy in the runup to RWC07. He’s still blamed for loosing it because of that and because White kept playing his core players and won. The problem is that player rotation is now a no-no. It must surely be the way to go and I feel that we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. BTW Henry is skelems doing the rotation thing – and has been testing new players and combo’s in NZ Maori, etc. Meanwhile Snor is having ‘pick-up’ teams each week. He cannot rely on Smit, Matfield, Burger, Fourie, Steyn De Villiers and Habana to play each and every game while he fiddles with obviously poor selections at other positions.

    As much as the players need a rest, new players tried, etc. so do the coaches. Eddie Moans gave the Bok backline just that little extra for RWC07. So Snor must become more like Sir Clive and manage the coaches – and bring in specialist coaches for all the different parts of the game. Unfortunately he is showing us that he really does not have the ability to move out of his comfort zone and produce something of excellence. If things continue as they are, we are just a big lumbering truck heading for a hiding in ’11.

    This article should be pasted on Snor’s mirror for him to read every morning. There are many gems in it. The following is just one example:-

    ….people very rarely learn from success, and they continue to try the same things that worked before.
    :dead horse:

  18. Reply to mawm @ 11:20 pm:

    we are just a big lumbering truck heading for a hiding in ‘11.
    My feeling too.
    Unless we can blood some
    real talent on the EOYT to
    broaden the scopes for WC 2011.

    Matfield, great as he is, will
    be 34.
    We seriously need a captain that
    is worth his place in the team.

  19. @ boertjie.

    SA is not short of talent, we just have a dire shortage of good coaches – those that we have are sent overseas, etc.

    Wasn’t Ralapelle being groomed to replace Smit? He certainly has been warming the bench long enough. That is why Snor now needs to have the courage to justify having him there. Rest Smit and give him a full game. It hardly like the Wallabies are going to beat us by playing a forward game (they are going to take on our defensive line). If he is good enough to justify his inclusion in the squad, so be it, otherwise Snor seriously needs to look at the alternatives. There are enough and they should have been tried during the Italian tests.

    Juan will be back – he might be just be what we need to skipper the team when Smit breaksdown.

    In the mean time, WTF are we doing sticking with yesterdays talent and forgetting the stars of the future. Fransie should be with the squad and Butch gone. Are we just going to mess him around as has happened to Ruan?

    This really shows the lack of forethought and planning in the Bok Management setup.
    :Rule 9:

  20. I disagree with Boertjie and MAWM

    I think we’re mistaking ability with form.

    You are saying that because the players are performing poorly in 2010 they are poor players… but this cannot be.

    You could conceivably say that certain players have become too old, but honestly that is a dumb thing to say given that a person like Jason Leonard was 35 when his team won RWC 2003… Oss Du Randt was 36 and given that most of our players are under 30 and far far far away from the end of their careers… some players actually will only hit their prime in a few years like Pierre Spies, and Beast Mtawarirra, Juan De Jongh and Gio Aplon… hell even Heinrich Brussouw and Morne Steyn cannot be regarded as in their prime yet…

    The idea that outstanding quality international players have suddenly become bad players in a few weeks (recall the S14 final people or even the semi finals) and I tell you that you are thinking like a gold fish with a three second memory.

    “Yesterday’s stars ” as you call them Boertjie were the same stars we praised when they ripped France to pieces*, when the top two teams in the country lost ONE match out of ten against Kiwi opponents in the Super 14 those same “yesterday’s stars” were similarly praised as the core of the RWC 2011 winning squad… and we also heard from commentators that the hoodoo of playing away in New Zealand was dead and buried in the grass of Jade, Westpac and Eden Park and Hamilton for all times and ever…

    Now suddenly between May and July these players who tore up the Super 14 and the best and fourth best European teams are utter kak over the hill has beens…

    I’m sorry

    If this sounds disrespectful I don’t care

    You guys are pressing the panc buttons too quickly to be realistic.

    Blaming the management team? Please what exactly did they do wrong? Rely on a team that played a superb killer game plan in 2011 (one the media in Aus and NZ still do not understand and misanalyse because they’re too simple to understand how complex it is**) and in the first four tests of this year and ripped the s14 opposition apart. nd after the team had ONE poor game they stuck with the same players… (like any person with a brain would do***) and when it happened the second time they went and sat down and looked carefully at the side and then came out and stated that the ref was to blame (something EVERYONE said in any event) and said there had been positives in the defeat and their momentum was broken by poor refereeing… all 100% correct… 100% correct

    Of course also forgetting that since 1997 we have won exactly three matches in New Zealand…

    But we lose two in a row there (like in 2008) and suddenly they are poor and should all be fired…

    Holy Moly what cloud cuckoo land madness are we living in? This is madness….

    Oh and I agree Gary Gold and Dick Muir should not be assistant coaches but I’ve said that from the moment they were appointed.

    I am confused I tell you…

    Confused that such hysteria should be allowed to roam free unchecked.


    * I have heard idiots say that France v Argentina put perspective on our victory… yet more goldfish thinking. The French are like this. recollect for instance how they beat the Boks in France last year and then took a 40 pointer from NZ the following week… even though they beat NZ there in 2009. France has beaten the All Blacks and Australia as unfancied rivals in three world cup play offs but they have also lost test matches against Russia and Romania in the professional era. Anyone who says we can judge the strength of France 2010 by their performance against Argentina has been living in a goldfish bowl. Additional f–kslap for those idiots

    France vs SA

    France: 15 Clement Poitrenaud, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Aurelien Rougerie, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Julien Bonnaire, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Romain Millo- Chluski, 4 Lionel Nallet, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Thomas Domingo.
    Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Jean Baptiste Poux, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Louis Picamoles, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 David Skrela, 22 Marc Andreu, 23 Luc Ducalcon

    France vs Arg

    France: 15 Jerome Porical, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Lionel Mazars, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Julien Bonnaire , 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Fabien Barcella.
    Replacements: 16 Guillem Guirado, 17 Jean-Baptise Poux, 18 Julien Pierre, 19 Gregory Lamboley, 20 Dimitri Yachvili, 21 Maxime Mermoz, 22 Clément Poitrenaud.

    That is FOUR backline changes and THREE forwards changes

    Oh yeah we should have guessed….

    ** The arrogant stupidity or rather simplton remarks of idiots like Spiros Zavos and Marc Hinton that the Boks are just about kicking and chasing and forcing penalties is as far from the 2011 game plan as what it is to say Spain succeeded because the played with a 3/4/3/1 gameplan in Soccer World Cup as opposed to Holland’s 4/4/2/1 game plan.. it misses so much of what the Bok game plan was about and the technical nous that came because of the ability to apply pressure and squeeze opponents out of the game… it totally excluded the sterling in your face defence, the fact that Boks scored so many tries off first phase (more than anyone in fact) and the physical presence of the Boks in all facets of the game. As I said it was a simpleton analysis and Spiros gloating now is because he is too stupid to understand what was actually happeneing on the field in 2009… nevermind 2010… which as i said is a good thing… if he thinks our gameplan has been “found out” (as unfortunately some morons even here at home and a certain one in Brisbane believe) then the victories in 2011 will be sooo much sweeter… and those who think Henry has “grown” or “developed” should watch every All Black team he has ever coached …. He has not grown a single centimeter as a coach. watching his team getting beaten by the Boks in 2005 is the same as w watching them lose to the Boks in 2009 and watching their 2005 win is the same as the two this year… same old same old Plan A only…

    *** I exclude entropy here seeing as he has just arrived in the Cape and is still as a commentator getting used to thinkingh without a brain… still needs to develop the nerve knot (remember high school biology and gold fishes people) that other Cape “commentators” use to think with

  21. DavidS – I disagree with Boertjie and MAWM
    I think we’re mistaking ability with form.
    You are saying that because the players are performing poorly in 2010 they are poor players…..

    …..You guys are pressing the panc buttons too quickly to be realistic.

    I don’t know where you read that in my post, boet.

    I think we have been talking about form and tiredness affecting them. The only two players I have said should be out of the squad are Januarie and Butch (yesterday’s talent) – because there are more suitable players available. I have not said any of the others are bad. They are tired, give them a rest and we can see how their back ups will do. Ralepelle is just such an example.

    Smit is looking buggered. I wonder how long he can go on playing ‘every’ game – and he will soon blow up. We need to plan for a replacement skipper. It is all about getting a fit and healthy ‘A’ team to RWC11.

    Henry knows how the Boks play….and he has changed the AB’s focus. They were all over us like a rash and we did not know how to react. Sure the ref gave them an advantage, but we were too slow at the breakdown and not in enough numbers. Snor needs some help and we do have the brains available to give him that help.

    No hysteria – go back and read my posts again. :Rule 9:

  22. Om deesdae toetsrugby te kyk is dieselfde as om wildtuin toe te gaan:
    Jy eet lekker biltong, drink lekker bier en kyk hoe kak die bokke!

  23. Reply to Morné @ 9:22 am:

    you mean its his best ‘short novel’ in years?

    He is just typical lawyer. He realized everyone was ganging up against the boks, so he changed tact and is now defending the boks, somehow mistaking them for one of his deranged clients.

    He just argues to win, not to add tot he debate.

  24. Its just plain boring to play the boks gameplan.

    It does not inspire the players.

    Its too tactical, 10 man bullocks.

    If i were a bok 12/13/14/15 I would have outsourced my jersey to some seun on the street so he can chase balls and tackle all day while I sip brandy. I will pay well.

  25. and I will use a zimbo, they are cheaper and can communicate better, which is of no use on attack as all he has to do is chase uppies all day.

  26. Hey boet I am in Jozi as we speak so be careful I might feel like weathering the traffic to come give you a good old bethlehem bullocking.

    You Jozi okes mos run a mile if you see a real farmerboy. Gone are the days when joburgers are considered a ‘hard’ species. Too many cuppachinos in melrose arch do this to you.

    I dont care what rugby you play as long as the players are inspired by your vision. At the moment we seem a bit bored, poor Habana shaking the head….


    You appear to mistake Sandton Square’s waxed balls gym toned parlour tanned bodies for an old style East Rand Thug

    Tell you what

    Climb on the gautrain from Sandton’s elegant facade of internationalist (read Italian) restaurants and their overseas guests thinking they’ve discovered a piece of Vienna in Africa and ride to the last stop before the airport

    It’s called Rhodesfield

    Walk to the nearest white oke

    The one with the snor and the stoppel blue beard with the breath that smells of Chesterfield and Klipdrift

    Tell him “Steve Hofmeyer is ‘n m–dnaaier”

    When you wake up in the ARWYP hospital (Kempton’s finest) a few days later be sure NOT to repeat the same line when you see white people in your vicinity.

    After you get released go home and recover…

    In a few months when you no longer eat your food after its liquidized with s straw call the ERT and say

    “Thorry oom Dawie… thallie weerrie”

    See what happens to little plasies in the East Rand

    I agree that northerners are soft and squeezy… more interested in being the next generation of hairless andrygonous male models with pictures from twilight on their Iphones as screensavers rather than possible Lions rugby stars.

    But I am not from the north…. and neither are most Afrikanertjies… Tell you what… I bet my seven year old nephew kicks your ass all the way to Bethlehem in Israel… without my help or his old man’s…

  28. A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.

    — G. Gordon Liddy

  29. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

    — P.J. O’Rourke