You dont lose when you learn


There will be enough hot air spewed on other platforms over what transpired in Auckland. I choose to analyze the match using the Duckworth Lewis Method: When Bissie went off for the red card, we were behind by 7 points and if we have to stop the game right there and then, we still lose.

I further felt the Boks were not the right frame of mind in Auckland to steal a famous win. I base this on the fact that our forward pack was all too happy to pump their fists in the air after dominating the first scrum yet to a man could be seen falling off tackles during open play shortly after the scrum. Something was not right,and as captain Jean De Villiers afterwards remarked – something was missing in our defense on the day.

We employed roughly the same tactic in the first half as we did against Australia but only this time did not chase the kicks with vigor or support each other in close contact. As a result the Kiwis could, despite losing the breakdown contest comprehensively – make yards every time the ball was in open play. We gave them too much space and you never beat New Zealand doing so.

To me its more important how we now respond to this game, and the signs are there that we are 100% on the right track mentally when our coach is the first to admit that you cannot blame the ref for losing a game if you play this poorly. To have our captain echo his words is simply refreshing. Our heads are in the right place guys, and this gives me great joy despite the disappointment of seeing us play so badly after the promise of Brisbane.

What should be of concern to Hyeneke on the home leg now is the inconsistency of performance he gets from his players. This Bok team seems to be the kind who can win a stunning semi-final only to lose the final by 30 points – and this is not the kind of clay a coach wants to work with.


There is no use in apportioning blame to individuals – yet Meyer will have to sit back and assess which players have a great work rate one week only to dip the next. And then to understand why this is so. Jannie Du Plessis is perhaps the most striking example of a player who shone in Brisbane only to seem off the pace in Auckland. However I have a hunch that Jannie is suffering from burn-out after a season which saw him play an awful lot of rugby.

Tactically there is not much one can argue with. We have to trust Meyer and his team and their gameplan which worked well when executed properly in Soweto and Brisbane. Add to this the fact that mentally we seem to be in a healthy space with a coach and a captain who fronts up when it is so easy to blame what was a downright incompetent display by the referee and his assistants.

What is lacking is the kind of consistency from our players which a coach needs to plan accurately for all eventualities. Do we find this consistency by making a few key changes – or are other factors involved? One thing is for sure – we will have learned a great deal from this loss, and in that sense – losing at times can be a great a boon. As the old saying goes: “you are only a loser if you dont learn from it.”







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  1. Just as a side matter for Bryce: During the game I moaned about our bad kicking game as neither Habana nor JJ nor Jean has one – and mentioned the example of BOD being left out of Lions game just because Roberts had a better left boot. Its a mistake that the player I was referring to is in fact Davies, and Gatlands reasoning can be found in this quote from the Irish Examiner:

    Coupled with limited performances from O’Driscoll in the first two Tests, when the Irishman was hampered at the breakdown in the opener due to the refereeing interpretations of Chris Pollock, and in the second when he and Davies failed to gel, Gatland decided the blame lay with the elder statesman rather than the young pretender.

    “I thought Jonathan’s performance against New South Wales was probably one of the best displays I’ve seen him perform,” the Lions head coach said. “Our kicking game was poor last week. We wanted to put the ball behind them a little bit which we didn’t do well enough.

    “He’s a left-foot kicking option for us. He didn’t get a lot of ball to go forward but even the couple of carries last week when he did carry, he made a couple of good dents in them.”

    Gatland’s praise of Davies’s left boot also belied a dissatisfaction with O’Driscoll’s kicking in that second Test when the outside centre was part of a general malaise in delivering the ball back to the Wallabies and inviting them to attack repeatedly throughout the final 20 minutes.”

    I feel the Boks are severely limited in the back in games when we need to play a territorial kicking game as only Morne and maybe Willie has a proper kicking game.

  2. Morne just kick – full stop. His tactical kicking is kak. And he’s standing back so far that his whole pack of forwards are effectively taken out of the game with every up and under.

  3. Meyer should have brought Lambie and Serfontein on, the moment the score became 24-15. The game was over. Give your youngsters a decent run.

  4. True when BDP went off the final time you could say that they lost. But as the ending to the 1st half shows – SA was coming on they had gotten their sea legs.
    I don’t sqwuak about refs often but when it absolutely lays waste to a game – forget it.

    I liked Kirchner’s defense, he muffed some high balls but so did everyone. I would like to see Willie get more touches I think that’s necessary.

    Can Serfontaine play 13 if so put him in.
    I thought after his ACL that BDP was done & dusted. Boy was I wrong.

    Shame what occurred but SA is going to absolutely dis-assemble these ABs next game.

  5. We were not great but neither were the kiwis – we missed too many tackle and let in 4 tries, three of which when we were down to 14 men and the other by simple mistakes and poor kicking.

    Did the ref have an influence? Of course he did, red cards spoil games but the threat should be there.
    Did the ref make an honest mistake? imo from the referees vantage point the tackle did look suspect and he made an honest mistake – shit happens. Players made mistakes by missing tackles, crap kicks, poor passing etc.

    Can the citing commission reduce the red card to the 1 yellow and lift the automatic game suspension?

  6. Nice article Brendon. Reflects what a lot of us think about the rugby the Boks are playing nowadays. Great to see them backing themselves and scoring the odd 7-pointer from penalties instead of going for poles all the time and yes, Meyer and de Villiers are coming across more and more as deep thinkers. They seem to have a firm plan they are working towards and I can only imagine the support for the Boks in SA given the respect and admiration they are winning outside the country.

  7. Rugby is a professional sport. An honest mistake can cost you your reputation, a shit-load of money, or even your career. That is the reality for players but seemingly not for referees.

    Sorry Brendon, the line that you ‘You don’t lose when you learn’ is reserved for amateur schoolboy rugby, not the professional game – here only one thing matters, the scoreboard.

  8. @Morné:

    Yes and its on that selfsame scoreboard where we were never good enough yesterday so stop blaming the Ref as if his involvement somehow cost us the game. Maybe if we were in the lead at the time – we were not. We were trailing, and apart from the regulation maul it did not seem like were planning catch up with the Kiwis.

  9. @Morné:

    So when Meyer ‘learned’ from the Scotland game about our breakdown you should have told him he is being amateur.

    The big lesson from yesterdays game is that sometime you end up playing with 14 men and if you drop your head as a result and concede tries, like we did, then its OVA!

    WP kep their calm and played that bit harder and even outscored the Bulls with 14 men.

    Boks dropped their shoulders.

  10. @Brendon:

    Are you reading what you are typing?

    The game was OVA as a contest after 40 minutes because of an incompetent REF, not any player.

    I see no point in rating any player on the game yesterday because it was anything but a game.

    For someone that bitches about the maul as often as you do about something in rugby being a fair contest I suggest you apply that logic to the shit that transpired yesterday.

  11. The All Black scored 10 points in the first half while Bismarck was off the field – the half time score was 17-10 to the All Blacks – you tell me how this might have ended…

  12. @Morné:

    sometimes you lose a player to a yellow card unfairly. Very few times do teams concede points during that 10 minutes.

    The Boks dropped their heads and conceded 10.

    Whose fault is that?

    The ref?


    Front up like the coaches do. This ref blaming saffa thing is becoming a real issue.

  13. Bismarcks second card was anything but professional. Is it the Refs fault that he lead with his elbow?

    is it really?

    and if you are on yellow already, no matter if the card was right or wrong – whose fault is it then if you end up getting red by doing something stupid?

    You are looking for reasons why we lost. Start by looking at our defense and our inability to penetrate and create scoring opportunities – this is afteral what the coach and the captain in doing.

  14. @Brendon:

    As far as I know not many has a problem with the 2nd yellow – it is the first yellow that ended up in the 2nd resulting in an automatic red.

    Added to the fact that the AB’s scored 10 points during the first yellow which should never have been, and only outscored the Boks 12-5 in the second half playing the best part of 30 minutes against 14 men only.

    You seem to be happy working on rules of probability so I am stating some of those to you.

    You can only ‘lose’ when there was a fair contest, it seems this very simple point escapes you.

  15. @Morné:

    the 10 points should never have been yes – but for poor tackling and Kiwis running at a prop. and prop missing tackle in 10 channel.

    We lost. Its not the refs fault. We were never in the lead in this game so i dont know where you all claim we could have won.

    How many games are won in test rugby at Auckland with the visiting team trailing by 7?

    I bet not many.

    But now you want to tell me we played well enough to have a shot. Thats bullocks. We were not playing well at any stage in this game.

  16. As I tried to explain. The game stopped being a contest when the Red car was handed out. At that point nothing suggests to me we could have won.

    But now you blame the ref for taking away the contest?


    Thank the lord the Boks are at least honest about what is to blame.

  17. I am sorry but i cannot be a party to this whingeing going on all over show. You’d swear we were playing a blinder and only the ref is to blame for everything.

    What if we lose to them in SA with no cards? Will everyone spewing bile then go onto networks to apologise?

    And no-one cares to mention how the AB’s were penalized at the breakdown – something that rarely happens.

    But we could not capitalize because we do not have a game that can get us in areas of the field to score 5 pointers.

    We dont make line-breaks and thus have to kick for territory and we kicked badly.

  18. Games are won and lost on the smallest of margins, it is the highest stage , the whole rugby world was watching, what do you do when you suspect a dangerous tackle, you take the extra 3 seconds necessary when you have already called for the TMO to adjudicate on the foul play just after the tackle.

    you make BLOODY sure you are right.

    Poite didn’t do that, that gave the all Blacks their 7 point lead at half time.

    The when you lose a players for 38 minutes of the second half, and concede a further 2 tries simply because you can no longer dominate at scrum time, cannot dominate the breakdown as you need the players in the defensive line, you can no longer create overlaps with one less player, you are on a hiding to nothing against the all Blacks.

    the contest is over as you have conceded 3 tries whilst down to 14 men.

    the consolation card at the end of the game to remove Read for 5 minutes is never going to make up for the fuckup you made that spoilt the contest.

    Whether you believe you don’t blame the referee or not, blame fate, the tides the man on the moon, but the fact is the contest is over.

  19. @Brendon:

    You are either being very dof or seeking attention.

    The ref HAD the biggest influence in yesterday’s game.

    Whatever happens at Ellis in 3 weeks time has got nothing, let me repeat, NOTHING, to do with the shit Poite dished up yesterday. But you won’t get it, so don’t bother.

  20. @Morné:

    I’m with you on everything else, but you are wrong in assuming there are no consequences for the referees.
    There careers are as much on the line as anyone else’s.
    George Ayoub and Shaun Veldsman have both been demoted to TMOs. Bryce Lawrence had to retire. I’m sure there’s more.

  21. @Timeo:

    My point is not so much if there is a system in place for them, my problem is that this system only seems to be implemented once a huge stink is kicked up around their performances which of course in the game today can only be made via the media.

    A clear, transparent and (similar to players) public judicial system needs to be implemented given the influence and importance of their competence.

  22. Pardon me if I step on anyone’s sensibilities here. I just prefer to debate the rugby and not the soap opera.

    And from what I saw, while the game was a contest – we were not on our game.

    Leave it at that.

  23. @Brendon:

    Which Game were you watching Brendon?

    Some stats for you:

    Number of kicks: AB 32 / Boks 26
    Ball carries: AB 88 / Boks 26
    Metres gained: AB 314 / Boks 293
    Clean breaks: AB 3 / Boks 3
    Rucks: AB 63 / Boks 65
    Rucks lost: AB 8 / Boks 5
    Lineouts lost: AB 2 / Boks 2
    Scrums lost: AB 2 / Boks 0

  24. Boks were a lot more competitive than waht you give them credit for. And that with only 14 men for more than half the game.

    WHo can say what would have happened if the Boks were allowed to continue with their slow posion approach to killing the ABs?

  25. Ball carries: AB 88 / Boks 26

    There is the vital stat.

    And then show missed tackles….

    Also show what happened to our phase ball.

  26. @Craven:

    slow poison usually goes hand in hand with an inpenetrable defense. While we had 15 on the field the BA’s made plenty metres every time they ran the ball.

    This game to me seemed like Sharks Versus Brumbies in Durban this year when the Brumbies made metres willy nilly. With 14 men we rallied our defense beautifully and tackles like demons, while with 15 there were holes and and alack of commitment in the tackle.

    Slow poison maybe on another day – but like Jean said – he felt we were not competitive.

  27. I still think we were more competitive when looking at those stats.

    Looking at the carries (more than ABs) and the metres gained, it seems Boks also made easy metres everytime they carried. And the breakdown and scrum stats, from when it was still a contest, speaks volumes.

  28. I am with the coach and captain here. The game I saw suggested we did not play well. We did not seem nearly as switched on as we were in Brisbane – but now we have scapegoat.

    I also dont want to become part of the “everyone hates the japies” clamor.

  29. This event and the coaches reaction to it gives me so much hope going forward. I am now a firm believer in this team.

    Would still like to see Serfontein get a shot with jean moving to 13. JJ has had 4 games and I still cannot see how he is the best 13 we have.

    Fourie will make a huge difference.

    Finally I would love to see Kolisi get a start to inject a bit more pace on attack.

  30. And its going to sound ridiculous to some but when Goosen returns I would love to see Morne play at 12 for a few games.

    Morne has great hands and the kicking game required for us to play a territory game. He is slightly small to cover that channel against Kiwis and maybe England but his tackle technique is solid.

    He is our most underrated player on attack and I would love to see us use more of him.

  31. 9) Fourie 10) Goosen

    11) Jean 14) JPP

    12) Morne 13) Serfontein

    15) Willie

    Could be worth trying but I doubt Meyer has the appetite to make such wholesale changes even on year end tour.

  32. @Brendon:

    no need for drastic changes – what the EOYT needs is to rest a few stalwarts and give the CC performers a run to prove what they have.
    Peter S du Toit should go on EOYT as an example, maybe Pollard at 10 as Morne’s back-up? But not too many changes all at once.

  33. @Brendon:

    The coach and the captain should be commended for their tact and diplomacy in the interviews, but a feature of tact and diplomacy is to not speak one’s mind fully. Saying stuff (fluff) to placate or please the audience or to make oneself look magnanimous.
    You’re being a little naive in taking those statements at face value.

  34. @Timeo:

    I was going to scythe him down with my usual… but I see you have matters in hand.

    IRB Rules: If you criticize the ref you could be banned for life

    BDP sent off wrongly on red.

    Kiwi media want the controversy:

    Media: as the red unfair? Do you blame the ref because you lost? Do you think the ref was wrong? Would you have lost if not for the red?*

    * Old SA media way would have been to climb into ref and blame him for our loss so Kiwis and Sanzar can scream at us as cheats and bad losers.

    SA coach and player mindful of baiting and having been media trained: No we played poorly and NZ was better

    Result: SA won’t give them controversy so Kiwi media goes mal and causes the controversy themselves… we look like good guys and Kiwis come out in support of our players and administration. Ref ends up looking like a doos for ruining a test match…

    If you cannot see media training in that… ja well… these are not the days of “I won’t put any Irish players in the Bok team…”

    But then again… they do make them slow in Bethlehem..

  35. @DavidS:

    Lets say you are right. Its still smart. Like HM said – the minute you make excuses for yourself then they start making excuses.

    I am glad that the team is being kept reasonable while the fans cry all sorts of ridiculous conspiracy theories

  36. I must admit, I had to go look up what exactly the Duckworth Lewis method was.

    Those, like I, not in the know, may read about it here:

    And now I’m a little intrigued.
    There are no analogues in rugby for wickets or overs or innings, neither can you just end the game at minute 42 and take the score. The DL method is all about NOT just taking the score at a certain point, but rather an attempt to calculate what the score would have been, had both teams played under the same set of criteria with the same information whilst making tactical decisions.

    The closest you can get to a DL analysis of the game, is to determine, what WOULD have happened, if the referee did not make his mistake.

    Try this:
    The ABs scored only 10 points whilst playing against 15 Boks. Add the 7 points scored during Bismarck du Plessis’ yellow card period in the 2nd half and they still would have won the match by 17 points to 15. But the DL method is all about accounting for tactics when a team knows their target. Had the Boks trailed by 7 (or 2) points in the last few minutes, they would have taken penalty goals and a final score of 18(or 19) to 17 would have been more likely.

    Also, take into account that it should have been 15 against 14 from minute 71, and 15 against 13 from minute 74 to the end of the match. A statistical analysis of how many points teams usually score under these circumstances may easily make the Boks winners by 7 points or more.


    What if the referee, after reviewing the video, had penalized the ABs for their unprovoked retaliation? The half-time score would have been 13-10 and the final 18-17.


    What if he did not blow his whistle, because he saw in real time that the tackle was legit? The ball was on ground and Carter was out. The Boks may well have scored from the counter attack. Most probably the ABs would have given away a kick-able penalty. Final score 18-17.

    Don’t say, there’s too many what ifs. You introduced the DL method. I simply did the analysis properly.

    I’m not torn up about it, because as far as I’m concerned, the result is void. The Boks have 14 points and the ABs 13, on the TRC table and the winner in Johannesburg on Oct 5th will also be the winner of the tournament.


  37. @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    I think there is a difference between fiction and extrapolation. And the facts I extrapolate from is not in dispute.

    In fact, this game offers an ideal opportunity for a little fun extrapolation because the facts are not in dispute. The IRB, the referee and the kiwis have all agreed that a mistake was made.

    So here’s another one:

    The final score for the match whilst the 2 teams had equal numbers on the field was 10 all.

    The ABs enjoyed a 1 player superiority for 39 minutes and scored 21 points during this time. That was 0.539 points per minute. They should have enjoyed numerical superiority for only 10 minutes though. At .539 points per minute during that time and they would have ended the match with 15.39 points.

    The Boks enjoyed a 1 man numerical superiority for 4 minutes and scored 5 points during that period. Extrapolate their scoring rate of 1.25 points per minute, out to the 9 minutes of numerical superiority, they should have had and their final score comes to 21.25

    By analysis
    Boks: 21.25, ABs: 15.39

    The Boks were the better team on the day. Any analysis of the final score, discounted for the referee mistake will show that.