Five All Black myths exposed

October 3, 2013
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The All Blacks are the No 1 team in the world, and rightly so. Their consistent play has given them a World Cup and they are deservedly at the top of the rankings at the moment.

Brenden Nell, SuperSport

But their general dominance has resulted in something of an aura around them, and they have been given the mantle of being the best in a number of areas.
People often romanticise about the way they play their rugby, and call the Springboks boring for employing tactics that are quite suitable when it comes to to test-level rugby.

Well, believe it or not, the statistics show the All Blacks to be a kick-and-chase side, although they remain an effective one.

MYTH ONE: The All Blacks are an all-out attacking team.

Statistics tell a very different story. A story of a team that plays very much like the Springbok teams of the past decade.

This Castle Lager Rugby Championship alone, the All Blacks have placed a virtual ban on running from inside their half. Consider the fact that they have received the ball a massive 124 times in their own half, and only on six – that’s right, six – occasions have they run from their own half.

They are much more likely to play for field territory, and try and put pressure on the opposition by putting the ball high and swamping the breakdown. Sound familiar? Well, it should. It is the same tactics that the Boks and Bulls made work for them for so many years.

MYTH TWO: The All Blacks don’t kick the ball away

Heyneke Meyer has harped on this point to anyone who would care to listen – and he is right. The All Blacks last year kicked way more than the Springboks and in this year’s competition it has been the same.

They average way more kicks, playing field possession and looking to score off the opposition’s mistakes. Aaron Smith has excelled with his box kick, and both wingers – even Julien Savea – have become a force under the high ball.

Ben Smith is not the leading try-scorer in the competition for nothing and as a former fullback is comfortable in the air.

The Boks on the other hand have regressed. In Auckland they didn’t take one of the eight balls kicked on them and it proved costly.

It gave the All Blacks an attacking platform from a well-worked kicking game, and when they sense an opening, they punish the opposition well.

But when it comes down to who plays the kick and chase, there is much evidence that it is the world champions. The difference is the accuracy of their kicking game at the moment.

MYTH THREE: The All Blacks’ defence is the best in the business

They certainly give away fewer tries than other teams and this is partly because of their dominance on the field. But the All Blacks commit blatant professional fouls in their own red zone without a worry about how the referees will see it. And too often, they get away with it.

Consider the fact that the majority of their penalties are committed at the ruck, and many of these within their own red zone, showing they would rather give away three points than a try to the opposition.

Too often referees are lenient and allow them to get away with blatant fouls on their own tryline, something that other teams don’t enjoy.

It is also no coincidence that before last weekend’s match, one Richie McCaw was the biggest offender, despite the fact that he had missed games for the All Blacks.

Referees seem way too happy to ignore his indiscretions with cards, and it simply underlines the case that the All Blacks get away with so much more than other teams.

MYTH FOUR: The All Blacks create tries out of nothing.

While there is a romantic view that they are the best attacking team in the business, this year’s statistics don’t really back up that view.

The All Blacks are clinical. They manage to punish opposition mistakes very well, especially from wayward kicks – such as Bryan Habana’s one in Auckland.

While the Springboks’ tries come mostly from lineouts – setpieces where they can set up a maul or other moves – the All Blacks have scored only 7 of their 19 tries through this method.

On six occasions tries have come from opposition kicks which were poorly executed. Another six came from turnovers – broken field – where most of the quick points in modern rugby come from.

With 12 out of 19 tries coming from unstructured play, it underlines the fact they are exceptionally good on opposition mistakes, and limiting this will improve the Boks’ chances of victory on Saturday.

MYTH FIVE: The All Blacks are unbeatable.

Credit must be given to the All Blacks for their consistency, and the manner in which they continue to lead the world in winning rugby. Winning is a habit, and so is losing, and the All Blacks have used every advantage in the book to make sure they stay on top of things.

But they are not invincible.

To beat the All Blacks you will need to be better than them on the day, get luck (and a referee) to go your way and simply stop them from doing what they do well.
There were glimpses in Auckland that the Boks could do this, but the referee played too much of a part in the game.

Still the Boks took a lot out of the fact that they managed to hold the All Blacks to a 12-5 second-half scoreline, and actually looked better in the last part of the game, despite being down to 14 players for the majority of the half.

The Boks need to overcome this psychological hurdle first, not only for themselves, but also for the rest of the world who will be watching this contest very keenly.

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17 Comments

  1. avatar DavidS says:
    October 3rd, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Geez Brendon, Craven, Biltongbek and mates…

    What a nasty dose of STFU pie…

    Dankie Boertjie…

  2. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Poor kicking options – something we are
    very good at.

    I would suggest: Don’t kick if you can’t
    chase, then rather kick the damn thing out.

    And for heaven’s sake don’t allow them quick line outs.

  3. avatar out wide says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 1:44 am

    Talking of myths, Mr Nell has had a good go at sustaining myths himself. I can’t believe the conspiracy theory stuff coming out of SA, “the refs penalise us unfairly / there is an Aus/NZ conspiracy / they don’t penalise the AB’s and McCaw “/ etc. Even my friends there believe leading with your elbow into your opponents throat or face shouldn’t be a penalty nowadays. It is becoming hard to find an objective Springbok supporter inside SA thanks to all the media hype. Those of us supporting the Boks from outside are I like to think less subjective and don’t blame the officials and opponents when we lose.

    Brenden Nell’s article even made it onto Radio Sport in NZ and while he makes some good points, it is easy to pick holes in it just from the game against Argentina last week. “A virtual ban on running from their own 50m” – yeah right, Julian Savea scored his try from 60m out, defence not the best – well the tackle success rate was 90%; not an attacking team and kick as much as others – ok, same # of kicks from hand as the attacking Argies (26) but double the number of runs (117) and 4 times the metres run with the ball (456).

    Compelling stuff to argue the AB’s are an attacking side with a good defense or is his arguement just about games between SA and NZ?

  4. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 3:54 am

    @DavidS:

    Brian Habs himself recently came out and dispelled most those myths… think it was on Rugby365.com…

  5. avatar Americano says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Myth: ABs create trys out of nothing

    Fact: Messerschmitt-Willie LeRoux DOES

  6. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 8:18 am

    cutting through the BS
    #1 vs #2 in the world – Rugby world in-official final :support:

  7. avatar Craven says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 11:19 am

    @DavidS:

    “Geez Brendon, Craven, Biltongbek and mates…”

    Come again?? Where have I ever said the Blacks create tries from nothing, are an allout attacking team, don’t kick or have the best defence in the business??

    Please point that out to me, or have a huge cup of stfu yourself.

    I have never been a Blacks groupie, ever. I have criticised the Boks for aimless kicking yes (take Habana’s aimless kick that lead to a try in the Auckland test as an example), but never said they kick too much.

    You obviously have a huge problem with Cape rugby supporters as you have indicated time and time again, but letting your delusions and fantasies of what I have supposedly posted lead you down some airy-fairy garden path is just sad.

  8. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    @out wide:

    One question:
    How come Ma’anonu is still playing the game?

    My perspective is the refs see where they CAN
    penalise the Boks, and where they MUST penalise
    the ABs.

    But then I am also a bit biased. Maybe.

  9. avatar out wide says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    @Boertjie: Some in NZ are asking the same question. No arms Nonu has picked up 5 yellow cards and a red playing in NZ this year. The trouble is that playing in the black jersey Ma’a steps up 5 gears from the player he is at S15 and ITM level and playing alongside his old Wellington / Hurricanes mate Conrad Smith the two make one of the most exciting centre pairings. He is just too good to drop. Maybe he should speak to Butch James while over in SA and lose the no arms habit? :lol:

  10. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    @Craven:

    “You obviously have a huge problem with Cape rugby supporters”

    Haha… you guys all look the same to us :wink:

  11. avatar JT_BOKBEFOK! says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    @out wide:

    imagine this back-line:
    10: Butch
    12: Nonu
    13: Brian Lima
    :whistling:

  12. avatar Brendon says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    All these articles out of SA say the same thing:

    The All Blacks are actually not that good and its mostly the ref that makes them win.

    That is a bit sad.

    The kiwis dominate super rugby and they dominate international rugby because across the park they are more skillful than the median player elsewhere.

    Wish we will stop moaning about them and instead focus on our own game and ask ourselves why such a small island with so few players and resources are better than us.

    And saffa rugby journalists sweeping people up with this kind of bullshit ‘bismarck is a hero’ sentiment and ‘they are all out to get us’ victim mentality makes me wish the AB’s give us a big klap on saturday just to shut these idiots up.

    Yet I know behind the scenes Meyer and De Villiers are humble men working their arses off and its not their fault their media and supporters are a bit thick.

  13. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Have you ever seen a dumber heading?

    AB’s no mickey mouse team

  14. avatar out wide says:
    October 4th, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    @Boertjie: LOL which newspaper ran that? It would raise a laugh in NZ.

    I can tell you guys that over here there is only the utmost respect with kiwis in pubs and on the street actually glad that the Boks have a real chance to take the RC if, like in 2004, they can score a 4 try victory over the AB’s at Ellis Park (yeah, nobody here wants to know about that American softdrink name). The oldtimers are reliving the past when the Boks were the real old foe and worthy of respect. Quite a nice time to be a Saffer in NZ really.

  15. avatar Boertjie says:
    October 5th, 2013 at 9:46 am

    @out wide:

    News24 website.

  16. avatar DavidS says:
    October 5th, 2013 at 10:06 am

    @JT_BOKBEFOK!:

    Add Japie Mulder in there and Tana Umaga…

    And you have thugs united..

  17. avatar DavidS says:
    October 5th, 2013 at 10:13 am

    @Brendon:

    When you say things like that it just annoys me into wanting to give you a fat klap.

    It’s not as though New Zealand and Australian journalists don’t do the same?

    In 2011 when the Boks scored that try in PE that won the game NZ as an entire island turned into a the same hysterics as an overweight overbearing premenstrual mid menopausal woman with young children, lack of sleep and a drinking problem.

    The other night on SS the Kiwis AGAIN bitched about the 1976 tour’s refereeing… it is 36 f***king years agao… but here you go on about Steph Nell. How many red cards have the All Blacks been given in rugby history? ZERO… not one… not ever… what about offield suspensions? In the history of 3N and TRC two… JUST TWO… since 1997. By contrast South Africa and New Zealand make up 96% of offield suspensions and 100% red cards in 3N and TRC. There is no way on this god’s earth that does not indicate bias and a consipracy. The All Blacks are dirt bags and it’s time refs saw it. This has been a cry going on since 2003 when Sir Clive Woodward and England first raised it… and it is not “just” a South African complaint… England and its media has been loudly proclaiming that NZ gets away with murder (well to be honest attempted murder) on rugby fields. Even our softcock rugby referees in South Africa are awed by the “aura” of blackness. The truth is statistically New Zealand gets away with shit that would see other teams’ players sent off.

    Two recollections spring to mind.

    1. 2006 Ali Williams punching Albert VD Bergh apropros of nothing and unprovoked at Rustenburg in front of the ref… he gets no onfield discipline and offield either because it was a “soft punch”

    2. 2010 Ruben Thorne in front of the ref after the whistle spear tackles John Smit. Smit is out for weeks injured by the tackle and Thorne gets an OFFIELD suspension that is shorter than Smit’s injury time off…

    Now in Top 14, Currie Cup, Zurich, Vodacom Cup, ITM, RWC I have seen players do the same get straight reds for both those offences and always yellow for the spear tackle. In ZP players spear tackling like that have been given six month suspensions.

    To this day the Kiwis believe that in 1995 their team was “poisoned”… oh some publicly say no but most still do. They also moan about THAT forward pass of LaCroix in 2007 RWC…

    Watch a game in Wales and France and the fans there ALSO say they get screwed by refs so everyone does it. Hell here at the Valke we believe refs give the team the short end of the stick in 1st Division. EVERYONE does it…

    To summarise

    1. Factually the Kiwis do get away with refereeing decisions in their favour and Steph is right. Outwide, with respect bud, you’re living in the belly of the beast and exposed to its propaganda all day long.

    2. The Kiwis are far more prone to whingeing and whining and conspiracy theorizing than us.

    But it’s your national inferiority complex Brendon…

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