So many times we ask why we always lose those close and important games against the men from New Zeeland.
The more things change, the more they stay the same: that much becomes abundantly clear when you go digging for the reasons the All Blacks are not just the finest but the fittest rugby team(s) on the planet.
This can be single out as the one single advantage they have over not just South Africa but also the rest of the world. Combine that with their skill of throwing the ball round for half their life’s and you have the winning formula that makes them the number one team in the world.
New Zeeland superior fitness consistently give them the edge in big-time test matches and Super Rugby clashes with Australia and South Africa. They will go onto the field with the attitude of if I cannot run you off your feet with our high tempo game, then we will simply get into you and outlast you.
Technology and science advance at a rapid rate and professional rugby player has GPS units to track his every movement, machines to strain sinew, monitors to measure reaction and nutritional products to fuel him.
Yet in New Zeeland it can be something quite simple.
Take September 2012, as reported by MARC HINTON, on Rugby Heaven website: “Days out from battling the Springboks in the Dunedin dome. Andrew Hore and Tony Woodcock, a couple of hardy front-row customers, drove to the Maniototo to spend their day off dehorning 180 head of cattle.
Not too far away Sam Whitelock and Luke Romano had had been up since 5am traipsing around the bush tracking pigs and deer. Both these activities were authorised by the team strength and conditioning guru Nic Gill who incorporates them into the players’ weekly fitness programme. This is the All Blacks staying ahead of the chasing pack. Doing whatever it takes. And it turns out, the back-to-the-future approach works a treat. For some. “It’s still basic,” says Gill of the tenets of the All Blacks fitness programme.”
The fact of the matter is a player need to be strong, he needs to be powerful, he needs to be quick and he needs to be able to run all day. How many South African players can we put down with these qualities? Most of our current Springbok players in the Super Rugby do not even play more than 55 min a game.
Skills on the other hand is something that we failed to learn in junior phase of our development in South Africa.
Gill says that New Zeeland rugby players embrace their nature and from a young age all they do is through the ball around all day. This skill needs players to be fit otherwise you will fall behind.
South African teams is all about size, kicking, territory and forcing other teams into mistakes.
New Zealanders will do a lot of fitness in the week; and they don’t spend most of their time in gyms pumping iron. They will work hard in the week on increasing fitness levels, they do high intensity for everyone.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen is convinced superior fitness is winning tests for the All Blacks – even while they’re still scratching to find their best game.
At the end it is quite simple, our players is not fit enough to play full 80 min and we depend on the impact of impact players too much to make the difference in the last bit of the match.
Before we can start trying to improve our skill level we need to get our players conditioned and fit to go for 80 min plus per week.
Sources: Rugby Heaven, NZ Post, NZ Herhald