Springboks must break Blacks’ grip

June 9, 2014
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The All Blacks are the benchmark team for the SpringboksThe All Blacks are the benchmark team for the Springboks

With the Test season proper about to commence, the Springboks’ primary mission is simple: unseat the All Blacks as the best team in the world, writes RYAN VREDE for Rugbymag.co.za

The Springboks lost just two Tests in 2013, both against the All Blacks, who entrenched themselves as the pre-eminent side in the game with an unbeaten season. They shadowed the Blacks in all key performance areas but were blitzed at Ellis Park by the world champions, who continue to find ways to evolve and avoid stagnation.

An away victory in Australia and the maintenance of their unbeaten record in Europe under coach Heyneke Meyer underlined their impressive progress since he took the reins two seasons ago. At the end of 2013 there was clear breathing room between them as suitors to the Blacks’ throne and those in the chasing pack. Two defeats in a Test season, one referee Romain Pointe contributed to significantly through a weak performance, constituted a strong season and was a base from which to launch their assault on the No 1 ranking this year.

Having set the aforementioned benchmark, they must not regress. Progress will be defined by their performance against the All Blacks in Wellington and then beating them at Ellis Park in October. I think they’ll heed the lessons that emerged from last season’s Ellis Park defeat and reverse that result. They’re also at a point in their journey under Meyer where they can seriously contemplate taking the points from the Cake Tin clash. The Springboks haven’t beaten the Blacks since 2011, a run of four Tests. They have to arrest that trend.

On the evidence of the last decade, one has to assume that the Blacks will find a way to improve. Indeed this has been at the heart of them occupying the summit of the game’s rankings for as long as they have. This complicates the Springboks’ task. They’re not chasing a stationary target, but a dynamic and formidable one that’s fiercely protective and proud of their status.

One senses the Blacks are acutely aware of the pursuit, more so than they have been since the 2009 season, when they were second best to the Springboks. The emphatic 38-27 victory at Ellis Park was a statement of superiority over their historical rivals. It revealed that, while the gap between the sides has narrowed, they remain by some distance the best side in the world, one capable of feats like beating the Springboks at altitude, at a ground where their hosts have traditionally thrived.

Tactically the Springboks have shown the ability to trouble any side, including the Blacks, on attack, and barring some soft moments have defended well (they conceded three more tries and scored one less than the Blacks in the Rugby Championship). They also have experienced players equipped with the temperament for the big occasion and youngsters who’ve shown immense promise.

They’ll need good fortune with injuries. Already a number of key players have sustained season-ending injuries, with a clutch more nursing serious knocks at present. The Blacks’ central contracting system gives them a greater degree of certainty on the last count, but overall the ingredients are there for the Springboks to oust Richie McCaw’s champion side. We wait.

Photo: Sandra Mu/Getty Images

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9 Comments

  1. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 11:06 am

    We have a :poop: load too do before we can even start thinking of upsetting the AB….

    Although the second half on Saturday was better we still were far below par. Allot of work to do still but doable.

    I am worried about our scrums, in Supershit the Sharks have struggled against good scrums and even against a young Stormers front row they did not had their own way.

    Jannie has not played a single 80 min game this whole year and is giving allot of penalties away.

    Hopefully it will get better

  2. avatar DavidS says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Aggenee fok come on Jacques

    The loss in New Zealand was out and out down to a kak ref who was intimidated and stupid.

    The Ellis Park loss was out and oout due to the Boks having to play a game plan to win at all costs with four tries and having to play the All Blacks’ game to beat them and attack attack attack at all costs.

    Obviously it failed.

    One cannot on the two losses of last year make the willy nilly assumption that the Boks have “far to go”

    Their win this past weekend against England was yet another total fluke oof a win brought on by utterly atrocious refereeing by a so-called top end experienced referee who has time and again displayed is complete lack of skill in maintaining an unbiased blowing style when refereeing the All Blacks, particularly in New Zealand.

  3. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 11:38 am

    @DavidS: All I am saying is that what i saw from the teams and not the useless referees that we have problems at the scrum….but so did NZ and Aus…..

    Jannie has been a problem for me since the beginning of the year and me personally do not know if he would be good enough come WC.

    Last year we were out and out the second best team in the world. Yes we could have won the AB, but everyone knows test rugby their is a small margin of error and for us to consistently win the AB we still have a way to go. This HM 3 year which is normally the hardest for national coaches. I still believe we should have a upwards curve again this year and hopefully peaking at the WC

  4. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 11:53 am

    @Jacques(Bunny):

    Other than the scrums JDP was excellent around the paddock for a change… but yeah…they (Sharks front-row) need some better managing… by the time the Rugby Championship comes round they would have played 4 tests and a handful of SR games including one maybe two play-offs…

    HM seems no closer to realising that Coenie is not a TH but a LH, Guthro is past his best (perhaps)… and Big Mac Trev cannot make his SR first XV…

    OzMob are going to be far better this season too…

  5. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    @bryce_in_oz: Yip sad but have to agree on that

  6. avatar Timeo says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Every 4 or 5 years the Boks may beat the ABs more than once in a season.

    It may be this year, or next, or next…..but I don’t see anything indicating the Boks can be world number 1 for more than a month or two.
    -SA is losing good players at too high a tempo and SR results indicate NZ still has way more talent and depth than SA.

    Reality is a bitch.

  7. avatar out wide says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    @Timeo: LOL Timeo! Sad but true words no matter how much the anti AB brigade try to referee the game from their armchairs and buy into conspiracy theories.

  8. avatar Morné says:
    June 9th, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    @Timeo:

    We are much closer to the AB’s than we give ourself credit for.

  9. avatar Timeo says:
    June 10th, 2014 at 7:12 am

    @Morné:

    Eighteen years of professionalism and the Boks have a loosing record for home matches and suffer almost complete domination in away matches.

    What is different today, that will change anything in the near future?

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