Rugby Championship wrap

August 24, 2014
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Rugby Championship

Rugby Championship

 

Champions respond, they grab a result from the jaws of defeat. Look at that historic Test match in 2013 when New Zealand came from behind to break Irish hearts. Cruden had a second bite of the cherry to slot the kick over!

By: Benedict Chanakira

Meyer has been sounding like a broken record in the last few tests. Below par Bok performances have so many positives in his eyes. The fans have been critical of Heyneke but have every right. This is their team. Character, know how to win and courage.  Some of the terms to be associated with Springbok displays. I am sure behind closed doors that passion displayed in the coaching box is unleashed towards some parties. The centre combination of De Allende and De Villiers has not kicked on. The Springbok ls can not afford to leave x-factor gifted Frans Steyn out for much longer.

Another area of concern is the scrum which was obliterated by the Pumas who credit to them put in a valiant effort that ended in similar fashion as Wales; Defeat! There needs to be a solution, Guthro is past it, for the loyalty afforded him by Meyer. Could the Lions frontrow which has terrorised most teams get a look in? An area requiring attention considering how Australia’s scrum was massacred!

Handre Pollard has now secured his position as one for the future and he is the next in line behind Morne Steyn. Handre Pollard, who has not really impressed but has been backed by Meyer. Performances that were shown in his Junior Springboks days were not replicated at senior level. Glimpses maybe but he has not impressed. Goosen’s move abroad seems to have cast him away too.

Makes me wonder of Pat Lambie. Clearly will not be an option at 15 with Le Roux the incumbent. His future in the green and gold after being touted for greatness seems to leave him in the wilderness. Injury and a lack of backing from Meyer contributing factors as he is down the pecking order as a fullback and flyhalf!

Hate him or love him; Morne Steyn is an important cog in the Springbok machine. He changed the game in Salta and should start in Australia and New Zealand. This is the best chance to beat the two sides and assess how far South Africa’s character is.

Australia had a dream start, but failure to take their chances and to beat a side reduced to 14 men twice showed they still short of their ability. Roll a week later and reality and common sense prevailed. The All Black side dismantled their Tasmanian neighbours and what stuck out was their immense defence. The stage is set as the only barrier stopping South Africa to a maiden Rugby Championship title is New Zealand. The World Champions are looking the benchmark once again and despite the Peyper Horror show last week look further and further away from a defeat. They have lost only once since that 2011 World Cup win.

Expect a return for a few stalwarts to the line up and based on his performance a start for Marcel Coetzee. Time is ticking for the Springbok coach as a win over New Zealand is required soon. With little building towards the future, no scalps over New Zealand or a title South Africa need to change one of those.  Win percentage will mean nothing if none of that is achieved year end. It will leave Meyer with one goal in 2015. Win the Rugby World Cup as he continues to favor the experience of stalwarts instead of the hunger and exuberance of youth.

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25 Comments

  1. avatar Craven says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 11:46 am

    One thing I feel I need to add to the comment about the centre combination, is that it is just that, a combination. We seem to go into every test with a new combination hoping they will kick on immediately.

    We started to look good last year through the June tests and then during the Championship with JdV and JJ. But then it was changed because Jacque Fourie was suddenly available again. Even though he had not played in a proper tough league for ages. And it showed as he looked out of sorts during the end of year tour. To his credit he did start to look better as the tour continued.

    Then we get to 2014, again a new combination, partly due to JdV being injured, but then again, why on earth pick JP at centre if he is not going to be available for the Championship? It boggles the mind. Then the fallout with Francois and we are onto centre “combination” number who knows how many.

    For the Championship we have Damian in the mix. I admit I like him at the Stormers, but, and this is very important, his best games were at 12 with JdJ on his outside, but in the Bok team he is suddenly a 13. Must admit, I had hoped against hope that it comes off, but it hasn’t. If Heyneke now makes another change in the centres we will be back to square one if it is not someone that has played with JdV and knows him.

    We can also look at other positions where we have much of the same going on. Pollard has played three games with different players on his inside and outside, talk about combinations. In the locks we also seem to have a revolving door policy.

    Now I get that some of these changes are injury enforced, but some of it is due to Heyneke opting to select guys who will not be available for all the tests through the year, somewhat like what Argentina is struggling with each year.

    For a coach that seemed to place a heavy emphasis on continuity, his teams of late show loads of changes and this can’t be a good thing to get the team to settle.

    Are we really surprised the backline looked out of sorts in defence? There were no combinations in that line-up.

  2. avatar bryce_in_oz says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    @Craven:

    My sentiments exactly…

  3. avatar bchanakira2 says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Craven you legend! Worry definitely for our game!

  4. avatar Timeo says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    @Craven:

    There are two dynamics at play. Firstly the Boks aim to win every match they play and therefore, against top tier teams such as Wales they have to select the best players available at that point in time. Thus, Serfontein and Pietersen.

    Experimentation or building combinations are reserved for “sure to win” games. Pollard was the experiment and he needed to be surrounded and backed up by experienced players. For the next 4 games we’ll go back to “best available”.

  5. avatar Aldo says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Okay, so I agree that these last 2 weekends were not good enough, especially defensively. But I dont think it is all doom and gloom yet. Im of the opinion that Argentina is much better at the beginning of the tournament than later. They have a good enough starting 15 to run a lot of teams close, but not a good enough squad as a whole. So as the tournament progress, so do the injuries add up, which makes them weaker and less competitive. Add last weeks performance to that and you have a good team with serious belief that they could take on the Boks in front of their homecrowd. So hats of to them for playing really well.

    What does bother me is our defense. Lood de Jager missed a lot of tackles. As did de allende and du plessis. Surely Jannie is past his sell by date. Bismarck also looks extremely tired. Id change our frontrow for the aussies, as well as bring in Matfield who is hopefully fit again by then. Maybe also pick serfontein and move jean to 13 as allende isnt a 13.

    that’s my take on it in any case

  6. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    @Aldo: Valid point Aldo

  7. avatar Boertjie says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    @Aldo:

    You have better eyes or a very big TV set.
    As for me, I could gather very litte from
    the totally below standard of the TV broadcast.
    Rucks on WIDE shots, etc.
    Surely the sponsors must start setting a standard,
    starting with a ban on soccer producers doing rugby.
    :Rule 9:

  8. avatar Sasori says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Ishould not pick on individuals too much, but De Allende’s bad performances I dont feel can be blamed on him being played at 13. Even if you play him at flank, he should not be coughing the ball up when carrying it, or kicking it out directly to touch. Hope he gets more chances, maybe he is just a nervous player :)

  9. avatar Sasori says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    I commented before, and I agree that the referees are making abysmal decisions in the scrums. Its a lottery, more so then the rucks (but only slightly).

    I only see two options. Simplify the game (eww, rugby league :puke: ) or get more referees on the field.

    Would it not make sense to have for example Os as a scrum ref. When a scrum is called you have a scrum specialist on the field. Once play moves away from scrum he can stay in that section of the field and police rucks/offside line.

    I make this suggestion knowing its not a perfect solution, but what else.

    I dont think its possible to have a pool of say 15 top class international referees, game is too hard, too fast and requires too much interpretation.

    Maybe having more referees on the field can help with this. But specifically more experienced referees!

  10. avatar Sasori says:
    August 25th, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Lastly I think we have a motivation issue in the squad for some reason. As soon as it was clear we were on the verge of loosing the game, we switched on and played somewhat better. Maybe it was just the replacements that came on. But I still feel there was a spark that got lit form somewhere as the team did seem to lift.

    Maybe it was just that Willie break that gave outr guys some motiviation!

  11. avatar Americano says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 5:32 am

    1) I agree with Aldo.

    2) Sasori – you win comment of the day with:
    “Maybe it was just that Willie break that gave outr guys some motiviation!”

    3) Bunny – I want you to channel Jimmy Stonehouse & tell us who his 12/13 combo would be – I will go with that one.

    4) Defense Sec. Don Rumsfeld said this about Iraq but it could go for SA in this tournament as well:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jPgljRvzQw

  12. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 6:13 am

    @Americano: We are actually lining up and interview with Jimmy….

  13. avatar Craven says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Last night I watched the second half of the test again, this time without the emotion that was present on the weekend. The Boks really looked a hell of a lot better in the second half, not good enough yet, but streets ahead of the abysmal first half.

    A few things stood out for me:

    1. When Walsh pinged Frans for scrumming inwards, he got it completely wrong. When the two front rows formed up for the scrum, the Argie loosehead’s head and shoulders were already pointing towards Bismarck, at engage his arse was already at 45 degrees to the touchline. The scrum then proceeded to fold in on that side. Now Steve reckons it is Frans that is scrumming in? Pull the other one Steve-O.

    2. When The Argies fell behind on the scoreboard, three points would still win them the game. At the kick-off the ball goes directly into touch resulting in a scrum on halfway. Coincidence? Maybe I am too cynical, but that looked like it was done on purpose. Argies reckon they would get a scrum penalty in the middle of the field giving them an opportunity to go for the three points.

    3. I am so frustrated with Ruan, despite his slow service and wayward kicking on Saturday, at one stage he was standing waving his arms looking at Steve Walsh and the Argies just picked up the ball at the base of the ruck and attacked. WTF Ruan?! The ball is available, stop worrying about what the Argies re doing and play it. Another instance we were attacking in their 22, best bet would be to get quick ball to the runners as Argentina have not yet formed their defensive lines properly, what does Ruan do. He stands there waving his arms directing the runners as too where they have to go and stand, giving the Argies ample time to form their line. WHat makes this guy so good that he has now played 70+ tests? Sorry but I do not see it.

    3. When Hougaard came on the pace picked up immensely. Just to clarify, I am not a fan of Hougaard, at all, I do not rate him as one of the best scrummies in the world, but his passing was accurate and when a guy went to ground, he was there to pick up the ball and pass to the next runner in one motion, not two steps and then pass, or standing there directing traffic or waving his hands at Steve-O. He made an immense difference to the Boks being able to gather some momentum. The ABs play better with Smith at scrumhalf because he is so quick to breakdown and his passing is also very quick. The line can get going again before the opposition defense have lined up properly. This is what we need as well, Fourie does this exceptionally well, and when he plays we look like a different time as we can up the tempo. With Ruan that is just not happening.

    4. Lood. I rate this guy as having loads of potential, but the way he falls of tackles for such a big guy is not on. And in the scrum he is always standing with his arse in the air, there is no way he scrum properly behind his tighthead. No wonder our scrum goes backwards. I would have liked to have seen a few scrums with Eben moving to 5 and Bakkies on at 4. I think the scrum would have moved backwards a bit slower at least! :)

  14. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 11:03 am

    I cannot remember many Peter Divs teams playing this poorly for such an extended period. We hardly beat Wales at home and now Argy games a new low. I am sorry but old Heyneke ran out of ideas a good while ago, and like so many of his players now operate on nothing but reputation.

    We won’t become nr 1 under this dude, but we sure will bore a few people to death on our way down to nr 5 or 6.

  15. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    A bit hard on the boys here…. Wales we beat 38-16 in the first test with new combination midfield due to injuries and we had a lot of injuries.

    Second test we beat them 31-30 with still a pretty new team due to injuries.

    Against the Argies we again have different combinations…which is good in my eyes so that we can get the right combinations and test certain players.

    When the AB almost loose their games, they are deemed to be a brilliant team because they can still win even when they have a off day, when the Boks almost lose we need to fire the coach and half the team because we are useless.

    One thing I think Aldo mentioned. Every year we get the Argies first up when they are fresh and do not have any injuries and conditioning of players is still good, then they go and play away to NZ and Aus and they get beaten and we say we are shit because we scrape through the test.

    Test rugby is not supershit nor CC,

    Said it in other threat as well HM Boks wins 8 test matches in a row and we want to fire him and half the players typical SA Supporters.

    Funny how Australia still see the Boks as favourites to win the test in Perth… but ye we are shit HM is shit and we do not know what we are doing…

  16. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    To Add:

    In the last 20 test under HM we have won 18 and only lost two test again the AB…

  17. avatar Aldo says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Heyneke is poor, he is to rugby what zuma is to cabinet. Yeah right, the guy has an amasing record as test coach so far. Sure there are problems, but then you lookat how poor our form has been all season, cant blame heyneke for that can we.

  18. avatar Sasori says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    @Cheetah Glory: This is Bekke level drivvel … I am ashamed of my fellow Cheetah supporter :noshake: :soek:

  19. avatar Cheetah Glory says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I guess if fans are happy with substandard performances you end up like the Cheetahs where you start looking for positives instead of facing reality.

    We should be better. We should aspire to being nr 1 and dominating world rugby. Instead we have become nr 1 in post match spin.

    Heyneke the darling. Thats the only narrative we are supppsed to peddle.

  20. avatar Christo (Vetgesmeerde Blits) says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    The Boks has had a disapointing season so far. We struggled against teams with a lot less talent than us, first a weakened Wales team and now twice against Argentina. If it wasn’t for the brilliance of Le Roux we would have been in big trouble by now. There is no shame in admitting this, being a Bok supporter doesn’t meen you have to put the blinkers on and pretend we are playing great rugby. No need to ridicule supporters that is not buying into this building character nonsense.

    Having said that I have the Boks as favourates to take the championship. We tend to switch on for the big games. Aus and Nz also had mixed seasons so far.

  21. avatar Americano says:
    August 26th, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    My sentiments exactly Christo-Vetgesmeerde-Blits.
    PDV never had issues because he just used the same 2007 guys.

  22. avatar cab says:
    August 27th, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    I think Meyer is a reasonably good coach, but to be honest, I don’t think he has great vision. I think he is an excellent motivator and forwards coach (except someone needs to start picking a decent scrumming TH to develop).

    He’s problem is he is a little too bloubul biased and specifically his favourites from the dream team if 10 years ago. I’m sorry to say but if we go into the World Cup with this mix of ou perde, then we are t going to win

    This is an exceptional talented generation if players and they are not being used properly. Its a crime that hougaard, and goosen are not starting and tbh, le roux is so good, that I have no bleeding idea why they don’t give him a go at flyhalf, every single bok play is sparked off of him

    I agree v much with craven’s comments. De jong should be the no 13. Serfontein should he at 12. De villiers is now past it. As in jannie du plessis. This is a crucial time , its one year out from the World Cup, we need to start nlooding these young guys now.

    At lock, de jäger must go. He needs at least 2 more seasons before even considered. Psdt is sorely missed, he and etsebeth will make short work of anything in test rugby. Matfield to bench. Boks are missing dynamism and go forward. Bismarck and beast are just on edge but are massive stars who still better than anything out there, but we need a few more dynamic players in tight 5. Alberts will add a lot. Coetzee dropped, adds nothing. Juan smith is a legend but he’s been out for too long, it was a mistake being him back. As a flanker you still need mobility and while he’s still great in the French league, this is v different. Again Boks should be picking or developing some sort of go/forward player as a backup to Alberts – Psdt is key here.

  23. avatar cab says:
    August 27th, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Pienaar is dreadful at scrumhalf. I’ve got no idea why they’ve persisted this long with either he or jannie. With the current bok talent we should be beating oz and the ABs

    1. Beast 2. Bismarck 3. Cilliers/ WP nel
    4. Psdt (elstadt) 5. Etsebeth
    6. Kolisi/brussow 7. Alberts 8. Vermeulen

    9. Hougaard 10. Goosen 11. Habana 12. Frans/serfontein 13. JdJ/JJ 14. JP 15. WLR

  24. avatar Timeo says:
    August 28th, 2014 at 3:28 am

    @Cheetah Glory:

    Do you remember this run by Divvie’s team in 2010?

    South Africa lost 12 32 -20 0 0 4 0 v New Zealand Auckland 10 Jul 2010 South Africa lost 17 31 -14 2 2 1 0 v New Zealand Wellington 17 Jul 2010 South Africa lost 13 30 -17 2 0 1 0 v Australia Brisbane 24 Jul 2010 South Africa lost 22 29 -7 1 1 5 0 v New Zealand Johannesburg 21 Aug 2010 South Africa won 44 31 +13 5 5 3 0 v Australia Pretoria 28 Aug 2010 South Africa lost 39 41 -2 3 3 6 0 v Australia Bloemfontein 4 Sep 2010 South Africa won 23 21 +2 2 2 3 0 v Ireland Lansdowne Road 6 Nov 2010 South Africa won 29 25 +4 2 2 5 0 v Wales Millennium Stadium 13 Nov 2010 South Africa lost 17 21 -4 1 0 4 0 v Scotland Murrayfield 20 Nov 2010 South Africa won 21 11 +10 2 1 3 0 v England Twickenham 27 Nov 2010

    won 4, lost 6, PD -35, 20 tries 35 penalties

    and that team had some serious talent

  25. avatar Aldo says:
    August 28th, 2014 at 9:51 am

    It is not about being blind to the mistakes but rather giving credit where it is due. You guys make it sound as if we lost, we didnt, we won when we were down and out. Yes there are problems, but I believe Heyneke is a good enough coach to overcome them. One look at the injury list and results in superrugby this year, shows just how difficult a job Heyneke has this year, yet I am still confident we will beat the Wallabies home and away and the AB’s at least once this year.

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