Home Opinion As always, Rugby Championship to show Boks progress

As always, Rugby Championship to show Boks progress

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We have learned from past three years not to read to much into the June Internationals. The same goes for November Internationals when we go up north.

The teams coming down in June are mostly understrength squads with some exceptions.

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus record reads 2 wins and 2 losses which gives his Bok team only a 50% record.

The reality is the only real measurement comes when the Springboks come up against New Zealand and Australia in the Rugby Championship.

In 2016 Coetzee Springboks beat Ireland 2-1 in June but in the Championship we ended up third behind Australia with only two wins.

In 2017 Coetzee Springboks beat France 3-0 in June but again only manage third spot on the log with two wins and two draws.

This year Rassie Boks manage to beat England 2-1 in June….

Erasmus showed his hand in naming his squad for the Championship on Monday which raised a few questions.

Springbok Squad:

Forwards – Cyle Brink, Jean-Luc du Preez, Thomas du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (c), Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Akker van der Merwe, Marco van Staden, Warren Whiteley.

Backs – Lukhanyo Am, Ross Cronjé, Faf de Klerk, Aphiwe Dyantyi, André Esterhuizen, Elton Janjies, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Mapoe, Lwazi Mvovo, Embrose Papier, Handré Pollard Ivan van Zyl, Damian Willemse.

This is what Erasmus had to say after naming his Championship squad…

Like it or not but as Springbok coach Erasmus has a few KPI’s that he need to achieve.

  1. Most important, winning. What his KPI target is on this only SARU knows but one can expect it to be 80% and above
  2. Transformation, there is no hiding away from the target that was set between Government and SARU.
  3. Building a squad that can win the World Cup next year in Japan.

Rassie and his team have 10 test for this year to improve on the 50% they have at the moment. Playing the All Blacks, Aussies and Argentina twice home and away then go up north to face England, France, Scotland and Wales.

This means to have a a win % above 80% at the end of the year the Springboks can only loose twice in the remaining 10 test matches.

That is a big ask if you look at playing All Blacks twice, an improved Aussie side twice with England, France, Scotland and Wales away.

The second KPI actually goes hand in hand with the first. Transformation of the team to reach 50% by World Cup is no easy task to achieve in less than two year.

Coetzee did not help Erasmus much in giving players of colour the opportunity at international level even though his record was not good.

By end of this year Erasmus must have a 48% according to SARU agreement with Government.

In the squad he announce on Monday he has 13 player of colour in the squad of 35. The transformation % is measured against the 23 match-day squad.

That is a damn thin line to walk for Erasmus to get the win % up and get to his transformation target at the end of November.

Let us not fool ourselves on the third KPI, we do not currently have a squad which we can really believe will win the World Cup next year.

With the quality of the All Blacks, Ireland and England we at best are 4 or 5 seeded.

This brings us to this Rugby Championship. The All Blacks looks yet again that they are the best of the rest by a long way.

So what will convince us that Erasmus is making progress when the fat lady sings at the end of this tournament?

If one take in consideration the whole idea is that we are giving us a chance to win the World Cup next year we need to have a high expectation from Erasmus and his Boks.

It should be non negotiable that the Springboks beat both the Aussies and Argentina home and away.

They also need to get much closer to the All Blacks than we have shown in the past. I struggled to see the Springboks at this stage beat the All Blacks in New Zealand.

I suppose progress then will be to give ourselves a chance against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

At home we need to get a win pass them. That will give us a solid second place and even give us a chance of winning the Championship which will be a massive step in the right direction for the Springboks.

This is maybe setting the bar high but we have seen enough mediocre performances from the Springboks and if they really want to proof to us that they are on the right track we should expect nothing less.

If Erasmus Boks can achieve that in the Championship we should then expect a four out of four in November, and again this is because of the KPI’s that we need to achieve.

This makes this year such an important year for Springbok rugby and we will have to wait and see if beating England in June was just another stroke of luck or if Erasmus are really on the right path.

What is your expectations for this years Rugby Championship?

Schedule:

Saturday 18 August

15:05 South Africa v. Argentina

Saturday 25 August

19:10 Argentina v. South Africa

Saturday 8 September

10:05 Australia v. South Africa

Saturday 15 September

07:35 New Zealand v. South Africa

Saturday 29 September

15:05 South Africa v. Australia

Saturday 6 October

15:05 South Africa v. New Zealand

43 COMMENTS

  1. Ja tough year. I like erasmus a lot, precisely cos he is willing to try new things, but when I hear the likes of Flo being picked over JLDP – this rings major alarm bells for me.

    Vermeulen was v good, but these overseas players can also go spoiled rotten all too quick. You need the hunger. Personally I think JLDP is even better and is younger, fitter and stronger.

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  2. @cab: FFS it is the group. He is in there. Knowledge can be relayed in training as well. Added bonus that Loud is involved and be needed should injuries occur.

    Some people just do not understand the principle of planning. :rolleyes:

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  3. Injuries to watch

    The impressive Cyle Brink and the fellow back-row bruiser Jean-Luc du Preez have been included in the Springboks squad, but both will have to undergo a medical to see if they remain with the team. Du Preez is struggling with a MCL sprain, while Brink, who scored a try in the Super Rugby final against the Crusaders, has an arm injury.

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  4. @DJ:

    Not sure that is right in re age group teams where our U20 have been better than NZ for years and gotten owned by England who is arguably more structured and plan handled than any team in the world.

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  5. You want knowledge transfer – get Naas.

    I’m a great fan of Rassie and Flo (in his day), but I don’t think this is a good selection. Flo is way off the pace, especially on the quicker SH fields. Ther are younger players better suited to the upcoming RC and with the RWC in mind. Rather develop the likes of JLDP brink or can staden. Whitely at 8 or kwagga or roelof smit at opemsider.

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  6. That’s a very good article you post. Micromanaging has always been a trait of SA coaches – too paternalistic conservative risk-adverse, narrow-minded and often ignorant. They try control too much rather than encouraging their players to have a go.

    The SA fascination with schoolboy rugby just echoes those thoughts for me. Far better if we had a strong club rugby scene , but I guess in SA there’s no welfare state safety net like most of these other countries

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  7. @cab: Aha have you ever developed a player?

    This can become very interesting. Rassie’s job is in the first place not to develop players. He selects players with the skills that he thinks will fit into the way he wants the team to play. Sometimes coaches choose a player based on the irritation factor he can bring to other teams through the players skills. It is not only based on what you or any other arse wipe might see sitting on your arse watching.

    At this level the coach has KPIs. He does not have 4 years to build up, the WC is next year.

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  8. Me and every other arsewipe want a Bok team that wins. Where we want are bravery in selection and strategy.

    I can tell you right now, the public will excuse a coach who is building, but you go pick these older players from outside SA and lose, and that catch will be gone faster than you can say toetie toot toot. And rightfully so.

    I’m saying blood a player who is hungry, young and in-form in super rugby.

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  9. @cab: Well school rugby is still the basis of NZ rugby.

    It depends on the coaches at junior level and whether they are able to allow juniors to use their natural creativity or whether they want to coach that creativity out of them. Coaches that design a game plan around the skills available or coaches that only teach skills to fit their game plan. That is the difference. In SA schools the pressure for success plays a b8g part. And then of course add the biggest problem: the pressure of each parent that thinks little Johnny will be the next best thing.

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  10. @DJ: Fark, who fingered your arse today, or are you always so pre-occupied with bums? Who is your “arse wipe” by the way, one ply?
    Indeed, his KPI is to fokken win – if he cannot select the players on the required level, then INDEED he needs to develop them. There is quite a massive step-up between Supershit and international rugby, so even the most skilled player would need some “development”. But you are right on one thing – we need fewer “arse wipes sitting on their arses on the couch”.

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  11. @cab:

    And I will tell you that the problem does not lie with the Bok or Super coaches, but every level below that. All the way down to kannetjies level.

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  12. Well that’s an interesting viewpoint on the schoolboys, tho I think it’s a bit amateurish and simply shows the game is in the DNA of nz and SA.

    But I do not see what Louw brings. I think the only players we want from overseas are those who are still Worldclass. He was but no longer. Sa has never had shortage in the loosetrio dept.

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  13. @DJ: Let me put it to you this way, a lot of money is actually going towards developing players of color at schoolboy level. That is not the he problem, neither them not saying “ja baas”, whatever that means. The bigger problem is that we have yet to see SARU and SA rugby in general capturing the hearts of young player s of color. It won’t necessarily mean more talent comes through but it might mean more interest and a bigger player pool.

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  14. All this talk of KPI’s… let’s get real for a moment.

    There is no way Rassie is going to lose his job (neither the temporary head coach position, nor his DOR position), before the RWC no matter how many games he loses. The only other KPI he has to meet and one he clearly deems just as important as his win-ratio, is the pencil-test.

    So from a fan’s perspective with that in mind and his focus clearly just on the world cup… nothing short of going one up on his predecessor in tests and one up in the world cup is expected from mine.

    The barometer has become so low the last few seasons in Springbok rugby that at the very least I expect two wins against the Puma’s, a home win against the Wallabies, perhaps a surprise away win against this young side and well long gone are the days of JW where you could win your home games against NZ. That’s a lowly 50% without the ‘surprise’ win but would have given him 10 tests in charge and best lead to a much better EOYT both in terms of performance and team selection.

    Anything less and you can kiss 2019 good-bye too. We all know the RC means nowt in that year and there are only the June tests.

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  15. @bryce_in_oz: You have much higher expectations than me. Here is how I see it going. Win against the argies in SA, a close fought battle to loose in Argie land. Close loss against Aus, hammering in NZ, close win against Aus in SA, and a close game against NZ at Loftus, that we loose but all hail Rassie for how close we got. I could be wrong on the last two as it is PE for Aussies which could make them win and Loftus for All Black’s, where they have an awesome record, so could be a blowout

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  16. School boy level is not a problem.

    I watch everything from U9s through to High School Eerste Span.

    The school coaches are trained, have their Bok smarts, are judged on performance, are hard working, dedicated and care for their boys.

    Somewhere between school and senior rugby we lose the players.

    Our age group teams are competitive. It can be said that at U18 and U20 the world #2 spot is cemented as ours. England is #1 and New Zealand vies with France and Australia for #3.

    However somewhere in the system after that teams lose players and it must be in the step up.

    The clubs are NOT well supported financially or in any other ways. Their coaches are like the players, all for the most part unpaid volunteers who do it for the love of the game. The big provinces take on the Craven Week players only and big school players only. So players in Joburg from like EG Jansen, Monnas, Helpmekaar, Affies, Garsfontein, Hugenote, KES, St Benedicts, Transvalia get the scouts and mostly at festivals and derbies only while schools without great rugby pedigrees don’t se scouts so even there highly promising players fall through cracks. Let us face it, Craven Week is no measurement of how good you are anymore if you are white. White players fall through cracks. The good ones are now being hunted by Australian, French and British teams at age group level in school, at Craven Week, at Derbies and surprise surprise at Bokkie Week which is a rugby tournament reserved for Afrikaans kids.

    The black ones are left with the weight of expectation upon them and very few ever make the transition from high school to provincial age group for varying reasons. You give a young black kid a scholarship to a big name university and a wad of cash and see how that goes… it doesn’t. Many are lost by brute Darwinian processes. Only the best make it to provinces, the elite to SR and the utter best to Nationals.

    In the road behind them lie many shattered dreams and lost opportunities.

    DJ

    You are wrong about New Zealand BTW. Although their school rugby is very strong, their club scene is JUST as strong. It is not surprising to see off time All Blacks have a club game. In a town called Omaramu my brother witnessed a club derby which drew 3000 people. If our East Rand Valke draw a 3000 crowd it is regarded as a successful crowd puller. Our smaller unions are dying too. Unable to afford full time pros they have semi pros who get maybe R3000 to R6000 per month and work full time and practice at night. It is quite quick for those guys to lose heart. The ones who remain are oldies who love the game, youngies who love the game, and youngies who are still hoping a big name province’s scouts see him.

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  17. @DavidS: Good post. Indeed a good club system was that extra net to catch the guys who did not go to the pedigree schools, with some sort of cult following and communicy spirit (just think of the legends from Despatch!). Our club structure just imploded with the undersupply of funds, oversupply of TV rugby, and general breakdown after the enforced integration without sanity after 94. And we have no more decent Army or Police feeder systems, and even Vatsity teams are declining. How to fix it? No idea!!

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  18. @DJ:
    What’s the interesting part DJ?
    I just see the same na-na-na-na-na-na arrogant teasing commentary that has been recycled going back for over a decade.
    Mind you ALWAYS leaving out – the elephant in the room because it nullifies their case (excluding for Andrew Mehrtens.)
    Imagine Canada & their hockey team being under the same constraints + the currency deval vs euro.
    It’s not interesting.
    It’s rehashed & boring.

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  19. @DJ:

    No the club system is the base NOT the schools…

    Read MY full sentences.

    Bekke

    Varsity Cup is our club replacement system. It has potential but with Steinhoff now fucked FNB will have to add LOTS of cash….

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  20. @DavidS: @DavidS:

    Interesting read mate… many of those points are why there has been a recent surge in depth of senior players in Australia across all positions (and it is slowly translating at Super Rugby level).

    With the National Rugby Championship (started 2013) having signed new 5 year broadcasting in 2015, a few stream-line tweaks including bringing in the Fijian Drua, the sponsors have poured in with funding not previously available. This is in turn has had an exponentially positive effect on the huge club scene across the states, where after 100’s of players were lost simply quitting or attempting to move abroad as there were only so many positions available in the Super Rugby teams and their extended squads. The gap has been bridged and the professional playing is much much larger with 7 teams contesting the NRC and feeding upwards into SR. Unlike RSA… Australia only really has a few ‘rugby union’ schools and they are for the most part the elite or private schools so they have always depended on the club scene for juniors outside of those schools that wanted to participate. This has very much been the case in Melbourne particularly with so many Islanders that cannot afford the two private rugby schools. In short the trickle-down effect from the NRC has strengthened the club scene keeping far more prospects in the system and had the knock-on effect all the way back up. Many of the new caps in the Wallabies extended squad and prospect on the cuff have barely played or have not played SR as the selectors have the added advantage of scouting from the burgeoning NRC

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  21. @bryce_in_oz:

    I just wanted to add that although the Force lost a fair few of their SR players they still hold onto a good core of the squad developed By Wessels and co. On top of the NRC… thanks to billionare Twiggy Forest, they play in the World Series of Rugby against Fiji A, Samoa (national), Tonga (national), Hong Kong (national) Crusaders, Rebels. So that is another avenue for both Wallabies selectors and grassroots WA rugby, especially when considering they are averaging 15000 plus attending which is more than any other Australian Super union.

    Did anyone know that the legendary Jacque Fourie is still playing rugby and for the Force in this competition?

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  22. JF playing for Force – wtf for?

    There’s nothing left. I mean Rebels are a prime example of money over genuine talent. 2 rugby schools buy everyone in. It no good ozzies like kangaroos and league, not union. Develop the game in SA.

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  23. @cab:

    Mate you didn’t even read to ‘comprehend’ nor probably read what I stated, in the post on the resurgence in the health of Australian rugby due to their burgeoning club scene down to the NRC coming into it’s own, in it’s entirety did you? That’s rhetorical…

    ‘Nothing left’ at the Force… again totally over your head because you have zero clue as to what is happening outside of SR in Australia nor you listen. Their grass-roots rugby is stronger than ever, their NRC side is extremely strong since South Africans Wessels and Foote took over in 2014, having since made 3/4 of the play-offs and are the current Horan-Little Shield holders.

    What was the Force SR side now plays in the inaugural World Series of Rugby (on top of the NRC) which they contest against the Pacific Island national sides, the Rebels SR side and the Saders SR side. This model is set to expand in 2019. This is why Jacque Fourie is at the union, aside from wanting to emigrate, he is their new defensive coach. He wanted to play a few games for them too… but after a few niggles and being behind the pace of the youngsters officially retired from the game last week.

    I couldn’t bother to school you on the value the Rebels has brought to Victoria grass-roots, school-boy, club rugby and their NRC side… would go straight over your head again.

    Best you start either comprehending facts bestowed upon you, or stop flapping your lips akin to a regressive leftard that regurgitates their same mantra’s even in spite of factual information totally blowing their mantra out of the park.

    With all due respect CAbbo of course.

    The only reason I posted the above was in reply to David’s insightful post, returning the favour into those that are actually interested in the machinations of Australian rugby outside of SR and test.

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  24. Ok – defensive coach , thought he too young for coaching.

    Yep I like the ozzies but c’mon 2 rugby schools in the whole of Victoria. Gdam ridiculous that they have a franchise, I mean you’ll find 2 rugby schools in gat-sonder-water, population 30.

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  25. I suggest that as the huge expat population realises the value f rugby the game will expand at club level in WA. The influx of good coaches like Wessels will assist. In due course there will be immense benefit for Australia’s rugby as our locals start to move from WA to other states, taking skills, qualifications and experience with them. All the while the social experiment of the geographic territory of “South Africa” will continue to deliver failure after failure standing as a stark example of social failure much like Venezuela is now an object lesson for communism’s total failure.

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  26. Who? Is he that little 5ft-nothing neo-nazi snot from uk? I don’t think of him at all. Dangerous to who? A leprechaun. Is he your hero now?

    Yep them bigots always ultimately end up seeing their gatte – it’s karma , can’t escape it.

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  27. @cab:

    Ah I see what you’re on about… Melbourne and outer burbs have 12 rugby schools not 2 (must be a typo) and I think around 18 in Victoria. But the point remains… these are majority ‘private’ schools with huge fees… so there is also a huge playing pool of U18’s playing club rugby outside of the school system and that is the same Australia-wide. With reference to David’s post, was that for years a place like Vic (and the rest) has had both those in rugby schools and those outside of the schools transitioning to the senior club rugby scene and most disappearing after a year or two despite there being a long tradition in Australian clubs since day dot. Australians were playing rugby in schools almost two decades before the first club was even established in RSA, the NSWRU grade club comp is the largest centrally organised in the world. Yet with all this history/tradition/numbers one or two years of club is where it stopped. No longer with the NRC resurgence and the ‘trickle-up’ is finally coming to fruition depth-wise.

    As an aside mate… Jacque Fourie is young coaching-wise… but he’s the same age as Dave Wessels…

    @DavidS:

    I think of it as charity sometimes lol.

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  28. @DavidS: SA expats allowing their kids to play rugby are in the minority. British expats yes. South African no.

    @bryce_in_oz: In NSW maybe. In QLD junior clubs are struggling to keep numbers past U14 level. The words of a GPS school coach ” School rugby is destroying the clubs”
    BJRU CURRENT SEASON
    U12 36 teams
    U13 30 teams
    U14 25 teams
    U15 12 teams
    U16 4 teams

    Last year in my son’s age group U13 there were 35 teams. That is a loss of 10 teams. The traditional big clubs loss teams as follow: Ashgrove 2, Brothers 1, Wests 1, Easts 1 and Norths 1. South’s would have lost 1 if some of the smaller clubs numbers didn’t join them. In total 200+ players and some of them top players that played in the school state champs 2 years ago. Now focussing ONLY on school rugby.

    The clash with league is just getting greater. Next year league will be introduced in the private schools and that will have a huge effect on the school rugby. Most private schools give scholarships to league players to bolster their numbers with limited success. These scholarship players play in the first teams automatically. Result is that real union kids lose interest. Hopefully that will change next year and can get union kids playing again.

    Another issue is the school state champs being played only at u12, u15 and u18 level. The league trials are played before the union trials. Thus if the league’s don’t make the league team, they will trial for the union one. With the preoccupation of size that again does not draw the interest of most of the traditional union kids. This affects the quality of rugby as very few league players can actually grasp union. I have coached a few of them in union and with most of them it is a challenge to get them to stop thinking about them as individuals and focus on the team and the teamwork required.

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