Home RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 Boks put world on red alert – Jake

Boks put world on red alert – Jake


The Boks are on the up and it’s fantastic to see! What has really been pleasing to me is that we’re not being seduced into running from everywhere anymore. South Africa is again seeing that defence is the cornerstone of winning Test matches.

By Jake White who writes for All out Rugby

This has been coming for years. Like they say in France, “Voila!” I remember being in France and getting criticised for the Boks being too defensive, but we finished the 2007 Rugby World Cup with the leading try-scorer, the leading points-scorer and the trophy.

People say “that’s not how you play the game,” but the Boks are showing that’s exactly how you win.

South Africa understood that reality in 2007 and it looks like we’re starting to understand it again. Some of the other sides in the world don’t grasp it; they’ve been seduced by the perception that passes and offloads and sidesteps win matches. They don’t see the whole picture.

I’m watching the Pumas run from their in-goal while their scrum goes backwards. Argentina were renowned for the Bajada scrum, and their maul and pick-and-drive was historically among the best in the world. A few years ago, if you watched a club game between Hindu and San Isidro, generally every kid could pick and drive and every team could maul.

But on Saturday, the Pumas scrum and lineout against the All Blacks was almost the worst I’ve seen in Test level. It got to a point where they got a five-metre penalty and they didn’t choose to scrum – a few years ago, that would have been unthinkable in Argentina.

Meanwhile, for the second week in a row, a Bok victory was notable for the defensive effort, and now I’m hearing the Aussies and Kiwis say they need to kick more.

In rugby, you can keep the ball and run from your own try-line, but if you knock on 95 metres upfield, you get no points for that. It looks amazing, but you get no points.

That’s why we see a team with 14 men stop their opponents from scoring, and it’s why it’s possible to beat the Crusaders with 13 men in Christchurch.

There’s no reward for keeping the ball for 15 phases. Turning defence into attack is the spectacle these days. That kind of rugby is in our DNA, defence is how we’ve always played.

Tackling and defence are two different things. Some countries produce great one-on-one tacklers, but they’re poor in terms of defensive organisation. Other countries have the opposite problem.

South Africa produces great tacklers and great defenders and the Boks are hitting the nail on the head because not only are we gaining psychological victories by beating New Zealand and Australia, but the way we’re doing it is ringing alarm bells for the rest of the world.

We scored 36 points against the All Blacks without the ball, and we mustn’t allow ourselves to be hoodwinked again into thinking that we have to run it from everywhere because that’s not how you score 36 points against New Zealand.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of these readers because Zelím Nel has been talking about the trends of the game for a long time. He came over to Toyota Verblitz and did some analysis that highlighted what is happening in world rugby – whether you look at Super Rugby, Test rugby or Japanese rugby, the key indicators are exactly the same.

The reason is because the laws of the game are loaded in the defence’s favour. That is why you can have 60% possession and territory and still lose a match.

For example, if your opponents kick the ball out and you have the ball at the back of a maul from the ensuing lineout, the ref tells you to use the ball. This cues the defensive side. Then you get a scrum after the other team knocks on, you get the ball to the back of the scrum and the ref tells you to use it. Again, this helps the defence to get ready for when you play. And later you make a run, the ball becomes available at the ruck, and the ref tells the halfback to use it.

These are three instances where the lawmakers rush the attack so that the defence can have a crack at winning possession.

Defensively, South Africa have never been matched. Generally, people would say the Boks are known for aggressive and organised defence. Across all eras and all the way down to most schoolboy sides, we field teams with really good tacklers and defenders.

We’ve beaten the All Blacks, Wallabies, and England this year, all on the back of defence. The Boks were 24-0 against England, and 12-0 down against New Zealand and we tackled our way to victory. This doesn’t mean we haven’t played rugby.

The perception is that the Kiwis are all about attack, but the reality is that they are experts at turning defence and into tries. The Boks are starting to get good at doing the same thing, and that’s very encouraging.

Winger Aphiwe Dyantyi has scored six tries in eight Tests, and it’s not because we’re running from everywhere.

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  1. But Aldo it is attractive rugby, what do you not understand from the AAA disciples. And only attractive rugby will bring supporters back to the game.

    Aside from the jokes, the Snake was the only one since Oom Kitch that understood that, Nick had a hooraa for 18 test but then could not grasp the same and the rest all wanted to be like the All Blacks.

    The closest we got to the same blue print was when Snor, Victor, Fourie and Smit coach the Boks…

  2. JW nailing it to the mast as per norm… the currrent Boks are still way behind where his Boks were from kicking precision to ruck-play on opposition and own ball… but he does go one too far…

    ” Defensively, South Africa have never been matched.”


  3. @Aldo: You guys are either dof in missing it, or just facetious. Nobody preached “run like hell with everything from all positions”. What was quite clear (AND missing in our rugby), was the ability to balance defence and attack – and ONLY Jake could get that done effectively in the last 15 years. Even in our wins against Oz and ABs, if we did not have the slick handling, offloading (e.g. RG Snyman to create that great Aphiwe try against ABs!!), great running lines, then the defence would have helped us sweet fokkol. When your attack is kak (like selecting SlowFlo, or useless centres, or loosies that hang around on the wings), your defence will NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER win you games.

  4. @Bekke:

    ” Nobody preached “run like hell with everything from all positions”

    That was the sum total of Harry Viljoen’s game-plan…

  5. 49-0, not a sniff of a point in sight, then EJ joins and attack improves and they score points and win RWC without playing NZ or Oz.

  6. As for Argentina – I think they are far stronger than 5 years ago. They’ve just smacked the Boks and Oz, unheard of before, and basically beat all SA sides in the super rugby conference.

    They probably read this article and wonder who gives a flying fk about our banana scrum when we’ve move onto the point where we can decimate any side in world right on attack and take out all the big guns.

  7. @cab: “Banana scrum” I think Pumas can do well in WC – can surely beat all of Northern teams easily (apart from maybe Ireland?), and can demolish Boks and Oz on the odd day. Will be good to see what progress they make end-of-year on Northern hemisphere fields.

  8. Argentinians have a history of being competitive come RWC time… two semi’s and two quarters in the last 5 outings…

    That doesn’t change the fact they got hammered this year and last by all the Northern Hemisphere teams, bar Georgia and Italy… even at home… and the only teams of note they have beaten have been the Boks and Australia, who have been at their lowest rankings in the history of the game, with a current shoddy 20% win rate.

    We’ll see how they go in their second attempt at Scotland this time away and France/Ireland.

  9. @bryce_in_oz: Fortunately he was not in charge for too long! To be fair, his challenge was to take us out of the dark ages in terms of skill – remember when team was not allowed to kick any ball and nearly lost (against Pumas?).
    We certainly had a few interesting coaches since 1995. For example, I rated Markgraaff (same mould as Stonehouse I guess), but the job was too big for him. Did he not make the mistake of having Evil Keo as his communication guru
    Straulli also failed, and could not adjust to the politics of the day. He turned out to be an amazing administrator in the end – should actually try and get a job in the UK, but we do not have such roles really.
    Jury is still out on Carel – would we have seen more results like his last, or was he just lucky? he is certainly a great person and I had some personal experience of his training and skill set when at university – amazing!

  10. @Bekke:

    Haha yes… it was that ‘zero kicking’ game-plan I was referring to above with Harry.

    Straueli had to fix that mess and perhaps might have had another year had it not been a RWC year I reckon. He was starting to assemble a decent looking young squad.

    I agree on Markgraaf… he looked the goods… a slip of the tongue in a recorded private conversation (albeit pretty dodgy) was his executioner… and I think Du Plessis might have been a bit hard done by… although clearly they’re judged on their BIL tour just as much as a RWC.


    I feel it is my duty to bombard Cabbo with cold hard facts whenst he’s steering of course…

  11. I just wanted to add… if we’re sitting on around 52% and another 1/4 final exit come 2019… will Erasmus be judged as Straueli was over the same period of two years?

  12. Argentina 2007, ranked 3rd, 83% win rate…
    Argentina 2017/8, ranked 9th, 20% win rate…

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