Home #LoveRugby England now a better rugby nation than South Africa?

England now a better rugby nation than South Africa?


Benedict Chanakira wrote a piece earlier this year a which makes a lot of sense now, after a disastrous year for Springboks and South African rugby. In a time were everyone wants answers on all the questions, maybe it is time to focus on the basics first.

Here is the piece Benedict wrote…


Are England now a better rugby nation than South Africa? by Benedict Chanakira

Results in the last few weeks have further confirmed the answer to this question is yes. South Africa has regressed and more so in the junior sector than anywhere else. While the edge may be evident at under 18 level. The under 20 sides have become woeful. England have been the best team in the Junior World Cups for four years now. Winning two, finishing runners up in one and now competing for another title. Put simply, this England side has been in the last four finals. Sound structures. The reality is that, the systems Stuart Lancaster played a hand in putting are finally reaping the rewards.

England has one of the best, if not the best junior to senior pathways in World Rugby. No team in the world is able to brag about youngsters that come through the junior age groups and getting capped at senior level. New Zealand and Argentina would no doubt give them a push in this department. The Saxons came to South Africa and beat the SA ‘A’ side 2-0 in the recently concluded series. I won’t even dive into the side Eddie Jones is currently building. The alarm bells not quite ringing yet?

Dawie Theron has failed to select squads that will fully express and show, just how good South Africa is. In the initial squad, there was a surprising selection of just six players from the Eastern Province under 19 Currie Cup winning side. The tournament result has been dire and something has to change, unless, maybe South Africa is just not good enough anymore? Which is not true.

Lessons from the England tournament? The ability to combine experience, skill, size and execution. The England Under 20 side played better and the way they breezed past South Africa was bemusing and effortless.

South Africa can’t genuinely say they selected the best side for this tournament. Those young men, with all due respect are not the best South Africa can offer. The selection process needs to be reviewed. The omission of the under 19 Currie Cup top try scorer Leopards’ Zweli Silaule was a surprise. The lack of tighthead props who could scrum was shocking. One would realise South Africa’s scrum looked weaker than that of England, Argentina, Georgia and Ireland to say the least.

The all northern hemisphere final casts a dagger into the thought the southern hemisphere are still the kings. They are not at junior level anymore. The tide has turned as England and Ireland have proven. The gap in the juniors and seniors was evident to have closed even at the 2015 RWC.

The under 20 Six Nations allowed coaches to work out combinations, conditioning and see whether players would be up for it. Wales and England’s campaigns couldn’t have been more deceiving with the champions Wales getting dismantled by New Zealand and the English who lost four of their five games making it to the final.

It’s time the U20’s down south feature in some form of competition to prepare for the rigorous Junior World Cup. Next season the tournament will be hosted by the fast improving Georgians who are making strides in the game.

The players’ inability to execute simple passing in a short space when attacking with 3 against 1 was a sad sight. The days of outmuscling sides are long gone. This is not the Flintstone age. This is the Jetsons’ era and unless our players become upskilled and not over reliant on their size we will continue to see tournaments like this, were South Africa fall short constantly.

Are there any positives from this? More than two-thirds of the squad will be back next season as they will still be eligible. One would have thought that the victory of the Eastern Province under 19 would have sent a strong message about skill and size being combined. The EP side beat all that was before them and played with such intensity and hunger they sent shockwaves down the spines of their opponents.

Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward and Junior Pokomela to mention a few youngsters who showed they have what it takes to wear the Springboks jersey in the years to come. A mind-set shift is needed, or South Africa will make it a norm to perform poorly at the tournament.

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  1. And how I gave you shit on this piece Bennie? I am ashamed How this is so true now.

    I believe you are the new Siener Van Resburg

  2. And aren’t Georgia looking damn good this year (Scottish game aside)… put them in the 6N and see them take that next step up…

  3. England got a v ordinary set of players. I’d say itoje Lawes Strickler (new prop) and brown (poephol deluxe) are the only talented players and the imported vunipola Bros (who basically give them all their go-forward).

    The difference is the coach and bit what a difference that is. From the get-go. Didn’t blame structures of Indaba or the rotten state of Denmark for the woes of English rugby – just produced immediate results.

    Same players, different gameplan, gave them all confidence.

  4. @Craven: Great guy hey, we spoke to him here last year on RuggaWorld. Bullish man. They want a chance. WR need to give them a fixture that will be played in Georgia. They fill up stadiums and wil be a challenge to other sides.

    @cab: three sets of their centres would make the Bok side. We lost to a side of theirs that was missing 6 starters.
    12 game unbeaten run. SA last did that in early 2000s.
    England u20 has cleaned every Bok u20 side since 2013. They are the farthest thing from average.

  5. @Benedict Chanakira:

    BC – Have to disagree on the centres, but respect your opinion. I wouldn’t have any of the English centres over any of De Allende, Serfontein, Janse, Venter or Kriel.
    Throw money and professional coaches at any sport and you going to get excellent in v short space of time, same as their Olympics success, same for rugby. But throw the same resources SA rugby way, and they will leave England and new Zealand in the dust. You cant compete at the top when you being hamstrung by dummies at the top. They don’t have the natural talent of the kiwis, boks or aussies – its not in their DNA, too much old world culture, too staid and predictable by nature. But no argument, the current Boks are the most unimaginative team on the planet. Terrible.

  6. @cab: I hear you. DDA vs Farrell. JJ/Daly (Who skinned us)/Slade vs Kriel/Mapoe/JdJ/Venter.

    Will take something from these Boks even when they coached by the best. Rohan who is beautiful battled in D too.
    2017 it is boys!!

  7. U20 not a good measure, leaving aside the resources, we’ve lost most our talent by then. U18 a better measure, but the others still have more resources.

    SA don’t have the club systems or welfare system or sport sponsorship grants for young south Africans to risk a career in rugby. In SA unless you playing craven week, and got a wealthy ma and pa to rely on, most have to take the safe option and knuckle down for a job after leaving school, no cushy existence.

    But our biggest problem is the dunces that coach our national and super rugby teams. That is where precious Rand should be directed towards, not a 4-year contract plan for another dunce south African coach who is stuck back in currie cup, ou doos, style rugby. Look how the kiwis coaches have raised both Ireland and wales. Ireland are now beating the kiwis. We klapped Wales by a cricket score 96-1 or something before they got gatland.

  8. @cab: u18 steps up to under 20. This step up has failed miserably for SA. Record is evident. From u20 you have players stepping up to Test level . Up until start of 2015 – only 10 % and less layers played CC and SR from the juniors. Teams basically recycled old players like bring JOe P by the Sharks or keeping the Matfields.

    Wales for their win over Boks are kak though. Ask any Welsh fan. Gats sucks and thats since 2015.

  9. @Benedict Chanakira:
    yes, v much agree, reckon that step-up between u18 and u20 is one of biggest problems, but that’s pretty intractable given state of SA economy. SA got to focus their resources and get most bang for their buck and need to invest in foreign coaches that can bring in new ideas to permeate through the country, if nothing else. That can be done without massive investment. Mitchell would’ve revolutionised and super-charged the Springbok.

  10. But England couldn’t get it done with Stu Lancaster.
    Besides being renowned as a structures & all around good dude ( besides being a BC fave ).
    It took Eddie to motivate & inpassion the crew Stu put together.
    I don’t think KK can do either.
    So my vote is for Stonehouse of Ackerman to be next SA coach.
    I would like a coach that looks like he works out. Both Stonehouse & Ackerman look like that & KK looks like he only works out plates of chicken enchiladas.
    Enough already SARU. Cut those ties & lets get going on a 2017 of GLORY

  11. England have some of the best structures in the world, accompanied by a strong pound, this gives them a definite edge in the professional era. So yes they are a better rugby team.

    Hard work always beats talent. We might have the talent to start with, but our work ethic and coaching is really poor. Our best young talent head overseas and let’s be honest, even if we stop picking overseas based players, the Bok jersey doesn’t trump money in the bank anymore. It is a sad but true fact. The Boks need some magic and good administration. That would save our lot. Growing up, my biggest dream was running out for the Boks, sadly, my son doesn’t have that dream. The Boks are no longer the stuff of legend. The only legend left, is that at one time we were world beaters.

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