Home RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 Nothing wrong with Bok rugby – Jake

Nothing wrong with Bok rugby – Jake


The lyrics of Sam Cooke’s song, What A Wonderful World, really summarise what happened in Wellington on Saturday.

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

writes Jake White for All Out Rugby

There was a lot of history between the Springboks and All Blacks going into Saturday’s Test and people were worried about that rich rivalry being lost because of South Africa’s poor results over the past four seasons.

The second verse of that song ends with “but I do know that one and one is two”. I highlight that because isn’t it lovely to win? Suddenly the nation is much more buoyant compared to how we felt after losing against Australia. And the reason is because the number is 36-34 this week. It’s the only number that counts.

You have to play every Test to get more points than the opposition. The stats have been a major talking point after the match, with New Zealand controlling most of the possession, but those numbers are meaningless because we got 36-34.

Rugby is one of the only games in the world where you can win without the ball, where you don’t need possession to win. Historically, South Africa have done that more times than the other way round.

If you go back to the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final loss against Australia, we had 75% territory and possession, and afterwards Bok fans said Bryce Lawrence was to blame for the result.

So when the stats were weighted ‘towards’ us, we said it was unfair that we had lost. But the feeling this week is that those stats don’t matter because we beat the All Blacks. And that’s because 36-34 is the only number that counts.

That’s why you have to find a way to win every weekend, and to do that you have to find a style that suits you. Every South African enjoyed that Test match, including the players, because that style suits us. The actual grit and determination, sticking together, and fighting on our tryline epitomizes Springbok rugby.

Bok fans must come to accept the fact that this is how you win Test matches.

In the eight playoff matches (including the 3rd/4th place playoff) at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, seven were won by the team with less possession. A lot of people talk about ‘the modern game’ but the truth is that you win Test matches without the ball.

The uniqueness of rugby (as opposed to soccer, for example) is that the drop-off in quality between the No. 1 team and the No. 15 team is massive.

Supporters get seduced into thinking that you have to have the ball and take it through 20 phases. That’s true when strong teams play weak teams, but the stats from those Tests distort the numbers.

When the Wellington Test was on the line in the last 20 minutes, New Zealand didn’t increase the width of their attack, they reverted to direct rugby and mauling. ‘Even’ the All Blacks went to that direct attack, but fans say it’s boring when the Boks do it.

Traditionally, South African kids can tackle and our players enjoy defending. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Somebody once asked Doc Craven who the most important person in the team is and he said, “the tighthead prop.” The follow-up question was who is the second-most important player: “the reserve tighthead prop.”

As much as things change they’ll always stay the same. We were down 12-0 and we tackled our way to a 36-34 comeback win.

Well done Boks for doing everything you had to do to win that Test. Now the challenge is to bottle that amazing performance and keep producing those wins.

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  1. “Every South African enjoyed that Test match, including the players, because that style suits us. The actual grit and determination, sticking together, and fighting on our tryline epitomizes Springbok rugby”

    I agree with this. Pity our coaches don’t so there is plenty wrong with our rugby

  2. Bullshit article. Grit is v important, but it definitely should not be the style of rugby we should embrace, which was the main problem with JW’s teams.

    You need to score tries. 80% possession means you will win 4 out of 5 games, and give you 1 win every decade in New Zealand.

    This is not what the Boks must aim for, not aim to live off scraps. You first need belief by winning but then you need to take it to the next level and dictate play which is where NZ is at.

  3. The talent of this team can dictate play – to want anything less is unimaginative useless loser thinking.

    Yes defense is important, but attack is just as important maybe more so. You need to score tries to beat Nz.

  4. JW is good coach to get back to the basics and ws what Boks needed, but he’s not a great coach who can give 75% + – this is where Boks should be at.

    Boks have needed to front it wins after the shitarse spells by Coetzee but I’m hoping Rassie got a little more of mallet and even more originality – show us the disco lights ffs.

    Boks need to go beyond and take rightful place at no 1.

  5. @cab: Actually teams with less possession and tackle more win more test these days Cab

    Aussies v Pumas = Pumas 44% Ball Aussies 56%, Pumas made 119 tackles Aussies 89.
    In the NZ v Pumas game = Pumas 137 tackles and NZ 176 tackles were Pumas had 55% ball and NZ only 45 %

    It is the team that makes the less mistakes that win most test matches. Off-course when you play lesser teams the dynamics change in that aspect, these seems to be the trend for most of the test matches between top8 teams in world.

    NZ have been one of the only teams that sometimes change these stats.

    I know the defensive stats of Boks were great against NZ but if one look at the actual ball in play for Boks and we still scored 5 tries then you understand the great win.

    Two tries came of mistakes by NZ but those mistakes was put on them by proper defence, first Willie never say die attitude and second try from Kolbe was due to pressure from defence.

  6. It’s always a combination of [good aggressive defence, including rush] + [skills to score points from the pressure, via tries or kicks]. JW has been great with that, and we did score some great tries under him as well. Same tactic followed by Hak Hak – but with wrong (over-the-hill) personnel. Actually the ABs tried the “run everything” tactic Saturday – with expected results (but only just!!!). Rassie’s challenge is to up our skills to (kick better out of hand) and (take our scoring opportunities).

  7. Ja Jacques I understand why a win at any costs was needed. But we’ve tried to play without the ball , kicking it away, for too long now – and Bok rugby has gone downhill fast.

    No problem with Rassie first getting Boks back to basics, but what we really need is a maverick coach to take Boks to NZ level and then above. That consistency in winning, 75% does not come from living off scraps imo.

  8. @cab: Well NZ kick more have less ball but still win due to mostly turnover tries.

    Their skills is off-course from another world but they play with less more

    Week 2…… Aus v NZ = NZ tackles 153 Aus 139, NZ ball 48% Aus 52 % then Pumas v Bokke = Pumas 169 tacles Bokke 90, Pumas ball 39% Bokke 61 %

    Week 1 ….Aus and NZ were close on both stats as well as Bokke v Pumas in Durban

    The thing is not kicking too much is kicking with purpose which we failed with HM, AC and with Rassie in some test. Test match is not SR it is much closer and most results comes of mistakes and the team that makes the less mistakes win most of the time NZ included, they just do it more than other

    Defence have become the key to winning test matches. Not saying you should not develop attack we have made at least some improvement this year in scoring tries.

    To sum up….these days the team that kicks more, defend more and have less ball win test. There are always the exception but that is the trend.

    The skills come into play for players to see the opportunities when you do turn ball over in rucks, scrums, lineouts, tackles or kicks.

    This is what has made NZ so good for more than 10 years.

    Against lesser teams this change as I mentioned.

    Saturday test was the extreme….normally the possession is a split of 10 to 15% and tackles between 20-30 tackles at most.

  9. In fact the Springboks have played this way all year the difference Saturday was that we took opportunities and scored of it. Normally we would stuff that up and loose by 20 points

  10. Jacques – I guess it depends on the quality of the ball but rather than the stats I’d want to see the Boks dominating.

    With our dominant forward pack and small backline, dunno why we want to defend. If the kiwis don’t have the ball, they can’t hurt you. If the other team knows you going to takr it to them, they are nervous – whereas if they know you just going to kick it back to them, it’s not taking the initiative. It’s relying on the other team to make mistakes, rather than backing your own abilities.

    That’s the Difference between ABs (80%) and the rest (50%) imo. I’m hoping Rassie is more than JW.

  11. @cab: I don’t think we INTENTIONALLY gave them the ball on Saturday – apart from a few crap box kicks from Faf. The ABs were just better than us to get turnovers and control the ball. So I do not think we can praise Rassie yet on a new “game plan”? What we DID do on Saturday was (1) better organized defence, (2) rush defence / line speed, (3) better set play in scrums and lineouts, (4) far more ball went through the hands of the backline (rather than locks standing at flyhalve).

  12. Bekke – ja think alot of truth to what you say, but i’m hoping Rassie is more than JW in letting the oppo play with the ball. I like it that Swys was involved, which suggests to me that the erasmus wants to attack, as well as defend, better.

  13. I reckon Jacques Nienaber still cannot wipe the smile from his face after Saturday. This is his type of rugby to a tee.

  14. @Craven:

    Jacque ‘Nee-wat’ber is still filthy… ‘gees’ defence that was… saved by some unlikely character’s (like Kriel’s) experience… 39 missed tackles and a lot of clue-less-ness on top of behemoth ‘gees’… I doubt he would want to see that again…

  15. @bryce_in_oz:

    Don’t agree. Yes there were missed tackles, but overall it was a very good defensive display from the Boks:

    – 291 Tackles made (34 missed)
    – 91% Tackle completion
    – 39 Dominant tackles
    – 9 Tackle turnovers

    I know it hurts your past narrative to give credit where it is due and to admit the Boks actually did something good on Saturday and did not just “luck” into a win against the AllBlacks (at home no less).

    But really Bryce, you are starting to come across a bit bitter that the Boks actually beat the world conquering ABs in their own back yard.

    I know this does not fix the myriad of problems with SA Rugby, but for two hours on Saturday the Boks stood up to be counted and went toe-to-toe with the old foe in a way we had been hoping they would for years now. An acknowledgement of the fact surely is not a bad thing?

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