Broken Bokke

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November 14, 2016
Broken Bokke

FIRST-TIME BOK: Francios Venter made his debut

Coetzee's charges again fail to inspire the nation

South African rugby has held an Indaba before the departure of the Springboks to the UK to address the on-field issues faced by the national team.

But no evidence of progress and solutions were found in Saturday’s 37-21 defeat to England at Twickenham.

Apart from the first quarter of the match, the Springboks were atrocious, clueless, boring and heartbreaking to watch.

Unacceptable

The defeat has now brought Allister Coetzee’s 2016 scoreboard to four wins out of 10 – a 40 percent record that is unacceptable for a team that wants to challenge the best in the world.

What is even more concerning, though, is that the Springboks have not showed any signs of improvement under Coetzee.

Here we take a closer look at what went down on Saturday.

Boring backs

The Springboks’ backline never looked like threatening England.

And this has been the case throughout the year.

If new assistant coach Franco Smith was brought in to help Mzwandile Stick sharpen up the skills and give the boys a bit more flair, then he still has a lot of work to do.

Flyhalf Pat Lambie does not attack the line hard enough and also lacks the ability to bring those around him into play.

When Johan Goosen took the field, he immediately made an impact as they looked a little more threatening on attack.

But the Boks’ obsession with setting up multiple rucks with their forwards first and then try to take the ball out wide is too predictable, and perhaps a frustration for the outside backs who hardly ever get their hands on the ball with room to move in.

Turnovers

Every time the Springboks had the ball for a good spell, you just knew somehow England was going to turn the ball over.

Yes, Coetzee’s men lacked a genuine fetcher, but they then had to win the collisions on the day to win that battle.

It didn’t happen and they conceded no less than nine turnovers.

South African rugby needs a specialist breakdown coach or academy, because this is something that is lacking throughout the country.

Kicking game and receives

JP Petersen and Willie le Roux made some crucial errors in the air – with the one miss from Petersen leading to a Courtney Lawes try.

The Boks knew this was a tactic that the English were going to use and went for the big wings to try and counter it.

At times, Le Roux did well at the back.

Problem is, South Africa were the architects of this sort of game and somehow they are now falling behind when it is being used against them.

Then, if your team only has 46 percent of the possession in a game that you are chasing, it should be obvious to all that you should then try to hold onto the ball.

Not the Boks, they are so rigid in their approach to the game that every single ball has to be kicked according to plan, regardless of the circumstances.

England dominated the match and it’s understandable that they made 37 kicks compared to South Africa’s 33.

But if you have to chase a game, you can’t afford to kick away possession.

Flat footed and handling errors

The Springboks made a total of 18 handling errors to England’s 12.

Given the fact that the Boks made less passes than England (138 to 148), it is clear that basic skills let them down in the encounter.

One of the real problems is that players, especially forwards, often get the ball from a standing start.

Opposition teams then line up these ball carriers and they often spill the ball in contact.

It’s a tactic Coetzee likes to use. But it’s a tactic we would like him to lose.

The ball carriers simply don’t run onto the ball anymore and that’s unforgiveable if you want to play expansive rugby.

Defence

This is an area the Springboks simply can’t seem to get right under Coetzee.

On Saturday, England scrumhalf Ben Youngs had a field day around the fringes, where Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts proved to be too slow.

For their first try, England sucked in the Boks’ backline with the greatest of ease, with debutant Francois Venter hitting up and leaving space down the right touchline for England to attack.

Furthermore, the Boks also missed a number of first-time tackles – they missed 17 tackles in total.

Passion

The team looks defeated and disinterested. It is perhaps to do with the fact that they have a leader that no longer wants to play international rugby.

With Adriaan Strauss still in the team, the Boks won’t go forward.

They are stuck in the past. And the coach needs to let him go in order for the Boks to take a step forward.

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