So the international rugby season is a thing of the past for now, as the Springboks get a well-earned two weeks at home before jetting off to the UK for the end-of-year tour.
I really feel for these guys having to quarantine and then staying in lockdown all over the world, not being able to spend time with their families.
Yes, it is their job and they get paid handsomely to do it, not to mention the “fame” that goes with it, but still – die mense is mense and you can’t look past that.
While I feel for the manne on a personal level, they still have a job to do between the four white lines. So what are the things that we’ve learned over the last few Test matches?
Here I highlight some takeaways from the Rugby Championship.
THE Boks will not bend in terms of their tactics.
While there is some wiggle room, fans must make peace with the fact that the team prides itself on its ability to win the aerial contest and their set pieces.
Coach Jacques Nienaber explained that they will also attack space – if the space is in front of them, they will carry the ball, if it’s on the wings they will play it wide and if it’s at the back of the line they will kick.
It’s good that he talks about these tactics and we saw some evidence of their willingness to keep the ball in hand in the final match against the All Blacks.
However, the Springboks will need to add more variety to their game and maybe that has to do with rotating their squad a bit more.
In terms of tactics, I’d give them a 7/10. That’s 100 percent for Plan A, which I believe is a good one. But I still want to see more evidence of a backup plan.
FRINGE players were given a run against Argentina and passed the test, but then they were limited to being tourists in Australasia.
The problem I have with squad depth is that we are not using our ready-made replacements effectively.
A number two is there to keep number one on his toes and while you back a player, you need to keep him motivated to deliver his best.
I think the Bok management team fell short in this department.
Evidence of this was visible in last week’s win over New Zealand when Elton Jantjies provided the oomph the Boks needed to get the gees going again.
Even heroes have an off-day and if they have two, then give them some time off. Handre Pollard would probably have benefitted from being rotated with Jantjies. And the same goes for Frans Steyn and Willie le Roux.
We’re not trusting our backup players enough and, personally, I think No.9 Cobus Reinach and flank Marco van Staden should have had more game.
SENIOR MANNE 6/10
SIYA Kolisi went from strength to strength in the Rugby Championship and had his two best games against the All Blacks in the last two weeks. Before that, the captain wasn’t hot at all.
Duane Vermeulen won the Man of the Match award against the Kiwis last week, meaning these guys still make their stemme dik when it matters.
Pollard, as mentioned struggled, while Eben Etzebeth did his bit. I don’t understand what the story is with Steven Kitshoff, who I believe can play more than 40 minutes of rugby but gets swapped with whoever the coaches feel should play at loosehead at any given time.
My big concern is the next-in-liners.
Among the backs, Faf de Klerk struggled at times, and so did Willie le Roux, while Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am were solid throughout.
NIENABER was thrown into the deep with Rassie Erasmus in South Africa during their tour of Australasia.
He was drowning at one stage following three defeats on the trot, until the All Blacks’ threw him a life jacket in the last match.
Is he the man to take the Springboks forward?
There is a video on social media showing Rassie Erasmus celebrating the Boks’ win over New Zealand in sy slaap broekie with a beer next to his computer – an eight-second video.
In the video, he screams at his laptop “wat gaan aan?”, before looking at the TV – which I reckon was delayed after the reactions he saw on his laptop – and then jumping for joy.
Nou kyk hier. This is my theory.
I reckon Rassie was on some sort of Zoom call or whatever with whoever Down Under.
While watching the game on TV in South Africa – and this is purely my view – it looks like he still had contact with the Bok management team. I could be wrong, but it looks like that in the video.
Let’s say I’m right and it was him giving instructions to whatever from SA, then Nienaber’s problems are bigger than I thought.
What would have happened if Rassie’s internet dropped him? Or Zoom or Microsoft Teams pulled a Facebook and Whatsapp crash like earlier this week?
Anyway, I could be wrong and it might just have been some mates watching the game together virtually. Still, I’m not convinced that Nienaber is the man in charge.