Bok fans, buckle up!

Brenden Nel

If the warning lights in Rassie Erasmus’ coaching box were flickering prior to the trip to Argentina, the Springboks’ poor performance in Mendoza certainly has them burning brightly as a potentially disastrous Australasian tour looms.

The Boks have flattered to deceive all too often over the past few seasons. Strong at home, where conditions and a home crowd tend to suit them, they have looked decent and have won games despite being under the pump.

But away from home the wheels have come off. Since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the Boks’ record away from home has been abysmal – they have won three games, drawn one and lost 11 Test matches, including some record defeats under the watch of Allister Coetzee.

It is with a sense of impending doom, rather than optimism, that the Boks leave these shores, and Saturday’s defeat in Mendoza – a game that was supposed to lift the mood of the nation – has firmly seen Erasmus’ honeymoon as coach ended by an inept performance that the coach himself called “embarrassing.”

But if you look a bit deeper, the roots of the defeat were there for all too see, masked by the fact that the Boks got away with much earlier this season. The warning lights have been flickering for a long while.

There were some howls of disbelief when I published a column on this website a few weeks back intimating that Erasmus was setting Bok fans up for a big fall when they face the All Blacks in Wellington. The results and performances of both teams over the past weekend have entrench my belief.

The All Blacks, with the sublime performance of Beauden Barrett standing out, are looking more unbeatable than ever, while the Boks seem to have struggled to shake off their demons, even though the vibe has been a lot more positive under Erasmus thus far.

The Boks’ problems have been compounded by their inexplicable belief that they should attack at all costs, and without this system being perfected, mistakes have been punished systematically. They had 61-percent possession and forced the Pumas to make almost 150 tackles.

In South Africa, they were able to pull the game back thanks to crowd support and a strong finish, but on Saturday at the Estadio Malvinias Argentinas, their first-half lull was deadly, and they never recovered.

This performance was on par with the loss to England in Cape Town, but at least there conditions played a factor. On Saturday it was all the Boks’ own doing.

Earlier this season, the Boks twice made slow starts against England but surged back to win, and were then outplayed at Newlands in the rain. In Durban last week, they fell 14-3 behind as Argentina punished mistakes.

Not only has the kicking performances of Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies been under the spotlight since Erasmus has taken over, but the Boks seem to be following the Lions mantra of shunning kicks at goal, especially when they are behind.

Test rugby teaches many lessons, not the least to “build an innings” on the scoreboard – a tactic that the Boks seem unwilling, or unable to follow. And defence, a hallmark of Jacques Nienaber’s role over the years under Erasmus, has been found wanting.

To Erasmus’ credit, he has been trying to expand the base by giving untried players experience and has been backing a formula of experience in the pack to lay the basis for this. On Saturday, it was exposed cruelly as the Bok backline looked out of shape and devoid of attacking penetration. The time has come for a more pragmatic approach.

For one, the Bok spine hasn’t been operating as a unit. While much has been focused on Handre Pollard’s performance (and he does seem to have a confidence dilemma), Malcolm Marx and Warren Whiteley failed to impress in Mendoza, Faf de Klerk operated in spurts and Willie le Roux’s disappearing act on defence only made things worse.

The blunt approach in Mendoza failed against a pack that pushed the limits and got away with it. Against Australia, currently in disarray, the Boks have a poor away record.  Experimentation may have been Erasmus’ plan, but now pragmatism is needed more than ever.

The spine needs to fire again, and the Boks need to learn how to build an innings. The first-half blowouts will be more costly than ever in Australasia if they reoccur and the selection needs to be right. Having four players in the backline with less than five caps will be disastrous against the All Blacks.

The one thing that Erasmus can’t afford right now is a bad tour – Allister Coetzee found out an unbeaten run meant nothing in the aftermath of a record 57-0 drubbing at the hands of the All Blacks. Erasmus is astute enough to know the same.

Mendoza exposed the flaws this Bok team has been hiding for some time now. Unless the cracks are fixed before the Brisbane Test, this tour could become a nightmare for Bok supporters.

- Brenden Nel

Let's chat

  • Wesley

    I agree on most points with you on this Brenden, but the one line I have seen cropping up on every pundit and news site over the past months, to my irritation, is: “Having four players in the backline with less than five caps will be disastrous against the All Blacks.” Who else are we to employ in those positions Brenden? Are you perhaps in possession of a time machine where we could quickly rack up 20 caps for all those lacking before they head to NZ? Those inexperienced players are not the ones in firing line in my opinion. They have done very well to date, playing heart and fire for that jersey. Some of the more seasoned have faltered more than those, and should be placed under an intense inspection over the next week of where they are in terms of producing the goods. It is the Malherbes, the Pollards, the Mtawariras, the Kolisis, men with 20 – 100 caps that are failing in their duties as the spine of the team, some of which undeservedly but due to Bok contracts and some favoritism, get placed in the team, no matter how unfit or unconditioned they are to play a full 60-80min of rugby. Looking hard at Malherbe in this instance. I don’t care how “class” you are. If you have not done tiddly squat to boost or impact on any game you have played in the last 2 seasons, you don’t deserve to be there. But rather we focus on some minor aspect of the newcomer that needs rectifying if the Boks are to perform, instead of the weak hangers-on that seems to fly under the radar of scrutiny week in and week out. Time to call on those players to get there stuff in order, and quick, or GTFO.

    • Dean

      Even leadership on the field cannot plug the holes in that defense. It takes awareness to know when to drift and when to push up quickly. It also takes discipline to keep that defensive line watertight. Something which we have failed to do in all the Tests so far this year. We have in the past always had a few guys who were in charge of organizing the defensive line. Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers and Fourie du Preez come to mind. Perhaps Frans Steyn at 12 and Duane Vermeulen and 8 can help bring that. Marx’s lineout throwing is not of an international hooker. Bring Bismarck in to mentor him. Bismarck would also be a great option coming off the bench if Marx is throwing all over the place.

    • Barry Smith

      Agreed in the most. Etzebeth’s thuggery, deserves particular mention, as does Whiteley and louws anmonanimity and Marx throwing issues. Though I do not agree with your Beast comment! He managed a Scrum penalty, whilst Malherbe was going backwards! Between Beast and Kitshoff we can tick the one box!
      More so your views on the Backline are spot on! They were electrifying in the first test. The only difference is that performance of the forwards!

      • John Comyn

        ” Etzebeth’s thuggery” ! Bit harsh I’d say. Slowing down the ball or killing it on the ground is a misdemeanour for which he (rightly) got a yellow card. (which the ref was oblivious of where the Argies were concerned) Here is the definition of the word thuggery “violent behaviour, especially of a criminal nature”. There is no defending the performance but lets keep it real.

    • Greg Shark

      Too true Wesley. I’ve said in recent column comments that Malherbe is too unfit and somewhat lazy and does not deserve his place. The loose trio is so unbalanced that it exhibits the motion of a car tyre without lead balance! Kolisi and Whitely are far too similar and apparently light weight to be occupying their roles. Du Toit to play 7? Never, he’s a lock and should stay there it being all to clear how often the ‘smaller’ players just dance past him on attack. He’s good when the play is structured close to rucks because he doesn’t have to exhibit the necessary speed to close gaps.
      For goodness sake get a 9 cover – Reinach has shown good form in Europe. A replacement 10 who has silky skills, at least half a brain and a good boot is the next big need…… get Lambie back from Europe, pronto. I don’t think Willemse is the answer and by same token maybe Du Preez is also not. The Boks need seasoned players to guide the new boys, just having an average SR season in poor teams makes not a great future Bok 10. The words ‘gifted’, ‘talented’ and the like are bandied about far too easily!

  • SweetAz

    Lol, South African rugby is like Groundhog Day,–every friggin year its the same story. I will repeat what I said a while ago and got crucified for.

    We have 2 or 3 players who MAY make the AB’s bench,—not run on team. We have no continuity, no combinations, no captain worthy of the name and seemingly no plan,—–yet some people still believe we can beat them.ROFLMFAO.

    The Arsetralians we may have a chance if luck and the ref is on our side, and Pocock gets injured, and Genia has an off day, and Foley misses all his kicks, and Beale slips in the shower.—-and the game is at Ellispark.

    • Wesley

      Arsetralians… Haha classic! Does that mean looking at the bleak outlook of the Boks, that they will be handing our arses to us come the 8th of Sept?

      • SweetAz

        Probably, after the Blediswoe they will be desperate.—–And their players, for the most part, are cleverer than ours. That’s really how Argentina beat us, –they played to the ref, slowed the ball down and targeted weak defenders. The Arsies will do the same.
        The Boks were too busy trying to play Herman and Swys’s LIONS rugby to notice and before you knew it the TEST was over.

  • Al

    My 2 cents worth

    1.The team has forgotten how to win and get motivated when they are in a foreign environment and
    2. Until SARU structures are changed at provincial level this will be the new norm in our rugby across the board – having lived in Ireland and seen how the changes they brought about in their structures and administration have benefitted and strengthened their rugby from kids all the way to the national team I can only hope that somehow someone who is strong can lead South Africa back to the top table. However unfortunately it seems unlikeley as we have become a nation where its easier to blame each other, the ref, the coach, the players, Quotas etc. instead of addressing the core problem. fact is right now we dont have the resources to compete

    • SweetAz

      Also in Ireland there is no danger of the government expropriating all the rugby fields without compensation. Already we are reading that rugby was stolen by the Colonialists and need to be returned,—–or at least 50% of it,- for now.

  • boyo

    Lets not panic! Its going to take a long time to fix Bok rugby. We need to see Louw left out and a decent blindside bought in (kolisi back to 6). Proper cover for 9 on the bench and we can go from there. The backline is young but have looked decent and experience in the forwards didn’t help much on Saturday so there no guarantees that we can throw together an experienced backline and hope for better.

    • Barry Smith

      Yes, no panic. It’s sport we lost, but we underestimate the progress that the Pumas have made! They had a clean sweep in Australasia during Super Rugby. I am not sure any SA side has done that before. Forwards need some fixing, but given front Foot ball our back line is sharp!

      • Mike Stoop

        The Argentinians lost some 10 tests in a row before this one. They lost badly at home to Wales and Scotland in June. They will not win another test in the Rugby Championship this year. They will not win any matches in November either, unless they are playing Italy. They are not a good side. We are simply very poor. Stop whistling in the dark and face reality.

        Unless we pick our best side, especially in the tight forwards (where we do have the ability to dominate), we will lose more than we win. Our backline is just dumb and devoid of skill (defense is actually a skill as well). Our loose forwards are lightweight. As long as transformation is the main driver and not winning, we will not do well. This is not an opinion on the merits of any of the black players in the side, it is criticism of the focus of the side.

      • boyo

        Well said Barry this Argentine side isn’t as bad as we think and to describe losing to them as an embarrassment is an insult to them. We were slightly off and lost away to a good side. Lets see how we go over the next few games before anyone panics

  • Nick

    That blitz of tries by the argies just before and after the break took at least a decade off my life.
    Painful to watch. In terms of making space and using it the puma’s were the teachers.

    Can’t understand why pollard continually crabs and chucks these deep passes way behind the advantage line again and again. He either moers forward like a flank or turns his shoulders to the touch line, often static. You never see him get passes away on the advantage line.

    Does he play to a plan or choose to do this, or is it that he simply lacks the hands, feet or game sense to orchestrate an attack?

    • SweetAz

      The Argies had Graham Henry as an advisor and they have learnt the lessons well, —they are actually playing just like The AB’s now,——–even the offside cheating.

      • Burt

        Guys you can talk and give opinions as much as you want to(just a opinion)but as long as we don’t choose the right players in their positions and keep with them (no matter what race or colour)there cannot be a winning formula because in any team sport you have to build a relationship with your players with you and play together to understand each other and also give the National coach more power over the Provincial teams and coaches. As a previous guy mentioned there must not be interference from goverment.
        Stop living in the past and endeavour in the future and let us stop criticizing because after all we won the World Cup twice already.
        So we can do it lets stay positive.

  • Chris Mouton

    Don’t you just love the knee-jerk reaction from every pundit and fan after a Springbok loss? Suddenly the brilliant, though imperfect, win of last week is forgotten. Suddenly the coach is crap, suddenly the players are crap and suddenly we need help with all and sundry. We all knew that this is a young and inexperienced Bok-team. That was clear from the start. Many factors have led to that, and I won’t go into that seeing that it’s been discussed in length. In the end, this is what we have: A very young, talented group of players that need to perform well under a new coach. They need to somehow save the damage of years of negligence. Where’s the patience from the public? Where’s the belief? Allister had two years before he got axed, but you cannot give Rassie a chance to find his feet? Compare these Boks with the Boks from 2 years ago. Sure, the results aren’t there at the moment, but there’s been an improvement in general. Call me optimistic. At least I’m that.

    What happened on Saturday was bound to happen sometime. Argentina did relatively well during the Super Rugby. They had a 7-match winning streak, home and away. That coach is now the national coach. That Pumas team has been playing together for some time and on Saturday they played well. The Boks looked good for the 1st 20min or so and then there was an abysmal 15min where 3 tries were scored against them. The players didn’t put their money where their mouths were. They missed tackles, made forward passes, didn’t protect the ball, didn’t kick well, didn’t capitalise in the red zone and screwed up some line-outs. That’s where the players need to own up.

    As I did with Allister, I’ll give Rassie 2 years to get his systems in place. Until then I’ll support the Boks with everything I have. Someone has to show these players and coaches unwavering support.

    • Barry Smith

      I don’t have a thumbs up button, so here’s “thumbs up”!

    • Henry

      You’re a better man than I, Sir. Only a few games and the World Cup is upon us. If not in the Championship – minimum 2 wins against the Wallabies, and a good showing against the All Blacks, we might as well say we’re building again on the end of year tour.
      Those games must be approached with a 4/4 win mentality. Anything else/less is too ghastly to contemplate……

    • boyo

      You make a good point about Argentina having played well. This is no longer the amateur era, in the last few years the gap between the top sides and the lower down tier 1 and even some tier 2 nations has narrowed a lot.

      It was a shock when we lost to Argentina a few years back but they have now beat us three times. We have also lost to Japan who last year also drew with France. Scotland beat oz by nearly 30 point last year. Georgia beat Tonga this year. These shocks are happening more and more and its a bit arrogant to expect to beat Argentina easily in Argentina( the recent results where when the coach lost the dressing room and he was replaced). Ultimately we want a more competitive global game and we are getting there below the All blacks.

      • Chris Mouton

        Exactly. The main reason for this is that these teams are investing in experienced coaches, which levels the playing field somewhat. Personally I’d just like to see progress in the way the Boks play. It would be unrealistic to expect them to be world beaters. It takes time for systems to click. The All Blacks are an awesome team in every sense of the way. Look at their experience? They have 3 centurions in their forward pack. That’s massive.

        What I find interesting is that they have 4 games down under after another, with 3 home games after another. No real travelling to speak of. That short trip to Sydney is nothing compared to what the South Africans and Argentinians have to go through. One might even think that it’s a bit rigged, don’t you think?

        • SweetAz

          Of course its rigged, its been for years. The AB’s are seen as NZ’s national brand, just like the 100% Green slogan and nothing will be allowed to lessen their “mana”. The way World Rugby doesn’t just tell them to leave their Haka nonsense for home games is just one example.

        • John Comyn

          You hit the nail on the head. Experience is a huge factor. I doubt 11, 12, 13, 14 have 10 caps between them. With nobody calling the shots at the back it is no wonder their defense is being badly exposed. I think the most capped player in the side is Etzebeth and he’s 26 years old. They willknow they let the coach down and we can only hope they get better.

  • Piet Pynappel

    Totally vindicates my decision to switch off DSTV – now I can decide if I want to watch the high/low-lights based on the score and online commentary like here and hundred other sites!

  • Vossie

    It does seem a bit bleak at the moment, the boys were outplayed, and out muscled. Line outs were bad even with Franco back in the side, Marx was not firing and it was way to easy for the Argentinians to keep Marx and Flo of the ball, we did not win one turnover on Sat. Experience another issue, we simply don’t have it. Dont get me wrong, Dyanti and Mapimpi can become world class players, but that’s the problem, they could and we need it now. FFS why is Kitshoff not starting? When Wilco came on the scrum started to move forward by a mile, i mean if that’s not evidence enough i don’t know what is! As much as i like Warren Whitley he is just not suited for this team at the moment, we lacked the physicality with 3 light lose forwards, needing at least one big strong ball carrier. Pollard is a big concern, he clearly has a confidence problem, Jantjies is not the answer so we are a bit screwed here.

  • Peter Williams

    The author has missed a major point. We are trying to play attacking rugby but no attacking talent has been developed for years now. Our schools try and emulate the crash bash of our national team and so where talent is supposed to be developed and skills taught, we have nothing. You cannot suddenly become an attacking team. It is going to take years. The AB have enough fly halves to spare and we have none? What gives? Why? The answer is easy. The solution will take years.

    • Alastair Campbell

      ‘Our schools try to emulate the crash bash of our national team…” You’ve got things backwards mate. The problem starts in the schools, where crash and bash rugby is the standard diet.

      That said thecissue on Saturday wasn’t attacking rugby – not even Beauden Barrett is going to look as good when you are losing the collisions and the breakdown and scrums aren’t working. The problem on Saturday was the tight five and back row.

  • Al

    My biggest gripe is that if you go back 3-5 years and look at the talent that was coming through. Lambie, Pollard, Etzebeth, du Toit, Mvovo, de Allende, and many many more then compare them to the players they are now, are they better now then they were back then? I don’t think so, this speaks to lack of coaching, development and mentoring. We have wasted so much talent….who is responsible for that……

    • Dean

      Is it not on the players themselves too? Somebody awhile back said that the players, even after they become an All Black, are still practicing and refining their own individual skills. He mentioned that if Ben Smith for example, has a problem fielding high balls, he will have players kick 500 high balls onto him until he doesn’t drop a single one. There’s good reason why Julian Savea is no longer part of the All Black squad. He didn’t work on his shortcomings. I feel like players in SA don’t work as hard at their own game.

      • Al

        You are right – thats also where mentoring also comes into it, whose setting the right example for the youngsters on how to be a professional rugby player?

    • Gary Hendrickse

      I agree. Our star young players don’t progress to thr next level. It’s about coaching. I always use Ma Nunu as an example. Started as a young, strong and fast banger. He ended up as keeping all those attributes but becoming a master distributor. We should be doing that with Rohan Janse van Rensburg, just needs passing skills to become complete. Serfontein, we turned him into a banger when he has so much more to offer.

  • SweetAz

    Read this article to understand why AB rugby is successful.

    ACC is NZ accident compensation corperation,—-any accidental injury is covered, even professional rugby players getting injured, they are paid while they are injured and treatment is free,—-for everyone in NZ. Compare that to South Africa. Then imagine SARU talking to the ANC government asking it for money to keep top players from going overseas,—-I am sitting here laughing hysterically as I type this.

  • Nick

    Me too ‘sweetaz’. Thanks for the informative article. You may have noticed the other article on the same page expressing the point that the idea of the nz taxpayer helping to put more gold in Barrett and co’s pockets just won’t do. Obviously nz have other priorities to take care of.

    As a saffa expat I would have thought you would have a better understanding of the priorities in SA. To expect /suggest the government to ‘top up’ bok salaries with tax payers money considering the huge and urgent problems south africans have to deal with is sneering lying arrogant and ignorant.

    • SweetAz

      You totally miss the point mate, the point is in NZ rugby is taken seriously by everybody,-including the government doing whatever it takes to make sure their “brand” stays strong. The government invests in grassroots rugby,—in South Africa the government invests in nothing and then expects SARU to find “coloured” players dropping out of the sky into the National team,—geddit???

  • Nick

    ‘Sneering lying’ should read SNEERINGLY.

  • Rant

    The most glaring issue with Saturdays loss was the poor refereeing and the Boks not adapting. Creevy was having an absolute blast playing a spoiling off-side game. at least 2 of the Argentina tries should have been disallowed due to blocking by Creevy and co. but those things happen, specially against the Kiwis. What we needed was for Kolisi to step up and tell the ref and then the team to adjust and copy those tactics or find ways around them. The Boks just seemed to not have a plan b.

    I have seen comments about Pollard, but remember even the almighty Beauden Barrett was rubbish against the Saders when his forwards were being dominated. Though, having said that, I still think that Pollard would be better at 12 as he is not performing the role of a world class 10 at the moment. If only we had a good international fly half in SA.

    Yet the biggest issue in our losses this year have been the tendancy for our forwards to start the match asleep and then build into it. I blame the coach as he should not have travelled with those guys who hadn’t played in a while: Etzebeth and Malherbe. He really should have stuck with PSDT and RG Snyman as the locks, and brought Franco on in place of Whitely in the second half. As much as I like Whitely, he is too anonymous in international rugby, specially if we have Franco at lock when we need good cleaners to provide the quick ball.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Dear Mr Nel still beating the dom krag drum UI see, when will you ever learn. Your column picks out five names four of them Lions. How it irks you that the Lions once again showed up all the other pretenders in SR this year. People tell me I harp on about the Lions too much but your article once again proves your bias and why I fume at your lack of objectivity. Not a good trait if you claim to be a journalist.

    For example you say that the Boks started attacking without systems being put in place. Problem here is that you’re blaming the system when you should be blaming the players. We all know the Lions perfected the expansive game in SA and produced players that could play the high intensity stuff. But chosen for the Boks are players that are not instinctive expansive rugby players. And here’s why.

    Pollard ( Bulls ) , Am and Esterhuizen ( Sharks ) do not play high intensity rugby for their Franchises. How can you expect them to ‘turn it on’ in a test match environment with ‘all out attack’ as you call it ? They simply do not have the natural instincts. You are blaming the shortage of caps as a contributing factor but why were they then chosen ? We had Mapoe and Janse van Rensburg at the Lions the one is not chosen the other chased overseas. The Lions have the best fullback in the country with an ideal skill set for playing the tougher teams, but does not even get a look in. These players although not terribly experienced have three years of test rugby under their belts but the green horns get thrown in at the deep end and disappear.

    The same applies to the Pollard / Jantjies debate. If you want to play attacking rugby then there is only one flyhalf worthy of mention and that’s EJ. Pollard is a dom krag throwback and will never be able to cope with real attacking rugby. No doubt you are a fan Mr Nel.

    We must not kid ourselves and this where you get it wrong Mr Nel. Rassie never intended to play ‘attacking’ rugby at any stage this season. We have gone behind early in just about every test and were bailed out by two overseas players with the skill and vision each time to pull us through ie until the sawdust hit the fan last Saturday. Rassie’s game plan was always going to be dom krag no matter what he’s been saying. Problem is, like Heyneke Meyer, he will now see conservative rugby as the only way forward if only to keep the score down. Just like the NZ game at the WC where the close scoreline suggested the Boks pushed the AB’s. It wasn’t it was dom krag vs ‘attack’ and the latter won AGAIN with plenty to spare in the tank if they needed it.

    You say the Lions shunned their kicks this year when they were behind. They also scored about 90 tries and that in a season where they took a bit of time adjusting to a new coach. The tries got them to the final as they’ve done the past three years. The other Franchises who took their penalties for posts all fell by the wayside. Do you see a pattern here ?. Yes I know test rugby is a step up but you still need tries to win tests. You will NEVER beat the AB’s with penalties. So pick suitably skilled players that have been there and done that, give them the right game plan and the rest will follow.

    Which brings us to coaching. Coaching attacking rugby requires far more intelligence from the coach himself. I’ll go so far as to say that any of our local coaches schooled in the dom krag era will not have the necessary skills to coach it properly. Rassie comes from that era and all the Bok coaches before him since 2009, hence the demise of Bok rugby these past nine years. I doubt whether ER will be able to adapt despite Swys being there. Swys always had the skilled players in key positions who played attacking rugby every week. At the Boks he has a mish mash of dom krag in the backline with only a few highly talented wings to work with. Result ? Last Saturday’s debacle.

    Mr Nel in your anti-Lions tirade you naturally forgot all the other limp biscuits that contributed to the disaster, mostly the dom krag contingent. Shame on you. I note you are calling for a more pragmatic approach. Do I assume you mean we must return to the ‘old ways’ which has kept SA without a meaningful trophy these past nine years ? No sir we need to break the mould and go for broke. Smart rugby wins trophies these days and conservative no frills rubbish will not. Pick your players accordingly. Oh and by the way by expansive rugby I don’t mean ‘willy nilly’ rubbish I mean an expansive game as Plan A with due regard for the basics of the game which is a given anyway.

    In closing let me again appeal to you to help SA rugby by ceasing to pump the dom krag line. Inspire the other Franchises to convert their game plans to total rugby ( might have to get rid of their coaches first ) and bring the younger more talented and skillful players through the system, those who haven’t been damaged by playing conservative ‘Plan A and nothing else’ rugby. I trust you will take this plea to heart. Cheers.

    • Chris Mouton

      Yawn, Herman. Same old story, different day. These players that Brenden named were chosen as the spine of the team. Do you know what that means? The spine is traditionally the hooker, the 8th man, the scrummie, the flyhalf and the fullback. Those were the positions he mentioned. Those were the positions that didn’t have such a great day.

      The reasons for suggestion for going for poles was because the line-outs were shaky. Rassie even brought in Mostert to help with that, but it was still shaky. Marx needs to sort out his line-outs as soon as possible. Are you really that blind that you cannot see the attacking rugby that the Boks are playing? Was there a single try scored from a rolling maul a la domkrag? I swear that’s the only term you know.

      Fine, you don’t like Rassie. That’s on you. Rassie was not the reason why the players missed tackles, missed kicks, screwed up line-outs, lost the ball at the breakdown, made forward passes and don’t catch kick-offs (let’s not dare to name Whiteley there). That’s the responsibility of all the players on the field. The best laid plans mean diddly squat if the players don’t execute.

      How do you want RJvR to play for the Boks if he’s not even starting for his franchise? It’s blatantly obvious that he’s not on form at the moment. Regarding Jantjies, he will get his chance again. We have no other choice but him and Pollard, as Willemse is way too young. Those are the facts.

      I agree with SweetAz, you’re starting to sound delusional old boy.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Yes and it’s the repetitiveness and bias of the writer that feeds my response. If one takes your argument to heart no coach has ever been wrong it must always be the players. The Boks weren’t even mentally prepared for this clash despite all the articles written about how prepared they were for the total onslaught. What happened then ? Rassie clearly underestimated the opposition and couldn’t get the players to respond properly. That is a coaching issue. Rassie is clearly not a hard line coach. Hansen doesn’t buddy buddy up to his charges, you cock up and you’re out of there. Therein lies the difference.

        The spine of the team argument is a cop out, what does it actually mean anyway ?. Your hooker can’t perform if he hasn’t got support from the pack as a whole. The eighth can’t perform his roving game ala WW if the other loosies aren’t doing their jobs and so I can go on and on. There are fifteen players in the team for a reason but with no workable game plan ( provided by the COACH ) they run around like cocks without heads like last Saturday’s debacle.

        RjVR performed very well for the Sale Sharks last season and is back there. He wasn’t chosen by the Lions because he wasn’t match fit and needed time to recover from his injuries. A bit of homework helps pal.

        And finally. Rassie went into the England series fully intent on playing conservative c..p. He admitted as much when he said after the games that WlR and Faf’s rescue operation was not how they had planned for the game. Tell me how come we’ve had so many ‘come from behind games’ these last six tests ? How come Saturday was exactly the same problem ? Is that not a coaching preparation, selection and game plan problem ??

        You mention the rolling maul but don’t fool yourself, most of the tries we’ve scored so far have come due to the aforementioned two creative OVERSEAS players and individual brilliance from some players. They most certainly never came from Pollard masterminding creative attacking rugby, how can you expect him to after all you only have to check his rugby DNA.

        The coach is as at sea with a workable game plan as AC ever was. There is nothing cohesive about this Bok team and he must shoulder the blame. Your ‘diddly squat’ comment actually applies here but how come he picks the same palooka’s every week ? Our three wins this year have been despite the coach and only served to plaster over the cracks which finally appeared on Saturday with a vengeance

        I have nothing personal against our coach by the way but like HM and AC, whom I criticized mercilessly before him, he must deliver or else. He had everything a coach could have wanted this year delivered on a plate to him so only his expertise is being tested and it’s been found wanting so far. Cheers.

        PS : Rather leave the Lions players out until the game plan has been sorted out. Thanks.

        • Chris Mouton

          Hahaha! Ag jammer Oom Hermie. Lecturing me about homework. Someone certainly has a bit of a superiority complex.

          The spine of the team is a cop out? Hmm, maybe you’re the one who should do some homework, as that is an idiotic comment. Once again, if the players can’t execute the plans due to missed tackles, shoddy passing, bad line-outs and not protecting the ball, they have no chance to create momentum or tries.

          Which palooka’s are you sprouting on about? All the players in the Bok team deserved their place, except maybe Malherbe. Then again, Rassie needed to see what he has in Malherbe. He needs to experiment at times in order to create depth. Regarding RJvR, he was a shadow of a player when he returned back into the fold. Vorster outshined him by miles. I would pick Vorster over him every single time, as he is more consistent.

          Anyways, this conversation is boring me. One cannot have a debate with a one-eyed Lions supporter like you. I’ll leave you to your own devices and let you argue with yourself. We can continue once you’re willing to take other people’s point of view into account. Until then, enjoy your time in Hermanland. I reckon it’s quite lonely over there…

          • Herman Schroder?

            Thanks for that warm welcome. Of course getting personal is the last refuge of a poster without a real response.

            Your second paragraph is a bit contradictory old chap. The writer originally criticized the spine as not performing and yet all the mistakes you mentioned were made presumably by the other team members. Did this not then contribute to the ‘spines’ supposed poor performances which the writer with obvious bias saw fit to single out for particular mention ?.

            Pallooka / s is a generic term I use for players who battle with modern rugby, some more so than others. They seem to have their roots mostly in the three failed Franchises but hey I’ll be a gentleman and not name them but they are easy to spot. You do realize of course that the real tests are still to come don’t you. Oh boy.

            Your final paragraph depicting me as one eyed Lions supporter is a bit cruel don’t you think ? Comparisons are usually the method used to prove a point and if my Lions bias causes me to compare them to a rather unspectacular bunch of failed Franchises then it’s quite understandable imo.

            This is especially true when said Franchises refuse to evolve and certain fans and even the scribes who secretly support them continue to question or ridicule said successful Franchise.

            Regrettably one has the same problems and attitudes when it comes to the Boks. Lions players are inevitably singled out for criticism some warranted at times but mostly not. The woes of our rugby since 2014 in particular have been ongoing both in SR and Bok rugby and but for the Lions we would have been a total disaster in SR. Maybe if the other Franchises had been even remotely proactive in improving themselves I would be less critical but the malaise just continues year after year. Ditto the Boks.

            People have criticized me for being negative over the years but funnily I consider myself to be the positive one. I took on the media, Bok rugby and the Franchises over the years and at least tried to change a destructive mindset. Regrettably it was to no avail as nothing changed. So I suppose given current events I’m again on a hiding to nothing. There are others of course who did nothing except mutter into their beers, go home and kick the dog around in frustration. I think my way is still better.

            Hermanland is very enjoyable thanks, not as lonely as you may think but I sleep like a baby. Others being continually traumatized by their teams each year are crying like babies so I know who I’d rather be, lol. Cheers.

    • SweetAz

      This is the most delusional bullshit I have read in a long time. The Argentinians scored because our defence was poor and not switched on. You harp on and on about domkrag and old ways and new ways without any specifics. At the end of the day these players are mostly not international quality,-at most 3 or 4 of them are genuine international quality. This has been a long time coming and it’s not something that is fixable in South Africa without a total buy-in from everybody,–from government down to school level. Like Ireland have just done and NZ has been doing forever. Without that kind of commitment, the best South Africa can hope for in the future is to be ranked in the top 5. Anything else is just delusional, I don’t care what kind of rugby you want to play, expansive, domkrag or pocket billiards, —without the “cattle” and without the top 2 inches its just not going to happen.

      • Herman Schroder?

        My my old SweetAz quite upset are you ? Relax old fella and read my response to Chris Mouton just above here, it may stop your knees from jerking. By the way I agree with the top 2 inches comment and it is exactly my contention as well if you had read my post properly. The closest we have got to being ‘smart’ is in fact the Lions team and their entire set up and the gap between them and the rest has been so huge these past few years that I’m sorry if I seen to keep pleading their case as to how rugby should be played in this country. That’s why players who have got the top 2 inches get ignored by a coach who does not appear to have the top 2 inches as yet himself, pisses me off a wee bit. Thanks for reading though, Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          Everything you say gets negated as soon as you have to go and mention the words LION. The LIONS have achieved NOTHING,—F-ALL. They can’t even win the CURRY CUP consistently with their so-called set-up. You keep on playing the same record over and over again and when facts don’t suit your delusion you either conveniently forget about them or try to spin them. FACT,—the LIONS have NEVER WON A SUPER Trophy. FACT,—-Not one of the Lions who played in Mendoza looked like he was international quality. No set-up in the world is going to make Marx throw the ball in adequately or Whitely do the work required at the international level.

          You constantly irritate everyone with your bullshit Lions, Lions refrain and their expansive rugby. I am pretty sure you have never played or coached rugby because you seem to be stuck on one track on one broken record.

          Rugby is a simple game played by simple people, its why the AB’s use “pictures”. They show the opposition “pictures” and they look for “pictures” and respond appropriately with intelligent decision making. Their structures are geared towards achieving their goals and they set targets for game management like scoring just before and after half-time. It’s not brain surgery, it’s actually ridiculously simple and unclouded by any bullshit like “styles”.

          The AB’s DO NOT PLAY EXPANSIVE RUGBY. In FACT they kick more than most teams.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Oh SweetAz how we delude ourselves.

            Firstly I think the Lions have obviously traumatized you these past few years so the very mention of those scoundrels seems to get your undies in a knot. May I suggest you ask yourself WHY I bring them up all the time you may learn something. Refer the post I have just made above here to Chris Mouton for some more insight.

            Your maligning of the Lions players mentioned typifies your myopic mindset. Those players have proved themselves over the years and they certainly don’t need your endorsement. The other three failed SR Franchises dominated the Bok squads over the first six tests so far and guess what, after six tests three losses and three wins.

            And guess a bit further. It took two OVERSEAS guys creativity to pluck the Boks out of the dwang in those three wins that they did somehow manage. Says a lot about Rassie’s selection choices and game plan don’t you think ?

            I’m glad you say rugby is a SIMPLE game. The only thing that puzzles me is that if it was such a SIMPLE game why the hell are the other three Franchises so poor at it ??

            The difference between us and the AB’s is also quite SIMPLE. The AB’s play smart rugby and each player is equipped with the skills to play any type of rugby on offer. Their forwards play like backs and their backs like forwards if the situation warrants it. They kick INTELLIGENTLY and expose defenses with vision and skillful manipulation of the spaces that then open up to them. Their basic skills like handling and anticipation is honed to perfection and their defense is rock solid. I could go on but I’m sure you need a nap by now.

            Oh and on the other side of the coin we have the Boks. SIMPLE answer – Dom Krag. Enough said. Cheers.

          • Mike

            Well said SweetAz, well said.

  • maxwell

    LOL No comments on the coach’s inabilities? Alisster was never the problem.Let me explain. Our boys are playing against men. The coach need to recall all the men like Duppie brothers, Crocket, de Jongh, Serfontein, Steyn , Machell Coetzee and the non springboks currently playing in Europe who are willing to play for the Boks and all the previous Springbok wordcup coaches and will be ready for 2019 Worldcup. I believe other will start taking note when we take the action. But who am I to say.

    • Herman Schroder?

      You left out Matfield. Golden oldie overseas players are not the answer. Build from within to foster a team culture, continuity and a style of play with a coach who has the ability to coach it and the rest will fall into place. It may take time but hey what’s happening now anyway. Cheers.

      • Mike

        I agree with Maxwell, there are many players plying their trade overseas who don’t even get a look. Instead we try to play with those who stay in SA and unfortunately, they are just not cutting it.

  • Nick

    Good article by Brendan.

  • Nick

    Can’t see any causes for foaming at the mouth here. Critical? Sure. Why not?

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