Boks caught with pants down

Oom Rugby

Hi guys. This weekend the Boks walked away from Murrayfield with a good victory against one of the most dangerous teams in Europe. The Scots has a incredible record at home lately, beating all the comers and only losing recently to the All Blacks last year.

There many good and bad things we can talk about in this game, but a moment I want to look at today is our tendency to sometimes concede “soft” moments.

For me this is different to system failures, tactical failures or even player failures. Soft moments in Test rugby is when you just switch off a little bit, or you drop your intensity or concentration just for a second, and then the other team rip your throat out.

The Boks is steadily evolving their systems and players is starting to settle, but what we want to see emerging now is a true Test-match mentality. Let us take a look…

The picture above is the beginning of a sequence of events that will open the door for a Scottish try. Duane got his hands on the Scots ball, they were penalise for holding on, but then Handre did not kick the resultant penalty out. Now Hogg is sending the ball back with compound interest and the Boks will instead have a lineout all the way back in their own half.

To not kick a penalty out is simply unforgiveable at this level. It is not only a question of accuracy, it is also the cold mental attitude that you will not take a unnecessary risk by trying to win a few extra meters.

Thirty seconds later the Boks win the lineout, set up a maul and then execute a standard box kick exit. Papier kick perfectly from the base giving chasing blindside wing Nkosi time to get up and contest in the air.

We can also see Du Toit (who was not part of the lineout), Marx and De Allende as the follow up chasers. First prize Nkosi can win the contest, second prize the Boks can isolate the catcher or pressure his options. With a box kick we getting the ball behind the opposition forwards and we allowing our forwards to play onto the ball. So far so good.

Nkosi knock the ball on, but the Bok’s first line of chasers can now take charge and exert pressure. The ball spray out to Hogg and we can see above that De Allende is cutting off the outside option. Kriel and Dyantyi also shooting up to crowd the space on the left. But a problem has developed… The kick was good, the chase was good, and the follow up pressure was good, but now it is the rest of the Boks on the field who will momentarily switch off and forget they in a Test match.

Here is a different angle as Hogg now see that the Bok blindside chase line have broken down and lost concentration. There is nobody there. A big responsibility for this is Marx, who as the hooker throwing in the lineout must be up and patrolling that short side space. We talk about defenders folding at rucks, but folding can be true of any situation where a team must ensure they have defenders covering both the blind and open side. Hogg will turn on his afterburners and take the gift.

Above we see the second problem. The Boks further in depth has all drifted over to the left of picture. A counter attack is more likely to happen on that side of the field, so everybody is on autopilot going in that direction. Hogg can not believe his luck and with laser focus accelerate into the open tennis courts of space that the Boks has left open. He will beat the cover and put in a grubber, and Willie will be forced to kick the ball out to prevent the try.

The Scots throw at the lineout and as we see above will score with a beautiful variation. The prop Reid will shoot forward as if for a short throw and Kitshoff will follow him, opening a space behind him. Scotland score a lot of tries from mauls, so the Bok forwards is grouped and ready to defend what they think is coming. But they do not see Watson charge in from the scrumhalf position, through the space and take the perfect clean throw from McInally to score.

Siya, who is the Bok “scrumhalf” at this lineout, is perhaps positioned too far left, but the truth is he must be on that side as a secondary maul defender. So it is difficult to really point fingers at anyone. One solution could have been that Nkosi shoot up to cover the hooker, freeing up Marx to cover Reid and Kitshoff to then track back inside. It is something the Boks will look at and knowing Rassie they will not be caught with their pants down like this again.

One thing I want to add is that initially I thought the try was illegal because Watson entered the lineout from the scrumhalf position before the ball was thrown… But above we can see that he is still safely outside the 2m threshold as the ball leave McInally’s hands.

It is maybe unfair to be too critical of the Boks here as I believe most teams will be fooled by this variation. Scotland is known for their mauls, and if you want to stop a maul you must be ready for it and you must hit it early. The Scots know their own reputation, and play off it beautifully.

Anyway guys, it is all part of this evolution that we want to see – the emergence of the Springbok Test mentality. We do not make silly mistakes, we are always switched on, we do not make assumptions, and we alert and can adapt to rapidly changing situations.

The Boks has come a long way since last year in the way that they play, but the time has come where we want to see maturity in the way they think and react too.

DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans

- Oom Rugby

Let's chat

  • SweetAz

    Thank you Oom, once again you have perfectly pointed out the nuances not always apparent to people who believe the answer to every rugby question is “expansive play”. On this showing, I guess we can forget about Marx winning player of the year. I have noticed the Boks and Irish are targetting the blind side a bit more on this tour,-perhaps a useful tactic to combat the rush defence?

    • Chris Mouton

      Great analysis as always, Oom. Sweets, how dare you say that about Marx? Do you want to bring down the wrath of Howling Herman? You are speaking about one of his prized Lions players here. Surely they cannot be at fault. In fact it was the domkrag defense and the domkrag Scotsman that confused poor Marx. Let’s not even talk about the domkrag lineouts. No my friend, we are all delusional here.

      In all seriousness, Marx has been looking average since the SR final. So much for being the World’s Best Hooker and Player of the Year nomination. In my opinion the only SA player that deserves Player of the Year is Pieter-Steph du Toit.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Chris, So you know more than the panel of highly experienced professionals who put him on the list ? Who’s delusional now. There’s only one reason the Lions players battle with the Boks. It’s because the dom krag game plan employed by both AC and ER is foreign to them and suitable only for those who were brought up on that outdated, plodding and slow thinking diet. Our stunted midfield and a mere 53% win ratio proof enough of that.

        The Lions have ruled SA for three years and have the least representation in the Bok team with the dullest, most predictable dom krag teams dominating the squad. What a joke but it does explain why our win one lose one results have been so poor since 2016. A full strength Lions team dominating the Bok squad would never have had a dismal 50/50 win ratio which included a few lucky wins as well. But we’ll never know will we ? And people still take comfort in such mediocrity, my how low our standards have plummeted. Cheers.

        • nezo

          LOL Herman

          i have agreed that the way we played should have been revolutionised. but that doesnt mean we would have done well with a lot of LIONS in the team. Elton has been given chance after chance for example. He even failed against the ultimate test. The Crusaders

          About Max. the guy is really good. One of my favourite players in fact. at some point even in my mind he was leading as the best player this season. but those lineouts my man. as good as he is. he has messed up a lot of our go forward balls in those lineouts. so its like he has been building and yet destroying at the same time. PSDT on the other side has been consistent. even better than our 9 who is also nominated

      • nezo

        Very Much agree. just like Juan Smith deserved to win the Rugby player of the year during the World cup 2007. Not Habana as good as he was.

        • Herman Schroder?

          See my response to Chris above. Cheers.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Rubbish Mr SweetAz. The Scots have won 80% of their last 11 home games playing bold positive rugby with ‘expansive play’ The Boks lose 50% of their games playing dom krag stampkar ‘rugby’. It’s a no brainer. expansive is the way to go. Only problem is we need players in the backline who know how to play it. Cheers.

    • SweetAz

      Lol—Typical,–cherry pick stats you like and then compare them with irrelevant ones to make a mistaken point. Firstly, you can’t compare HOME record to the Total record,—South Africa’s home record isn’t bad either,-the only loses are against England and the AB’s over that same period. Secondly, you can’t compare the quality of the opposition either,–Scotland played Fiji and Italy in that period while SA played the AB’s REPEATEDLY.
      This is why it’s pointless debating you, you set up strawman arguments, cherry-pick facts to suit you and then get stuck in your rut endlessly regurgitating inanities.

      If expansive rugby was the answer to every rugby question FIJI WOULD BE WORLD CHAMPIONS.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Poor old SweetAz. We are not talking distant memory results here but the here and now. SA lost to FIVE countries this year and France should have made it six. So dom krag works does it ?

        We played the AB’s twice so what ? The Scots play in the SIX NATIONS each year and we all know how competitive those teams are now excluding maybe Italy. It’s every bit as competitive as our RC which includes the woeful Aussies who still managed to BEAT us this year, lol. That’s not cherry picking, them’s is facts old chap.

        You purposefully misconstrue what I mean by expansive rugby anyway so no point in trying to explain it to you again. Your last sentence is plain laughable by the way. But there’s no denying that on any given weekend the Boks produce the least imaginative rugby of all the teams on display. Total lack of smarts and dom krag STILL rules in sunny SA with poor results to match. Cheers.

    • gerhard van tonder gerhard van tonder

      Domkrag or stampkar rugby is what I call gainline dominance rugby. This is the way the Irish beat the All Blacks over the weekend, their ability to dominate the gainline through their defense and through their ball carriers were brilliant. Add to that the aerial game and you have a winning formula.

      You are 100% correct if you want to play ‘expansive’ as you describe it, you do need the right personnel to do it. For South Africa it will mean moving away from our core strengths, our physicality in contact. Further what the Irish showed us this weekend is that defenses can beat expansive if correctly executed. We showed that in Wellington as well and nearly in Pretoria, except for the slip-up with the bench in the last 7-minutes.

      The Scottish had to create their own tactical identity, running with the ball. It cost them the Pollard try. Their Coaching staff had decided maybe they don’t have the forwards they will try this expansive system as their system. If they can win the 6-Nations I will be convinced that it is the best for test level, at the moment I doubt it and a more pragmatic approach will be needed imo.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Thanks for that Gerhard and I do not underestimate the value of gainline dominance only what a team does with it which remains my biggest problem with this current Bok setup. But if truth be told are we really dominating teams upfront anymore ??

        Our scrums are at best only securing our own possession but seldom winning too many turnover scrums if any. In fact we’ve been shoved off the ball a couple of times as well. Our lineouts are reasonably successful and only the odd ball is won from the opposition, Hardly enough to turn the game.

        It’s when we win go forward ball that we struggle with execution. Players lacking skills and vision still our achilles heel imo. A strong defense is important obviously but of no use if you can’t use turnover ball effectively due to a lack of real creativity especially amongst the backs. That’s why I said our wings are starved of work and their obvious talents wasted week in and week out.

        You use the fact that Scotland lost the game due to playing expansively and maybe their tactics of going for the corners with easy penalties on offer may have been the better option, but on another day any of those lineout mauls could have won it for them. The difference is that they are now winning more than they are losing playing expansively and don’t forget last years NZ game where they should have won it at the death. So they are hardly a one trick pony.

        Rassie imo may be doing a few things right but a consistent match winning expansive game plan and suitably skilled to players to play it still eludes him. Cheers.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Well done Oom, ‘lekker aan die slaap die Bokke’. Unfortunately for Rassie and Co you can’t buy rugby smarts at Pick ‘n Pay. Apparently HM’s ‘Dom Krag Academy’ has a waiting list of hopeful candidates looking to further their studies at this revolutionary place of learning. Booked solid to 2023, go figure. And the wagon wheels just keep on rolling. Cheers.

  • Zoo Keeper


    I must correct you on the Scottis try at the line out. The receiver cannot join the line out.

    The throwing team determines the maximum amount of players in the line out once it is formed. Therefore as soon as it is formed no more players may join and increase that number. The defending team may have less but not more.

    The hooker can take up the receiver’s position if that is empty, but it cannot be empty if the receiver is there.

    Therefore, while the Scottish player was 2m away, joining the line out and playing the ball was illegal.

    • Mark

      However a player that is in the line-out can step out and become the receiver thus leaving the numbers the same. Siya questioned this but only about 10 minutes after the try. The problem was not joining, did a Scottish player that was originally in the line-out step out and become the receiver? It all happened to fast. If you look at the picture of the situation in the article there are a number of players who could have covered the gap.

  • Logan

    I hate to say it but it was school boy errors. Well done for the Scots.

    I also think that the way we use our centres is another problem. Hugh Jones really tore our midfield a new one. Not to mention his clever scissors and we’ll timed pop passes.

    To think that he was at the Stormers and he could have been playing for the boks.

    We need to have a creative centre and not solely rely on Willie.

    • Barry

      Agreed Logan and Hugh did not really have a huge impact at SR level for the Stormers, yet he looked light years ahead of our chaps on Saturday. Kind of emphasises the mid-field problem that we have. see also my comment below – the Scots trie would not have happened if Damien had made the tackle on Hogg!

      • Herman Schroder?

        Fleckie as coach explains it all. Cheers.

    • John Comyn

      Logan – Huw Jones is Scottish and not eligible to play for SA. He was here studying at UCT.

  • Barry

    Thanks Oom, good read.

    Would it not be fair to say that in the first instance if de Allende had made the tackle on Hogg that the whole encounter would not have happened and there may well have been a potential 7 against the Scots? (see third and forth clip). Hogg was under huge pressure, with de Allende right on top of him, with Kitshoff and PSDT in support, but it seems we failed to capitalise on this and let Hogg off the hook… the rest is history.

    It would seem that we did 90% of our job by creating pressed defensive pressure, but we did not finish it, by making the tackle, creating the turn over and putting the Scots away for 7!

    • John Comyn

      Barry your obsession with De Allende is becoming a bit tiresome. I’m not sure if you are aware of it you barely comment without making reference to De Allende.

      • Barry

        John rather have a read of what I said instead of having a personal dig. Oom has gone into great detail about the Scottish counter, but that is not the issue. We put them under pressure but didn’t make the tackle, that is where it fell to pieces. Rush defence systems are well and good, but you “have” to make your tackles and if you don’t, you leave your selves open to counter attack, with your defence in disarray. That is what happened here.
        The fact that the mistake was made by De Allande is not something I can control. If it makes you feel better, we can call it the “SA defender with 12 on his back”. Or we can say that Kishoff or PSDT, running in support of the “SA defender with 12, on his back” should also have covered the tackle! We had three covering one and they all missed Hogg! Hope this makes you feel a bit better?

      • Herman Schroder?

        Why not John ? DDA, as I’ve also posted, picks and chooses his tackles based on it’s difficulty and danger factor. Purposely slowing down to avoid said tackle especially front on ones where his hairdo might get ruffled or slowing down instead of corner flagging with intent have all been on show this year ( and before ). Catching from behind is his preferred choice.

        Imo you can coach a guy to tackle better to some extent but if he is not an instinctive mongrel at the tackle he will let you down in key moments. In any case if you are not a committed tackler you shouldn’t be in a test team, just ask the Irish. Cheers.

  • Albert

    All I can do is laugh at all this talk of “expansive” and “dom krag” rugby. It is as if there are only two ways to play rugby: With just forwards or just backs. I guess there are just some people who don’t actually understand this fine game. Unlike Oom, who not only understands true rugby, but has the kindness to share his wisdom instead of just giving a monologue of complaints.

    Hats off Oom, while most just want to moan, you are giving us valuable insight to show that the Boks are on track and a true superpower again. All we need is to hone that most important “muscle” of all, the brain. Once our players are playing 80+ minutes at 100% concentration and effort, I think we will see the Boks quickly climb to the top.

    Go Rassie! Go Boks!

    • nezo

      i Fully agree. but (oh my God i am agreeing with HERMAN) Herman is right when he says that our style of rugby is still going to give us a win rate that is less than New Zealand. we kept on saying that we are growing and becoming better during Jake White Era. we actually did n we won the World cup. but in all that time we remained with a poor win/loss ration compared to where we want to be as a country. that is 80% win rate

      i fear that we are getting into the same trap with Erasmus. we will still win more than we lose. but that is not what we want. we want to dominate and put teams away. true the LIONS and ALL New Zealand n Now Scotland is proving that.

      • Albert

        Good counter. And certainly we do rely a bit much on defence and using our forwards or crash ball. But I do feel we are building nicely.

        Look at what went on behind the scenes with Papier. Rassie and Co. worked on his limitations over the course of a few months and he came good just when we needed him to. Sure, with De Allende and Kriel its a bit more of an ingrained limitation, but I think they will be working hard in the off season on vision and creativity.

        I mean, we have the all mighty Swys De Bruin working on their attack, surely we can’t be too far from seeing some positive results?

        Surely the limitation is they don’t currently have the ability to think fast enough at international level, so putting them in situations on the training pitch and learning some tricks from Willie could sort them out.

        • Herman Schroder?

          Albert, I believe only certain players can respond effectively to good coaching. I also maintain that unless you play expansive rugby at all levels including SR you will not be able to react appropriately in the test arena where the pressure is intense. That’s why the DDA’s of the world don’t cut it in my opinion, HM, AC and Fleckie saw to that.

          Remember you should not be improving players skills in test matches. When you run on for the Boks you should be the finished product or very close to it. Expansive rugby is intense and complicated and not everyone is cut out to perform it effectively. That applies to coaches as well. Swys has his work cut out at the Boks with Rassie’s game plan and the lack of skills in the backline a particular problem for him. No wonder the Boks are stuttering in that aspect of their game. Cheers.

        • nezo

          Very true Mr Albert.

          i think Rassie is building a good side. i do love his Work. He has brought us back from the dead. BUT he is not REVOLUTIONISING us. He is still doing it the South African way. it works n will always work. it wins us World cups. but not the Rugby Championships. it makes us competitive with New Zealand but gives us few wins but a lot of close looses. it makes us Equal to Australia. now that makes me angry. How can we be Equal to the Aussies when New Zealand is giving them 40 points or more most of the time.

          I believe if Erasmus could change his vision this team will be a great side. i still believe that with a different approach the Jake white team could have dominated its era. even with McCaw and Carter playing for New Zealand.

          His Vision is to make us competitive for the World Cup. that is not what we want. our Vision is to see the Boks win 80% of the time and putting away bad teams. just like scotland put 50 past the Aussies last time. it is not the players that have a problem. its the South African way. i am not saying we should run from anywhere. but we should do exactly what the LIONS did. they were completely REVOLUTIONISED. n Guess what, they gave teams a good beating and beat New Zealand teams consistently except in the last year.

          Again. i believe. we have the best players in the world. we have size, speed, history and culture for rugby. The whole world is looking for our players. but our WAY is limiting them. i hate to say this. but let’s bring in a New Zealander to help in every level of our Rugby. they know best how to Run. so let’s use them and then beat them. Remember Spencer for LIONS

          • Albert

            Both excellent points. I agree completely that we need that extra string in the back division. Willie, Dyantyi and Nkosi are superb players. Add Kolbe and Willemse and I think we have good outside backs with great back-up. I believe the issue is our 10, 12 and 13 combo.

            Pollard, Kriel and De Allende, good players they are, are just too similar. I don’t feel they are a good combo. I must admit, I have been a bit of a Jantjies detractor, but the way he plays with Pollard at 12 just seems to settle his nerves. I like the way they dovetail with Willie also giving an extra attacking option. I strongly believe our best backline would be Faf, Jantjies, Dyantyi, Pollard, Am/Mapoe, Nkosi, Willie. Then we can have De allende or Kriel provide back-up to close out the game. But for me, we need a cerebral 13 and that is not Kriel’s forte.

            Anyway, we have the talent, we just need to properly hone it and use it.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Give that man a Bells. Well said Nezo. Cheers.

  • Sharky

    Thanks Omm! I look forward to your articles about any other. Very insightful!

    That blindside defensive lapse left me yelling at my TV set – such a schoolboy error, but amazing vision from Hogg. The moment he got injured was the moment that I finally relaxed cos I knew Scotland wouldn’t win without him.

    And that lineout, which the UK media praised as being innovative, is a copy and paste from a Bok v AB game a few years back. The ABs did the same to put McCheat (I think) over the line.

    My overall impression of the game – very, VERY frustrating!! For large portions of the game we were doing most of the playing but just not finishing off. But I’m hopeful that that will improve with experience.

  • Wesley

    Thanks Oom, I would call on the move up field as a massive stupid defensive lapse, but that line out seemed pretty funny to me at the time. Yes the freeze frame and slo-mo confirmed he was outside the 2 meters and legal, but how in the hell could the ref call this one without TMO?They TMO check every instance of easy-to-see calls, but not this one happening on the borderline at full pace? I think Poite himself was flabbergasted not knowing what happened, as usual!

    • Chris

      Was he allowed to join the lineout though ?
      He’s standing 5m behind and comes in to receive the ball from the throw.

      • Barry

        As I understand it, the line out was not over because none of the line out players had made contact with it. The criteria being contact in the line out and not ball leaving hooker’s hand! I think the ref got it wrong!

  • soutie

    If bokkies win wales on weekend, then hulle move from 5th to 3rd in world rankings, overtaking rooinekke and welsh rabbits in one jump. Eng beating aussies will have not impact. Is this right?

    • SweetAz

      SHHHHHH,—dont jinx it.

    • Sharky

      Yes it is!! If the Boks win by a point then they move to 3rd even if the Poms beat the Aussies by a million points. So it’s a big game!

  • Marius

    Great reading from oom and all the comments. My only question is, why must Pollard be moved because the center pair is not working. Greatness is being consistent every game. Unfortunately it is on and off for the two of them. That’s all.

    • Pieter O

      Definitely no try. The reason? Law 18 37 states:
      “Other than by moving to the receiver position if that position is empty, no lineout player may leave the lineout until it has ended. Sanction: Penalty”

      When is the lineout over? Law 18 36
      “The lineout ends when:
      The ball or a player in possession of the ball:
      leaves the lineout; or
      enters the area between the touchline and the five-metre line; or
      goes beyond the 15-metre line.
      A ruck or maul forms and all of the feet of all of the players in the ruck or maul move beyond the mark of touch.
      The ball becomes unplayable.”
      None of these has happened. The lineout was not over and the Scot in front of the lineout was not allowed to move into the 5m area. Thus. Penalty for the Boks.

  • Werner Saul

    Great insight thank you!

  • Craig

    Thanks Oom

    been debating that try whole week, thanks for the clarity

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