Boks play with eyes wide shut

Oom Rugby

Hi guys. Ag man, it is never lekker to write a article after a Bok loss, and it is even worst after a performance like the game against Ireland. It is hard because we don’t want to continual beat our boys with a stick, yet at the same time we want to understand what is happening and where problems lies.

A lot have been said already by others so I thought today I will just chat about something that come to light for me.

I want to talk about Dick Muir.

Dick was not the most fast Springbok to ever play the game – in fact there is a funny story where in one game a linesman get to the tryline before him. Dick did not have huge burst of speed, he did not step you out your boots, and he was not a physical monster. But in many ways Dick was the most crucial member of the record-breaking Springboks of Nick Mallett in 1998.

I think it is safe to say that if Dick was a player now and he get chosen for the Boks the public will be very upset! But “boring” players like Muir is exactly the kind of guys the Boks need. His calmness, game sense, awareness, rugby IQ and “feel” got Mallett’s Springboks ticking.

Let’s take a look at what I mean. In the picture below we see that Marx have the ball and there is four Boks outside him. Ireland is scrambling on defence and is outnumbered.

The first point I want to make is that the big Bok carries actually had the desired effect. Yes the carries sometimes maybe look ineffective, but time and again they forcing such a big commitment by the Irish to stop them that space open up elsewhere. We don’t just judge a tight carry by meters gained, we judge it by how it affect the defence. We can clearly see here after the previous ruck that Boks has created opportunity on the far side.

But now we see the problem that haunt the Boks – it is a inability to see and exploit the space they create. Malcolm is a incredible rugby player but unfortunately he will just put his head down and charge. The opportunity is lost.

It can be that the Bok pattern call for another midfield carry here, or maybe Malcolm just did not see what is developing? Whatever the case, the picture above is the missing link in the Bok game. We manage to create opportunities but we can not take advantage of them. And if Malcolm was not aware then the blame lie with his team mates for not communicating the space to him.

Above we see something that plague the Bok backline and it is the other missing link in our game. Again our boys has manufacture some space on the far side. Damian is passing the ball but I think it is quite clear what the problem is; he pass so flippen early that the Irish can make a cup of tea and then shift across to cover the next man!

I am a huge Damian fan for his all round skills, but it is here that we realise that if we truly want to take opportunities then we need ball players in this team.

Damian must straighten, fix the defender, and pass. What we see above is the extent of the opportunities you will get in a Test. If you do not have natural ball players with the rugby IQ and “feel” to maximise this small chances then you will never win.

We are talking here about a selection problem. Our coaches must change their metrics to favour guys who is maybe less flashy but who has a natural feel and understanding of rugby. What will a Harold Vorster or a Lionel Mapoe do in a situation like this?

This is another example of the same sindrome. Another Bok opportunity lost. Jesse get the ball and attack the last Irish defender on the outside. If he can fix this man then he can release Courtnall into open space. But look at Courtnall… instead of reading play and drifting out for the pass, he stay straight and run at the same defender that Jesse is attacking!

It is a mystery. Look how Courtnall have now made himself a target for that last Irish defender. Jesse can not pass to him. If Courtnall went wider he was gone.

I leave my worse one for last. What we see above is the Boks messing up their running lines on a set-piece play. Elton is taking the ball up after a scrum and Coetzee and Kriel run a shape off him. But what we can see in the picture is that all three players is hitting the same hole!

Either Coetzee was suppose to run a scissors to the outside, or Jesse was meant to run a fade to the outside. Maybe someone forgot the play, or they change their mind at the last second, but it is a mess. But regardless, we expect a Test player to read, react and adjust.

I don’t bring up this examples because I necessarily want to target that specific players – sometimes they do good things and other times, other guys mess up. I am just bringing to our attention that we will never get anywhere if we do not cultivate and select guys with game sense and feel. Forget just speed, strength, stepping and whatnot for the moment. What we need is brains and rugby “savvy”.

Simply put, the opportunities is there. We are creating them. Now we must just find the guys who can finish them.

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

- Oom Rugby

Let's chat

  • Johan

    If only:

    Just in this article we threw away 4 try scoring opportunities.
    Let’s not forget the Kolisi no look pass and the Damien kick the ball away in a 4 vs 1 situation.

    We threw away 6 scoring chances through a lack of basic skills!

    Imagine if out players could do the basics of “trek en pass” then we would have scored a few tries, pressure would have transferred to Ireland and the implosion at the end would (probably) not have happened.

    All this could have been achieved if we selected centers that have been playing running rugby all year long!


      You will never win when the ball is kicked away,BALL IN HAND CREATES CHANCES. Kick only when nothing else is on or deep in your 25.

    • gerhard van tonder gerhard van tonder

      I agree with you on the 6 opportunities.

      Just one question from myself, in your last sentence you talk about ‘running rugby’ – what does it mean? I never understands whet people mean by that?

  • DK

    Bok camp lauding Thor’s influence and experience of French game and conditions. With this logic, why not draft in the likes of the 30+caps Bok players also in France – the Du Plessis brothers, Ruan Pienaar, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana, JP Pieterson and Patrick Lambie too.

    I am not saying that these players are long-term solutions but if they are included in a match-23 for this weekend then the Boks will have 10 players with more than 50 caps as opposed to the three they had last week. Plus Boks could easily match the transformation numbers they had last week.


    1. Mtawarira 2. Marx 3. Louw 4. Etzebeth 5. De Jager 6. Louw 7. Kolisi 8. Vermeulen 9. Paige 10. Pollard 11. Habana 12. Steyn 13. Am 14. Pieterson 15. Lambie

    16. Kitshoff 17. Bismarck 18. Jannie 19. Mostert 20. Dan Du Preez 21. Pienaar 22. Bosch 23. Gelant

    Surely it’s a no-brainer to have this grizzled experience combined with some exciting youngsters like Kitshoff, Marx, Dan Du Preez, Am and Gelant?

    That backline would more than likely create and take more opportunities than the backline that fronted up last week.

    • William

      Sorry DK, but I do wih to point out that Mtawarira, Pieterson, Habana and Jannie are long over their sell-by date and are no longer the best we can offer, even if they are experienced legends. I also have a bone to pick with Paige, De Jager and Lambie – good, but surely there are better?

      Wouldn’t Rohan JvR, Harold Voster, Werner Kok, Ox Noche, Faf de Klerk, and such be of more value at the current moment?

  • Ruckby

    No Oom, easily the worst, braindead play was DdA (who you are a huge fan of???) kicking the ball away in a 4 vs 1 scenario AND the kick was straight to an Irishman. Still, set piece plays should be executed better than the one shown above.

  • humblepie

    Also, I am not so sure that it was Skozan at fault in the example with Kriel. It was Kriel that drifted to the outside that caused the problem. Skozan ran straight. He proofed his try scoring skills with many tries in the Super Rugby series this year. However, our wings never looked dangerous under AC’s watch.

  • Peter

    Spot on Oom…the game of rugby has long passed the brute Bulls crash, bash and kick….its a thinking mans game ala All Blacks…quick decisive thinkers who play as a team and dont do the same unrewarding things over and over expecting different results against a savvy well coached opposition….Plan B C and D dont exist in Bok rugby anymore…..why….cause coach persists in treating all opposition the same and thinking opposing coaches havnt sussed out our U14 approach to the game

  • Chris Mouton

    Oom, these are basics. You can even learn to do this by playing touchies. What makes the All Blacks so good? The basics. If you compliment that with superior skills, you can really build on top of the basics. First we need the foundation. Even though you are a fan, Domjan Die Ellende was utterly useless in this game. He needs game time. If Allister released him and Pollard even before we went to Argentina, they would’ve gotten some valuable mileage in Currie Cup. Allister’s selections are a total nightmare. He is clueless.

  • francois williams

    The problem are ll these WP quotas…under Meyer it was the BB quota…this is killing SA rugby…I could choose 3 to 5 Bokteams that would slaughter this so called Bokteam…

  • Bob

    We blame the poor coach but unfortunately he has two major problems -make it 3
    1) quota I wont go there but you cannot give a manager a substandard workman and then fire him if there is a poor result-responsibility with no authority cannot work
    NOW THE MAJOR PROBLEM that I do not believe any coach will presently be able to solve.
    2) LACK OF A WORLD CLASS FLYHALF. The choice of flyhalves is below par and Jantjies has proved time and time again that he is no good under pressure-the Lions lost the finals against NZ sides, who read him like a book and put him under pressure. He is a good provincial player when he get good ball but not great. To me this is the General of any side and if we look back at all great sides they had a flyhalf that controlled the game-Cliff Morgan and Natie Rens when I was a young fan-Naas Botha is another and then we see the All Blacks producing great flyhaves all the time since they have become the best. Also think that Robert du Preez should be there-not great but the best of an average bunch, big and kicks well as could be said of Cronje from EP.
    Number 3) Is the second in command-SCRUMHALF and again we have very average scrumhalves to choose from
    presently and this put pressure on the flyhalves.

    • William

      1) Quotas are problematic and it really is unfortunate that we still have to abide to such racial policies in our sport, but even so, AC could’ve made much better selections of colour. Take for instance Mapimpi, Nkosi, Lukanyo Um, Ox Noche, Gelant, etc. Even Rosco Speckman could’ve added some much needed blitz. Yet not once did AC make use of them this season.
      (Not necessarily saying the above mentioned are the best options we have at current, but surely they are better than Raymond Rhule, Skosan & Trevor Nyakane)
      2) It’s true the flyhalf is one of the pivots of the team, and we don’t necessarily have the best per se, but again, a competant internatioal coach should be able to make the best from what we have. Like you said, Robert du Preez is deserving of a call-up. Maybe Frans Steyn could be considered. Possibly, perhaps. I do recall Elton Jantjie always underperforming under AC, remember that one season with the Stormers?
      (Well, then again, we don’t have a competant international coach anyway, lol.)
      3) Agreed, our #9 position needs attention and reformation, and quick. Ross Cronje’s service was just soooo slow… – continuously putting us on the back-foot – and the box-kicks were also poor. But then again, it’s the coach that picks the players. A notable mention would be Ruan Pienaar. Great and experienced player, and he is still active and having a jol in Europe. I also think players uch as Faf de Klerk, Jano Vermaak, Louis Schreuder, and Shaun Venter are all better and should take preference…

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