Hi guys. So here we are after a loss to Argentina. Just when we think the Boks is on a upward curve then we hit the ground hard. But even though we all quite upset about this, we want to know why it happen and what we can do to fix it.
One of the main culprits was our poor set piece, and after that I would say our poor communication on defence. But there was something else going on that I found quite interesting and it have to do with how Argentina defend against the Boks. Let us take a look!
After we bully Argentina last Saturday their coach say that maybe the only way to stop the Bok forwards is if they get sick. It was a joke, but in the week since then they came up with a plan… in the picture above we see what is was.
Kitshoff is taking the ball into contact. The prop Figallo make a very low chop tackle and the other prop Botta go in higher as a tackle assist. The situation we see above is a very specific, tactical approach to contact that the Argentinans used. Two defenders is involved in the tackle. The first man go in low on the chop, and the second man go in higher.
Botta’s first role is to be a second tackler to help kill the momentum of the carry. But if the chop tackle is successful – as it was in many many cases – then he is free to take other options because he is so close to the ball. If the Bok support is late then he can go for a poach. If not, then he can try to spoil.
In the picture above we see that Botta take the second option. He could not steal, so what he do is to actually just fall on top of Kitshoff. He make it look like part of the tackle, but effectively he just smother the ball.
We saw this over and over again from the Pumas. A chop tackle, and then the second man is right there to poach or spoil. Very often it was illegal, because the second Puma does not release the tackled player before contesting. And many times, as in the case above, he pretend he is still in the action of “tackling” and just fall on top of the breakdown.
It was like the Boks got stuck in the mud. The forwards could not build momentum, then if the ball went to the backs the Argentina defence was all over them.
Above is another example. Kremer go low on Kitshoff and De La Fuente go high. De La Feunte will first see if he is needed to help with the tackle. He is not, so his next move after Kitshoff go to ground will be to see if he can poach or spoil. Again, he will not release Kitshoff at any time so it is a illegal contest. He is a jackal disguising himself as a tackler…
But it is no use to complain. These are things you must take into your own hands and fix on the field. So what can the Boks do when this happen again?
In the picture above we see one solution, and it happen in the same moment we were looking at above. Kolisi was running a support line off Kitshoff, but at exactly the right time he see the threat developing and change to a cleaning line and manage to clean De La Fuente off the ball. Interesting again, we can clearly see that De La Fuente at no point released Kitshoff before trying to contest.
So what we are saying is firstly that the spatial positioning, awareness and timing of our support players must be perfect. They must be in a position to take a pass, but also quickly come in to clean if necessary.
Another option is to just avoid the breakdown altogether. If the opposition is slowing you on the deck, then rather try to keep the ball alive, as we see RG Snyman do above. And the weakness of the chop tackle specifically is that it allows an offload because the initial point of contact is so low. If they going for your legs, then that mean your arms is free. Use them!
Here we see Kitshoff take advantage of the weakness of the Puma tackle strategy in a similar way. What he do is to “spin” in the tackle. He ride the chop, and then turn his back to the tackle assist to get the ball out to Faf. He is keeping the ball alive and avoiding another slow ruck. A added bonus is that there is two defenders involved here, so we have pulled a extra Puma in.
As I say, this is by no means the main reason why the Boks lost the Test, but by slowing our ball down in this way the Pumas took the sting out of our forwards. And the knock on effek of that was that our backs could not get into the game.
It was a very clever tactical adjustment that the Pumas executed with great guts, skill, and craftiness and we must take off our hat to them.
Let us hope the Boks learn from this and is ready for when someone try it again!
DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans