Pumas gave Boks the chop!

Oom Rugby

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

- Oom Rugby

Let's chat

  • Rant

    Good analyses. It was clear to see we tried to adapt when the subs started coming on. But we hadn’t trained to play that way resulting in poor execution and insufficient skills. It does make one think that clearly we prepared for a slower match than the week before, and the Boks weren’t in the mindset to play a faster paced game. But this is something I don’t understand. After the first match it looked as though we were really fit and well equipped to play a faster paced game.

    Rassie clearly went conservative to “win at all costs” and he certainly missed a trick. I hope they correct that as it was a great opportunity to build the offload and fast paced game we so desperately need. It is not the end of the world, we need to make better selections in the next match.

    Thanks for your analyses Oom.

    • Douglas

      All great, I struggled to belief that if it is not practised during the buildup it can not be executed. These are our best players in the country, they should be able to adapt and make a plan. Keep away from contact as long as possible, ie run, pass and kick into spaces. THAT is how you get momentum and move forward. Easy, so focus on running and supporting paterns, not bashing, that is not rugby!

    • Johan

      Great work Oom.

      I also think their talk of the springbok pack being “the most physical in the world” lulled us into a the conservative approach we used.

      Looking at the stats, we won everything, except defense.
      We had 61% possession (55% in FH and 66% in SH)
      We had 66% territory (57% in FH and 73% in SH)
      We also had more clean breaks, more defenders beaten, more meters run and more offloads.
      We even conceded less penalties. (11-12)

      The problem is our tackling, 64% completion compared to 80%.

      That really isn’t enough for international rugby.

      A bit more creativity, with all the possession we had, and better defense, we should have won easily…

      • Rant

        Those are very telling stats. We actually played more rugby, but again I think we played the one out runners and slow support that was the hallmark of the Coetzee era. It does seem that when the Boks get some confidence they seem to go back into those old habits.

  • Chris Mouton

    Thanks for pointing this out, Oom. I rewatched the game in a more neutral state of mind and the majority of the Argentian turnovers were completely illegal. There were so many instances where the tackler played the ball without releasing the player first. These infringements weren’t picked up by the ref, which is ridiculous. There were two instances where it was so blatant that the commentators even commented on it. If we had a ref that could actually ref the break-downs, the game might have been different. No doubt the Boks didn’t play well, but a few penalties or even a yellow card would’ve helped us a lot. How many infringements did the ref allow to happen in the red zone of the Pumas? The ref had a bit of a shocker. The Pumas’ first try was also a direct result of Creevy obstructing Mostert from covering the inside gap. Kolisi did ask Garder to have a look, but he ignored him.

    • Herman Schroder?

      No wonder Gardner was recently named the best ref in world rugby by the NZ Breakdown crew, lol. Cheers.

    • Rant

      I didn’t realise Kolisi asked the ref for that to be checked. It was so blatant I have no idea how he missed it. Completely opened the inside channel and sucked our defence in that the try became a formality. Things like that should not be missed at this level.

      • Chris Mouton

        Have a look at the 1st two tries. In the background you can hear Kolisi asking the ref to look at something and in both cases he was ignored. The Pumas got away with a lot. I’m not saying the bumbling Boks would’ve won. I’m just asking for fairness around the park. Eben got a yellow card almost immediately, but the Pumas was infringing like crazy in their red zone. Yet, nothing happened. Not even a warning.

        • Greg Shark

          Chris, you’re on the money…. I did see the obstruction and thought Creevy was holding Etzebeth back. It opened up the gap and as you say the try was a formality. I also saw and heard Kolisi question the OZ ref who fobbed him off with something like…”if the TMO did not pick it up I’m not going back…”…
          I’m a cynic when it comes to Australasian refs (have not forgotten…’lets get the Jaapies..’ email) and wonder with all the illegal poaching going on if ignoring such was intentional… who knows?

          • Chris Mouton

            The breakdowns were also shambolic! So many times the guy who assisted with the tackle went directly for the ball, without showing daylight. None of this was picked up by the referee and ARs. You can see it blatantly on mulitple replays. I agree the Boks needed to adjust, but a lot of their gameplan depended on fast ball, which the Pumas didn’t allow.

  • JJ

    Conceding 32 points in 46min of rugby on a narrow field is just shocking. I dont understand the reason for playing Malherbe for more than 40min. Flo has been poor in both tests. AM is making some schoolboy errors.

    Not good enough, Rassie should take all the blame in naive almost arrogant selections

  • maxwell

    They are using the same defense tactics as the NZ teams and the ABs. Gang tackles and one as a fetcher. On attack they play American rugby. Take the defense out to create the gap. Referees is been made fools. LOL.

  • John Comyn

    The ref was shocking full stop. The 1st time Etzebeth slowed the ball down it was deemed cynical and he got a card. No problem with that but the did not apply the law equally. They have to get refs from the NH for the championship and something needs to be said!

    • Evan Snyman

      I have no problem with Etzebeth being carded for play that was clearly cynical, and I am one of his biggest fans. I even feel that the did so expecting to be carded. The expectation that referees have to warn a player or team before dispensing a card is false. While I hate blaming the referee, I also felt that he had a poor game in Mendoza, and I feel that the bigger complaint is that he did not equally punish cynical play on the part of the Pumas. Apart from the management of the breakdown situation as detailed in many of the comments above, I felt that he managed the scrums poorly – penalising our front row at almost every occasion, including an attacking 5m scrum. I am very grateful that I was watching in a Mike’s Kitchen, so I had to behave myself…
      While on the topic of the hometown advantage, did any one else notice that the arriving Kiwi at the ruck always “landed” on the heap? What happened to having a “taking off” attitude and trying to stay on one’s feet? Maybe that is the jist of it nowadays – play more games at home and bank on befitting from referees being unwilling to go against the crowd…
      What I have always loved about refereeing is the combination of physical and mental exercise – working hard to be in the right space to then make the correct call, especially given the complexity of the lawbook. I know that the man in the middle has a tough job, but like our criticism of the players in a professional era, he should not be in the middle if he cannot handle the pressure. Great referees have enough resources left over to enjoy the occasion, to not be overwhelmed by the ebb and flow of the implicit violence of the game – for example Nigel Owen’s easy demeanour with the players on the park. I feel that too many of the current crop of referees are too young, and appear too focused on law interpretation and not as much on the management of the game. Perhaps in the professional era they lack the wealth of life experience that a school master or an optometrist might bring into the mix.
      So whereas I was lucky enough to be taught to always be grateful to a referee for his time and effort, for without him there would be no game – I now feel that this only applies at the schoolboy or club level, where the referee is a volunteer giving up their time for the sake of others. At the higher levels, they need to act as a crew (I like the idea of the refereeing group rotating their roles over several weekends) and together be more responsibe for the decisions made. Much has been made of the increased role of the TMO, but at the same time the ARs have seemed to neglect their role in favour of the man with the replays. Both the Pumas and the Kiwis actions were so blatant that even if I were kind and said that you cannot expect the referees to see everything, I still feel that the ARs should have spoken up.
      Alternatively, bring in a NFL-style flag-based challenge system…

      PS – my references to referees as ‘he’ should also include the valued contributions of the ladies that also make our games possible.

  • Vossie

    Iam glad we all agree that ref was crap, we did create enough chances to come back in the second but poor handling and set pieces cost us dearly. I am a big fan of Rassie and understand what he is trying to achieve, he will need to make some hard calls if we are going to be successful against Australia, they will come at us hard and would want to prove a point.

  • Barry Smith

    Thanks interesting read. Agnes Gardner was poor on the evening, in fact most evenings, allowing continual off sides and creating what looked to be superb defence line speed from Argentina. But we did not adapt to this and that is really dissapointing!
    To my mind, the lose forwards were poor in follow up and support and that is why so often we went to ground rather than off load! We missed Jean-luc and Thom Du Toit badly. They both have the ability to hold up and off load in the tackle!

    • Chris Mouton

      Yeah, Malherbe certainly looks out of place in that Bok team. Wilco and Thomas look a lot better in my opinion. Rassie’s in a tough position, though. He still needs to see what he can get from each player. I would actually like him to give Rob du Preez a decent chance. Robert is just as physical as Pollard, can tackle quite well and he can actually kick. Those 5min wasn’t enough. It’s a pity that Kyle Brink and JL du Preez are injured. We need a big flanker.

    • Rant

      Good point re Thom Du Toit. Why are we playing Malherbe into form at international level? Should he not be in Currie Cup getting fitness and form? Wilco to start with Du Toit on the bench surely makes more sense now. You can’t have lightweight loose trio when one of your locks is only just 100kg. If we start Mostert at 5 then we need JL Du Preez or PSDT at 7 to add that ballast for clearing rucks.

    • Greg Shark

      we’ve said numerous times that the loose trio does not support adequately…. I think the trio is the wrong mix, not enough grunt for go forward….

  • Edrich Smit

    There’s something that’s been bothering me a lot. The moment the ball was moved away from rucks, it was passed behind 2 or three dummy runners. The moment that receiver got the ball, the defence read it perfectly. It happened multiple times and it didn’t appear as if anything was being done to remedy that situation. Also player passing accuracy is terrible. A lot of passes went behind players. Thats another thing. The last time I saw a player receiving the ball off a ruck at absolute pace, was last year by Coenie Oosthuizen against France.
    Yes, the defender was smaller, but we all remember the five pointer that was scored that day.

  • Jacob Marais

    Full credit to Argentina. They fully deserve to be playing in this tournament and its great to have an Argentinean team in super rugby.
    Great analysis as usual from Oom. The backs are a mess as is our defence. Am not sure who is coaching them but i do feel the boks were a bit arrogant as well.
    Its also a shame that unlike England and the All Blacks we have our best coaches coaching abroad or involved in media and not hands on with the boks.
    Nobody can tell me that the likes of Stick is the calibre of coaches who should be involved at bok level. England, Ireland, New Zealand etc would never make such a ridiculous appointment.

  • Jacob Marais

    effek should be effect. It’s one thing Oom’s level of English but clearly whoever owns this website clearly has problems with their English too or at least the ability to proofread an article before publishing it. That’s laziness. Amateurs bit like the Boks

    • Chris Mouton

      It’s part of the article. Please read all the way through, then you’ll notice: “DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans”

      • SweetAz

        LOL, there’s one every time “Oom” posts something, and every one of them has the same supercilious holier, and better than thou tone.

  • Herman Schroder?

    The price you pay for playing the stampkar game throughout. What do the AB’s forwards do ? Short linking passes to each other moving the ball out wide, keeping the ball alive and avoiding the clutter at the rucks. Only problem is you need skills to do that and our plodders do not possess too many of those.

    Remember that wonderful pass from DV to Fourie du Preez to score the winning try against Wales at the 2015 WC ?. Only problem is that it was his first ever and he hasn’t made another one since. Ya well no fine.

  • minging

    They wouldn’t have this problem is they smashed the break-downs on own ball and opposition ball, rucking, counter-rucking and cleaning out at pace and as a unit. Something the Boks haven’t done for eons and definitely not know with Kolisi on the wings, and Louw struggling to keep up.

  • dbaggins

    Well spotted Oom.
    Eddie jones used the same double team tactic, with japan against the boks at the WC. Mainly to slow down ball. Teams would not try this kind of tactic against teams that have a destructive offloading game amoungst the forwards. Trying this approach against the lions or the crusaders would be suicide.
    Highlights the Achilles heel of a team that relies so heavily on quick frontfoot ball only through gainline dominance with one of runners as apposed to looking to offload once the defense becomes compromised.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Give that man a Bells, well said Sir. Look at the AB’s they do short quick passes among backs and forwards to open up defences. It also reduces rucks and all it’s inherent problems. Cheers.

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