Hi guys. These days writing about the Boks is hard hey. I start to feel like the guy who write the funeral notice in the newspaper! It seem to be one sad story after a other. Much have already been said about why we struggle so much – and yes there is many reasons, from the structure and administration of our rugby on down.
But what about a way forward?
And I do not mean long term, I mean short term… We still have a tour to Europe coming in November. We have all been beating the Boks with many sticks over the last while but what will you do if you were coach? How would you approach it? Where would you begin?
For me there is a clear road back for the Boks. To explain it let us look at the sequence below. All Blacks is going left from a ruck. Bok defence is set and with good shape and spacing. They can rush up if they want to.
But in the next picture we see again the relative passive approach to defence that the Boks favoured this year. It is two passes later and even though they had enough men to be more aggressive we can see they were not. They track across and turn their shoulder, waiting for the All Blacks to come to them.
Then in the final picture we see the tackle happen well over the advantage line.
The Boks is running backwards as the next ruck start to form. They are on the back foot. Unless there is a positive hit somewhere the domino effek of quickball will just get worse and worst.
In the nutshell: passive defence breeds passive players.
If we look at the second picture above we see it in action. Shoulders turned, waiting, re-active, submissive. We are letting the opponent dictate to us. We give him time, space and free meters. We concede the gainline, we concede our territory, and we invite him to take a dominant position over us. If we were a farm dog we will be the lowest farm dog who roll over on his back and peepee when the other dogs come near.
That is not how Springboks play rugby.
The road back for this team will be to build a identity and a attitude around a focused, dominant and aggressive defence. Players must run FORWARD to go and meet their opponent and smash him back. They must CLAIM the gainline and punish severely anyone who is stupid enough to try cross it. They must dictate to the other team and make THEM doubt themself and become re-active.
If we have a uncompromising, clinical and aggressive defence then our players becomes confident and focused. It give a team a backbone.
I firmly believe that defence must be the first building block that a coach put in place. This where we build the team’s identity and it give us a rock foundation to then develop the rest of our game. And people does not realise it but defence is the first step of attack. The quality of ball you get is directly relate to the quality of ball you let your opponent have.
Allister must wrap up his wounds, go back and plan and then get a group of players together who can make us the big dogs on the farm again. It will be the first step back to success and the first step toward lighting the fire of the Bok emblem once more.
The Boks must take back control of themself by taking back control of the defensive contest. That is where it must start.