Wily Jones has his tail up

Ami Kapilevich

There’s a familiar anxiety that settles over Springbok fans on a Thursday before a Test. Part biltong-cynicism: a mixture of realistic appraisal and analytical gloom. Part naartjie-voodoo: subconscious emotional protection from disappointment, and not wanting to ‘jinx’ it. Part head, part heart.

The end result is more or less the same, and it leaves us with the following thought leading up to this week’s clash between South Africa and England in Bloemfontein: The first Test was one hell of a game of rugby, but sneaking past a team that has lost five in a row, at Ellis Park, with a little help from the ref, should wave a big, red flag in front of your face.

“There is plenty of room for improvement,” is the standard refrain now that Kolisiphoria has settled down. So here are my three biggest concerns ahead of the next Test:

Tactical kicking
It was easy for Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard to gain yards in the first Test because of the hard work done by the forwards. When the Boks kicked, they did so with competence born of a confidence.

But it was telling that, in the final minutes of the game, a tactical kick for territory by the Boks was turned into points by Jonny May who took the ball on the left wing and ended up scoring in the right hand corner. And just prior to that, a superb kick by Elliot Daly put the Boks under some pressure in their own 22.

The Boks were expecting an aerial assault in the first Test and, in rugby, kicking begets kicking. So I wouldn’t be surprised if England’s attack coach threw down that particular gauntlet in the very near future. Heads up, Handre!

Our centres
The Boks looked strongest when they skipped centres Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am and played in the back three. This says less about the back three than it does about our midfield.

I suspect the English knew that our centres were a weakness and set out to defend mightily against them. Some of England’s quickest and most significant tackles were made in the centre channels, with deliberately-alarming linespeed that put De Allende and Am under a lot of pressure. So much so that I actually wonder if our criticism of the centres had to do with the players or England’s strategy.

My money says that no matter who the Boks name in the 12 and 13 jerseys for the second Test, Owen Farrell will be targeting this area again. And again. And again.

England hold the psychological advantage
England may have lost the first Test, but they’re not exactly tearing up the game plan and are unlikely to make many personnel changes.

They had the Boks on the ropes, were starved of possession for most of the game and, despite losing Mako Vunipola to a yellow card, still managed to dominate in the last ten minutes (at altitude!) to nearly take the game.

Jones is a wily old fox. In 2015 he found a way to beat South Africa, with Japan!

At Ellis Park, England found a weakness in the Springbok defence plan and exploited it mercilessly. Jones took so much confidence from the opening 20 minutes that, after the final whistle, he indulged in a bit of banter about the quest for a bottle of pinotage.

Make no mistake, England are heading into the second Test with their tails up!

- Ami Kapilevich

Let's chat

  • John Comyn

    Yes Eddie is a wise old fox but there’s a new fox in town! I’m seeing and hearing a lot of comments on how the Boks got lucky. The penalties England conceded were as a result of pressure and were legit not because the ref did us any favours. The reason England got away in the 1st 20 was as a result of extremely poor defense from a few guys playing their 1st test. Once the Boks settled it was one way traffic and while England came back into the game I could just as easily say if Pollard had not missed a few relatively easy shots at goal the boks would have won going away. In essence, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle. Ben Youngs recently mentioned in a presser that the boys were not emotionally in tune. What is going to change? Their confidence is shot (5 losses on the trot) and it may take a while to come back. Once the “yips” strike it can take a very very long time to go away, maybe never.

    • Herman Schroder?

      John the biggest reason for the turnaround was Willie and Faf taking the initiative and kicking Rassie’s game plan into touch. With decent creative centres we could have done even more damage to them. We poxxed the game in spite of Rassie but to his credit he did admit that he got it wrong and the players took the bull by the horns and turned the game around.

      It’s exactly what I’ve been saying these past few years, expansive rugby is the only way to go in this day and age. You’ll never beat the AB’s with physicality only, you can only do it by scoring more tries than they do. All our planning should be done with that in mind and the correct players picked to do the job of course..

    • Sharky

      The reason why England got away in the 1st 20 was as a result of the Boks expecting an aerial assault on the wings. Once the wings adjusted the defense was a lot batter. I think it was Nkosi who said as much in his post match interview.

  • Barry Smith

    Not sure I agree with your views on our centres. Whilst I would prefer to see Andre Esterhuizen in at 12, neither did much wrong last week. In fact some of the wing’s glory could quite easily sit with AM! In the moder game with greater line speed and defensive patterns it has become more difficult for 12 & 13 to do anything too special! If the ball gets to wing with space in hand, then mission accomplished!

  • Dean

    Willie coming into the line at pace gave us options. If our pack dominates again then we will win. The English forwards had no answer to our physicality, driving mauls and our scrum gained the upper hand in the second half. I would like to see the combination of De Allende and Am given more time to settle. This game will be the ultimate pressure Test for England. If they lose this one, people will write them off as one of the favourites to challenge for the World Cup next year.

  • Cobus Brits

    The back three was our Achilles heel in the past. That problem seems to be in the past too.

    One of the main reasons England got away so fast in the beginning was their absolute resolve not to play catch-up rugby which left them winded and the reason for the many penalties because they were not fit enough looking for shortcuts which led to indiscipline.

    Now that the new team had a chance to get to know one another on the field and could take a lot of confidence from the gutsy win, it is hard to see them starting off worse than the first Test which leaves them in a better space than the unknowns before that test.
    Boks to win a brutal game with at least one try more than the Poms.

  • humblepie

    I am not too stressed about the 2nd test. A team that loses 5 in a row will always feel more pressure. They have now learned from the 1st test, so did we. Jones is a fox, so is Rassie.
    I do however share the concern about De Allende. He plays so deep that the English confuses him for a second full back. He has dreadfully slow hands and his first instinct is to find someone to crash into. End of movement. It puzzles me why a clever coach like Rassie persevere with him.
    In the 1st test, our backline players regularly swopped positions and skipped De Allende when they moved the ball to the wings. Maybe unconvetional play is used to score tries. Interesting…
    Enjoy the 2d test.

    • Herman Schroder?

      I agree totally and you never even mentioned his woeful tackling just to add to his other lack of skills. His passing is also suspect with quite a few ‘rollers’ to offset his occasional pass finding it’s mark. IMO he is the most overrated centre in SA. Makes me wonder about Rassie’s judgement here or should I say lack of judgement. D’Allende was obviously chosen for his ‘stampkar ‘skills’ to suit his conservative game plan for the Boks but I’m sure Eddie has taken note. Cheers.

      • Rant

        Your opinion means nothing after following all your posts the last few weeks. Mr Schroder the Lionsfan, in his own opinion, prefers Android Coetzee over Willie Le Roux.

        The tediousness of one’s comments and lack of modern diction proves that this person should return to slumber in order to regain a renewed vigour for objective analyses and comment.

        Good night oupa Herman, your coffee has worn off.

        • Mikey

          Objective analyses and comment? Didn’t you say last week that Jantjies was the worst SB player in the JHB test? Pray do tell… how exactly? I dying to hear your objective analyses of that?

        • Mikey

          Apologies “two” not “too.”

        • Mikey

          I have been reading Rant! Your assumptions are something else. I know you like to throw around that you are an ex rugby player! Oh and a physicist that doesn’t understand how a clumsy charge attempt (on Ruan Combrink) of Raymond Rhule led to his sending off the field despite being committed. I guess you just missed the point that every referee on and off the field clearly understood. But no you know better… and then you have the audacity to tell Herman he speaks kak. Maybe look at yourself first.

          You are happy to make this comment: “Mr Schroder the Lionsfan, in his own opinion, prefers Android Coetzee over Willie Le Roux.

          The tediousness of one’s comments and lack of modern diction proves that this person should return to slumber in order to regain a renewed vigour for objective analyses and comment.” So you are clearly not speaking directly to Herman here, so who are you talking to then? Here’s a suggestion… everyone and anyone (which lo and behold includes me) then you have the failed logic and subsequent audacity to tell me to butt out of a debate “between two people.”

          “How could you possibly have any opinion on a bebate between two people without following the last couple of weeks?? Well as said above I have been following so that’s how I have an opinion… get it? You say that as if you think you have won the debate… LOL!!! While Herman may make some silly statements granted and has some faults in some of his logic.. he also makes a whole lot of very good points. So why not concentrate debating him on his good points (if you disagree with them) rather than trying to discredit him because he may say a silly thing or too. With that I will give you your dues. You are a fairly intelligent guy, and a fairly accomplished debater at times, and you make a number of good points in general but, just like Herman, make some silly comments as well e.g.Rhule “charge down” and diction comment… which I am happy to debate with you if you don’t think they are silly.

          “Rather keep quiet and focus on your own banter and debate” Stop telling me what to do (see what i did there)! Oh I am sure we will debate sooner rather than later. Banter?? You have been bantering?? LOL! Now that’s banter! Repeating over and over again that Herman should take a nap hardly counts as banter… that’s just laziness!

        • Mikey

          Diction? “Lionsfan?” How about how you start off replying to Herman directly, then suddenly switch to speaking in the 3rd person to apparently anyone who will listen? Then, finally switching back to speaking to Herman directly, with a good amount of condescension to boot. The irony is positively “dripping” off your every word.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Hi Mikey, I seem to have missed this debate with our good friend Rant last week and appreciate your comments and support in what seems to be an ongoing battle of wits between the two of us. Believe me he worries me nought and I have just posted a response to him further down this site at 9:24 am. Let’s see how he reacts to that.

            Looking forward to our ongoing debates in the future. Hier kom die Bokke, lol. Cheers.

          • Rant

            Mikey, don’t get involved without knowing the full story. How could you possibly have any opinion on a bebate between two people without following the last couple of weeks?

            Rather keep quiet and focus on your own banter and debate.

        • Dr Hoffman

          His opinion actually means the world to me! I find him very informative and knowledgeable. You on the other hand are a complete tool! No wait, a tool is useful, u are a moron.

          • Rant

            Wow. Someone needs to get lost and quickly. I suspect you are actually Herman Schroder under a different alias.

            You sure sound like a similar drivelling old buffoon.

  • Fanie

    D Allende must rate as one of the worst centers ever to don a Springbok jersey. To Rant this is an opinion based column and one would like to see you not get personal.I suppose with a name like Rant you are incapable of helping yourself.

    • John Comyn

      Without getting personal Fanie I think you underestimate De Allende. He has never been a favorite up North yet he is highly rated but anyone that has coached him including Rassie. Lions supporters have never been able to get over Ruan JVR non selection for the Boks and DDA has born the brunt. Just saying!

      • Dr Hoffman

        Not to get personal and then u go and make vast sweeping assumptions about lions fans and blame it all on them. what absolute effing nonsense, its got F all to do with lions fans twit. He is a rubbish over rated centre!

        • Herman Schroder?

          Doc, thanks for that. I have responded to Rant just below this post. Cheers.

    • Rant

      Fanie, you have missed the abuse that Herman has thrown towards others based on their opinion. So thanks for your input but keep an eye on that Herman and chap instead of attacking without any knowledge.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Dear Mr Rant, I am late on this post including the ‘debate’ between yourself and Mikey and others where they seem to have torn a strip off you to some extent. Let me give you some advice my good man from someone who has been writing on these forums for the past five years.

        You will note that I seldom make a comment without giving my reasons. This helps in two ways. Firstly it clarifies my thinking and my interpretation of the facts and secondly, I never get personal. I do make what could be construed by others to be belittling certain players ie D’Allende but one can also say they are fair game to some extent and one could always have an opinion on someone’s performances anyway. Many others express their opinions far more harshly than I do if truth be told but they seem to evade your wrath.

        You have also had the temerity to ‘complain’ about the lengths of my posts but I have found the more you explain yourself the need for a response by others is reduced assuming they agree of course. Others like you however use it as an opportunity to nitpick on small irrelevant aspects of my post rather than tackling the more substantial issues I brought up.

        I’ve had critics like you before but when they feel they are getting nowhere with me they always lose the battle when they harp on my age. Sure I’m 72 and would like to believe I still have my wits about me but you do yourself no favours by using that as a factor to discredit me. It’s known as a ‘cheap’ shot.

        In your response to Fanie above you accuse me of abusing people and in a previous post you accused me of being a liar. If you wish to make statements like that be a man and supply examples of these ‘failings’ so that I can see where you are coming from in order for me to respond accordingly.

        For us to continue to debate these issues as adults kindly concentrate on the subject matter and specifically on responding to some of my facts with your own counter argument and including facts to gainsay me. Those are of course the fundamentals of a ”healthy” debate and not a personal attack on one’s opponent.

        I trust that we nave cleared the air here and we can continue with some constructive discussions in the future. Cheers.

        PS : Why do you not give the right of REPLY on most of your posts ?? It’s confusing for the responder and reader when trying to follow the chronological order of the debate. That’s just another tip, free of charge, to you to help with your ‘growth’, lol.

        • Mikey

          Yes but with copious amounts of medication Herman! Just joking! Mate you are still a spring chicken.

        • Mikey

          sorry HAVE a good attack but a…

        • Mikey

          Also by the same token your theory can be seen from a different perspective. That conceding less tries than ABs concede virtually guarantees you a win. Of course it is very difficult to stop the ABs scoring, but it also accentuates the need not only a good attack but a good defence and falls strongly into buzz word that I now like to use and that is “Total Rugby,” something which the ABs are masters of, which of course includes the ability to play expansively.

        • Mikey

          Well Herman for a 72 year old your write up here seems pretty lucid to me, but then maybe at 44 years I am already losing my mind.

          There are a few exceptions however. First I don’t think I am in a debate with Rant… yet… we will see.

          And the part about facts. While we all certainly can use some facts in our arguments… a lot of the times we are just expressing opinion and theory. You, me and anyone else on these forums. I think what you are meaning is evidence to support your opinion and theories. For instance you often mention that in order to beat the All Blacks you need to be able to score more tries than them. And while I completely agree with your sentiment, you can’t call it a fact. Sometimes you can beat the All Blacks, for instance by scoring the same amount of tries as them not more, as we did in 2014, despite the host broadcasters getting involved…a penalty was still the right decision.

          All the other times, over the last 5 years, the ABs have lost i.e. twice to Aus, as well as once to the Lions and Ireland, the opposition have indeed outscored the ABs in tries. So while your theory has an extremely high probability of being the case it is not a fact… you know if I being very pedantic LOL! But it is a very strong piece of evidence that scoring more tries is required to beat the ABs.

          Herman, while I am not sure of this at all, I think the reason why you can’t reply to some comments is because there is a limit on the indentation of varying comments i.e. I couldn’t reply to one of your comments above.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Hi Mikey, Points taken and thanks again for the input. Yes the ‘Reply’ prompt is a bit puzzling but I will contact Tank via email to find out the reason and let you know. Cheers.
            PS : You know that 72 is the new 52 ( with medication ) , lol.

  • Nick.

    Jorrie Muller was without a doubt the worst centre ever to play for the Boks.

    • Dr Hoffman

      If you ask john comyn he will say it all the lions fans fault.

  • Nick.

    So Herman, What do you predict for the game this weekend? As somebody who is always proven right about these things, you could help to ease my anxiety and tension I am currently feeling as we approach Saturdays test.

    I’m also keen to see where I stand gambling wise.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Sorry Nick, I picked up a bit late on these comments above including the debate between Rant and Mikey and others so am busy with a suitable response there. I did in fact post my prediction before the match where I said England by 8 but conditional on Rassie continuing with the expansive game in which case I said he may squeak a win, The famous ‘hedging of one’s bets’ scenario, lol. The final result was probably a mixture of both. so kudos to Rassie.

      • Mikey

        My take Herman! Is that your prediction was based on England being better in the 2nd test than they were in the 1st test. But the opposite happened. In the 2nd test England had more possession but knocked on the ball more than I have ever seen any other say top 6 team knock on before, it was quite staggering! I think SA won more because of that than SA being expansive in the 2nd test.

        In the 1st test England had quite a lot of possession in the first 17 mins and then had quite a lot of possession in the last 12 minutes, and duly scored tries during those times. For the rest of the game SA was playing predominantly with ball-in-hand therefore starving England of any possession to score with. Perhaps offence maybe is he best form of defence?

        • Herman Schroder?

          You are quite correct. I commented to my mates after the match that I didn’t realize just how poor this England side had become since the beginning of the year. But in fairness to them they did look ‘klapped’ out after a long NH season and in retrospect also Eddie’s decision to base them in Durban. It backfired badly.

          So yes we need to encourage old Rassie but I believe he still has a long way to go before we can say SA rugby is out of the woods. The problem may come when these players start believing their own press and think they only need to turn up like the AB’s did last Saturday against France. Not sure if you watch The Breakdown but for the first time they were actually highly critical of their team and wonder of wonders all agreed that the sending off of Fall was a travesty of justice.

          IMO I believe that the walls of the AB’s citadel are starting to crumble a wee bit. Even old Hansen is not his usual self if you listen closely to his comments. For me Ireland are playing the most complete rugby at the moment and a shoe in for the WC.

          Going forward the RC will be a true test for all to see where they are at the moment and I’m looking forward to it if they can only sort out the bloody laws and the officials. Cheers.

          • Mikey

            True about Rassie. What is encouraging though is that he did get Swys de Bruyn involved and being director of Rugby there is no reason he can’t get Johan Ackerman involved down the line… maybe a year or 2 after the world cup. He could bring him in as an assistant and if all goes well with Rassie (I dont want to be presumptuous), we could have Henry / Hansen smooth transition after 2023. Wouldn’t that be some succession planning. Knowing Ackerman I don’t think he would leave his post at Gloucester, no matter the offer, until he has been there at least for 3 to 4 seasons. But yes lots of hard work needed. My biggest disappointment so far has been Nienaber, the defence has been atrocious. Lots and lots of work to do.

            Yes and remember the SBs started believing themselves and coaches and of course their own press last year after the France series. And we all know what happened after that. Now belief is a great thing granted, but it requires far more than belief. Wayde van Niekerk can believe all he wants that he can break Usian Bolts 200m world record but in reality what it will take in addition, is great coaching and conditioning, tons of hard work and discipline, together with the natural freakish talent to be able to do it the first place.

            Well we will see about the ABs. The problem for the rest of international rugby is the coaching in general, and the general talent, skills and abilities of the top 100 players in NZ. I don’t believe that the ABs will ever become a bad team, but I do believe they can be caught up with, competed with and beaten.

  • Mikey

    True about Rassie. What is encouraging though is that he did get Swys de Bruyn involved and being director of Rugby there is no reason he can’t get Johan Ackerman involved down the line… maybe a year or 2 after the world cup. He could bring him in as an assistant and if all goes well with Rassie (I dont want to be presumptuous), we could have Henry / Hansen smooth transition after 2023. Wouldn’t that be some succession planning. Knowing Ackerman I don’t think he would leave his post at Gloucester, no matter the offer, until he has been there at least for 3 to 4 seasons. But yes lots of hard work needed. My biggest disappointment so far has been Nienaber, the defence has been atrocious. Lots and lots of work to do.

    Yes and remember the SBs started believing themselves and coaches and of course their own press last year after the France series. And we all know what happened after that. Now belief is a great thing granted, but it requires far more than belief. Wayde van Niekerk can believe all he wants that he can break Usian Bolts 200m world record but in reality what it will take in addition, is great coaching and conditioning, tons of hard work and discipline, together with the natural freakish talent to be able to do it the first place.

    Well we will see about the ABs. The problem for the rest of international rugby is the coaching in general, and the general talent, skills and abilities of the top 100 players in NZ. I don’t believe that the ABs will ever become a bad team, but I do believe they can be caught up with, competed with and beaten.

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