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Monday, January 16, 2006


International Teams: Can White's Boks become better?

Article by Boertjie

How good are the Springboks really? Four minutes away from glory in retaining their Tri-Nations title? Or a team whose forwards and backs are struggling to compete with the best in the world? Is Jake White still the answer as coach, or has he reached his pinnacle? With all teams building towards the World Cup, Springbok fans are sadly left with too many unanswered questions to feel confident...

This may sound over-critical, given that the Boks moved from spot number six to spot number two in the world in one season. But alas, the shortcomings are there for any neutral and critical observer to see...

The powerful pack struggled to stamp it's authority in just about every match, even against the Wallabies! They were decidedly outplayed in the first half of their test against the less fancied Pumas and taught a lesson in power, aggression, mobility and technique by the French pack in Paris.

As a forward unit the Boks never properly gelled, were often beaten to the breakdown and lacked the fire-power to quickly and effectively set up and clean out rucks, whilst very little came of their mauling abilities.

The Boks have arguably the best line-out in the world, but we hardly ever saw something positive done with this possession. This is by now an experienced pack, but very rarely did we see them set up multi-phase play via mauling, and sucking in defenders before spreading quality ball to a backline that is very potent – if then only on paper!

How many moves can you recall in which more than three forwards linked up, or linked up with the backs?

Loose-trio combination

In my view we do not have the right loose-trio combination, even though this country seems to be blessed by a plethora of talent in this position.

Juan Smith is world class, but Schalk Burger is not the answer as opensider. Burger is full of action, yes, but I am yet to see him do something more with the ball in hand than running headlong into his nearest opponent. He is seldom the first player to make a tackle and his best attribute seems to be his power and ability to win turnovers - but then he often lacks the support in securing the ball or the vision to start a movement.

Our number 8's were probably the biggest disappointment, as neither Joe van Niekerk nor Jacques Cronjé were very visible. This may have been the result of a tight five not dominating - which will then serve as proof for my earlier evaluation.

Is Gert Smal to blame?

Maybe the inept displays by the forwards are a pointer towards their coach, Gert Smal. He has been with the team from before White took over, yet there are no signs of them improving. It could also be a case of too many forwards being committed to defence – a pattern decided on by White? - for one often sees them outnumbered by the opposition when it comes to rucks and mauls.

Is Small the wrong man to coach the forwards – or is he only allowed to coach within the parameters allowed him by White? Were the pack as a whole not performing better in 2003 – also under Small, but pre-White?

Backline continues to be sterile

As for the backs, our halves often received uncontrolled posession from rucks and even from the set pieces. Teams cannot attack with scrappy ball, and the halves (poor Michael Claassens and Meyer Bosman on the EOYT) are not always to blame. How good will a Gregan and a Carter or a Wilkinson be behind a pack playing the way ther Boks did against the French in Paris?

Fact is that, even with good possession our back play, relying on rush defence and strong counter-attacks, continues to be sterile – despite various promises of rectifying this by White.

Naas Botha once made the point that, given the new laws, the set-pieces offer excellent opportunities for attack. He then followed it up with Tri-Nation stats showing that more tries were scored from set-pieces than from broken play – also by the Boks of 2003/2004. But definetely not by the Class of 2005...

With two or three exceptions, the Boks scored their tries in 2005 from pressuring the opponents and feeding off their mistakes. In this regard, they played much more enterprising rugby in 2004, when they won the Tri-Nations. Chip-kicks, running into the opposition, the skip-pass and the predictable and telegraphed inside pass seems to be the only form of attack that Allister Coetzee and his backs can muster from set-pieces. No blindside moves, no blindside wing or the fullback joining, no creating of overlaps, no feeding off the tackled player (which again asks questions from the loose-trio).

Once more one must ask the questions: Is this the result of forwards not dominating enough on their own ball? Is Coetzee hampered in his coaching by a pattern set by White? Are the players having their natural talents coached out of them? Or is Coetzee just not the right backline coach?

In general the only aspect of our game that seemed to have grown is our line-outs. Scrumming was much better and the backline showed more cohesion and creativity in 2004. Overall one felt the team was unlucky when they lost in 2004, whilst in 2005 it was rather a feeling of relief when they won.

(My thanks to Donner for his contribution to this article.)
Very telling points, Boertjie.

Throw in, why can't we keep the ball alive by offloading out of the tackle?

That has become a skill of it's own in recent years, mastered by New Zealand and utilised reasonably by the Australians and England under Woodward, if not today.

The French have always had the uncanny knack of keeping the ball alive.

You've raised issues that can be debated for days. Great stuff.
I quote:

"Throw in, why can't we keep the ball alive by offloading out of the tackle?"

Because we seem to believe that you HAVE to go to ground with the ball when tackled :-)
Even if you're not in a position to pass, you can try and drive another couple of metres - which gives the support that more time to arrive.
Other teams' players seems that much stronger in the legs...
Absolutely, my two biggest bugbears!

We don't drive hard enough in the tackle (pump our legs) - conditioning?


WE don't offload out of the tackle - coaching?
Funny you guys should be discussing the offload in the tackle. This ability is exactly what enable WP and the Stormers to be so dominating in South Africa in 2000 and 2001. The tackler always had someone to pass to when he made contact.

Even the overseas coaches during the S12 made mention of this ability numerous times and their praise for it never ended (Along with their praize for Pieter Rossouw).

This skill is two folded. The tackled player must be able to throw that pass, but the other players must have the ability to read the play and be there in support.

Somerwhere the WP and Stormers lost this, although not completely.

On the driving in the tackle issue, I will only say that it seems we have been playing too much touch rugby in this country.
Well done, an excellent summary of what is wrong with our game. It raises some worrying points as to the personnel in charge on our way to the world cup. We have the forwards, the Bulls proved it, why can’t the Boks perform at forward.
Our game has become predictable and stereotype, some new ideas and/or personal are required
Jake has the opportunity to become one of the best Bok coaches in history, but IMO he will have to start focussing on teh following:

1. Getting the players to gel. From where I sit and observe, it seems that the players have issues with each other whether it is provincialism or something else I don't know.

2. Start focussing on not over coaching the players and not put too much limitations on teh rest of teh coaching staff. My views is that Jake loves to dictate. Granted that he has the technical knowledge, but you can't go on that alone. We are at this stage the only team that plays the same pattern week in and week out. That is why we are being found out; we are not evolving and changing our approach little at a time. Doesn't he realise that having three different gameplans to choose from will absolutely make it close to impossible to be beaten. Imagine a team preparing for one type of gameplan and we pitch up with a total different one.
So right you are. Jake White has stagnated, because of his japie mentality. The All Blacks will have the Boks number this year in every game, because of one reason and one reason only: Jake White cannot come up with an attacking gameplan and even if he did, the players does not have the ability to execute it.

Expect some more snottings like Loftus.
Ai jai jai Tackler!!!

Welcome in any case. (Never thought I would say that!)
I suppose I concur kandas.

Welcome tackler

Time will tell.
Is this really tackler, or is someone taking us for a fool? Anyway, wellcome I guess.

My email wil nie deurgaan na jou toe nie. Ek het nie meer Robd se email adres nie, my harddrive het gegroet, en ek het nie my email gebackup nie. x-fire op keo se site, het sy email adres, as hy online is kan jy hom dalk vra.
Thanks Aldo  

So by the way, weet jy of hulle een of ander tyd aan julle servers gewerk het? Ek kon voorheen deurstuur, maar ek het nou 'n par toetse op julle domain gedoen en weet wat fout is. Ek gaan nou nie alles hier op die blog uiteensit nie, maar wat nou op julle domain is, is gewoonlik as mense iets oorgedoen het, vergeet hulle daarvan. As jy wil kan julle IT ouens na die volgende website toe gaan en julle domain toets. Dan sal hulle sien wat ek bedoel. Se hulle moet na toe gaan. Hulle kan sommer daar enige email adres van julle domain gebruik en hulle sal dit sien. Dit wat fout is, is nie groot nie en die meeste mense sal nog na julle kan stuur. Net server wat volgens die Internet standaarde op gestel is sal nie kan stuur nie, soos bv ons sin. As julle IT ouens sukkel, kan hulle my skakel. Jy behoort nog my sel nommer in een van die vorige emails te he. Dis net as julle wil, dog maar net ek gee raad, vat dit of los dit.
Thanks Aldo,

Ons sal check.
thanks Aldo

At this stage our enmails run through a server in namibia. We are looking at it before we move over to the new software / site!

Thanks again. You can mail me anytime with these type of things.
Kandas, I meant he's works IT, not you guys, haven't tested yet, but I will do it as well. Only reason I tested his work email was because 3 emails that I sent him failed.  
Haha ha ha ha,julle klomp WP gatgabbas!Hoe lyk dinge?Bulls gaan julle opdonner en Jake White is 'n drol,daar is te min Bulle in die Bok span!

Baas Vleis!

Spoke to him on the phone. They do have problems this morning.

Dag vleis bloksem! :)
Bedoel bliksem :)  
En as dit so stil is,wat gaan aan?  

Goeiedag. Long time no smell :-D

Alles goed afgeloop met die skuif verder weg van die beskawing?
Kandas, is alles doodreg. Ek vind niks fout nie.  
Die manne begin maar so in drips en draps hierna toe kom.  
Hey Kandas ou maat,lyk my julle boer vooruit!Ek sal seker maak dat julle die regte nuus kry,jy weet,Blou Bul oorwinnings ens.,iemand moet julle eerlik hou!Hoe kry 'n mens daai prentjie by jou naam,ek wil graag net 'n Bul op die site kry,dan sal hy eers goed loop!  
O ja,

Wanneer laas het jy kontak met Jondood gehad.

Hoe lyk dit. Jy't half stil geraak na die CC finaal waarin ons span ons so sleg in die steek gelaat het. Ek neem aan jy gaan my nou help om die ouens die regte pad aan te wys.
Donner,jy sal my nie glo nie,ek sit nogsteeds in Parys,moes my dinge 'n bietjie uitstel!  
Aldo,moenie worry nie,ons sal hulle nog bekeer!

Donner,bitter lanklaas.
Ek neem aan Pissant is die een wat skuldig daaraan was om die server gehost te kry. Aangesien die domain uit windhoek gehost word. So as iets nou fout gaan kan ons dit nie meer 'n kf noem nie. Dis nou as die site eers geskuif is.  
Ek het laasweek genoem dat die site 'n regte Bloubul ondersteuner as contributor kort, nie iemand soos Kandas wat meer die Spears deesdae support nie (net 'n grappie Kandas!), en aangesien my artikel skryf talente maar bra swak is, wat van Vleis? Ek dink dit sal net reg wees!  
Aldo en Vleis,

Smaak my julle hou daarvan om onmoontlike take aan te pak. Hier is darem nie te veel WP ondersteuners hier nie. Julle mag dalk 'n kans hê. NIE!!! :-D
Thanks Aldo. Ek het ook gekyk.


Kliek op jou naam om na jou prile te gaan en volg die instruksies.

Terloops, jy weet mos my tweede sentiment, naas die Spears en SWD is by die Bulle! :)
flip - profile!

Dit gaan woes vanmore!
Donner,wie bluff jy nou eintlik,julle is almal 'n klomp "closet" Bulls fans!

Dink julle Mallet se invloed gaan die Stormers meer suksesvol maak hierdie jaar?
Die Stormers het dieselfde kans as die Bulls.

OK Die Sharks se kanse le darem bo die Bulle se kanse.:-D
lol@ vleis

Wat dink jy is julle kanse om die Cheetahs op die Vrystaat Stadion te klop?

Jy't email.
Kandas,ek sukkel my gat af,moet ek as 'n "blogger" registreer om my naam te wys?

BTW davids,ek dink 'n goeie kans,ek reken die Bulle het waardevolle lesse geleer verlede jaar,in die S12 en die CC.
Okes,wat de hel!Ek het as 'n blogger gerigestreer,maar as ek my use naam insit,weier hy dit!Help my!
Okay,lyk my ek het dit nou!

Donner,skaam jou,die guppies kan nie in dieselfde asem as die Bulle genoem word nie!Skande!

PS:Onthou BOLAND!!!!!
Wat van die Boland?

Dit is baie mooi wereld daai.
Ek het so 'n rukkie terug vir die ouens gese om in hul pasoppens te wees vir die Geriatrics. Hulle mag dalk 'n hele paar ouens verras.  

Boland=WP nagmerrie!!!!!

BTW,as ek by my profile ingaan,hoe kry ek vir my 'n prentjie by my naam?Moet ek daai "hello" program download?Dit lyk vir my na 'n moerse storie!
Okes,ek moet eers waai!Donner,praat later!  

Ek probeer reply op jou email. Dit bounce terug.

Email asb jou telefoon nommer vir my.
The Boks can't get better because most of the focus of their game is stopping the opposition from scoring points and not scoring points for ourselves.

Also, withregards to our pack.....they are asked to defend more than the required norm in my opinion.This is physically draining and saps them of the energy required to impose themselves as an attacking entity.

The pack need to be given the freedom to attack the opposition as a unit.

Right on the money there with your comment. That is exactly what Boertjie pointed out.
So what you are saying then is that the pack is being forced to cover the defensive channels and not being permitted to 'hunt'?

By this then they aren't trained to maul the ball properly and not trained to compete effectively at opposition created rucks?

So what about the tackle offloads then? Why are we so awful at offloading in the tackle?

because we kill the ball in that situation.

we try and run through players, not around them - remember my argument at setting up phase play......

hello vleis, bliksem goed om jou weer terug te sien, het iemand jou al reg gehelp met die prentjie.

i got intermittent problems with my connection - hopefulle it will get sorted soon
Funnily enough,
should our pack start going forward as a unit again, we'd probably see a lot more off loading in the tackles, or successful offloading anyway with more support availible.

I think you guys are being a little harsh withregards to our backs offloading in the tackle.DeVilliers and Fourie are doing it well enough,Habana has also done it a couple times this past season.Off loading also shouldn't be blown out of proportion.Off loading when you have support close at hand running into space is good(ala NZ),going to ground and securing the next phase when the pass is not also good.
Great site guys! A welcome break from KEO.

Agree entirely with StP. Jake has taken us as far as it is possible on a game-plan structured solely around defence. Being a conservative game-plan it will ensure that we are always competitive, but unfortunately never champions. At least it has ensured that we are now more respected!

There is still one more huge step to climb in order to become champions and that is finding that balance between defence and attack. We must be wary not to go all-out on attack as Carel tried to instill during his reign.

Do not believe Small is the answer for the forwards and would bring in someone like Carel to bring flair and confidence back to the backline (under watchful eye of Jake).

Lets hope some of the pressure is taken of Jake (to perform) to enable him to take the next step!!!
Dagsê, Ou Grotes!  
Welcome guys!  
I think that Jake is gonna take these guys all the way to WC victory. We have a solid defense, something that has always been our strentgh and we have the talent to become a real attacking force.

I also got the impression last year that offloading in the tackle was something that the Boks have been working on (Newlands game against the AB's)

I predict that we are gonna take the Tri-Nations, the new format favours us, and we are gonna beat the Poms come year-end.

I enjoy your enthusiasm and positivety, but surely we cannot go another year just bargaining on our defensive capabilities. I think Boertjie was quite correct in his assessment of the forwards not doing their basics due to defensive commitments in teh gameplan.
Welcome KWV

The Boks won the '95 RWC based on their rock solid defence. That has been a hallmark of SA teams forever and a day.

Even Nic Mallet's teams won because we applied so much defensive pressure. Witness the 3N game against NZ in 1998 when they managed to put a platry 3 points past us.

Okay, Mallet's side had more dimension in the attacking phases with players like Snyman and Lem leading the way, but arguably White has more able attackers in the Bok team.

So this leaves us with the dillemma again. Is it Gert Smal and Alistair Coetzee who are bad coaches or is it that they simply apply what Jake White expects in his reactive analysis of the other team's weaknesses?

So they have to coach within the grand White strategy that means their coaching techniques are that the style must fit in with our defensively oriented style of play. BTW, the style of rugby the Boks played in 95 was not particularly attractive, that of the Australia in 91 wasn't either and that of England in 2003 was downright atricious from a style perspective.


All three ugly styles were damned near perfect in execution and they brought in the desired results.


I don't think that single minded style of play is going to work in international rugby as we know it this decade. It may backfire because we'll be one dimensional.

You are correct in that you will have successes when playing defensively especially in finals when both teams play conservatively. You will however not be consistant as you do not create your own opportunities, but rather force the other team into mistakes.

This requires as you so rightly mentioned 100% execution of the gameplan which is seldom possible (hence the inconsistancy and therefore not being champions).
Sorry I also forgot to mention that I dont necessarily view winning World Cups as being true champions, but rather consistant performances right through a year (example All Blacks).  
I'm with you WGC

I certainly think that in the case of the 91 Aussies we could agree that was so. In the case of the 99 side too and the Boks of 95.

However, and this pains me immensely, the 1987 AB's and the 2003 English sides were the best teams of that particular year and the most consistent.

They were the most consistent teams of that year. So does that make you the real champion for four years.

I would still love to see a WC winning team dominating for the next four years and then go defend their title.
Touche Donner

I agree

The only team that showed much consistency following their win was the AB's post 1987.

Nevertheless in THAT particular year(1987) they were by far the best side.
A journalist of any substance would write under his name and not under "boertjie' Come on guys - if you have something to say to Jake , be a man and show who you are.  
Exactly the point anonymous. We are not journalists. Independant views.

And, by the way, whoever is interested, is welcome to mail Boertjie. Just click on his address on the sidebar.

So why are you then commenting under anonymous?
take a jump at yourself. this article voiced questions that many sa fans are starting to ask.
so why not shut up if you cannot contribute answers?

Who complains about people not posting under their names but then posts his own response as "anonymous"

Something about the pot and the kettle...
Aldo, Ras, Donner, Anyone please help. Have forgotten what my password is. How do I find it again.


Good article. I'm also really worried about our forward and backline coaches. What about getting Rassie involved as a technical analyst.


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