Springbok legend Naas Botha has criticised the Stormers for kicking too much ball away and says their conservative approach in this year’s Super 14 is “not rugby”.
Ashfak Mohamed reports in The Cape Times
The Stormers have dropped from a commendable fifth-placed finish in Rassie Erasmus’s first season in charge in 2008 to a dismal 11th spot on the log with two games to go in the Super 14. They have lost eight out of 11 matches and are in danger of ending in the bottom three of the log.
“Rugby is a creative sport and you must come up with a plan,” said Botha on Wednesday. “The Stormers have been kicking too much. I am not saying you can’t kick but it must make sense, giving yourself a chance to regain possession, and that is not happening at the Stormers at the moment.
“The Stormers are just kicking downfield and playing off the opposition’s mistakes. They are showing that they don’t want the ball. That is not rugby.”
Botha says that the Hurricanes and Chiefs, who are first and second on the Super 14 log, have shown how an attacking mindset can be successful, despite the new ELVs.
“The South African teams’ tactics in dealing with the ELVs are not good. It has made our teams think that we mustn’t keep the ball and we must just kick it. But the Hurricanes and Chiefs have shown that if you think about your game a bit, you can hold on to the ball and score tries.”
“The ELVs have brought some uncertainty to the game but I still believe that if you score more tries than the other team you should win the game. But nowadays we find that the first thing coaches talk about is defence.”
Erasmus has often bemoaned the huge number of injuries his team have had to cope with but Botha said this was not an excuse.
“When they had to win those games early on in the competition they had a full team so the injuries cannot be used as an excuse,” he said.
The Stormers lost four out of their first six matches before the injury list reached crisis proportions. Other than the Lions match at Newlands, they were also shown to be toothless on attack.
Botha said: “I am surprised that the Stormers have done so badly in 2009. They played good rugby in 2008 and almost made the semi-finals. But questions must be asked in the Cape of why the team have been performing so poorly. It is just not good enough.
“The Stormers have always had quick wings but they don’t get the ball out wide. The fullback doesn’t come into the line while the centres don’t pass the ball anymore. They either have a go themselves or try a kick of some sorts.”
“The Stormers are a fantastic team and should make the semi-finals so it is right to ask Rassie ‘What the hell is going on?’
“They are classified in the same group as the Sharks and the Bulls. Those two teams are in contention for the playoffs but the Stormers are eleventh,” he said.
Former Bok and Stormers centre Robbie Fleck also feels that the Stormers kick too much but says that there is hope for the future with the talented youngsters that are coming through the Cape rugby systems.
“I think that Rassie has tried to get his team to play attacking rugby but I agree that there has been too much kicking. It has been a pretty disappointing season,” he said.
“The Stormers have had their fair share of bad luck. There have been many close games that they could have won. But to end the season like they are, there have to be a few question marks.”
Fleck said that Erasmus is “one of the best coaches in South Africa”, but needs help from senior players in the team. “Rassie is still a young guy in coaching terms and he will mature more as he goes on,” he said.
“I think the Stormers must try to retain seniors such as Jean, Schalk and Luke and they need two to three key acquisitions. I think they need a few heavies from up north in the front row and a couple in the backline.
“There are now many youngsters in the team and Rassie is a young coach. He can’t do it on his own and he needs help from the senior players. There is hope. In 1998, we had a bad year with a young team, and in 1999 it all changed and we made the semis.”Tweet