KSA Shark ©

The best team in the world

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Springboks, Tri Nations on 31 Aug 2008 at 19:01

This might sound like a statement even more bizarre than the big win scored by the Springboks in their final Tri-Nations fixture, but fans may have even more right to be angry now than they were when their team lost to the same opponents in Durban.

Gavin Rich writes in his SuperRugby column that after that game, where the Boks were outplayed 27-15, there was a chorus of boos, both from the terraces immediately after the game and when they climbed on their team bus and made their way through the famous ABSA Stadium braai area immediately after the game.

At Coca Cola Park it was a different story – the Boks were cheered from the field after an eight try to one and 53-8 triumph that would have restored considerable pride and faith in the green and gold jersey.

But while it was good to see the Boks win, there must have been many who shared the anger I felt at seeing a game-plan that should have been implemented throughout the Tri-Nations prove so successful when it was finally employed on a day when it no longer really mattered.

Had the Boks stuck to the principles that were employed in Johannesburg, it is reasonable to assume that this was a year where they should have convincingly won the southern hemisphere competition.

Instead they ended up coming last in a season where they lost four out of six matches, a miserly win percentage of just 33%, and slipped in the process from their No1 world ranking to third. On top of that, for the first time they lost successive Tri-Nations fixtures at home, while the loss in Durban was the first to the Wallabies on home soil since 2000.

Australia have never been happy visitors to South Africa, and you could say that in Johannesburg they saw the return of their old insecurities once they were placed under the sort of pressure that the Boks failed to do in previous matches, where they seemed in between styles and uncertain of what to do in the face of calls from the management to play “new age rugby”.

Whatever “new age rugby” might mean, it was severely criticised by former Wallaby coach and Bok technical adviser Eddie Jones, as well as the World Cup winning Bok coach Jake White in the week building up to Coca Cola Park.

Full marks to the Bok management for the way they steered clear at the post-match press conference of taking any swipes at Jones, White or any of their other critics, for it would have been disingenuous to do so. What the Johannesburg game proved was that the critics were 100% correct, that the World Cup winning players remain excellent performers, they just need to be employed in the right way.

In this year when New Zealand and Australia are both rebuilding, and we have seen enough evidence during this Tri-Nations of how vulnerable both those teams are under pressure, it is certainly not stretching it to suggest that a retention of the basic tenets of the World Cup winning formula would have seen the Boks come out tops.

That they didn’t was because they appeared to forget the truth behind that old saying that “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”, and Saturday’s big win proved that the old strangulation technique employed by previous Bok teams can be as effective under the ELVs as under the old laws.

Neither does it make for unspectacular rugby, for the Boks scored eight great tries – the attacks just need to be launched from the right field positions, and at the right times. They did run from their own half after half-time, but by then they had earned the right to do so, and this is why the traditional Bok approach has been known as “subdue and penetrate”.

The magnitude of the win will probably ensure that some of the pressure is released on the beleaguered management, but if it is to remain that way they are going to have to internalise the lessons of Coca Cola Park, and accept that for change to be effective it needs to be gradual.

Flashy rugby is only carried out effectively by confident players, and confidence is bred by winning. When the Boks returned to what they knew, they proved what many of us felt we knew already – they remain the best team on the planet when they play it their way.


  • ❓ Did we or didn’t we revert to old style ❓

  • Comment 1, posted at 31.08.08 19:25:42 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Two full tosses in a ROW to Flintoff in his last over…Philander is sooooo crap! 😯

  • Comment 2, posted at 31.08.08 19:52:51 by klempie Reply
  • I won’t call it a return to the old game but there was some significant changes.
    They hit the rucks in bigger numbers.
    They kicked for the corners.
    No quick line-outs or tap-kicks in their own 22.

    The way they play relies heavily on momentum and confidence. Had they failed to finish the early opportunities, like the previous weeks, and had Tuquiri held on to that pass, it could very well have gone pear shape again.

  • Comment 3, posted at 31.08.08 20:15:20 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 1) : Imo not. What we did do was to commit players to the breakdown points, sometimes by the new word from the AB’s, gang tackling, which ensures numbers at the breakdowns anyway. That is certainly the way to go and proved that from there you can play running rugby the way the boks did. It was also apparent in the game where the AB’s annihilated the Wallabies last time around.

    I think that is more or less what PDV wants. You need committed, quick thinking players for that. You still need strong, dominating forwards for that. We have those. You need backs that can run when the opportunities arise. We have those. We need guys who can kick when we have to. We have those.

    We can still field a better team, but that I will leave to the experts. We needed to play this type of rugby during the world cup as well, for we had the players. If anything, this just proves to me that Jake White and his team could have annihilated the opposition they had, but chose the conservative way.

    Now only one thing remains to make me a happy man. That would be if Ruan Pienaar will look at the last ten minutes over and over and over and convince HIMSELF that he could be an amazing no10!!

  • Comment 4, posted at 31.08.08 20:24:14 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • I just have to add this bit. I love the term that Graham Smith uses in saying that they want to play ” brave ” cricket, which they then fail to do most of the time. I would like to attribute the term ” brave ” rugby to the way we played on Saturday, only we have to play that way all the time.

    That way we would be able to swallow the odd loss with dignity.

  • Comment 5, posted at 31.08.08 20:32:25 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • @Silver Fox (Comment 4) :
    @Silver Fox (Comment 5) :
    Very interesting thoughts there Argentum Vulpus.

    Gavin Rich should have shown some dignity and admitted that PDV’s plan worked on Saturday – here he just shows his bias again.

  • Comment 6, posted at 31.08.08 21:27:49 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @Big Fish (Comment 6) : Hehehe, took me an hour to see in what way you have insulted me here!!! :mrgreen:

    Argentum Vulpes does have a ring to it though. 💡

  • Comment 7, posted at 31.08.08 22:41:41 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • I always wonder why we play the Ab’s and Wallabies down at sea level. Why do people think that the AB’s play the Boks in Dunedin. Does it have a big stadium, does it have a big population, do the Boks win there regularly. The answer to all the above is No. So why don’t SARU say to themselves. Do these teams like playing at altitude, do they like the staunch Afrikaansness of Bloem,Tswane,and Egoli. The answer to this is also NO. However the AB’s do enjoy Durban and their support in Cape Town so why play them there. I sat up at 1am and watched the Boks play, and I went to bed unconvinced. They only played well when it didn’t matter anymore, or the Ausies played poorely because they had their minds on the final game in Brisbane. Remember you can only play as well as the other team lets you. Oh well we will just have to wait until the N/Hemisphere games come up to see IF THERE WAS AN IMPROVEMENT.

  • Comment 8, posted at 31.08.08 23:24:33 by Dynamite Reply

  • @Dynamite (Comment 8) : Professional sport is also about money.
    If you do not play in the venues where you can generate the most revenue, you will not be able to pay your players enough. The best will go to Europe and you will start to loose regardless of where you play.
    If the kiwis are choosing to play in a small venue specifically to win rather than to make money they are being very stupid.

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.09.08 03:09:12 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • @Dynamite (Comment 8) : Dynamite, if you did not see improvement, you will never see it. I, for one, do not think that a certain stadium should play any part. Altitude, maybe. Grass is grass is grass. All the same. To insinuate that AB’s enjoy Durban and Cape Town for support would mean that they have the majority of support there, which I can assure you are not true.

    Also to say that you can only play as well as the opposition allows you is very much a cliche. That would imply that you are always at their mercy. IMO you have to take control or hand control to them.

    Your last remark hardly qualify an answer, but let me indulge you. There was a HUGE improvement, the N/Hemisphere games will serve as a yardstick to see if we can keep up or still improve on what we know we can achieve.

    Naysayers are also people that find it very difficult to admit that there can be any good in this old world.

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.09.08 06:55:49 by Silver Fox Reply

    Silver Fox
  • Pressures on De Villiers brought him to change mind and to adopt a more conservative and “South AFrican” way of playing.
    De Villiers needed 8-9 matches and four losses by Sanzar teams to understand it.
    Will he consider it the best option for the future?

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.09.08 08:33:37 by Offside Mac Reply

  • @Offside Mac (Comment 11) :

    The debate is to whether he DID change his plan or not.

    Some believe he did, others not.

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.09.08 08:39:49 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 1) : Can’t exactly call that the old style…planning to watch the game again though…

    We did add the numbers a bit at breakdown but the most important part was “HOW” the players hit the rucks. We had a lot of “fetchers” instead of relying on one guy…and the guys who were closer to the action were quick to support.

    The kicking from Butch was much better and gave us reasonable territorial advantage…would’ve been more lethal if we were more competitive during lineouts. I don’t know if it’s the hooker or the locks but there’s a lot of room for improvement in that department.

    It looked like the guys worked on all the basic errors we were complaining about…the passing, handling etc. The 50/50 passes that would’ve gone down last week were handled calmly this time around.

    To sum it all up…I think the decision-making was a lot sharper this week…from all concerned.

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.09.08 08:55:56 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 13) :

    So in summary (IMO) he tweaked it here and there but most importantly the players came to the party and brought their skills with them.

    How many turnovers this week?
    How many knock ons this week?

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.09.08 09:06:55 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Not sure how to put this in words but let’s try.

    I suggested a while back that PDV should NOT have tried his new style until the EOYT and that he should rather have tweaked the existing plan here and there and then come EOYT implement it all out.

    He seems to have gone all out to start with and then this week decided to dial it back a bit?


  • Comment 15, posted at 01.09.08 09:09:37 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 15) : Something like that…

    I do feel like it was not his intention to go ALL OUT to start with.
    It was probably the common “misunderstanding” between the players and a new coach. I think EVERYBODY was trying too hard…and they ended up making too many mistakes.

    So to answer your last question…YES-I think the coach… and the players did “dial it back a bit”…and the results speak for themselves. To those who think Australia was taking it easy on us…clearly they didn’t watch the game.

    We lost the 2008 TRINATIONS but I think we’ve gained a lot. Some lessons just have to be painful.

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.09.08 09:18:41 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 12) : he changed it to survive. as in nz henry changed his game plan: to survive

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.09.08 09:32:49 by Offside Mac Reply

  • it was luverrly to watch the Aussies get thrashed on saturday, if their hearts werent in it that’s their problem …and to see the Bokke play mistake free, smart rugby, fired by a hunger to win, was just about too good to be true. Lets hope this is the start of winning 3 games out of 4 against the big boys, year in and year out… then we’ll know we have the best team in the world

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.09.08 09:55:28 by spykerbaard Reply

  • @Offside Mac (Comment 17) : When you lose 3 in a row…you have to change something. If you don’t…it means you’re an idiot.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.09.08 10:01:00 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • I don’t reckon the game plan changed much, if at all. We simply executed it better. Although one thing that seemed to have been changed was to commit more players to the breakdown.

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.09.08 10:04:00 by McLovin Reply

  • @McLovin (Comment 20) : Have to agree with you there…

    November is not as far as we think…especially with the CC action coming up. The Boks will have it all to do yet again. BOKKE!!!!!!!

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.09.08 10:07:29 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blackshark (Comment 19) :

    good thing we only lost two in a row then 😉

  • Comment 22, posted at 01.09.08 10:08:35 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • TAKE A BOW MR. ADI JACOBS !!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 23, posted at 01.09.08 10:11:37 by Charlie Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 22) : 😕 Hey, I counted three…

    How did we end up sharing our superbru BP with Rob??? I thought we’d finalised the deal between the 2 of us…

  • Comment 24, posted at 01.09.08 10:16:28 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @Charlie (Comment 23) : i would swear you know the guy 😉

  • Comment 25, posted at 01.09.08 10:16:36 by PJLD(RIP Bernie Mac) Reply
  • @PJLD(RIP Bernie Mac) (Comment 25) : Just want to be known as his biggest supporter…Followed Adi’s rugby from High School to the Test Stage faithfully… 😉

  • Comment 26, posted at 01.09.08 10:22:19 by Charlie Reply

  • @blackshark (Comment 24) : tee hee! 😉

  • Comment 27, posted at 01.09.08 10:22:57 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @Charlie (Comment 26) : you deserve all the accolades you can get… you have never wavered in your devotion and it has paid off.

  • Comment 28, posted at 01.09.08 10:23:50 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 1) : When did Jakes team ever score 9 tries, unless they were playing Nambia?

    I just think we protected out ball this week by committing to the breakdown a bit more and we actually took the chances we made.

  • Comment 29, posted at 01.09.08 10:24:08 by Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • @blackshark (Comment 24) :

    Rob insisted on getting a cut as he is in charge. 😉

  • Comment 30, posted at 01.09.08 10:28:18 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 30) : and don’t anyone forget it 😉

  • Comment 31, posted at 01.09.08 10:32:54 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 28) : Thanx buddy, I’ll take that… 😛

  • Comment 32, posted at 01.09.08 10:33:02 by Charlie Reply

  • Add to that also not playing silly buggers in our half and opting to kick for posistion in the opponents third of the field where the pressure put on them at the breakdowns was relentless.

  • Comment 33, posted at 01.09.08 10:39:48 by Salmonoid Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Salmonoid the Subtle

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