Boks fresh out of ideas

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Springboks on 21 Nov 2010 at 14:54
Tagged with : , , ,

The icy wind that blew through Murrayfield Stadium yesterday afternoon – brigning with it lashings of rain that drowned out any hopes of a Springbok victory – may just prove to be the early pre-cursor to the winds of change that must now, surely, bring new life and new direction to the embattled South African side.

The game is scarecely worth dwelling on – I fear. As you will all know, I watched the drama unfold from my superb spot in the press stand at Murrayfield and while the associated gaggle of Bok-leaning scribes tried in vain to keep the faith, it became only too clear as the match went on that the Grand Slam dream was destined to die in the Edinburgh cold – the brief candle of hope ignited by gutsy wins against Ireland and Wales throroughly doused by a perfect storm of conditions to which the Boks simply had no answer.

Don’t get me wrong here – I’m not blaming the conditions for the defeat, although they played their part, along with some typically whimsical refereeing interpretations from the unpredictable Stuart Dickenson. What ultimately spelled doom for the Boks was the way in which they allowed circumstances beyond their control to dominate them and eliminate their focus. In short, they lost their heads and neglected the very cornerstones of their game – that is the basic things that they usually do so well and on which they have been able to grind out victories in the past, despite adverse circumstances.

Victor Matfield and Peter de Villiers both alluded to this in the post-match press conference. Matfield muttered something about how the Boks’ desire to embrace a more expansive game plan on the day may have detracted from getting the basics right – particularly when it came to set pieces and accuracy in execution – and that may well be, but if that was indeed the case, then serious questions have to be asked about the planning, leadership and cohesion of the squad as a whole. How is it possible that a World Champion side, chock-full of 50-test veterans, could go into a game like this quite simply not knowing how they intended to approach the game, or perhaps more importantly, what other strategies they would employ should the weather, referee, or any other factor start to go against them? Planning and preparation, it would appear, are non-existant at the moment, because the Boks quite simply did not have any tools, whatsoever, in yesterday’s arsenal to deal with the conditions they faced at Murrayfield. Conditions, it must be said, which are hardly unusual in this part of the world at the current time of year.

Perhaps that sums it up most for me and makes me most convinced that some fresh blood is needed. It’s not that the Boks lost – hell, any team can lose a game. It’s not that they played poorly, because all teams play poorly once in a while. I’m not even all that worked up about the fact that we lost to a inferior side and made them look so good on the day, although that part was rather galling to say the least. What annoys me the most is that the management team, certainly at the stage that I saw them yesterday, didn’t appear to have any idea whatsoever about what went wrong or what they should do differently next time. De Villiers and Matfield had a standard answer to each question – along the lines of “we don’t know, but we’ll watch the video and do better next week”. I’m sorry, but at this level of the game, if you can’t figure out what’s going wrong without needing to pore over a tape of the match afterwards, then I simply don’t know how you can hope to be successful.

Coping with adversity is as much about preparation and training as it is about mental toughness and adaptability in the heat of battle and based on yesterday’s evidence, the Boks were caught woefully short in all of these areas. Without wanting to single out individual performances on the field (there were many) I feel I can no longer endorse the current management team, either overtly or tacitly. There is such a clear and obvious lack of leadership, direction and clear purpose amongst that group of men that success is never going to be achieved in a sustainable manner under their guidance, regardless of which players are picked, in which combinations, or which strategy (such as there is one) gets employed in a particular match.

There appears to be absolutely no clear consensus on approach and no clear pecking order either and it seems as though it’s a case of whichever party happens to be shouting loudest at the time getting the say. Too many cooks will invariably spoil the broth and when none is prepared to stand up and take on the role of head chef – and live or die by that responsibility – the result is an empty pot and a whole lot of headless chickens running amock in the kitchen, while the cooks try their damndest to beat out the flames.

I’m sorry, Peter, but it’s time for you and your team to make way for some fresh blood ahead of the World Cup. The game has moved on and I don’t see how we can argue that the current set up and approach is moving Bok rugby along at an equivalent pace, this despite the domestic scene being at its strongest in many years. Narrow wins against the flawed Irish and Welsh sides did little but to give us false hope. Perhaps, in time, we’ll look back on the disaster at Murrayfield as the first painful birth pang of a new Bok approach.


  • Nice article Rob and some sentiments which I totally agree with.

    But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  • Comment 1, posted at 21.11.10 15:02:24 by jonnow Reply
  • No where else would the mediocracy prevail.

    Divvy was appointed to the position for the wrong reasons and it has been downhill from there.

  • Comment 2, posted at 21.11.10 15:07:48 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter lostfish
  • Jonnow – talk is that Peter needed to win the Grand Slam to keep his job. I think that a loss against England will see him fired. Not that I’ve given up all hope of a fluke victory at Twickers, mind you!

    Lostfish, please… We’re all upset but if we start playing fast and loose with the site rules in the second comment, this thread is going to go downhill fast

  • Comment 3, posted at 21.11.10 15:12:01 by robdylan Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : Sorry, I wanted to change it afterwards but didn’t come back in time. Feel free to delete it.

  • Comment 4, posted at 21.11.10 15:34:47 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter lostfish
  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : talk is that Peter needed to win the Grand Slam to keep his job

    Talk from whom? I hope you’re right but my head tells me that a 50% record is good enough.

  • Comment 5, posted at 21.11.10 15:35:24 by klempie Reply
  • @lostfish (Comment 2) : It’s like we were made for each other…but then you had to go and waltz off with that *other* Frenchman. πŸ™„

  • Comment 6, posted at 21.11.10 15:35:58 by klempie Reply
  • Nice prose, but not much meat on what went wrong – which is what I still hope to find, given that I missed the game.

    I don’t really expect the coaching team to diagnose an unexpected loss at a press conference on the day – I don’t agree that the non-committal responses are a sign of anything in particular. Perhaps even a welcome silence from the normally too rapidly-spoken PdV.

  • Comment 7, posted at 21.11.10 15:36:09 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @klempie (Comment 6) : My moment of madness. Usually I keep those comments to myself but I am just so annoyed. I blame the pregnant hormones for clouding my normally good judgement – the comment not my hubbie πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 8, posted at 21.11.10 15:38:39 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter lostfish
  • @lostfish (Comment 8) : πŸ˜› 😈

  • Comment 9, posted at 21.11.10 15:39:53 by klempie Reply
  • Big Fish, go watch the game.

    Lostfish, no harm no foul!

    So long and thanks for all the fish πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 10, posted at 21.11.10 15:47:10 by robdylan Reply
  • Aren’t we all armed and ready for some witty repartee today.

    Well, I’m still sleep-deprived and a real Mr Grumpy: so eat my shorts Mr Clever! πŸ˜†

  • Comment 11, posted at 21.11.10 15:57:26 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @robdylan (Comment 10) : It’s 42.

  • Comment 12, posted at 21.11.10 15:58:18 by klempie Reply
  • This result has been coming for 3 weeks… it could easily have been 3 losses out of 3 by now!!!

  • Comment 13, posted at 21.11.10 16:30:45 by CS Reply
  • @Big Fish (Comment 7) : I think I can some it up in 3 points for you:
    * An utterly useless Springbok team totally devoid of any inspiration (not one of the 22 turned up!)
    * A ref who has now presided over 5 consecutive Springbok losses under his control!
    * A full 20% of the game was spent scrumming (16min out of 80min)… meaning we ran out of time w.r.t implementing our come-from-behind “game plan”

  • Comment 14, posted at 21.11.10 16:35:09 by CS Reply
  • @CS (Comment 14) : Note: I use that term game PLAN very loosely πŸ‘Ώ

  • Comment 15, posted at 21.11.10 16:36:05 by CS Reply
  • The Boks finally shown up with no plan whatsoever. Matfield’s leadership shown to be weak under pressure. @Big Fish (Comment 7) : Just watch what happened on 77 min. It sums up the game very well. Time for change indeed.

  • Comment 16, posted at 21.11.10 16:44:43 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • Mvovo is the South African Lomu! πŸ™‚ He, Kanko and Alberts seemed like they had a good game

  • Comment 17, posted at 21.11.10 16:51:04 by Mocho Reply
  • @klempie (Comment 5) : I also would have thought 50% would have been good enough, but a loss to England & Baa-baas will make it 2 from 5 for this tour. Might not be good enough.

  • Comment 18, posted at 21.11.10 17:01:58 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 18) : Nah. The Baa Baa’s won’t count. We always play the dressing room warmers.

  • Comment 19, posted at 21.11.10 17:04:45 by klempie Reply
  • Then again if Jake White could survive 2006 then PdV should survive 2010.

  • Comment 20, posted at 21.11.10 17:06:59 by McLovin Reply
  • @ CS, how could you say 22 players, Adi did not get any gametime 😈

  • Comment 21, posted at 21.11.10 17:07:22 by Charlie Reply
  • Its the delusional excuses about trying to play expansively in the conditions that upset me most, I certainly didn’t spot anything but aimless kicking even when we’re well over the advantage line! Hearing that from Matfield is quite frankly ridiculous, and even if it was so it confirms the absence the thought process required to change tactics whilst on the field…

  • Comment 22, posted at 21.11.10 17:08:17 by neilster Reply
  • @klempie (Comment 19) : Even so I sense SARU’s patience is running thin with PdV and any loss from now on might just be one loss too many. 😐

  • Comment 23, posted at 21.11.10 17:09:54 by McLovin Reply
  • @McLovin (Comment 23) : Here’s hoping big guy!

  • Comment 24, posted at 21.11.10 17:11:15 by klempie Reply
  • Interestingly enough, looking back over the last 10 years of end of year tours, the results so far are pretty much on par with what’s happened before.

  • Comment 25, posted at 21.11.10 17:18:06 by McLovin Reply
  • History have a tendancy of repeating itself πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 26, posted at 21.11.10 17:27:17 by Charlie Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 3) : @lostfish (Comment 2) :
    Sorry to disagree with the boss of the blog-maybe that should be your new name what do you think On second thoughts that is Andre-but the Boks walked right into this Yes Dickhead played his part and the weather took away our strength-the pack-and we were poor in execution but the problem was this is the game we thought that if we showed up we would beat Scotland In fact we thought if Jannie and Bissie took them on by themselves we would win!!!!!!
    Yes we left 8 points on the ground with missed kicks 3 tries that we should have scored but didn’t and we had 8 players who don’t play in the wet-unlike the AB’s-etc etc etc
    However none of the above are coach’s fault The blame belongs with the players straight and simple.
    No Beast runs, falling off tackles,very poor rucks, rushing up out of the defence line,bad handling these are basic moves that the players must take ownership of. They let the country themselves the fans and the coaches down
    Have a second look at the game.Yes the missed kicks hurt but we were not on the boil yesterday I mean come on How often does Bissy miss Vic in the lineout 1/2 a time in a game on average Yesterday 4 times!!!!!
    So to blame the coaches is not right well not in this circumstance
    As far as Pdivy getting the bullet it is not gonna happen. What I suspect is that the coaching team will get some extra help Defensive coach Mental Coach and handling skills coach and a pair of outside eyes
    We have those coaches in the system and for the outside eyes a few names spring to mind From both Australia and UK
    BTW we will beat England cos the mindset will be right
    I think there will be a few changes Aplon for Krusty Oddone for Aplon I would like to see ADi for Frans and Keegan for Stegmann and somehow Alberts in the starting lineup If the selectors are brave they will start with Pat and Charl but they wont be that brave 2nd half subs for both of them
    SA by 12

  • Comment 27, posted at 21.11.10 17:29:08 by Fattmann Reply
  • What ultimately spelled doom for the Boks was the way in which they allowed circumstances beyond their control to dominate them and eliminate their focus

    100% correct IMO. The Way matfield tried to argue with the ref was stupid and very bad for his side, not to mention being bad form.

  • Comment 28, posted at 21.11.10 18:12:50 by KSA Shark Β© Reply
    KSA Shark Β©
  • Play Morne inside centre,all he can do is kick.
    Lambie @10
    Get that Stegman out of the team and get Keegan on the bench and start Alberts.
    Why is zane playing rugby.
    Francois Hougaard go back to the bulls and play wing.
    JDV pffft.

    Peter DV,well what can you say.
    Dick Muir,your name says alot.

  • Comment 29, posted at 21.11.10 18:21:20 by Honey Badger Reply
    Honey Badger
  • Fattmann, your summary seems to fit with what I read so far.

  • Comment 30, posted at 21.11.10 18:26:19 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • @ Fattman, I am with you πŸ˜‰

  • Comment 31, posted at 21.11.10 18:27:43 by Charlie Reply
  • I admire those of you who are able to take positives and see a way forward for the current coaching team and squad. You clearly have a lot more patience and forgiveness than I do.

    I don’t know that the answer is, but given the talent available in SA, I honestly feel that there has to be an easier way to do this.

  • Comment 32, posted at 21.11.10 18:39:42 by robdylan Reply
  • I donΒ΄t see how the conditions could have nulified our forward pack. Dominant packs should revel in the kind of conditions we had at Murrayfield.

    The problem comes when the pack makes 20 meters in a rolling mall or carries the ball up through the phases, only for some idiot to kick it away and the same forwards having to turn around and run back 50 meters to form a lineout or scramble in defense.

    The kicking was shocking. The same crap we saw in the Tri-Nations, after which the excuse was that the strategy was correct, only poorly executed.

    It doesnΒ΄t take video analysis to figure out why we lost – such disrespect for possession has become a Bok trademark of late.

    Watching the AB/Ireland game afterwards and the highlights of the Wales/Fiji match made me realise how far behind we have dropped against the team that matters.

    Perspective is a sobering thing. And from where IΒ΄m sitting the Springboks look decidedly second class.

  • Comment 33, posted at 21.11.10 18:47:06 by rhineshark Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Spirit of Rugby
  • I also don’t enjoy the kicking game as much. But I kbow this: when executed well, it wins you the tight games – served England the Boks and the z*rgie well in the last WC.

    I also know for a fact that no matter who coaches the Boks, the kickibg game will still be an important part of the strategy. Problem right now is execution. I seem to hear that it was even worse than Ruan’s ay against Wales – and that was pretty piss-poor!

  • Comment 34, posted at 21.11.10 21:46:01 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • good article couldnt agree more ,a new approach is needed
    Its time to take a deep breath and do what needs to be done …drop players who dont deserve to be there ,place players in those positions that can execute what this new game plan entails.Get rid of the coaches

  • Comment 35, posted at 21.11.10 22:13:47 by baw Reply
  • Springbok coach? Genghis khan ..backline coach ? Alexander the great .. Forwards coach? Attila the hun..should sort out strategy problems (and discipline should also be no problem..)

  • Comment 36, posted at 21.11.10 23:15:01 by bergshark Reply
  • Will like to know why blame Peter for everything that goes wrong?Bizzy,juan,victor,frans,were all below average and by the way what has Frans steyn done on this tour?team to beat England.
    2 bissy
    3 jannie
    4 bakkies
    5 victor
    6 keegan
    7 juan
    9 ruan
    10 pat
    11 lwazi
    12 jean
    13 adi
    14 gio
    15 frans

    16 strauss
    18 allister
    19 spies
    20 charl
    21 morne
    22 odwa

  • Comment 37, posted at 21.11.10 23:16:29 by skull Reply
  • Yes,some of the senior boks did not have their best games..kanko also didn’t play well..
    But where is the innovation????I would love to see the coaches gamebooks for the tests this year ..and last year and 2008’s!!

  • Comment 38, posted at 21.11.10 23:38:10 by bergshark Reply
  • Do we identify weaknesses?do we have plans to exploit these weaknesses?the means(players)?do we seek to score on every possesion(not just tries,but via drop goals)?

  • Comment 39, posted at 21.11.10 23:43:22 by bergshark Reply
  • F steyn @outside centre has not been a success πŸ™ ..but do we blame the player or the coaches/selectors?

  • Comment 40, posted at 21.11.10 23:47:07 by bergshark Reply
  • “Studying our videos, it’s mind-boggling to me why we didn’t win.”

    “I think the management team and the players slacked off a bit because we felt all we had to do was rock up and things would be easy.”

    Peter de Villiers as quoted in the Sunday Times back in August.

  • Comment 41, posted at 22.11.10 02:30:14 by fyndraai Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld fyndraai
  • My biggest gripe at the moment is that we don’t seem to be able to change the gameplan when Plan A doesn’t work. Here you have to look at senior players and the captain IMO. When you’ve played 103 tests you should be able to see that your tactics aren’t working and then to try something different. I was always a huge Ruan Pienaar fan but he has really disappointed in the last 2 games with his decision making. That free kick at 77 minutes was just unforgiveable IMO. He seemed to look at Matfield before the kick. Did Matfield maybe think it was a penatly and asked Ruan to kick out? I don’t know but it was painfull to watch πŸ˜•

  • Comment 42, posted at 22.11.10 08:28:33 by Pokkel Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
  • The Boks looked like they were waiting for the sun to come out on Saterday and didnt seem to know what to do in the rain. We tried to kick as handling in the wet was hard but we kicked very poorly and had no chasers at all! Surely during the week they must have talked about playing in the wet? I mean its Scotland!!
    I think the Boks were trying to emulate the All Black performance but the conditions were not the same and we dont have the same type of players. I cant see there being any changes to the team besides Spies for Kanko. Just a pity big Coenie oosthuizen hasnt had a chnace as i think Jannie looks tired and CJ is well average. Also Flip Van Der Merwe has done nothing when he comes on, give Hargreaves a chance! It just seemed very individualistic on the weekend with nobody working together, perhaps there is some disagreement in the camp on playing style??
    I wont even talk about the ref because the Boks made more mistakes than him-and thats saying a lot!

  • Comment 43, posted at 22.11.10 08:47:22 by SheldonK Reply
  • @bergshark (Comment 40) : This is the same coach that still hasn’t figured out where the Boks went wrong in the 3 nations…

    Re: Frans – I blame the player and his club for his obvious lack of conditioning (after one tackle when he rolled over his gut was as bad as Jantjies), then I blame the coaches for continuously selecting him out of position and not realising how bad he is at 13.

  • Comment 44, posted at 23.11.10 14:53:07 by lostfish Reply
    Valued Sharksworld Supporter lostfish
  • Well I’m saying nothing, but with a MASSIVE grin on my face!

    As a side note, I sat next to Alistair Hargreaves mum on the plane on the way up to the game. What a lovely lady, who very kindly helped look after our 9 month old baby! Turns out she is friends with my Aunty too… small world!

  • Comment 45, posted at 25.11.10 21:49:33 by Nhumrod Reply
  • @Nhumrod (Comment 45) : did you tell her all about Sharksworld, then? πŸ™‚

  • Comment 46, posted at 25.11.10 23:44:25 by robdylan Reply
  • heh, unfortunatly there was more baby talk than rugby talk… i think i would have got more out of his dad on the subject, but he was sat in the row in front… πŸ™‚

  • Comment 47, posted at 26.11.10 00:13:40 by Nhumrod Reply
  • @Pokkel (Comment 42) : Then you won`t like this:
    P Divvy said on Boots n All last night they`ll stick to the game plan.

    So we`re in for more kick, chase and hope for lucky bounces . . .

  • Comment 48, posted at 26.11.10 08:16:40 by Original Champion Reply
    Original Pierre

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