The Quirk

All brawn and no brains

Written by Ryan Quirk (The Quirk)

Posted in :All Blacks, In the news, Original Content, Springboks, The Rugby Championship on 10 Sep 2012 at 09:09
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

I’ve been watching the Springboks since their unbanning in the early nineties, and I think it’s fair to say I’ve been “a long suffering supporter”… Yes we’ve won two world cups, and we have a few Tri-Nations under our belt, not nearly as many as we’d like but hey, that is sport…

Now I am all for being big and strong and smashing people into submission with sheer size and power but sometimes that just doesn’t work, especially if the team you’re playing against is as big and strong as you are.  I hear gasps, “nobody is bigger and stronger than the Springboks!  Sacrilegious I say!”  That may be true, but they are certainly smarter.

As I look back at the most successful Springbok sides over the last twenty or so years I see a trend that, perhaps everyone knows about but not many want to acknowledge, pervades them all.  The successful teams had two or three players with brains!  Dick Muir had brains, Gary Teichmann had brains, John Smit and Victor Matfield are pretty smart too.  Francois Pienaar is as astute a man as you’re ever likely to meet.

It is also pertinent that these guys were also the leaders of the squad; the guys that team looked to when the going got rough.

I may be off the mark here, but I don’t see many of those street smart leaders being utilised in our current squad.  I see plenty of power, plenty of raw talent and industry, but I don’t see any smarts!  The guys with that natural ability to do the right thing at the right time and galvanise the guys around them are either sitting on the bench or playing in the Currie Cup…Pat Lambie has played about 15 minutes despite being in every match day squad of the competition.  Why?  They brought in Francois Louw as the specialist openside flank but hardly used him, despite a dogs breakfast of a breakdown problem.

New Zealand also have big strong guys, they also play with strength and power, but they also ensure that their leaders are astute men who can direct all that power in the right direction.  They’re the generals who articulate precise and accurate strikes, whereas the current Bok leadership seems intent on carpet bombing everything with no focused goal in mind.  It’s like repeatedly running into a brick wall instead of trying to find the door…

Its early days for Heyneke Meyer and we all know that he understands the value of generals.  He had Matfield and Fourie du Preez… I just hope he finds some in his Bok team soon, or else the dissatisfaction of the irate fan base will rise and the predatory rugby media will start sharpening their knives… pencils…


  • I think we have smart players in this particular team, but they are being told not to use those brains creatively, but rather to memorize what the coach wants them to do.

    Just for example, Ruan Pienaar a very smart rugby player, as is our captain Jean (maybe not at 13, but rather at 12, but the coach isn’t willing to make a call on Jean or Frans, which I think he should and use a Genuine 13 next to one of them).

    Pat Lambie like you mentioned is one not being used and if Meyer had more guts and could tolerate creativity Lambie could have been the perfect choice as a Captain for this team.

    Yes it is way outside the box, but sometimes that’s needed in this game. Lambie can control a game and is comfortable in making calls from 10 for his teams and I think given the fact that Jean can’t even hold on to his best position in the team and other option for Captian is basically ready to move into their retirement villages, Lambie could have been an excellent choice.

    I know some feel Goosen will be the new saviour of SA rugby, and I admit he looks to be very talented and promises to deliver many great performances for Bok rugby, but I still feel Lambie has the Daniel Carter/Stephen Larkham factor, whereas Goosen may have more of a Quade Cooper factor.

    But that’s a whole other topic.

    I also think Juandre Kruger is another player he thinks rather than just bashes.

    And all 15 players that was on the field would have looked better if they were working with a better plan.

  • Comment 1, posted at 10.09.12 09:44:57 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Letgo (Comment 1) : Agreed, like i said, they aren’t being utilized. People always call Ruan “a confidence player”. I disagree, i just think he plays his best rugby when he’s told to just go out and play, not how to go out and play… As for JDV, his captaincy aside… He is on a hiding to nothing at 13 in a game plan that reduces your centres to nothing more than midfield defenders… Frans is lucky in that he can venture off and play as a fourth ball carrying loose forward to get involved, JDV doesn’t have that…

  • Comment 2, posted at 10.09.12 09:51:10 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • No no guys, we’ve all got it wrong again.

    It was only “two soft moments” that cost us the game – according to our coach whom we all know is so much more knowledgeable than us armchair coaches.

    It’s just strange, that this iron clad foolproof game plan of HIS can fail against a rubbish ozzie outfit by having just “two soft moments”.

    Surely you need to be able to overcome two mistakes, especially against this ozzie team.

  • Comment 3, posted at 10.09.12 09:56:09 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • Watching Morne Steyn made me forget for a moment that I was watching rugby, all that kicking made me wonder where was the noise from the vuvuzelas. Kicking the ball so many times in the hope that the opposition will kick it back to you where you can then kick it out with the hope of winning 10m field position is just plain stupid. A simple sidestep or dummy can result in almost twice that distance. Wonder what Heyneke will do to his gameplan once the 5 second rule gets implemented at international level?

  • Comment 4, posted at 10.09.12 10:12:19 by KingRiaan Reply

  • Every one says that Goosen gave the game to the Aussies with that last up-and-under, but you could see him hesitating for a milisecond before kicking. Obviously following the coaches orders instead of following his instincts. But how awesome was it to see him and Lambie play in tandem? As much as I would like Lambie at 10, I think by having him at 15 and Goose at 10 will work brilliant. They can interchange depending on the situation and field position.

  • Comment 5, posted at 10.09.12 10:16:59 by KingRiaan Reply

  • I would personally have made Juandre Kruger the captain.

  • Comment 6, posted at 10.09.12 10:32:34 by King Shark Reply
    King Shark
  • @FireTheLooser (Comment 3) : what meyer doesn’t say is that the “two soft moments” were exploited by the aussies, the quick FLAT ball by the aussies BAMBOOZLED our defence…1st carry was dom shipperley, 2nd was hooper i think, the 3rd was higgers who waltezed past out “defence” untouched!

    all the carriers were concealed and hence our late reactions which result in the captain missing a tackle…that’s what unpredictability affords you! before higgers received that ball there were about as many as FOUR players running at us as potential ball carriers and genia only had to choose which oune and our D was caught pants down!

    describing this situation as “soft moment” is over-simplifying the issue.

  • Comment 7, posted at 10.09.12 10:40:30 by Megatron Reply

  • This is from Cric Info, Harsha Bhogle writing talking about why the Proteas did not dominate in previous years. You can easily substitute rugby into this.

    “I have always been intrigued by South Africa because they have always had the players to be the best. But I thought sometimes they looked upon every day as a battle to be won than as a game to be enjoyed; that their intensity consumed them rather than the opposition; that, having been away from international cricket(rugby) for so long, they wanted to prove a point every time they took the field.

    I got the impression – one derived from 100 yards away, sometimes a few 100 kilometers away – that they were constantly at war, hardly ever playing a sport. And that this intensity was probably part of their ethos”

    This I feels hits a similar point the Quirk is trying to convey.

  • Comment 8, posted at 10.09.12 10:54:51 by Mocho Reply

  • @KingRiaan (Comment 5) : Definitely not everyone. This is actually the first mention of it I’ve read.

  • Comment 9, posted at 10.09.12 12:35:57 by vanmartin Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Mocho (Comment 8) : Well said Harsha… Illustrates why he gets paid to write articles and i don’t. 🙂 I would love to have made his point in addition to mine… Play smart, enjoy the game!

  • Comment 10, posted at 10.09.12 14:47:35 by The Quirk Reply
    The Quirk
  • @vanmartin (Comment 9) : Read it on those other rugby blogs that we won’t mention.

  • Comment 12, posted at 11.09.12 09:43:01 by KingRiaan Reply


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