Richard Ferguson

Boks bash frustrated French

Written by Richard Ferguson (Richard Ferguson)

Posted in :France Series 2017, Original Content, Springboks on 10 Jun 2017 at 19:34
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The Springboks started the 2017 International season with a bang, beating the French 37 – 14 in a match that was much tighter than the scoreline suggests.

The Springboks scored 4 tries to 2 in a good first hit out against a patchy French team. As much praise as you want to heap on the Boks, we must remember that this is far from a full strength France side. The second test should see a stiffer challenge in Durban next Saturday.

There was plenty of passion on the field even before the whistle, as tears flowed at the singing of the anthems, a real sign of love and respect for the Green and Gold jersey.

Allister Coetzee hit the nail on the head by selecting a Lions backbone of Marx, Mostert, Whiteley, Cronje, Jantjies and Coetzee. There was an understanding there that could only come from playing at franchise level, and that influential spine was exactly what the Springboks needed to play so well in their first game together.

The positives from this match outweigh the negatives, but there are still areas that require attention. The French put our set pieces under immense pressure, we were never truly dominant in a scrum and the lineouts seemed to be a gamble with every throw. It could be that the French put enough pressure on by competing so well, or it could be as a result of this pack playing together for the first time. Either way, it needs attention before the second test, and more importantly, before the Rugby Championship later in the year.

The attacking prowess of this team far exceeds anything put together by Boks 2016, with line breaks happening more than once every 40 minutes of rugby played. My initial concern when the team was announced was defence, and that did prove a factor earlier in the match, when the French broke the line at will. The defensive lines really improved as the game went on and was evident in the final minutes as the Boks kept out a desperate France side.

All in all, a positive result for a new team. A definite shot of confidence early in the season, something that was clearly missing last year. Along with the positive there is still some real work that needs to be done, and improvement will be key to a series clinching victory in Durban.


  • Weaknesses … defence. Our fringe defence was weak and we did not drift well. A better team would have punished us.
    Center combination didn’t work well as a combo.
    Loosies didn’t look balanced, poor hands.

    Positives … flyhalf desision making, scrumhalf quicker and crisp. Marx looked and played like bismark and we played a no5 lock who hit ruck after ruck

    Lots of shape on attack. Passion from no 15 and we shifted the first contact as opposed to just bashing it up

  • Comment 1, posted at 10.06.17 19:53:24 by byron Reply
  • @byron (Comment 1) : Pretty much spot on…all in all much better…defence is my biggest concern. But this was a good start…

  • Comment 2, posted at 10.06.17 20:32:57 by pastorshark Reply
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  • This was probably the Boks best performance since beating the All Blacks in 2014 so pleased as punch with the result. I think everyone did their job and the only changes I’d make for next weekend is start Steyn and Jean-luc. We just looked better with both of them on the field. Unfortunately that means one of the centers needs to be benched. I feel Kreil had a better game so he’d stay. For the RC though, I’d keep Frans at 12 and play Am at 13 with Kreil slugging it out with Coetzee for the fullback spot. A special mention must go to Ross Cronjie who distributed with speed and precision what a fantastic effort. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such attacking intent from the Boks, hope to see more whilst we work on tightening the defense. I’d like to see our defensive line rush up faster much like the B&I Lions did against the Crusaders this morning. I feel our defensive line at the moment isn’t aggressive enough and we concede far to much territory whilst marking our opposite numbers. However we’ve got the next 2 games to get some cohesion in this team and best of luck to the players and backroom staff for the remainder of the series. They have my full support.

  • Comment 3, posted at 10.06.17 22:35:41 by Hulk Reply

  • @Hulk (Comment 3) : Fair comments all the way through…I would just simply never pick Kriel at 13…he cannot defend in that channel. The second try came ONLY due to that fact and Kriel was immediately subbed. With Steyn and Serfontein at centre our defence improved 10-fold…so that’s the way I’d go…

  • Comment 4, posted at 11.06.17 06:55:12 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Bad luck to Argentina, who lost to England in the last minute…34-38…

  • Comment 5, posted at 11.06.17 06:57:03 by pastorshark Reply
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  • Good win Bokke. Can someone please explain why Oupa was playing 8th man when he was picked as a flank.

  • Comment 6, posted at 11.06.17 12:42:32 by sudhir Reply

  • @sudhir (Comment 6) : Seems Warren moved to 7 on defensive scrums. Probably because he is quicker off the line on defence

  • Comment 7, posted at 11.06.17 13:41:25 by Baylion Reply

  • @Baylion (Comment 7) : They even did that on one or two attacking scrums, and often he packed on the short side on defensive scrums (and the French never even went that way).

    I think it was more due a belief that Oupa adds more scrumming grunt from the back.

  • Comment 8, posted at 11.06.17 13:57:46 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Baylion (Comment 7) : I saw Mohoje at 8 on several attacking scrums as well, and when JLdP came on he also packed down at 8 at least once that I noticed. Strange since Warren is the best 8 in SA right now, not only the captain.

  • Comment 9, posted at 11.06.17 14:10:34 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : JLdP also scrummed at 8, same reason do you think? It does make me wonder what AC had in mind with Vermuelen and Warren in the same team. Warren at 7 with Vermuelen at 8?

  • Comment 10, posted at 11.06.17 14:12:42 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 8) : Also strange since Warren is the best linking player we have in the pack, I would like to see him at 8 on every single attacking scrum, not to mention that Ross and he have had many a match together.

  • Comment 11, posted at 11.06.17 14:14:07 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 10) : I can’t think of any other reason.

  • Comment 12, posted at 11.06.17 14:15:31 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 11) : And on a defensive scrum the 8 has the freedom to assist with defense on either side of the scrum.

  • Comment 13, posted at 11.06.17 14:24:22 by Bokhoring Reply
  • Judgement reserved until we can play either a way way better French side or some other proper rugger nation. I learned my lesson the last couple years, don’t get excited by playing awful opponents. Holding thumbs.

  • Comment 14, posted at 11.06.17 18:43:26 by Mephisto_Shark Reply

  • @pastorshark (Comment 4) : and I’d agree with you about Kreil however on this match and looking at the opposition I’d play him again at 13. If this was a RC game I’d play Serfontein. I’m just hoping that by that time Am is back.

  • Comment 15, posted at 11.06.17 21:32:59 by Hulk Reply

  • @Bokhoring (Comment 13) : Excellent point, really no reason Warren shouldn’t be packing down at 8 on every scrum.

    I know we were both critical of Rhule, but he did well, he worked hard and looked for more work, my criticism of Skosan is he really didn’t look for any work. I like the way he plays, he runs hard and defends well, just would like to see him looking for more work. While Kriel was a worry on defence, he was sublime on attack, he was always looking for work, ran good lines, and ran good support lines. It seemed that Serfontein was often skipped while attacking, but when Steyn came on, he put himself in good positions, so sort of forced the ball his own way, that is why I would rather have seen him at 12 to start.

  • Comment 16, posted at 11.06.17 23:57:21 by Dancing Bear Reply
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  • @Mephisto_Shark (Comment 14) : Team culture has a lot to do with it.

    Look at the Proteas under AB vs. the Proteas under Faf: two totally different sides, with the exact same personnel .

    Boks already looked a ton more energised with WW leading, vs. the lethargic boks from last year under Telletuby.

    Even Effy-beff stuck to playing hard rugby, instead of his usual off tha ball crazy eyes.

  • Comment 17, posted at 12.06.17 07:58:45 by FireTheLooser Reply

  • I think it was a good first start from the Boks- much better than the first game 12 months ago. Just shows the benefit of picking majority of in form players and adding some experience. As some have said I would still like to see us being more aggressive on defense, think we are too passive. But very composed display and I cant help but think a lot of that stems from a calm and confident captain and a calm and composed scrumhalf. Much bigger tests to come and still don’t think we are a quality side yet but its a good start.

  • Comment 18, posted at 12.06.17 08:34:16 by SheldonK Reply

  • Good win for the Boks, well done. Clearly the changes made (to the coaching staff, picking form players etc) seem to have paid off. Well done on this, on the down side we could have been a year ahead of where we are now if we had followed this route this time last year. I know this was not a great French side but at least it was nice to sit back and actually enjoy a Bok game again.

  • Comment 19, posted at 12.06.17 09:14:37 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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  • I see Pierre Spies has announced his retirement from rugby. Given his standard of play, I wonder if anyone is even going to realise he’s gone…

  • Comment 20, posted at 12.06.17 09:32:08 by Culling Song Reply
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  • @Culling Song (Comment 20) : He should have stayed on the wing, would’ve been one of the greats, but he never had the mongrel that you need in the forwards.

  • Comment 21, posted at 12.06.17 10:02:41 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 16) : Rhule really was very involved – liked the little interplay between him and Marx. I think he just needs a lot of time with a tackling coach – probably did not get a lot of that at the Tjietas 😛

    Kriel played well – as a 15 / wing who found himself at centre. He is a hard runner, but his distribution (more the who than the how) is not good enough for a 13. He often passed to someone in a worse position than him, e,g, Rhule on the touch line with 3 French all over him when he should have passed to an unmarked Serfontein.

  • Comment 22, posted at 12.06.17 10:46:34 by Bokhoring Reply
  • @Culling Song (Comment 20) : Have you seen him playing for Montpellier, clearly not

  • Comment 23, posted at 12.06.17 10:48:23 by benji Reply
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  • I hear you guys, but you know I tend to disagree… The perception is that we played much better and maybe we did, but I am not convinced.

    1. France ended 3rd in the 6 nations
    2. They were missing some of their stars who were involved on finals
    3. The turnaround was the yellow. At time the Boks were leading with only 2 points and it started to look as if French were starting to control the lineouts and possible the scrums too.

    Durban is going to be a different match…..

  • Comment 24, posted at 12.06.17 11:33:26 by BluffShark Reply

  • The loosies need better balance. The current trio is a bunch of lightweights. Maybe start with LJ instead of Oupa. Also in the centres, Kriel looks to be out of the next test anyway, so centres will probably be Steyn and Serfontein. Would’ve been awesome to see Frans and AM as centres.

  • Comment 25, posted at 12.06.17 11:42:30 by KingRiaan Reply

  • @BluffShark (Comment 24) : That penalty try did turn the game. However we cant compare who was missing etc as the Boks were also missing guys. Can only compare against the team we played and for me the Boks were the better side and deserved the win. Im not saying that they are now the finished product and are world beaters. But they did play a lot better than last year and think that deserves credit for being he better team and winning a test match convincingly against a top nation.

  • Comment 26, posted at 12.06.17 11:45:02 by SheldonK Reply

  • @BluffShark (Comment 24) : Agreed, my optimism is based on what I see different in this team to the one that played last year. Still a long,long way from the finished product but if sanity prevails at least the pointers are there that we could be moving in the right direction. Can it be sustained, I hope so but this is SA rugby so anything is possible.

  • Comment 27, posted at 12.06.17 11:55:03 by Salmonoid the Subtle Reply
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