Cape Town - While watching Monday night’s Afrikaans Super Rugby programme on SuperSport, I noted former Springbok great Victor Matfield lament that he hasn’t seen the Springboks employ enough of their traditional driving maul this season.
It's a valid statement.
In 2016 to date, the Boks haven't dominated their opponents physically as was the case in days gone by.
The driving maul - so characteristic of Springbok packs in recent years - is a part of that physical dominance absent in a team who have lost five of nine Tests this year, with their most recent being a record 57-15 defeat to arch-rivals the All Backs.
New coach Allister Coetzee stated he’d like the team to combine the traditional strengths of Springbok rugby with a more open, expansive type of game, but unfortunately the product produced in 2016 has been of a team unsure of exactly how to go about proceedings.
Looking back over the nine Tests played this year, it’s hard to fathom exactly what type of rugby the Boks adopted.
Ahead of this weekend’s festival match against the Barbarians at London’s Wembley Stadium, Coetzee hinted that his side won’t be playing “running at all costs rugby” as is tradition when the BaaBaas are in action.
He wants "structure" to build for the rest of the year-end tour, which includes matches against England, Italy and Wales.
I share Coetzee’s sentiments as he can’t really afford to lose more than one match on tour and a festival game to start proceedings is hardly ideal preparation.
But it’s time a proper game plan is established because we haven’t seen much of that in 2016.
Coetzee was quoted in English media this week saying the “Springbok will never lose its aura”.
That’s an argument for another column and I fear that aura is already gone - lying somewhere in a ditch in Brighton - but the coach did make some interesting remarks that should now be put into action.
"We like to see a balance between physicality and playing smart rugby," he told The Telegraph.
"I do not want to move away from the strengths of South Africa. We are really good at mauling and putting teams under pressure with our maul. The laws have favoured the defensive side, but we have had a look at that. If you look at England, that is a very effective part of their game, they have a very good maul, and that’s what we would like to get back as well."
Well, as Matfield also noted, I've not seen a proper driving maul from the Springboks in 2016!
It’s a traditional strength that can be used to create opportunities out wide where the backs will surely have enough skill to trouble the scorers... They are masters of their trade, aren’t they?
Herman Mostert works at Sport24 - is a struggling golfer and enjoys tennis...
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