Burger: Adapt or die

2011-09-14 08:50

Wellington - Springboks flank Schalk Burger sees no discernible change of approach from referees to the breakdown at the Rugby World Cup, instead recognising only subtle differences between each official to which teams must "adapt or die."

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Burger says breakdown interpretations are clearer than they had been in the past and that the approach of referees is the same as it had been during this season's Super 15 and Tri-Nations.

Referees are giving more latitude to the attacking team but it's still possible for a well-drilled defence to force turnovers.

"Rugby's a pretty difficult game to predict what's going to happen on Saturday and you better adapt or die, I suppose. That's the way we see it," Burger said.

The 66-Test veteran, who is as laid back off the field as he is a rugged competitor in action, denies he feels any frustration despite the breakdown interpretations demanding a high level of accuracy from defensive players.

Flanks, particularly opensiders, have to contend with the arcane and often unfathomable laws that govern the breakdown and which confound lay observers. Referees bring their own approach to the tackled area in each match and it's the obligation, even burden, of players to cope with their demands.

"I think the breakdown now is a lot clearer than it was in the past," Burger said. "Every ref has got his own interpretation. You know the attacking side is getting away with more than the defensive side, but if you're good on the ground defensively you can turnover some ball.

"I think every ref's got his own style, so it all depends on how clear they want the tackler to roll away or show daylight. Every ref's different, you know, so you've just got to adapt and I think that's a key for all teams in this competition."

Burger said the Springboks' opening Pool D match against Wales, in which they squeezed a 17-16 win, showed how important and how difficult the breakdown battle will be at this World Cup. The 2007 World Cup champions have spent long hours working on their breakdown techniques to ensure their proficiency.

"It was obviously very competitive (against Wales)," he said. "Their loose trio was exceptional in that part, so it was tough for us. This weekend, obviously, we've got a different challenge in Fiji. Last weekend we found it pretty tough. It was pretty disruptive and pretty competitive. This weekend is a different challenge. We'll try to improve our breakdown skills and hopefully it works in our favour this weekend.

"It's completely different playing against Fiji than playing against Wales. That's one of the areas we're trying to improve on every week, but there's a lot of stuff different from Fiji. They seem to be pretty expansive, their locks seem to be faster than the wings sometimes, so it's pretty tough to keep them quiet."

Burger said it was simply a relief for the Springboks to get the Wales match behind them after such a long period of preparation and anticipation. He conceded the long wait to begin South Africa's World Cup defense had been a strain on players.

"Obviously the worst part was getting here pretty early and waiting for the first game, because it was obviously a high-pressure situation," he said. "You do take quite a bit of strain in that first week, so obviously after a tight victory in that first match there's a sense of relief in the team - almost like the monkey's off your back and you can go out and play some rugby now.

"So we've got Fiji coming up Saturday. It's going to be another tough challenge and ... we prepared well and are now just keen to get out there and play some rugby."


  • Tools1 - 2011-09-14 09:03

    Would love to see Schalk, Willem , and Heinrich start with Bissie in the mix can you imagine how direct and powerful we will attack that first chanel.

      gooinat - 2011-09-14 09:10

      And Danie Rossouw with he's defence,awesome!!!!

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-09-14 09:31

      Great trio that @Tools1.

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-09-14 09:44

      @Gooinat....except that he can't hold on the ball without knocking it on....just about every time!

      Tools1 - 2011-09-14 10:37

      @saffa they have taken that apartheid dudes comment and all of those that followed off i wanted to add this piece which makes you think a little for all those that missed the opening comment this chap said all the Boks should be fired and should consist of 80% previously disadvantaged. I came across this article and found it very relavant. • Here is food for thought Affirmative Action " South Africa is the only country in the world where affirmative action is in the favour of the majority who has complete political control. The fact that the political majority requires affirmative action to protect them against a 9% minority group is testament to a complete failure on their part to build their own wealth making structures, such that their only solution is to take it from others." London Times

      marco - 2011-09-14 11:45

      @Tools1 Mate you started on such a good note with your initial comment about "Schalk,Willem,and Heinrich start with Bissie in the mix" and then only to spoil it with a totally made up and totally irrelevant news article.You do realize there is no reference to such an article ever written in the Times of London,Sunday Times or any other subsidiary of News International.Oh and by the way where are your links mate?Next time please put your links down as references so others can verify the authenticity of what your saying.Don't assume that information given you to be factual as it is actually not,cheers.

      Tamzien - 2011-09-14 11:48

      @tools I can not seem to find the article which you accredit the quote to. Could you please post a link?

  • René Müller - 2011-09-14 09:07

    Fully agreed that every ref has his own interpretation (or mis-interpretation). I suggest they should in future (when rules are being changed), provide 'pictures' to go with the changed rule, maybe then there will be no misinterpretation. "Daylight' rule being one, entering the ruck from the side, another! So the list goes on and on. I'm sure the refs earn a reputable income, I think all the spectators and sport loving fans would appreciate some level of expertise, not to mention the players!

  • sinvol - 2011-09-14 09:27

    And I thought a rule was a rule....why do you have to adapt??? Stupid game!!!

      DeonL - 2011-09-14 09:44

      No the rules changes every now and then, diving around like bad actors for penalties, takes the cake as a stupid play in a game.

  • Anneleen - 2011-09-14 09:29

    To "Skalla" and the team...go Bokke!!!!!

  • Grunk - 2011-09-14 09:42

    A new more mature Burger arises out of the ashes. All of us know that every season since the start of Rugby Union the flaming laws have been interpreted differently by even the same referee from one game to the next , or one half to another and, of course, as to one side or another. Each game, everybody, particularly the loosies, have got about 15 minutes to suss out which way the wind(whistle) is blowing that day and hope they are correct in their assumptions. The ones who do the best figuring out, win the battle for the day. Isn't it a shame that the greatest game of all has to be decided (generally) on the mood and the ability of the 31st man on the field?

      sinvol - 2011-09-14 09:52

      Well put, but rugby certainly ain't the "greatest game". That honour should go to tennis or golf or any other individual sport where you can't hide your poor performance! Rugby became just like gymnastics where a judge will decide who wins. It really is a pity that rugby is being shoved down our throats when there is so much better sports to broadcast like triathlons etc!!! (even badminton)

      Rationalist - 2011-09-14 12:13

      @sinvol - Nobody is asking you to watch, listen or even comment on Rugby. If you hate it that much, switch over to another channel. I am sure that YOU will find Oprah or Cheaters more to your liking. Maybe while sipping a Cosmo you could catch up on some of the Jerseylicious episodes. Just a thought.

  • Greegs - 2011-09-14 09:50

    Here's a tip guys.... hold onto the ball and be direct and its game over for Fiji!

  • Ann - 2011-09-14 11:00

    Ja, Schalk. Remember, as the late Michael Jackson put it: "I'm starting with the man in the mirror!"

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-09-14 11:39

      Well @Ann, seeing as though Pierre Spies is your FAVE player (as per Facebook) I am not surprised that you would make such a pathetic comment about Schalk.... How about you and Pierre remember, as the late Michael Jackson put it. "I'm starting with the man in the mirror".

      WHAT - 2011-09-14 13:45

      Di probleempi met schalki is hy,s NIE 'n bal draer NIE!..te lig, een demensioneel en kan nie paas nie??hy's ook NIE 'n bal steeler NIE!..te stadig by d bal, vlou??..hy's ook ni 'n kaptein nie??.. Fourie moes hom saterdag kom help om besluite te neem?? is hy regtig onder ons beste lossies?????????

  • warerugby - 2011-09-14 11:38

    Danie, Schalk and Brussow for loose trio!!!

  • ronplouw - 2011-09-14 11:44

    I wonder how many people that complain about refs have actually reffed themselves? We can only work with the rules we are given, we don't write them ourselves...if some are open for interpretation, nothing we can do about that. Maybe some of the moaners should take it up themselves, then we won't have to ref up to 10 games per week on top of having a day job!

  • NiP_sLiP - 2011-09-14 12:11

    seeing we are on the theme songs, how about; Spies with a slightly jigged MC hammer classic, "I cant tackle this" John Smit "History" Bakkies - "Bad" Bizzie - "Dangerous" Aplon - "dont you forget about me" Mallett - "want you back" Snor - "I am the one and only" Schalk - "Dirty Diana" Matfield - "Solid as a Rock" 1995 & 2007 world cup - "remember the time" All Blacks - "if you cant hold on to it, its not yours" De Villiers - "broken"

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-09-14 12:51

      Classic !!!!!!!! Like like like....

  • ronnie.cloete1 - 2011-09-14 12:51

    I thought Schalk did not play well against Wales. Yes, he ran hard against them, but hardly broke a tackle, and went straight down every time, making it easy for the defenders to try poach the ball. When players (especially) Bismarck takes up the ball he stays on his feet longer and allows his support players to push off the poachers. This helps us dominate the breakdown better, which is why we played much better when Bismark came to the party. Schalk... please stay on your feet longer! Thank you. Go Bokke!

      BlueRaven - 2011-09-14 15:02

      It was his first game since the Super 15, give the man a break! GO BOKKE!!!

  • Redobserver - 2011-09-14 14:53

    Great comments Schalk,a proper insight to what you guys do on the pitch,cheers

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