Cape Town - Former New Zealand and Golden Lions coach John Mitchell has expressed his views on why the All Blacks fared better than the Springboks and Wallabies on their recent year-end tours to Europe.
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The All Blacks again finished their year-end tour unbeaten, while the Boks and Wallabies lost two and three games respectively.
South Africa lost to Ireland and Wales, while the Australians went down to France, Ireland and England.
Mitchell felt the All Blacks were able to cope better with the northern hemisphere interpretation of the breakdown area. He put this down to their ability to keep the ball alive through off-loading in the tackle situation.
In his regular column on the ESPNscrum website, Mitchell wrote:
"The All Blacks boast better ball-carrying technique than both the Springboks and Wallabies. The forwards from the latter two teams carry the ball in front of the body, whereas New Zealand's forwards run tall akin to their backline players for as long as possible and only lead with the body when they realise they won't have freedom or space in the collision."
Mitchell also said the South Africans were too predictable, especially on their exit plays.
"The Bok scrum was inconsistent in Cardiff. Moreover, they struggled to exit with momentum as there weren't any lengthy or bringing-forward kicks. The South Africans almost always opted for the box kick from the wide ruck. You never once saw the Springboks exiting with a kick or run after going wide to bring the open wing into the defence line and force the fullback into last man defender early. Their exit plays are very predictable, while the Wallabies take a bit more risk in that regard."
However, Mitchell said the defeats suffered by South Africa would be a wake-up call ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup.
"The Springboks would not have expected to lose to both Ireland and Wales, having won all of their end-of-year tour matches under Heyneke Meyer in 2012 and 2013. However, the forced introspection could make them a better team going forward. Ultimately, I believe that South Africa's destiny at the World Cup will be determined by selection and getting the right players in key positions."
The 50-year-old Mitchell has vast coaching experience. After his role as England assistant coach, he coached the Chiefs during the 2001 Super 12 competition. He was named All Blacks coach in 2002, a position he held until they were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. He then coached the Western Force from 2006-2010, before taking charge of the Golden Lions between 2010 and 2012.
He is not currently involved in coaching after deciding not to undertake a second term at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Varsity Shield team, the UKZN Impi. He will instead focus on his business - a packaging machine manufacturing company.
CLICK HERE to read Michell's full column on the ESPNscrum website.