Cape Town - Naas Botha has taken note of Italy’s controversial tactics employed against England in the Six Nations, but the legendary flyhalf hopes it’s not something the Springboks will employ later this year.
The Italians frustrated England in last Sunday’s Six Nations slash at Twickenham, when they employed controversial “no-ruck” tactics.
After trailing 10-5 at half-time, England rebounded to win the game 36-15 but the result was overshadowed by the debate about Italy's tactics.
The Italians repeatedly refused to commit anyone other than the tackler to the breakdown, meaning no ruck was formed.
As a result, offside became irrelevant and Italy's players could stand directly between England scrumhalf Danny Care and halfback partner Ford.
Former Springbok centre Brendan Venter is on-board as Italy’s defence coach and it would be reasonable to assume that he had some input into the tactics employed by the Azzurri.
However, Venter is widely tipped to become the next defence coach of Allister Coetzee’s Springboks, with SA Rugby set to confirm the new appointment in due course.
The national rugby governing body confirmed Coetzee’s stay as head coach earlier in the week, with Franco Smith also named as backline coach.
Botha, who played 28 Tests for the Springboks between 1980 and 1992, feels the coaching staff need to be given a chance to improve the ailing national team.
In a radio interview with XVR.CO.ZA, Botha discussed the possible appointment of Venter at the Boks.
“It looks like it’s going to be Brendan Venter,” said Botha. “We had such a disastrous year last year, they’ve made one or two changes and now we will have to wait until June to see if the guys are really capable of taking South Africa to the next step because the last number of years they’ve been stepping backwards.
“Somewhere along they’ll have to step forward. If that’s the new crew let’s give them an opportunity. But after the internationals against France - who are actually looking quite good - then you can judge. It’s should be a good test for the new crew.”
Botha said he understood Italy’s game plan against England, but hopes the Boks do not employ similar tactics, if Venter comes on board.
“I must say I was a little bit surprised, but I thought it was a well worked tactic. But to be honest I hope that’s not the future for SA rugby because we don’t have to go into games and see how we can surprise the opposition by playing a little bit on the negative side. I would actually rather see us performing to our capabilities, using the talent we have,” Botha said.
“For a team like Italy, I can understand that... you want to disrupt England, you want to make them think outside the box... but if you’re good enough you just don’t go there. You try and dominate so that the opposition starts to play your game, instead of you trying to surprise and stop the opposition’s play.”