Boks adapt to breakdown law

2010-08-31 22:36

Jóhann Thormählen

Bloemfontein – South Africa were criticised earlier this year for struggling at the breakdowns after enjoying success in the Super 14.

However, in last Saturday’s 44-31 win over Australia in Pretoria very little was seen of Wallaby openside flank David Pocock.

The All Blacks and Wallabies dominated the Boks on the ground during their away games and questions were raised as to why they could not adapt to the new interpretation of the breakdown laws at international level.

Pocock and All Black flank Richie McCaw turned over possession like the Boks did when they had Heinrich Brüssow available.

Brüssow is currently unavailable due to a knee injury.

Many people believed then that the Boks would not be able to compete on the ground again without Brüssow.

A fit Brüssow certainly belongs in the Bok camp, but it looks as if the Boks’ opponents are not as dominant at the breakdowns as they were.

One can only wonder if the return of flank Juan Smith for the home Tests has something to do with that.

Smith is playing very well again and the established combination with No 8 Pierre Spies and flank Schalk Burger may just be enough to unnerve opponents.

Even so, De Villiers believes his team is now better equipped to unnerve opponents on the ground.

“I think we struggled to adapt overseas at the start of the Tri-Nations and with the way in which the breakdowns were refereed. It was completely different to the way it was officiated in the Super 14 and we took a while to adapt,” he said.

“Things are better now that we have adapted.”

While the Boks did well in the lineouts in Pretoria, lock Victor Matfield believes the breakdowns are the area in which they have improved the most.

He believes it had a big impact on the Boks’ first Tri-Nations victory of 2010 at Loftus Versfeld.

“The lineouts were much better in Pretoria, but I was particularly impressed by how well we did at the breakdowns,” said the Springbok lock.

Matfield believes the improvement is down to a team effort and hard work.


  • Ross - 2010-08-31 23:36

    juan smith is a brilliant player.the boks are so much stronger with him in the team.long may it last

  • bulawayo-based-bok - 2010-08-31 23:52

    Smith has been absolutely Massive in the last two weeks, he has no equal in world rugby and his all round game will go down as one of the greatest ever...he has no weakness and is physically and mentally without peer! bottom line is Smith is n Yster!!

  • mike - 2010-09-01 01:14

    We stopped them from stealing balls but we still can't steal them though. To be honest these new laws are seriously changing the shape, form and way rugby is played and I for one am not happy about it. Its moving from a hard game requiring specialists to a game of 15 guys forming a line on either side and the one with the ball just keeps running at the other line untill something snaps. Seems the days of watching players like Danie Gerber are gone and forgotten. Think the guys making the rules need to have a good long look at the impact all these law changes have had, sometimes I think footballs refusal to change is a good thing...

  • Tom - 2010-09-01 02:57

    Jean Smith cleaning players out and having a scrum half at the breakdown to get the ball out quickly is a big reason. The rest of the loose forwards are spectators at the rucks, they need to increase their work rate or be dropped having an 8th man who thinks he is one of the backline players is a problem. The problems are still not solved, just one or two good players make them less visible.

  • Chris - 2010-09-01 05:12

    Juan is in a league of his own. That is why substituting him against the AB's cost us.

  • Cant adapt - 2010-09-01 06:54

    This report reads like the springbok team has turned a corner. I seem to remember the boks being beaten by the ABs in front of 94000 fans at altitude when they were desperate for a win. They were then lucky to win a scrappy game of touch against the Wallabies. The springboks have a cushy draw against Aust this year and would be expected to win their two home matches. NZ didn't have Ali Williams, Sivivatu, Andrew Hore, Sonny Bill or Andy Ellis available to them this year, yet they don't bleat and whine. SA really are becoming known as whingers aren't they?

  • Burgiesburnin - 2010-09-01 07:33

    There we have it. It took 2 years for the boks to understand a law. If some of the bok supporters that drivel on this site about the worlds refs being against the boks could spend the next two also understanding a few rules and laws then we will be ok. No one is against or afraid of the boks anymore and they will not be contenders in the World Cup even with this new attitude and understanding that the rules will not change to suit them.

  • PDV/Quota-hater - 2010-09-01 08:01

    to many quotas in the protea team... ...Go Aussies..!! ...Go Wallabies..!!

  • nigel - 2010-09-01 08:18

    the biggest distraction of this years away leg of the T Nations was Bakkies Bothas head butt. That set the scene for a media frenzy & a complete breakdown of focus & direction. So to me it was the lack of dicsipline that did the most damage followed by the difficulty to adapt to the refs interpretations of the breakdown laws, which I think would have been difficult for any team to adapt to.

  • henk - 2010-09-01 08:33

    the only reason why the boks were dominated was due to the fact that the boks NEVER compete for the ball at rucks and malls. 99% of the boks forwards were in the backline and there they didnt even try to tackle. why? we are struggling with grandpa's in our team! this same grandpa's walked all over the field again at Loftus. they dont belong there.

  • Semloh - 2010-09-01 08:46

    Yes agreed having Juan Smith makes a big difference at the breakdowns but if you look back at Saturday's match it is certainly not a game to see if we have properly adapted to the new laws. It was a free flowing running game from both sides, and I don't think either team were trying to slow down each other's ball at the breakdown (ala AB's)....

  • Ruffdog - 2010-09-01 08:47

    ROCKET SCIENTISTS !! good work guys did you all work on thios plan together ?

  • Jaz - 2010-09-01 08:56

    Rubbish. The breakdown is officiated differently every week. The previous Saturday both the ABs and Boks were allowed to go over the ball and off their feet in numbers, completely sealing the ball. This Saturday single players loosing their footing when going over the ball were penalised repeatedly. There is no consistency or clarity. There is no one single interpretation. But worst of all is that you cannot study the refs before as their performances lack consistency, not the quality of their officiating (which in general is poor, judging by all the missed forward passes, etc.) but in the way they enforce the laws. Watch Rolland's first match and compare it to that of the past Saturday. You cannot even tell it is the same guy.

  • Lance - 2010-09-01 09:20

    Why dont the participating countries' rugby unions appoint a ref for a particular (international) tournament. Sure, it will ensure that not as many oppertunities are available in the refereeing world, but hell, it should solve most of these problems. Surely this will ensure that the refs absolutely have to be consistent as it will be easier to rate their performances. For the 6 nations, appoint a NH ref and for the Tri nations, appoint a SH ref. Obviously these guys will have to be the best of both. Any thoughts guys?

  • Jaundiced - 2010-09-01 09:22

    Yes! much better performance at the breakdown. I struggle to understand why SA teams are not able to adapt to the simple rule that - you have no rights to play the ball when you off your feet!! This has not changed!! Getting pinged for this infrigement goes back long before the start of this season.

  • Lance - 2010-09-01 09:22

    Why dont the participating countries' rugby unions appoint a ref for a particular (international) tournament. Sure, it will ensure that not as many oppertunities are available in the refereeing world, but hell, it should solve most of these problems. Surely this will ensure that the refs absolutely have to be consistent as it will be easier to rate their performances. For the 6 nations, appoint a NH ref and for the Tri nations, appoint a SH ref. Obviously these guys will have to be the best of both. Any thoughts guys?

  • THE MAN - 2010-09-01 09:22

    funny how we all watched a different game, for me the game changed on its head and we tok control when captain john smith came off and was replaced by future captain chilliboy fantastic....chilliboy cleaned out the australians and made them look lile a bunch of girls with wet pink panties...

  • Kunzie - 2010-09-01 09:30

    Couldn't agree more Jaz.We beg every week for consistency from the refs...but actually what the game needs is a uniformed standard between the different refs who blow the games week in and out.What teams get away with one week they get the death penalty for the next.This leads to teams using the press prior to the game to get their messages through to ref and is taken as sour grapes or complaining by opposing fans.Mind you if the refs were robots and we had this unobtainable consistency what would the journos,armchair critics write or bitch about?...ah this game of ours isn't it just wonderful.

  • Burgiesburnin is a tool - 2010-09-01 09:40

    @Cant adapt, yawn the Boks had 7 first choice players out, plus the All Black whiners are still complaining about 2007 - you chop

  • @Burgiesburning - 2010-09-01 09:51

    What you don't understand is that the rule changes are always motivated by the Aussies. They need to compete with League. So rules change, the Boks eventually perfect them and dominate. Then the rules change again. Tell me what was wrong with the rugby played last year? Why did the rules change? There was no need to change the rules as because the rugby was entertaining, well supported and a good advert for the game. They changed because our Antipodean friends were given a klap last year. We will more often than not be dominated by these assholes on the field because we are pushed around by them off it.

  • cant adapt - 2010-09-01 09:52

    Truth hurts doesn't it burglesburnin. Every team has injuries and out of form players. Most adapt, move forward and don't whinge, whine and complain. An AB team with all its first choice players would still dominate your muppets. ha

  • @THE MAN - 2010-09-01 10:23

    I think you are confusing John (our number 2 and current captain) with Juan (our nr 7). On another note Juan played well. At school level a simple yet effective rule to play the ball. After you tackled the player you jump up, clap your hands and play the ball. Signaling that you have left the player and can play the ball. Tackling the player and immediately trying to strip the ball is where the new laws are focused on. It is however troubling that school coaches have adopted to the new rules and have learned this to young boys, but professional Springbok coaching staff have struggled.

  • Mike@CapeT - 2010-09-01 10:36

    @PDV/ you have anything sensible to pass on, on these blogs or will you just continue with all your inane, nonsensical comments? Grow up!

  • WHINGE WHINE AND MOAN - 2010-09-01 10:55

    This is all that SA are good at. Are you seriously saying that the Auzzies are such a dominant force in world rugby that they forced a rule change. What a joke of a comment. The rules chang (slightly) to improve it. The boks were good at kicking the ball, correct. But there is a lot more to rugby than just kicking and they have found out this year by getting dominated by the ABs

  • AB Supporter - 2010-09-01 11:16

    I remember all the remarks that the AB were cheats for understanding and playing the law better than the boks did. Now we hear that they have adapted better,Are the boks better cheats than the mighty All Blacks? Hell its too late dick heads you just dont learn do you? Its game over SA you have lost the plot. Go All Blacks. Paddy we love you.

  • PDV/Quota-hater - 2010-09-01 12:30

    Quotas = not on merit = PDV, Smit, Januarie, Ralepelle and Banana... .....Go Wallabies..!!!! ...Go Aussies..!!!

  • Vito - 2010-09-01 13:57

    Mike, I fully agree with you. There was nothing wrong with the laws of rugby 10 or 20 years ago and particularly the new laws relating to scrums and the breakdown are getting me down. The game is being changed for no good reason. If you take the scrums, for instance, it has always been easier for the front rows to go down when they felt ready. The new laws were apparently introduced to avoid scrums collapsing and being re-set too many times. Now scrums are being re-set even more than in the past. Aven worse, when a scrum has properly "engaged", but not exactly when the ref instructs, he will blow his whistle for a re-set! Astonishing! One more thing. All these stupid new laws at the breakdown would have been nullified had normal rucking still been allowed in rugby. Lawful rucking had been part of the game since it started and should be re-introduced. Believe me, when I played rugby I moved away and stopped contesting on the wrong side pretty quickly when my back started to develop humps looking like the plague. McCaw will enjoy his bath after the game a lot less when this is re-introduced.

  • ImpartialCanuck - 2010-09-01 20:26

    Agree with VITO and MIKE - the likes of McCaw et al would never lie on the ball, or get "stuck" on the wrong side of the ball, under the old rules, they would get racked off the ball and would be a good "rugby" lesson! The game is evolving into a pseudo rugby league game, which is a pity, as the different styles of play make it entertaining and creative, unlike the current head down approach that has little flair, unlike many players in the past. Also promotes the players bulking up and not necessarily developing all round skills........

  • sutter cane - 2010-09-01 22:20

    oh so now the boks have adapted.does that mean that it isnt the refs fault?or that the other teams werent cheating?has ur stupid coach and ur even dumber bok supporrters suddenly realised it was that the boks just werent good enough?no of course not.And u wonder why everyone gives u shit for being whinging pricks.

  • @sutter cane - 2010-09-03 15:55

    Listen bud, calm down and relax before ranting and raving like a lunatic. The Boks deserved to lose the game, we don't dispute that. But the loss was exacerbated (made worse) by the very poor standard of reffing. NZ were the better side no doubt, but if you thought the reffing was fair then sorry mate but you need glasses! Just the fact alone that Aus vs NZ gets southern hemi refs and SA vs anyone gets northern hemi refs in the southern hemisphere's premier rugby tournament is concerning. There needs to be consistency across the board.

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