Six steps to beating All Blacks

2011-08-16 13:28

Gary Boshoff

Richard Carlson became famous for his books about “Sweating the Small Stuff”. In the books he argues that we spend too much of our valuable time dawdling over small issues and in the process we worry ourselves to death about things that almost always never come to pass.

However, I would contend that in the case of the Springboks, it is exactly the “Small Stuff” that the players and coach should start “Sweating” about if they are to successfully defend their RWC title in New Zealand. 

You see, contrary to the gloom and doom in the Sunday and Monday press about the Springboks’ loss against the Wallabies, I felt that the Springboks put up a decent, competitive performance against the Wallabies. 

It is true, losing a Test match against Australia can never be anything but bad, but condemning the Springboks as has-beens and over-the-hill is a bit over the top in my opinion. 

The Springboks faced a highly professional outfit, coached by a coach who many considers to be the best coach in the world and who has been working with his team for almost two years now. He had a group of confident players (the Reds just won the Super Rugby title) at his disposal, eager to prove themselves to their coach and nation ahead of the RWC. If anyone thought that this Australian team will just roll over to be beaten by the RWC champions they were badly mistaken. No, they came here to win and they did.

In reality, when the Springboks, All Blacks and Australia play each other, there is always a chance for an upset win or loss. So let’s not read too much, too soon, into this loss against the Aussies. However, if things take a turn for the worse against the All Blacks on Saturday we should raise the alarm.

I was particularly impressed with the Springboks’ intensity throughout. There was an eagerness and dare I say, urgency, about the way both forwards and backline kept at it in that first half in particular. There was good patience in the attack build-ups, testing the Australian defence on a number of occasions. It was a classical contest between two of the world’s top teams. The winning margin of just five points is testimony to that.

In a way we expected this to happen, in fact it was predicted that the Boks would start strongly, will probably be a bit rusty due to a lack of match practice and fade slightly towards the end, mainly because of a lack of match fitness. The game turned out to follow that trajectory exactly, in the end finishing with a victory for the Aussies.

In the upcoming Test against the All Blacks, the Springboks need to start to address and if needs be, eliminate the “small stuff” that curtailed their game strategy against the Aussies. These must include some of the following: 

• Make a firm decision on what happens to John Smit when Bismarck du Plessis takes the field. He cannot stay on the field in a position that compromises the team. As a rule Bismarck should start and the captain must play from the bench.

• Get rid of those players who do not protect possession of the ball. Rugby is primarily about getting your hands on the ball and keeping it until you score. Danie Rossouw is still dropping vital passes and losing his ball because of poor ball carrying technique, which, at this level of the game, is intolerable. He has been carrying the ball like this for the last 10 years and will not change now. He should not play for South Africa again.

• Read them the riot act. Those players that still believe that to score 50/50 opportunistic tries (Bryan Habana in particular and Jean de Villiers as well) is more important than holding your defensive lines against the most innovative backline in the world. What was Habana thinking? Lwazi Mvovo is up for the task I say!

• Get rid of the overweight Frans Steyn now! We have Lambie and Gio Aplon. We don’t need Steyn! Lambie offers much more than Steyn in my view in any case. It is not a difficult decision to make.

• Stop whining at the referee John Smit! On Saturday Bryce Lawrence had to ask Smit on three separate occasions to hush up and play rugby. It seems to me the Springbok captain was more worried about how the referee interprets the laws of the game then leading by example. The truth is the more you complain to the referee the more he turns against you. Ask any referee.

• Finally, Victor Matfield should focus and concentrate on winning his own and the opposition’s lineout balls and getting his scrumming effort up to another level. This is where he is needed and not to weigh-up tactical kicking options or whether to take the outside gap in the midfield! James Horwill has transformed himself from being a mobile No 8 to a classic No 4 lock. Watch the video Victor and learn.

So while the general impressions of Saturday’s game was "not too bad", I am of the view that if the coach and his advisors don’t take firm action in addressing the list of “Small Stuff” highlighted above, the Springboks' road to the 2011 RWC will be an uphill one.

Gary Boshoff is a former SARU player and current Afrikaans rugby commentator on SuperSport.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


  • John - 2011-08-16 13:42

    Well said and it appears most of your wishes have been granted except Habana is still there and Victor is now running the show. Habana is not going to stop this habit he has got into so expect the AB's to target him. I think Victor really needed last weeks game badly and will be back too close to his best come Saturday. How the captaincy will affect him is another story. I guess he's been there done that - lets see.

      Hayden - 2011-08-16 14:09

      Like Jake White said... Habana is the weakest link & NZ definately will be targeting the left side where Habana so memorably & consistently moves out of position for the 50/50 narrow intercepted try. On the day Habana can be the hero but after numerous under erforming games to date i dont see no revival from him just yet.

      Makutu - 2011-08-17 09:13

      I must say, he hit the nail right through the middle. He forgot to hit Morne Steyn and Jean de Villiers. Why crash ball when you are a center?

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-08-17 10:16 of the reasons that our inside centres have this crash ball habit is that they are receiving the ball too late and have their opposite number on top of them before they can act decisively. The inside centre needs more space than what they are currently getting. Get that right and the whole backline will come right!

      Netherlands - 2011-08-17 11:40

      Dyslexic moment... I thought I read: "6 step to beating blacks" Sorry...

      Exoteric - 2011-08-18 12:13

      Points well made, however even if we win this weekend the critics will tell you its against a 'weakened' AB's team (if there is such a thing) if we lose then its also to be expected as we have 'written off' the T3 series, what a joke... We need to get to the breakdown quicker, recycle fast and pass to running backs (as in flat out) using the angles to attack the gain line.No more 'skop and jag' please..Oh wait thats all Morne steyn knows how to do...another weekend another impending tragedy....

  • Brian Smith - 2011-08-16 13:50

    The operative words are that he has coached the Aussies for two years whereas PDV has been for how long??? Wake up to realities!

      BardofAvon - 2011-08-16 23:12

      De Villiers has coached the Boks for 0 years. The Boks are self coached.

  • StBad - 2011-08-16 14:06

    On the money I reckon... a few other additions here and there which you should get in the rest of the comments section. I think a few tough calls went against the Aussies last Sat; just saying! And how fat is Steyn! PdV's answer to tighthead has been there all along!

      kosie - 2011-08-17 08:53

      fourie must stop kicking the ball away, if you kick make sure it goes out. JDV must learn to release the pass, he can not break trough the whole backline if they know that he is not going to pass, its a wynand olivier scenario.

  • FaultyZN - 2011-08-16 14:06

    I think Gary could be on to something.

  • Andrew - 2011-08-16 14:10

    Except for the snipe at Frans Steyn, this is bang on! In my opinion, the Boks should ditch Morne Steyn in favour of Pat Lambie. Morne doesnt deserve to wear the Bok jearsy because he NEVER puts his body on the line in defence - end of story. His kicking cannot be the only justification for his place in the squad. Not with Butch James, Pat Lambie, and Frans Steyn around!

  • marcel.malherbe - 2011-08-16 14:19

    probably the best article ive read from you yet Gary! I couldnt agree with you more on every point uve brought up! Question is: why cant the shoddy bok management see these glaring frailties and address them! They havent done this in the last 4 years! And i can tsee them starting now!

  • Miles - 2011-08-16 14:24

    Well written Gary. Solid article!

  • Advocate - 2011-08-16 14:32

    Gary, you have missed the 6 most important steps. 6 steps forward with the ball before ramming into some one, lying down, or loose the ball with or without being tackled. Let Juan de Jong and Gio Aplon teach centres to side step ( yes, they still do that in NZ and Australia, Ireland, France and Italy)again.

  • jk - 2011-08-16 14:34

    im not even gonna read this guy's article, hes an absolute clown

      StaalBurgher - 2011-08-17 10:37

      He often is but he has actually written 2 good articles in a row.

  • - 2011-08-16 14:41

    "Springbok captain was more worried about how the referee interprets the laws of the game then leading by example." Come on now! Let's learn when to use "then" and "than". and people want to know why kids of today are so stupid.

  • ian b - 2011-08-16 14:41

    So lets sweat the small stuff: Bismark came on at 50mins played impressively for 10 mins and coasted for the remaining 20 mins in this period he missed his jumper in one line out and a skew throw in to Du Preez not penalized Du Preez had two charged down kicks and tap kicked a penalty to give away 3 points and give Aus the turnover, could not pick a ball up from the ground and service was predictable with so called box kicks that Aus ran back at us,behaved like an epileptic traffic officer behind the scrum remonstrating with the ref. Jannie Du Plessis a nowhere man hiding from impact slipping tackles not involved outside the scrum. Spies some hard running but slipping tackles and poor hands. Morne 20meters out and 20meters back Gurthro another nowhere man Jp only noticable because of his red boots Aplon below par should compete for wing Bakkies commited Beast stand out peformer Backline tragic

  • Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-08-16 14:55

    Gary, one of your better articles, keep it up. While there are no sacred cows, I noticed you spared Mr Spies ( point #7 ), who had a good game but could still improve on defense. Sticking with the loosies on my point #8 along with the "read the riot act theme"; all three ( 6,7 and 8 ) should stay bound to the scrum and add their full weight at all times or have they been coach to push with their fingertips, when last I checked this was not allowed?

  • yellowdog.dave - 2011-08-16 14:56

    Gary, I think your 6 points should have been the core of this article as most of them carry some merit and all of them are debatable - the rest of your article seems to be some attempt at justification for the p1ss-poor state of affairs on the field and the coaching staff off of it.

  • Mikea - 2011-08-16 15:09

    Fourie is the same. Play the game and not the REF.

      BardofAvon - 2011-08-16 23:16

      He needs a pair of white gloves then he can be a proper spietkop.

  • Mark - 2011-08-16 15:10

    Gary u are an idit... sorry trying to write like you... my hero

      Llewelyn - 2011-08-16 16:22

      you definately do not understand rugby mark kark

      Makutu - 2011-08-17 09:12

      YOu are showing your rugby ignorance boetie!

  • Superdude - 2011-08-16 17:02

    Your view of the game of rugby played last week was totally different to mine... You wrote: "I was particularly impressed with the Springboks’ intensity throughout. There was an eagerness and dare I say, urgency, about the way both forwards and backline kept at it in that first half in particular." A rather contradictory sentense that. The Boks lost intensity pretty much as the second half kicked off and wholesale changes were made because so many of the team were not yet fully match fit. I would rather have a fat Steyn at the back than Aplon, who is a terrible last line of defense. Sure he can attack, but when did the Boks last string together an attacking move out wide under the current mob of "coaches"?

      StaalBurgher - 2011-08-17 10:42

      @Superdude, gotta agree about Steyn. No one can argue he seems bit too big but he is a monster at the back. He can't attack like Aplon but Aplon in our currrent approach will only rarely score tries anyway. So why give up the long-range goal ability, huge bulk on defence and monster return kicks for an outside chance of a try? Hasn't everyone been talking about how defence wins the world cup? And other than speed it is not like Steyn is useless on attack. Besides if we are on an opponents try line Steyn is more likely to smash over a loose forward or centre than Aplon.

  • Sheriffff - 2011-08-16 17:12

    Stop deleting bloody comments Gary!

  • transkeidave - 2011-08-16 17:13

    great article gary--truth be told we are a few years behind in the skills dept and also we have allowed past reputations to cloud some judgement calls--if we have lambie at FB why have we dropped butch--MS is a kicking flyhalf so the back 3 will not be called into attack mode--not that we have seen much of that either--i am also concerned about the sometimes fragile tight five being shoved around more than once--lack of coaching skills as well as wrong players??i will keep up the hope for saturday--go bokke

      Kaapie - 2011-08-17 10:04

      @ trans what I cant understand is the issue of skills.. Frankly at this level if you dont have the skills you shouldnt be playing the game

      Jason de Villiers - 2011-08-18 01:27

      I agree with you transkeidave!I dont see why Morne Steyn and Lambie are playing in the same team.I would rather have Butch play at 10 and Lambie at 15.That way we have two decent kickers in the team

  • jan du preeaz - 2011-08-16 17:59

    nooooiiittt, expert opinion? pleaaseeee, this idiot is even dumber than heluim

  • Patrick - 2011-08-16 20:00

    Great analysis but.....Danie Rossouw is a beast we cannot lose and he simply must learn to retain the ball, this has long been my great gripe about him. Gio Aplon is a marked man, the moment he is on the field they line him up and bomb him, it will cost us ! As big as his ba.....s are and with all due respect he simply cannot be the last line of defence against bigger more physical All Blacks, Aussies etc. Lastly, can John Smit not captain from the bench ?

      Makutu - 2011-08-17 11:04

      We have more than enough players that can play at Flank! We ahev too much flank talent. Why bother with mr Missed Tackles and knock-ons Russouw?

  • BardofAvon - 2011-08-16 23:09

    More good work from Gary. He has a point of view which he motivates.

  • leonard - 2011-08-17 09:32

    Very well written In a nutshell !!

  • LionsFan - 2011-08-17 09:34

    well said ,some very good points, JDV had the ball at least 8 times and passed once ,de jong is a much better bet or even wooly mammoth Frans steyn would do well (as he did in 07) ,move spies to wing in place of (Mr i want to intercept everything and throw hands up in the air )Habana and you have a back line that will destroy defences

  • turffies - 2011-08-17 09:51

    A question.....going back in history, have South Africa never lost a match in Port Elizabeth against the All Blacks? Only four or so matches have been payed in PE and South Africa won all of them.

  • TheDuck - 2011-08-17 10:24

    Poor article.

      Karoobloed - 2011-08-17 10:33

      K@k - another excellent article from Mr. Boshoff.

  • StaalBurgher - 2011-08-17 10:34

    Other than about Francois Steyn, I agree.

  • Shnez - 2011-08-17 12:15

    WELL SAID GARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tashreeq - 2011-08-17 13:27

    I disagree with your views on Smit and Steyn. Both players fit perfectly into the strategy that the boks are currently using. If we add 'excitement' or 'innovation', it might mess up the overall structures that the boks need. Bismark is brilliant but does not offer the stability and consistancy of Smit. Aplon might be able to break the line more often than Steyn but how many chances are up for grabs in a world cup semi?

  • Rolf Nel - 2011-08-17 16:36

    Whats worse than sweating the small stuff is sweating the wrong stuff. Ignorance is bliss. Gary, this was not just an "upset" win but the eight loss in 9 Tri-Nations games! And that's not where the embarrasing statistics end as we well know. The things you point out are not the cause of the problem but the symptoms of a bigger problem. Noble of you to focus on the rubgy but if we are honest its not only where the problem lies. The fact that in 4 years this team has not grown, rather seems to have deteriorated badly is what is really so disconcerting. In focussing on your small issues you neglected to point out the turning point in the game, where we really lost it. Because despite the problems we were still leading on the scoreboard untill the call was made to move an out-of-form hooker to prop! If someone other than Peter de Villiers was coaching this team would you have complained about the players? The responsibility of placing this team at the top of world rugby is firstly that of the coaching staff. They have once again failed miserably and we now have a team with no confidence DESPERATE to win a game before the World Cup. Shocking for a coach who has had 2 years more than Robbie Deans with probably the best players in SA history at his disposal who have basically become fat, lazy and underskilled under an ignorant, out-of-his-depth, embarrasing coach. Fixing this will take 6 very different steps because the problems lie much deeper!

  • PhatCatt - 2011-08-18 08:57

    2 Steps to beating All Blacks: 1 - Lift baseball bat 2 - Beat! Beat! Beat!

  • Rugganut - 2011-08-18 17:33

    Those were my sentiments as well on Saturday after watching the game. When you get rid of the emotion and think about it, the Boks didn’t badly considering: They faced a highly professional outfit, which has been coached by a one of the world's best The coach and team that played on Sat have been together for almost two years and have been on TOP form Our players are coming back from injury and hadn’t played in 7 weeks We actually made them look ordinary for most of the match and I think that was an accomplishment on its own. Now, if we beat the All Blacks (and by the way, they have fielded a VERY strong team and only Carter and McCaw missing makes this a so called 'B' team) how good would that be for our confidence going into the WC!!!!!!!!!! We have a good chance if the coaching team don’t make tactical errors in their substitutions. Also, I am very interested to see the influence that Rassie has had on attack and defensive structures (don’t think he has had enough time with the team) because we will need at the very least, a good defence. Can’t wait to see Alberts in action and greatly anticipate a, hopefully, longer game from Brussouw. I am hoping that Johnson will be a flank replacement rather than 8th man and provide huge impact when he comes on (and the same goes for Beast at prop)

  • nzbro - 2011-08-19 09:35

    I think you got it the wrong way round bro. its should not read : Six steps to beating All Blacks, but rather Six steps to fixing our boks.Thereafter you figure out how to beat the allblacks with an actual gameplan that works 7 points at a time and not 3 points by chance drop goals.

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