People tend to think the All-Blacks' fancy offloads and slick moves makes them the no.1 team in the world, but it’s not the way they play that makes them the no.1 team in the world. The Kiwis main weapon is the way they manage their players, physically and mentally, on and especially off the pitch. They are light years ahead in that department.
I can't stand them, simply because they are better. I mean it’s not wrong to dislike the enemy right? But it’s hard to look past the way they do their admin, something I believe makes up for 51% of their success. And that might sound straight forward but the value of this statement has been seriously undervalued by SARU.
If we compare our players with theirs, the quality is equally shared, they have skill, we have strength, they play a running game, we play a tactical game, they are masters of the loose ball, and we are masters of set pieces. This should be the perfect match up and not 1 win in 3 years for the Boks.
Heyneke Meyer is doing his absolute best with his opportunity to coach the Boks. He picks the right combinations and he created a very stable and calm atmosphere within South-African rugby as a whole. He hardly makes mistakes as a coach and when he does he admits it.
The point I want to make is that even though he's close to being perfectly accurate as a coach and even though our boys are giving their best 99% of the time, why is it that the Kiwi's are dominating us on almost every occasion we play them? It’s too easy to go and look for the problem on the pitch, because there are always mistakes, neither us nor the Kiwis play perfect rugby.
The big problem lies in the management, the governing bodies, the big guys that's in control of the rugby setup and the way the machine works, the guys that does the diagnostics, that decides how fast the machine can go, when it will limit and how long it can go before the performance takes a dip. Let’s call them the mechanics of Rugby. In Formula 1, the cars with the best crew wins the championship, the driver simply lifts the title. When Michael Schumacher joined Mercedes in 2010, he couldn't achieve the same success he achieved at Ferrari, not because he forgot how to drive a car, but because he had to deal with a new crew and below par car. Rugby is no different. The dominant All-Black team the world fears so much are simply the end product of a well managed, well groomed structure that starts with the value of a properly managed player and ends with a nation and their no.1 world ranking.
Let’s call it the race to the no.1 world ranking....
SARU vs. NZRU vs. the rest of world rugby. What's happening is that Saru are trying to outlast and outgun the opposition team with a machine that's running low on oil, water and gas, has a dirty air filter and a broken fan radiator. Instead of fixing the important issues, they decide to replace the engine with a 2.5 litre V6 together with brand new set of 17 inch mags and a leather seats. This will make the car go faster, feel better on the eye and perhaps be more comfortable , but eventually the car will break down and burn-out and no matter how fast they were going or how far they think they were ahead, the Kiwi will overtake them on the final corner of the last lap, every time!
Oh yes, and the Kiwi is driving a stock-standard model-t ford. Nothing fancy. Nice, clean, and serviced. All the basics they'll need for the journey and just for safety a service kit, just for in-case.
That's why this is sad, they use basic knowledge to go at the same pace right until the end, whereas SARU decides on emptying their tank and at the same time overwork the engine with the aim to gain some sort of head start on the Kiwi. That will never happen, EVER!
Amazingly, whether it’s a good thing or not, SARU always manage to end up second from the 20 competing teams. Good enough to be second but far from being the best, consistently at least. Then they blame the driver?
ALL JOKES ASIDE, we should manage our players better, a prop that weighs 120kg can't play 30+ games a season (60 mins per game average) and still perform at his best in game 31. Nowhere in world rugby is this acceptable or even possible. The fact that Jannie du Plessis even managed to get through the 2014 season without breaking down in depression or something serious makes him quite the player. The same goes for his brother Bismarck, Willie Le Roux, Francois Hougaard, Jan Serfontein, Kobus Reinach, Duane Vermeulen, Marcell Coetzee, Willem Alberts, and The Beast. (Give or take a few).
I couldn't care less what happen to the Bulls or the Sharks or the Stormers during Super Rugby, these players are the best we have to offer, the best we can put together as a team to try and beat the All-Blacks. But by the time it gets to the 80 minutes that matters in the Rugby Championship, our guys are battered and bruised and the Kiwis simply fields a team that's mentally and physically rested, on some occasions not even their best team. They send their top players on vacation, a break away from the game, in the process give new talent the opportunity to grow and when the top player comes back, he actually has to prove himself against the younger version of his position. A win if you ask me. Keep in my, while they do this, they occupy the top half of the Super Rugby log from the start of a season to the very end, winning the competition 90% of the time.
Who makes the stupid decision to not at least try the most obvious thing that has been working so well for the enemy the last decade?
Every year it’s the same thing, give 120% in the derbies to win a conference title, what’s left of us then go on to face the All-Blacks and Aussies and since the glory days the Bulls achieved back and before 2010, there has been no success for South Africa in Super Rugby. Then after the failure or Super Rugby, everyone demands a dominant performance from Springboks in the Rugby Championship. Doesn't make sense at all to think there will be much of a difference, in fact the only difference is that there's a lot more pressure and a lot more on the line to try and achieve something you couldn't achieve a month or so ago.
I'm a massive Bulls supporter, and I will be honest, the fact that we tour at the end of the season will count in our favour, because maybe by then there's a big enough gap between us and whoever is behind us because we tend to fall apart down-under. That's what it has come to for South African teams; we have to take complete failure down-under into consideration when planning the route to our playoffs.
Last year, the Bokke managed to beat the All-Blacks on Ellis Park, but we couldn't take the same team to the year end tour because most of them went past their limit in that All-Black game. Whether or not Heyneke would've left them back here in any way or not, that's not the point.
Heyneke Meyer must be able to field the best 23 players we have available at any moment at any time and apart from the all ready injured players, the 23 he picks must be 110% fit and ready to go, and there must be backup for the injured players, and they should be backed up! If Heyneke had to pick a squad of 23 players now, will it be our best 23, and will they be fit enough, mentally and physically to come out on top against the 23 players Steve Hansen would pick?
The All Blacks lost their first choice flyhalf Cruden for the entire season. He won't go to the world cup, but they have 2 or even 3 suitable replacements for him, because they planned for something like this. They don't have a flyhalf that comes even close to what we have in Handre Pollard, but their 3rd choice will do the job just as well for them because he had the opportunity to do it before.
If SARU continues to take the superman efforts our boys continually puts in for granted, they will eventually burn out completely, and we'll end up with a much bigger problem than the 2019 quota/transformation situation awaiting SA rugby after 2015 - A story for another day.