Mexted: SA juniors lack skills

2011-06-26 17:10

Marco Botha

Cape Town - A lack of basic skills could be blamed for the Baby Boks' failure to reach the top four at the recent IRB junior World Championship.

And former All Black eightman, Murray Mexted, believes South Africa could lose their status as one of world rugby's powerhouses if they don't drastically improve the skills of their young players.

Mexted was at the International Rugby Academy's development camp in Rustenburg last week.

He feels that young South African players possess the necessary physical and psychological requirements, but there's a "shocking lack of basic skills".

"We practiced skills and the standard was much lower than it should be. Some players could only execute one type of pass - and that wasn't the most accurate one.

"There must be better development of skills amongst junior (South African) players, and not only the physical development that's currently taking place," said Mexted, amongst other things referring to the first day of the camp.

The Baby Boks are in excellent shape and the average weight of the players has increased from 94.4kg in 2010 to 98.9kg this year.

But despite their impressive physical characteristics, the Baby Boks lacked basic finishing and good structure, especially during open play in their recent games.


  • Ian Badenhorst - 2011-06-26 17:25

    mexted why don't you put a sock in it? if we wanted your opinion we will pull the toilett chain looser!

      Crusaderinvader - 2011-06-26 17:30

      What else do you put it down to?

      cocopops - 2011-06-26 17:33

      The truth hurts!!!!!.........especially coming from a great All Black player, if Naas had said the same thing you would have accepted it. Do yourself a favour, go to NZ and see how the whole youth system is handled there, their young players have much better handling skills than ours and this is just carried on into the S15 and international level.

      Jack - 2011-06-26 17:35

      You obviously didnt watch any of the games. He is dead right. Against England I saw 3 passes knocked on in front of the tryline and one spilled in the in-goal area. We should have thumped them, despite their better pack, because every time our backline moved we cut them to pieces. But then we'd throw a lousy pass, or knock on. I watched 3 games. It was a real eye-opener in terms of how inadequate our skills really are. I also saw the NZ team. All I can say is, in 3-5 years time the Boks are going to kak.

      Kangaroo - 2011-06-26 17:47

      Ian, nobody forced you to read this article, idiot. Can you perhaps explain why only NZ has won the u/20 World cup up until now?

      windkind - 2011-06-26 18:28

      That's not the greatest set of manners you are showing there Ian. Mexted has been helping our players for years, and you can credit him for some of the skills Francois Steyn has. Perhaps if you are an ignorant second hand car salesman, you shouldn't be telling people to shut up.

      GT - 2011-06-26 18:41

      Ian - what a typically stupid South African comment. Mexted is one of the well respected students of the game and he is 100% correct. I can just imagine you as one of the poephols on the side of teh field shouting "kill him, kill him" every time you team needs to make a tackle. SA test sides have been so short of the same basic skills for 20 years. Go and do yourself a fav and take teh time to watch an Oz or NZ practice when they next have an open one near to where you live. I have been to dozens and remember the Aussies backline circa 2000 NEVER dropping a ball in 1h30. The boks dropped them on the way from the bus to the field and all had a giggle.

      Paradoks - 2011-06-26 19:58

      Ian, jy behoort nie naby 'n sleutelbord toegelaat word nie. Gaan leer bietjie rugby, kyk hoe speel die baba bokkies en kry dan toestemming by jou ma om kommentaar te lewer. Hulle hantering was pateties vrot, sommige van die agterspelers kan nie laagvat nie en word met gemak afgestamp. Maar jou onderrok het die verste uitgehang toe jy Murray Mexted 'n loser genoem het. Hy is maar net een van die groot geeste van Kiwi-rugby. Jy is seker te jonk om hom te onthou. 'n Ware rugby-liefhebber erken "greatness", ook in die opponente. Gaan skink nog 'n rum en raspberry vir jou en bly weg van sake waarvan jy niks weet nie!

      Bill - 2011-06-26 21:38

      No doubt that Mexted is known for putting his foot in it from time to time, but he pales into insignificance compared to Ian. South African kids have shockingly poor ball skills, their teachers and school level coaches are often people who have never played the game, but coach because they have to do extra-murals as part of their employment contract as a teacher. After 20 years of coaching at senior club level I can only agree with the opinion that our kids have very few skills when they come through the schools ranks. Some may be pretty good, but the majority are poor.

      Orca - 2011-06-27 00:06

      A good case of sour grapes, I believe.

      cliff.humphreys1 - 2011-06-27 07:31

      Bit of an idiot, aren't you? - This is called constructive criticism, and really should be heeded. The coaching in general at schools level is abysmal, and skills coaching non existant.

      Roadster Babe - 2011-06-27 08:31

      Ian you are a f*&ck hole - obviosuly the skills are lacking. What do you expect when your primary focus is racial demographics. South Africa will nalways be a losing nation until they understand the concept of merit. Forget about BEE/EE and quotas - this is the result

      davidintheus - 2011-06-27 08:50

      dooos....that's you Ian.

      Ruggerman - 2011-06-27 09:27

      And your advice would be????? This is a positive contribution by Mexted, and I agree with his views. Your contribution is somewhat mindless

      Louis - 2011-06-27 09:53

      Ian why don't you put a sock in it.

      PajeroMan - 2011-06-27 13:14

      No Ian, Mexted is correct, we as South Africans cannot stand criticism, however imagine the improvement if we actually listen to him?

  • Eduard Nel - 2011-06-26 17:30

    Wonderful!!! Thank you Mr. Mexted! About time someone addressing the wowful skills level of our junior players and the ineptness of our coaching at school level. Skills is die basics of the game - physicality can only bring you so far. Great Article.

      hardloop - 2011-06-26 19:29

      What's funny though is that our school boy tours to Oz and NZ most often end in comprehensive victories for the S'african high schools. Check the stats on provincial schools rugby website. makes for interesting reading. perhaps it is just pure physicality at school boy level that keeps these kids winning but i'm not so sure.

      Gungets Tuft - 2011-06-26 22:48

      Hardloop - I stand under correction but most rugby in New Zealand happens in clubs - not at schools. Their club rugby is very well structured, they have a lot of programs there that the SA unions have adopted. BoksSmart is just one of them. No point in looking for somethgin to criticise there, we shuold look around and adopt ideas where they make sense. Rugby is a professional game - treat it like a business. If you are in business making widgets, then best you look aruond and see how the best are doing it or you will go out of business. Rugby is no different, so when someone offers advice, don't just kick it into touch.

      GT - 2011-06-27 12:15

      hardloop - because bigger kids generally beat smaller kids, but once they get to open levels and they start playing big kids WITH skills, they get based. Just look at the boks vs AB for the past 20 years

  • Gungets Tuft - 2011-06-26 17:59

    Don't like Mexted that much, him being a pretty one-eyed Kiwi - but this time he is right. And the problem then flows into the seniors as well. Take a close look at many of our S15 players who cannot pass from left to right effectively, some of them almost turning their backs on the opposition to pass. Ian - you can vloek as much as you like, but he is right.

      Thomas - 2011-06-27 02:54

      Gungets you are dead right!!!! I was amazed to see passes going head high, behind the player and even good passes being dropped!! How many passes were dropped in the first ten minutes by the Sharks!!!

  • Superdude - 2011-06-26 18:29

    Regardless of what Mexted says, the fact that the baby Boks ended up playing for fifth spot is just not good enough, and behind the likes of England, France and Australia? Personally I think that the standard of school rugby in SA is very high, but clearly there is a problem between these kids leaving school and making a step up?

      Pooh-Bear - 2011-06-26 22:44

      True, but don't you think the tournament was setup in a strange manner, where by losing only game by 6 points meant playing for 5th place?

      Met Uysh! - 2011-06-27 11:20

      True, Pooh. and consider that Fiji was in Australia's pool. Australia beat them by 25 points, and thus Aus went through ahead of us on points difference. We ended up beating Fiji by 100 points. Still, we should not have lost to England, but that's mainly because our coach was only appointed late last year after the team was already selected. Mexted does have a point though.

  • Adop - 2011-06-26 18:33

    Hi is probaly right but then why do they make use of so many Fiji and Samoa born players surely they don't buy them at under 18/19 or do they?

      Gungets Tuft - 2011-06-26 22:33

      A great many of the Fijian, Tongan and Samoan players get to New Zealand when they are very young, complete their schooling there and just graduate up. Not too many arrive in their late teens just for rugby. I have had this argument a few times. There are lots of non-native NZ'ers playing for the All Blacks but they have been there a long time.

      Orca - 2011-06-27 00:08

      Most Polynesian players are actually born in NZ.

      GT - 2011-06-27 13:17

      Adop - go do some research. I think only 1 born and raised somoan has ever played for the AB's.

  • LGH - 2011-06-26 18:35

    Jake White had to teach the Boks how to pass the ball to the right (amongst many other basic skills) when he took over. Mexted is quite right - Get the basics right and the rest (talent, flair etc) will fall into place!

  • Met - 2011-06-26 18:37

    Several years ago, Brendon Venter, in an interview with Sports Illusrrated( I think) said exactly what Murray Mexted has said now. At the time, about 8-10 yrs ago, he said with the exception of two schools, the skill levels of school players were lacking badly. So, perhaps, SA s should listen to constructive criticism

  • Colin - 2011-06-26 18:53

    unimportant tournament held annually. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme! Mexted trying to get the first pre RWC salvo's in..... SA 2; NZ1 and we weren't allowed to play in that one!!!

      Kangaroo - 2011-06-26 19:10

      Colin, will you feel the same when your son, or any other relative ends up playing in this 'unimportant tournament'?

      Andrew - 2011-06-26 21:13

      Unimportant tournament!!!!! This is where the future boks are nurtured and upskilled. Do you think Springboks simply arrive? My grandson is 11 years old and plays club rugby. He is already being approached by more rugby orientated schools for full burseries. It STARTS EARLY mate, if you are not on the pace this early you had better have oodles of talent or do what the rest do, tons of hard work.

      Gungets Tuft - 2011-06-26 22:42

      Frankly I don't know that Mexted is clever enough to be putting in early salvos for the RWC. Someone said it earlier - he is a friend of South Africa, and is now living with a SA girl. Every tournament where you pull on national colours is important, finish and klaar.

  • - 2011-06-26 19:39

    Yes, .........Our kids are following and admire "winning rugby"...the Bulls kick and chase game that the kick and chase are neutralized by other teams and the Bulls are 7 th on tha Super ladder we have nothing to fall back on.

  • ssrabits - 2011-06-26 21:09

    I cringe when my fellow kiwis try to butt in and tell how others how rugby should be played. Yeah there seem to be a problems with the baby boks but I dont think it has an implication on the senior level. The baby blacks over the past couple of years have been 3-4years ahead of everyone else but only and small handful will make it to the international senior level or go on to play professionally full time. The gap usually closes once they go through the senior ranks with better training programs, coaching etc, so I dont think there would be a concern plus its an event held annually so its hard to make judgements on different group of players coming through every years.

      davidintheus - 2011-06-27 08:58

      true, but if SA want to close the gap on u lads then we need to start making the basics part of our junior coaching (talking about primary school). Back in the 70,s & early 80's natural born size and bulk was a huge factor. This belief has remained at junior school levels where kids are not even taught about the importance of low body position and ball retention...if you are big enough and strong enough then you can run through the opposition - the mantra behind this, is that that is good enough. Hence so many of our players getting to senior level without true hommage to some basic technical skills. PS: technical is not just about passing!

      GT - 2011-06-27 13:18

      SA players would give their left nut to spend a week at Mexteds academy. it is the best of the best.

  • Darron - 2011-06-26 22:51

    Mexted is 100% correct. We introduce competitive rugby at too early an age in SA and condemn young players to playing in only one or two positions for the duration of their primary school careers. In SA, we are too concerned about the outcome of matches, even at primary school level, when we should, like the New Zealenders, be primarily concerned about the process of developing balanced players. I coach at schools 1st team level and I've long suspected what Mexted has articulated. Unfortunately, the structure of schools rugby and the pressure to win matches, doesn't allow us the freedom to properly focus on skills development. As a result, the average SA schoolboy is one - dimensional in his approach to the game and lacks the skills necessary to be a compete at a higher level, as evidenced by our recent failure in the U20 World Cup.

      dante - 2011-06-27 00:25

      that is not the only reason Darron.At primary school level we let our kids be taught by school teachers how to play rugby.Nothing against teachers but they arent coaches. should be spending 80% of time doing fun skills games/drills.

  • Tony - 2011-06-27 05:14

    Ian,you're a tosser,shut up

  • Marcell - 2011-06-27 05:23

    Get a shot gun and shoot the messenger as he is a Kiwi and his second sin is he is white too!

  • sonnyg - 2011-06-27 07:56

    Yeah I think I have to agree with him. We especially got showed up in the junior tournament because we tried to play an expansive game plan. If we stuck to our usually structures we may have done better.

  • BLOODY AGENT - 2011-06-27 08:46

    Mexted and the All Blacks lack World cup titles.The AB,S WILL NOT BE SO GOOD IF THEY STOP USING SOUTH SEA ISLAND RUGBY PLAYERS .

      coelacanth - 2011-06-27 11:19

      How many generations do people have to live in a country before they cease to be 'foreign'? Samoans, Tongans and other "south sea islanders" started moving to NZ in large numbers in the '60s. They've been here up to 50 years now. That is 3 generations for many of them. If NZ owes anything to the 'islands' it is to have the decency of sending the ABs to play in Apia or Nuku'Alofa or Suva now and then (which has not happened and is a disgrace). Not to put up with the tired BS that NZ has 'poached' its rugby talent. Maybe we should object when a black player plays for England - they could not possibly be English could they? I would have thought South Africans can relate better than most to the feeling of being called a 'foreigner' in the country you were born in. Personally, I don't seriously believe South Africa's young talent is much behind anyone elses. These things seem to change fast.

      GT - 2011-06-27 13:19

      consider new zealand has the population of Cape Town....

  • davidintheus - 2011-06-27 08:48

    Spot on! even the basics of driving into a ruck or tackle with a low body position are missing from every level of our rugby. Our lads luuuuv rushing at the oponents chest when we should be lower. We then end up falling fwd with the ball in hand and it takes a 2nd movement to work the ball back. SA needs to play more 6-down touch rugby to improve ball retention skills.

  • Louis - 2011-06-27 09:52

    I agree 100% with Mexted. The baby Boks looked pathetic and played like a primary school team.

  • get.go.richard - 2011-06-27 12:40

    Despite Murray Mexted's one eyed biased game commentaries, particularly when the All Blacks are playing, he is spot on. Some of the basic errors made, particularly against England, are reminiscent of school boy rugby and not what you would expect an international side to make. Errors such as running away from your support and then having to hold on to the ball and give the penalty away, taking the wrong option when it was easier to score than not to, dropping the ball, missing tackles, etc. are the basic mistakes that Mexted is probably referring to? So to Ian Badenhorst, and others who refuse to acknowledge the lack of skills, take your heads out of the rear end and take account of the positive criticism that, hopefully SA can build on. To call Mexted a loser when the opinion he is expressing has so much validity is arrogant and indicative of the little you actually know about rugby... Why is it that South Africans are (and I am one as well!) are so arrogant when it comes to accepting that this team was outclassed because they were simply not good enough!

      ChumScrubber - 2011-06-27 20:20

      But richard, 95% of the comments agree with what Mexted said. Or is there another comments section that I have not seen?

  • ChumScrubber - 2011-06-27 20:08

    I'm sure Mexted has a point - but "shocking lack of skills"? The kids scored 25 tries in the last 2 games of the under 20 tourno, and could easily have made the final had they beaten England - which looked likely at one stage of the game. But ja, too much emphasis is placed on brawn - you see it at senior level, players run at players instead of into gaps. Aggression seems a bit out of control as well - its all these damn substances these okes consumes, logical there will be ill effects.

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