Cape Town - Sport24’s Herman Mostert highlights FIVE talking points following the Springboks’ 27-13 defeat to Wales in Cardiff:
1. Annus Horribilis
Annus Horribilis is described as a year of disaster or misfortune.
That is the perfect description of the Springboks’ year.
Following the loss to Wales - only the third in South Africa’s history against those foes - the Boks ended 2016 with eight losses in 12 Tests, the most suffered in a calendar year.
It gave coach Allister Coetzee a paltry 33% win-record, the worst of any Bok coach in the professional era.
In his post-match interview, when probed about whether he could face the sack, Coetzee indicated that he alone cannot be blamed for the team's woes.
I'm sorry, but you can’t blame the country's structures if you can’t coach a team to beat Italy, or you have no game plan, or no defensive structure.
The Springboks weren’t properly coached in 2016.
2. Faf yellow card
Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk’s yellow card early in the second half put paid to any hopes the Springboks had of winning.
The Welsh were leading 12-6 but stretched that to a 14-point lead (20-6) by the time De Klerk cooled off.
What was alarming during that period was that we saw 14 South Africans trying to play scrumhalf. No-one was given the role of picking up the ball from the base during De Klerk’s absence. This led to a first-come-first-serve scenario.
It was absolute chaos and gave the team no momentum, with the lack of leadership evident...
3. No-one to ‘go fetch’!
A big problem for the Springboks this year has been the lack of a proper fetcher amongst the loose trio.
Francois Louw was out of sorts when he wasn’t injured and there was no-one else fulfilling that role.
It remains criminal for me that a player like Heinrich Brussow has not been part of the Bok plans for the majority of the past five years.
Previous coach Heyneke Meyer is to blame for that, as he felt Brussow wasn’t big enough for Test rugby.
In 2016, the Boks had no menace at the breakdown, no-one properly cleaning out and a team cannot function properly without that.
4. What game plan?
Looking back at the Springboks’ 2016 season, I cannot fathom exactly what game plan was followed.
Sometimes we saw kick-chase - kick-and-hope is perhaps a better description.
Any inventiveness on attack was lacking, the traditional physical dominance of Springbok rugby was absent, while players appeared clueless as to what their on-field roles were.
It's tough to formulate a proper perception as to what style the team was adopting.
This takes me back to the coaching aspect, or the rather the lack of it...
5. Jantjies, Coetzee not a good combo
Out of desperation, Coetzee reverted back to Elton Jantjies at flyhalf for the final Test of the year.
Unfortunately Jantjies had another torrid outing, and as our chief writer Rob Houwing noted in his player ratings, Jantjies’ game management was “almost non-existent”.
Jantjies struggled under Coetzee when he was loaned to the Stormers a few seasons ago and just cannot seem to translate his fine form for the Lions into the Test arena.
In Jantjies' defence, the service he got from De Klerk was slow, with the No 9 taking a few steps before off-loading, but De Klerk himself was under immense pressure from a pack that was not on the front foot.