Springboks

French regroup may deepen Allister’s angst

2017-02-06 13:03
Allister Coetzee (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - France... possibly reaping the gradual benefits of a major clear-out. South Africa … seemingly just treading water.

Supporters of the already embattled Springboks would hardly have been left feeling any more chipper about prospects for 2017 by events at Twickenham on Saturday, where the French fell an agonising 10 minutes short of recording a major upset in round one of the Six Nations competition.

Going toe to toe throughout with heavily favoured arch-rivals England, Les Bleus eventually succumbed 19-16, undone by a late try from home backline substitute Ben Te’o.

Despite the reverse, France served at least some advance notice that they will not be overly daunted by their three-Test June tour of our shores.

Certainly their showing was significantly better at the hallowed venue than the one put up by the Boks on their end-of-year tour in November, when they were both outmuscled and outsmarted in a clear-cut 37-21 defeat.

With their “jail escape” on Saturday, England were able to continue on their threatening march toward the All Blacks-held record of 18 consecutive Test wins as they earned a 15th of their own, all but one thus far under the tutelage of Eddie Jones.

It is true that England under-delivered in performance terms to a surprising extent, but that also gives insufficient credit to the way France knocked them repeatedly off their stride and, in fact, bossed good periods of the contest with unexpectedly strong physicality, collective grit and sound organisation.

Maybe it is also too early to speak of tangible seeds of a concerted revival by the traditionally fickle French: a better barometer will be if they follow up the Twickenham close shave by beating Scotland in an appealing home follow-up this Sunday (17:00 SA time).

It shapes as almost as big an occasion as Wales v England a day earlier – that one superior only as a meeting of two unbeaten sides – as the Scots pulled off a passionate 27-22 Murrayfield triumph over Ireland to be widely branded the team of the weekend in the competition.

Several sides in the first round, frankly, looked as though they would have the current measure of the Bok side which limped so haplessly through 2016 in under-fire Allister Coetzee’s maiden campaign in charge.

And if France do end up having a credible tournament, their second full one under the coaching tenure of former Test wing Guy Noves, they may even land in South Africa as slight favourites.

They would, after all, have been hardened by the five matches in the Six Nations, which ends in the second half of March, whereas the Boks will enter the June internationals “cold” after no activity of their own since the end of 2016.

The host nation will also be blooding a new, yet-to-be-announced captain, given the retirement from top-tier rugby of Adriaan Strauss.

It is rumoured that SARU will give Coetzee a precarious stay of execution by using the French series as their gauge of whether to extend his stay more significantly.

South Africa hold an historical 22-11 bilateral supremacy over France (six draws) and lead 10-6 in bragging rights at home.

The last meeting between the countries came at Stade de France at the end of the 2013 Bok European tour, when then-coach Heyneke Meyer earned a three-from-three win record, and the tourists prevailed 19-10 in the closing fixture.

An indication of just how much France have rebuilt and remodelled since then is the fact that, of the starting XV who scared the daylights out of England on Saturday, only two of them also began against the Boks in that 2013 clash – lock Yoann Maestri and flank Damien Chouly.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    springboks  |  france  |  allister coetzee  |  rugby
NEXT ON SPORT24X

What To Read Next

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Fixtures
Saturday, 29 September 2018
South Africa v Australia, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 17:05
Saturday, 06 October 2018
South Africa v New Zealand, Loftus Versfeld 17:05
Saturday, 03 November 2018
England v South Africa, Twickenham Stadium 17:00
Saturday, 10 November 2018
France v South Africa, Stade de France 18:00
France v South Africa, Stade de France 22:05
Saturday, 17 November 2018
Scotland v South Africa, BT Murrayfield Stadium 17:00
Scotland v South Africa, BT Murrayfield Stadium 19:20
Saturday, 24 November 2018
Wales v South Africa, Principality Stadium 17:00
Wales v South Africa, Principality Stadium 19:20
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team
Vote

Following the win over the All Blacks in Wellington, Springbok supporters will be counting down the days until the return fixture at Loftus on October 6. How do you see that match ending?

 
 
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter

Featured

The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.