Johannesburg - Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus admitted that the overuse of the box kick against Wales on Saturday was “frustrating” and promised local rugby fans that this was not the style of rugby he wanted his teams to play.
Erasmus was reacting to the Boks lacklustre first half in their 22-20 defeat at the hands of Wales, a game that would not go down as a classic. In the first half in particular the Boks used the box kick from the back of the ruck way too often, stifling any chance they had to attack and almost giving the ball away at will, according to supersport.com website.
But while Erasmus has hinted that this was part of a tactic to play a “low energy game” in the first half because of the massive travel that the team had to undertake just days before the game, he admitted that it was overdone and that it frustrated him as well.
“If you want to play the whole year it will be very frustrating, not just for you guys but for all of us,” Erasmus said.
“It was really down to the weather, it was tough to handle. We could see that everything we were kicking they were kicking back at us. It was more about who would make the first mistake in handling the high ball. I was pleasantly surprised by the way Makazole handled the high ball, he didn’t miss one. But then again the three tries we conceded came from kicks.
“That is where the Northern Hemisphere have a bit of an advantage. We are actually catching the high balls but we still have a lot of work to do after that. So no, we don’t just want to box kick. I can promise you. The conditions played a role and yes, that’s not the plan.”
Erasmus did point out to the regression in South Africa’s handling of high ball kicks and the fact that Super Rugby doesn’t reward a kicking game as much as the conditions and mind-set in the Northern Hemisphere do.
“I don’t want to use that as an excuse, it is simply a fact. (Makazole) Mapimpi is better at it now because he has faced it in Pro14,” he said.
“You can decide if you want to play the box kick and the aerial game but you can do nothing if they decide they want to play the aerial game. You still have to catch it five metres outside your 22 where you can’t mark and then you still have to exit from that. They felt that now, and a lot of the guys who played Super Rugby felt it this weekend and in the second half I really felt we handled it better after we had a chat at halftime.
“But yes, we will only get better by experiencing that and now I said at least now they are catching them. Last year when we played against the Welsh we weren’t catching those up and unders.
“Again that’s not finger pointing at the competitions or the coaches, we select the team and we need to make sure they can handle that on Saturday.”
The over-use of the box kick is one thing, and accuracy another. After probably setting the trend worldwide in 2009 and 2010, the Boks have regressed significantly since then and have come unstuck against teams with a good kicking game.
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