Boks: Kick them when down

2010-08-24 11:19

Spiro Zavos - Rugby Heaven

Some websites carried the remarkable photograph of Ma'a Nonu bursting through the Springboks defence to set up the All Blacks' last try in their thrilling 29-22 victory in Johannesburg. Remarkable because Nonu is running with one of his boots left in the despairing grasp of John Smit. There is a metaphor here. The Springboks were given the order of the boot by the All Blacks, who scored their first victory in Johannesburg since 1992, and their first ever Tri-Nations win there.

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Despite the closeness of the scoreline and the fact that the All Blacks scored 12 points in the last five minutes of play, the home side was really thrashed all over the field.

The Springboks scrum was under pressure most of the game, even though it won a penalty when Smit went up early. The famed lineout dominance has gone with penalties and free-kicks conceded for crooked throws and taking too long to throw in. The All Blacks missed five chances of scoring tries and scored three while the Springboks took their only chance which came from a couple of barging runs near the tryline following a tap kick.

Most importantly for the Wallabies, who play the Springboks at Pretoria on Saturday, the home side did not show anything new in its strategy and tactics, aside from playing its pressure game with a bit more physicality. But it was essentially the same game that has failed so far - that of kicking away first-phase ball to the opposition and trying to force errors. This game does not work, as the Wallabies demonstrated in Brisbane and the All Blacks at Soweto, when the defending side doesn't make serious errors, when it keeps the ball in hand (Quade Cooper kicked once in Brisbane) and when it plays at pace to tire out the big, unfit Springboks pack, a tactic I call "the running of the bulls".

One interesting statistic was presented during the broadcast. The Springboks pack weighed in at 901kg and the All Blacks 876kg. It was noticeable, too, how the old bulls of the once-great Springboks pack have slowed. Smit, playing in his 100th Test, was hardly able to keep up with the play. I did not notice him in action until the last minute of play when Nonu burst past him. Victor Matfield, who plays his 100th Test against the Wallabies, is also a passenger around the field, and increasingly in the lineouts. The Springboks tried some rolling mauls, and won a penalty from one them, but a tactic that was once so effective for them was easily contained.

You had the sense before and during the Test at Soweto that the Springboks were essentially relying on mind games and the history of inevitable victories at altitude to carry them to victory. One of the banners held aloft before the Test said it all: "Today We Save The Bokke." There was the triumphalism of Smit coming out on to the field (before the Test) with his kids. The mic was turned off for the All Blacks haka allowing the crowd to shout it down with inane chanting of "Ole! Ole! Oleeaaay!" The presumption, which was ludicrous and self-defeating, was that the All Blacks, a side which has won 75 percent of its Tests, would crumble.

The Wallabies must show similar mental and physical toughness on Saturday. I'd like to see Scott Higginbotham in the pack to give some speed and additional aggression to the back row. The faltering Springboks lineout needs to be challenged in the air and on the ground. The Wallabies have avoided contact clashes with the Springboks pack in recent Tests. This made sense last season. But this year the old bulls are ready to be taken to the slaughterhouse. The match referee, Irishman Alain Rolland, likes to referee a fast game. The Test, therefore, is set up for the Wallabies to give the Springboks another order of the boot.

Rugby Heaven

  • Gee - 2010-08-24 11:31

    Clearly Spiro is not a "Bok" fan!!!!

  • Gatvol - 2010-08-24 11:32

    Piet Helium must do us all a favour and go coach Boland, Loffie needs all the help he can get. Hopefully he will take Mr. Januarie with him

  • patrick - 2010-08-24 11:41

    Spot on! Adapt or die........

  • Still here? - 2010-08-24 11:42

    Hey Spiro, just wipe the corners of your mouth, the crap that is coming out of your mouth is still there. What a load of nonsense!

  • SG - 2010-08-24 11:44

    "Despite the closeness of the scoreline and the fact that the All Blacks scored 12 points in the last five minutes of play, the home side was really thrashed all over the field" Zavos please deduct 7 points from the 12 because it came from a FORWARD PASS you frikken blind naive idiot.

  • dubloki - 2010-08-24 11:45

    Spiro, you hindsight expert. Nothing will give me more pleasure when the boks grind your adopted countrymen into the ground. The last two tries were very very tight calls indeed, the second illegal in fact.

  • skywalker - 2010-08-24 11:48

    Ya....Boks fading fast methinks....but the cracks appeared long ago,a clown for a coach,poor selections of out of form players continues,an outdated game plan is adhered to,and probably some unhappy campers behind the scenes. There still won't be a fetcher,Boks will still kick away valuable possession and Ricky January will still come on in the last few minutes to slow the backline down. Playing on the highveld is no longer an advantage as the handicaps totally outweigh the positives,so I agree,the time is ripe for the Asstralians to take the Freedom cup and 2nd ranking and hopefully then SARU and the powers that be can do something to try and rectify the situation.

  • Aussie Mike - 2010-08-24 11:48

    Can't wait to put the boot further into the old Boks. Kick em when they down mate. Maybe ofter a few more humiliating losses they may start thinking of getting rid of "THE CLOWN" with the mousey voice and big mustache.........he he

  • Another Inept Article - 2010-08-24 11:50

    This is again such a poor article from this writer. What exactly is the point that being made? It is neither articulate or based on knowledge or understanding of the game. Lineouts vulnerable and amazing facts on pack

  • skywalker - 2010-08-24 11:51

    The problem is that Flo needs to play at six to really perform at a fetching role but Schalk is not ready to relinquish the position.

  • Andy - 2010-08-24 11:52

    Dream on mr, ZZZZZZZZZ. Where was the Bok scrum under pressure? Australia will get the boot on Saturday; I know this and I'm not even a Bok supporter.

  • wisher - 2010-08-24 11:52

    I personally hope , probally in vain aswell, that the springbokke beats the aussies convincingly by at least 20 points this weekend, just to give less meaning to anything said in this article. Personally, i think south africa played a lot better defencively, and if they played the kiwis a few times more, the results might change, once their used to this style of fast running from the kiwi's our defences will adapt, we dont need to completely change our style of attacking, there is ways to make a kicking game work,

  • Chris - 2010-08-24 11:55

    As a journalist I am appalled at Zavos's partiality in his tediously mediocre ramblings. The Boks are far from their A-game and I venture to guess that they will improve quite possibly from a radical change in personnel. Hopefully we will see this jaundiced scribe give credit where it's due but somehow I doubt it. Rugby journalism heaven is the uptopia free of such one sided drivel.

  • Gunzie - 2010-08-24 11:57

    Jaaaa, Spiro Zavos, you are soooo clever, unfortunately not good enough to solve the problem. People like you give me a real pain in the neck.

  • Greenhouse - 2010-08-24 12:00

    Spiro Zavos is a certified moron.

  • rolo - 2010-08-24 12:00

    yawn. you're becoming quite a bore Spiro.

  • ANTI-AUSSIE - 2010-08-24 12:00

    Zavos...what I would not give to BUMP into you in Bloem next week.....bring on the Aussie hunting !!

  • scrum cap - 2010-08-24 12:01

    I really hope your'e wrong, but can't fault your argument.. "Order of the boot", it is then!

  • Robert Paterson - 2010-08-24 12:01

    Spiro what bollocks!!! we were up there and in control most of the game. Except for a few mistakes at the end which cost us dearly.

  • Unfortunate - 2010-08-24 12:02

    It's true, we're going to lose again. If only we could choose our best side and follow the right tactics.

  • ClownJournalist - 2010-08-24 12:03

    Why do we have to read this sort of negative crap. This guy clearly gets a kick out of writing stuff that breaks down morale for all South Africans, and the Springboks. Last year we won everyone. We won the last world cup. We won the Super 14 with two of our teams in the final. Just because our coaching staff is making a hash of things, and our players are going through a bit of slump, doesn't mean that now all of a sudden anyone can beat us. NZ won us with luck, right at the end anyway. If they were so good, as everyone now all of a sudden suggests, why did they not win in a more convincing manner? All these insanely jealous people, that build up so much hate, cause we have been winning everything for the last couple of years, now all of a sudden have to start spewing forth verbal diarhea in such sickening quantities. Wake up loser journo, we are going to start kicking some jealous, evil ass soon. Get ready to eat that diarhea you just spat out.

  • @Spiro - 2010-08-24 12:06

    I'm sure you will get the responses that you want from you Australian website for these controversial remarks. So too will you from this website.

  • witseun - 2010-08-24 12:08

    Ok, maybe I had a couple too many beers while watching the match over the past weekend, but saying that "the home side was really thrashed all over the field" is just utter nonsense. Also, it was the AB's scrum that was under pressure, and we stole plenty of their line-out ball. This Spiro guy is a clown of the highest order. In my books, it was a hard-fought match and the AB's were simply better on the day. Everyone who has played the game on a high level knows that It happens in rugby, and its virtually impossible to stay at the top 2 seasons in a row. Last year was our turn, this year is the year of the All Black. But, come next year, it will be a different story and the Boks will again dominate. Don't lose the faith guys, fundamentally SA rugby is healthy with good structures in place. Some great young talents are coming through and its only a matter of time before everything comes together again.

  • Perfect Score - 2010-08-24 12:09

    I say, let's go for the perfect score now. Keep up the 100% and make it 6 out of 6 (losses that is). At least we will then be able to lay claim to a perfect score albeit a shocking one. We already own the best loss to Australia with a score of 0 against themin that "Test". Eish man!

  • Burtfred - 2010-08-24 12:12

    Oh no please, not the legendary unbiased and completely objective Spiro Zavos again! Put on your raincoat and gumboots, stand back when Spiro writes or you'll get splattered with vitriol and swamped in sanctimonious Aussie crap.

  • SWAAR NIE MEER GEVAAR - 2010-08-24 12:15

    Spiro is spot on. Last year the up & under caused mayhem amongst the All Blacks back 3 (Rocococa was even dropped). This year both the All Blacks & Wallebies have worked on this deficiency but have we changed our tactics? No! Morne Steyn, however, is not to blame as often the option to 'play it wide' is simply not there. To successfully play it wide you need loosees playing as a tight threesome with the ability to secure the tight phase then link between the scrummy & flyhalf - thus increasing numbers in the back line. You also need backs to protect one another as a threesome.. forming a ruck where the ball has gone to ground after a tackle. Simply put. Our forwards are too slow and our backs are not gelling as a unit but rather playing with too much individualism. Either our coaches don't realise this or they are too beholdent to a core group of thick skinned senior players who effectively call the shots.

  • Stof - 2010-08-24 12:16

    Spiro (Oz) and Stephen Jones (Wales) seem incapable of seeing anything positive in SA Rugby.......period. The only way to shut them up is to beat them. Week in and week out Spiro sprouts his jaundiced view and vitriolic opinion to us, I wonder if he has ever played the game. The chip on that shoulder must surely be too heavy to carry. Enjoy the game.

  • Refiloe Mosia - 2010-08-24 12:17

    the buks are exorbitantly of focus "cause they have been working on the sub-perfomance NO WIN is being impelled, why no one knows but my perception propel that a lack of sentimental effectiveness throughout their perfoming. i believe that the boys must start winning

  • Jaundiced - 2010-08-24 12:25

    The kick is in this article!! The players on the field have more respect for each other! This is a clearly the view of someone that has not played the game at any level to write about. It was a great contest one in which the All Blacks deserved victory!!! Spiro perhaps it's time you watch and write about a game that you actually value!!

  • CdJ - 2010-08-24 12:26

    ...and here's to objective journalism...very poor article indeed.

  • Cire - 2010-08-24 12:27

    I don't know why some of you guys are so upset. Lots of comments on this and other forums make exactly the same points - kicking away possession hoping for a lucky bounce and carrying overweight unfit players is a recipe for defeat. The fact is that the AB handled the altitude better than the Boks . Basically the Boks were lucky on Saturday that the AB did not win by a very much bigger margin - they certainly looked much the better side.

  • Wallaby - 2010-08-24 12:27

    Yeah, I agree w/- Andy 11.52AM. I am not a Bok fan either but they gonna kick ass on Saturday. Loftus, blue bull country, high altitude ...........

  • Lewsi - 2010-08-24 12:32

    Great article. I'm no bok fan either :)

  • kudobok - 2010-08-24 12:34

    you are right this time last year the springboks won everything and the all blacks lost everything......what happened next??? the all blacks brough in alot of players they knew would do the learn from the all blacks now and do what is required which is change some players becuase if you rely on this current bunch you will get what you deserve which is nothing but a number 6 world ranking and form the looks of things you will get that by the end of next year.

  • KeyserSoze - 2010-08-24 12:37

    Quite right, Gee. Just for clarification from Down Under, Spiro was born in Wellington, but now lives in Sydney, hence his obvious affection and vitriol directed towards the Springboks and South African rugby. As an Aussie, it's quite pathetic!

  • AES - 2010-08-24 12:43

    What game did This Dumbass Watch? BOKKE!! win or loose!!!

  • lose again - 2010-08-24 12:43

    ....still to many quotas in the Bok/Protea team.. ...will lose again...

  • GuviJ - 2010-08-24 12:44

    Obviously the politicians had Spiro in mind when drafting details of the media tribunal...

  • Paul - 2010-08-24 12:46

    The Bokke arn't bad at the moment, the All Blacks are just better and we need to improve again. We should beat the Wallabies at Loftus on Saturday. If we don't then we can start to worry!!!!!

  • maakmy - 2010-08-24 12:47

    Spiro, you Greek chop. Where have the Greeks placed in any sport (please understand talking shit is not a sport)? They have not produced a string of champions in anything, just look at your economy and see what losers your whole heritage displays. Get a life!

  • Terry - 2010-08-24 12:47

    Hey Anti-Aussie I would like to see Spiro run into Victor or Bakkies in Pretoria this Saturday. Bloem is one week to too late for us. Spiro we can judge by the crap you write and the origin of your name that you have never played this game. Go find another sport to write about because clearly you know nothing about rugby.....and to think you journalists have the nerve to bitch and shout when these pro-sportsman will not give you interviews. You should be ashamed of yourself you bunch of p...ks.

  • Anti - 2010-08-24 12:48

    Zavos - clearly the stupidest rugby journalist of all time! Bring on Higginwhover - I've never heard of him, because he's sh1t! Spiro Zavos will be crying crocodile tears come Saturday, the All Blacks won, after trailing the Boks for 78 minutes because of some bad referee calls, the rub of the green went their way, and now Zavos thinks the Springboks are over the hill. Bring it on you ridiculous Aussie!

  • ironmonkey - 2010-08-24 12:58

    keep ball in hand and play rugby thats wht the boks must do

  • greeceman - 2010-08-24 13:01

    @maakmy, jy is (nes Spiro) 'n p@&s. Ek's Grieks en ek daag jou om dit voor my te se! By the way Griekeland was al Europese kampioene in sokker, en basketball en waterpolo en in die olimpiese spele het hulle 'n baie beter rekord as SA. So..houd den bek...en praat rugby sense. Beast is 'n Zimbabwier en weet hulle iets van Rugby af?

  • trouble - 2010-08-24 13:01


  • REF CONSPIRACY !!!! - 2010-08-24 13:01

    That was a definite forward pass dammit, so take away 5 points (conversion unconverted). BUT.... Schalk's try was a double movement so take away 7 points, by the way it was a SA TMO that awarded Schalks illegal try AND to further the conspiracy how about how SA were continuously offside yet not penalised. The Bok fans were right after all, it is a conspiracy LOL LOL LOL.

  • IZ IT - 2010-08-24 13:06


  • scrum cap - 2010-08-24 13:10

    We can all wax lyrical and get irrate with Spiro, BUT first check out the facts!! We HAVE lost every single game thus far in the 2010 Tri-nations, and even if the tries scored on Saturday were "marginal" and "illegal" the record books reflect Nil wins in 4 games. That is a fact!! Will we turn it around on Saturday? I sincerely hope so, but reality says "no"! There is a major problem with the coaching staff and until that is addressed we can be the most raucous, avid Bok supporters in the world (even putting Elton 'n Jan to shame) but they will still not win. They need better coaching staff, correct team selection (no favouritism and/or unfit players to be included) and when it comes to substitutions, impact players need to come onto the park at critical moments in order to improve the pace of the attack and/or bolster the defence. It is time (overdue) for a radical wake up and shake up but it is doubtful anything will happen even if we loose the next 2 week's tests on a trot (which is a distinct possibility). This same bunch of clowns will be in the driver's seats come RWC 2011, where the Boks will be ousted before the semis... Ag shame!!! If perchance the coach gets it right I will be the first to eat humble pie and admit that I was wrong, but till then I will be part of the growing mass of very unhappy Bok supporters who will shortly not even bother to watch the games on TV, never mind buying a ticket to watch the slaughter "in the flesh"...

  • passiboll - 2010-08-24 13:13

    bokke still world champs. good thing NZ win us now. watch them next year when France take them out the world cup. They will NOT win the world cup they chokers. Go bokke. Well done NZ but hey, you a few months to early boys. We will take the losses and win the cup next year. That was what happened in 2007... ok enough said

  • Gooch - 2010-08-24 13:20

    @SG - Get your facts right. It was an unconverted try so the most you could deduct would be 5 points, so you still lose. The French scored a converted try from a similar forward pass in the last World Cup against the All Blacks and it ended the tournament for us. South Africans had a good laugh then. We got told by Paddy to grow up when some AB supporters complained about it. You have very little to complain about. Grow up.