The Springboks under Allister Coetzee has played 5 matches against, average opposition in Ireland (IRB ranked 6) and Argentina (IRB rank 7), they have lost an unacceptable 2 of those 5 matches and were (very) lucky to get away with 2 of their 3 wins.
We have already touched on the reasons for the Springboks poor performance which includes, but is not limited to:
- SARU appointing the wrong coach(es)
- a poor (no) game plan
- questionable team selection
- quota requirements.
- Lack of proper conditioning & modern day skills by players
With that being said, one has to realize Allister Coetzee is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. thus one needs to make peace with the coach if you are going to continue supporting the Springboks. So with Coetzee in the driving seat, what does he need to do, to at least try and make the Springboks semi competitive again?
We believe the answer lies in returning to traditional 10-man bulldozing rugby! Sure, it is a controversial statement, but there are numerous reasons why the above is the only way forward for the Springboks, for the time being, here is why.
Background – Coetzee incapable of playing attacking rugby
We believe a coach plays a vital role in the performance of a team, when Coetzee was at the Stormers he boasted a very impressive win/loss ratio by playing defensive rugby. To the astonishment of the larger rugby community the Stormers managed to top the log for a number of years while scoring on average less than 2 tries per match!
In the last 2 years of Coetzee’s tenure at the Stormers, his defensive gameplan slowly started to fail, as opposition teams finally managed to crack the Stormers defensive line. Coetzee started coming under criticism by fans. To counter the failing gameplan Coetzee, with backline coach Robbie Fleck tried to move the Stormers to be more dynamic i.e. playing a more ball in hand style of play, however it failed miserably, and Coetzee eventually decided to step down.
Returning To Traditional Strengths
What is the point of the above? Simple, we have already seen at Super Rugby level Coetzee is not capable of implementing an attacking modern day gameplan. The above point was further emphasized in the Springboks last 6-games, where the Boks tried to be dynamic, they tried to play ball in hand, one could literally see the effort, however they failed miserably, making countless mistakes in their attempts.
If the Springboks are going to continue with the gameplan they have used in their past 6 matches not only will they lose, new records will be set, for all the wrong reasons. Since the Kiwi’s (and to a lesser extend the Aussies) feed of opposition mistakes.
If the Springboks want to be competitive, Coetzee needs to scrap the idea of trying to play catch-up with modern day rugby, for the time being. Not only do the Springboks not have the correct coaching team for playing such a type of game, but they also don’t have the necessary personnel, with the Springbok backline being very average, and totally incompatible, unable to click as a unit.
Instead of trying to play attractive rugby, Coetzee needs to return to his traditional strength good ol’ 10 man rugby, kick and defend, and force the penalty via an enormous forward pack, something which the Springboks can actually field.
Yes, the above is not ideal but we are of the believe one has to play towards your strengths, which in the case of Allister Coetzee is traditional 10-man rugby, NOT attacking rugby.
Conclusion – Going Forward
In terms of players, the current crop of players are not used to playing a faster attacking brand of rugby, and Coetzee, and his backline coach should realize that! Furthermore, and this is important, the current Springbok backline, is woefully incompatible, they are not used to playing together, and constantly shuffling the players around certainly does not help the situation.
The shift in playing style will no happen “magically” a long term plan would need be set in place, for both player and coach development if the Springboks (and South African rugby) ever want to catch up to modern day rugby. A shift in emphasis should start at Currie Cup level, which will get transferred to Super Rugby and then eventually to the national side, only then (with the right coaching personnel) can you start thinking about playing a more attacking game.
For now Coetzee & Stick should stick to what have worked in the past, if for nothing else but to protect the record books.
Australia vs South Africa Rugby Championship prediction?
Australia is currently ranked 4th on the world rugby rankings, although they (Australia) are also going through a transition phase and have their own problems, they are certainly not a bad team and they definitely played a much better game in the 2nd match against New Zealand.
If South Africa struggled to win at home against lowly ranked Ireland & Argentina, we simply cant see how the Springboks can win down under.
Prediction: Expect an Australian victory by 12+ points.