Hi guys, today we look at the Japanese game, which is not a easy thing to do! But as always when we put aside emotion and hysteria we can get some interesting information and get to a better opinion. Nobody is suggesting that it is OK that the Boks lose to the Brave Blossoms, but there is a bit more to the story if you are interested to know.

Please read the full article at the Vodacom Rugby Site. But I have included some lovely little video clips below to illustrate just how the Japanese outsmart us. They played with guts and composure too, but hell these guys catch us off guard. Well done to them.

1. To start, lets us look at the amazing One Second Scrum I refer to in the article. It is a thing of beauty!

2. Next, let us look at a clever long distance bullet lineout throw that just ignore the whole lineout. Another smart play to create parity in the set pieces.

3. Look at this beautiful defence structure. One man is allowed to shoot up… but watch behind him as the defence line close behind him like a amoeba. He is like a rocket that is fired at the Bok attack, but even if he miss it is ok, because there is a cohesive line of troops that close the hole behind him. Beautiful. Boks is stopped behind advantage line again.

4. And then look at this… Boks varied their running well despite what people is saying- sometimes play narrow, sometimes wide. Good shape and depth. In this example we run it from the one touchline to the other with good decoys and offloads. But then a Japanese Kamikaze missile come and stop us in our tracks! Well done to them. Anyone will have struggle against this type of assault. Bottom line, we should have started to kick more (or should I say kick BETTER) to break their excellent structure and get behind them.

5. Two angles of their lovely set-piece try. A Eddie Jones classic from the Einstein rugby coaching manuel that exploit the natural elbow between forwards and backline after a lineout. It is unfair to judge players in slowmotion when things happens in the blink of an eye, but it is interesting to note that Handre is positioned correctly, but that Jean is spaced out too wide from him, possibly thinking he must cover for Jesse as well. The break will happen on Jean’s inside shoulder. This is sometimes the problem with new combinations – trust, understanding, communication.

angle 1:

angle 2:

6. Quick look at this “famous” picture of Fourie ignoring the space to his left.



It is tough to criticise him too much when we watch the video. The Japan defender leave that space because du Preez is about to pass the ball to where his strike runners are waiting.

7. Another thing people complain about is Schalk playing “flyhalf” too much. Truth is he was very valuable here and I would not change it. He only get the ball 13 times – 5 times he pass, 8 times he carry. That is not extra ordinary for a “go-to” carrier in rugby. But the point is, every time he commit players on that inside, he help create space outside. Predictable? Even if you know he is getting the ball, you still have to commit to him! And then maybe he passes the ball anyway…




  1. Some great observations Oom, credit to Japan. While I believe Japan was the better team on the pitch and Garces generally blew well, one aspect bothered me. At almost every breakdown players (from both sides) went off their feet to seal the ball. In the ARG – NZL fixture numerous penalties were awarded for this, but I do not remember Garces awarding a single one. I haven’t watched the game again, so I might be wrong.

    • Oom Reply

      I will have to watch again to pay attention to this, but there was some penalties for this. Bissie get one for sure. You are right though this have become another “soft” law that refs do not always blow. Like put-in at scrum, and players standing as obstruction pillars next to a ruck.

  2. Now I have not done the homework and I as I watching the game down at the pub I missed a lot, but what did really get me was the amount of silly penalties we gave away. Silly off sides and going for ball on the deck when it was clearly not available which were just poor decisions. This meant that Japan kept the score board ticking. Japan’s first 22 points are directly from penalties (including the try from a lineout drive).

    I also feel that the ball went to Schalk too often, not sure if it was the plan or he was always just in the way.

    Jean and Jesse don’t seem to be on the same wave length. I felt the same in their previous game together as well.

    Our tactical kicking was non existent or poor.

    I also found going for the bonus point before a lead was secured was arrogant.

    And in saying all this Japan beat us because they were tactically better, played with more heart and when the chips were down they won and we didn’t.

    • Oom Reply

      yes to all your points! the Schalk thing is fine and I am happy for it to continue. We varied well off him, and just because he have the ball don’t mean you can ignore him… he committed player every time, and then would pass as well. So he is valuable to “fix” that inside defence and make sure they cannot just drift.
      I thought our attack was actually ok. But the Japanese defence was excellent, so we should have started kicking in behind them to disrupt. And force more lineouts and mauls – the things they do not like.

  3. Rudolf Marais Reply

    I truly understand your comments, and respect you for showing us some of these, but just some quick one I picked up during the game (not afterwards) Look at the point 5, Angle 2, you can see jean and jesse committing the same player, because of the lack of communication, you can also see Sia, Fourie, and Schalk Brits going after the same guy, no communication. I do not take anything from Japan, they were truly brilliant, but if you look at Argentina vs NZ yesterday, Argentina was also brilliant, but NZ managed to still pull it through by adapting to the situation. Mvovu had to shoot up for the defense because of a lack of trust in his fullback, instead he should have used his fullback in creating a delayed defense and give Zane time to help pushing them out to the touchline, and give Brits and Kolisi to opportunity to catch up and defend from behind covering the support runners. There are no communication, no trust and no hunger in our Boys!!!!! I will always stand and fall at the face of coaching. With point number 3, with them having 1 rush defender on almost ever defense line, they left so much space behind them, so what happened to some chips over behind their defense line, but adaption and finesse is not being coached. we try to run OVER every single player, and we got owned by JAPAN, Well done Japan, and its time to wake up and see that rugby has evolved and you quickly need to evolve with it or Japan will just be the start of a very hard Springbok era. Heyneke is you in anyway love this country and its rugby, you should either adapt or change, or you should get out. Nothing personal, but seriously, come on!!!!!

    • Oom Reply

      if we are brutal honest (even though any coach will tell us that is a difficult move to defend – and it was execute brilliant..) then we can point a finger at Jean in that moment. Inside him Handre came up well and was in the right position, so it is up to Jean to then space himself as the next player and create integrity in the line. But he go over too far to Jesse side… and so the space that Jean was responsible for did not have integrity. I hate to pick on it like this because it is easy for us to judge fast moments like this in slow motion, but ja Jean was at fault. And it can be as you say, that he was worried about Jesse so he tried to cover both lanes. Not good.

  4. Okay I rewatched the game.

    I agree with Rudolf and his comments on communication.

    Further to what I said earlier, I think the following are crucial.

    At 65 minutes we are 7 points up and don’t take a kickable penalty. We then proceed with an elaborate move that ends in us losing the ball. I think that kicking the penalty we had just scored the try would have put us 10 points clear 15 minutes to go with all the momentum.

    At around 75 minutes we hit a string of 3 very poor defensive kicks. The Japanese have 4 back to counter attack and Pollard hits one straight down the full backs throat. He then hits a short up and under from inside his 22 (carried back) which gets recycled only for Du Preez to then kick it down the full backs throat, again the Japanese have 4 back for the counter.

    I also was shocked to see that during the full 80 minutes Jesse gets 1 pass in front of him, it is in broken play from a kick return and he makes yards. He gets one other pass with some space in front of him but it is a poor one over his shoulder. Our wings never got the ball on the fly out wide. I don’t know if the backs should have maybe set up a little deeper or if a shallow setup with quick clean outs would have worked. We never attempted either.

    I also see James Small has ripped into Kirchner, I thought he was solid and even tried a couple of different things when plan A was not working. Granted that chip into their 22 was telegraphed and and poorly executed. I believe Willie probably would have made a difference in this game but I also believe that against traditionally stronger opposition he is a liability because his defensive full back play can be very poor.

    I am a little worried that our boys have been over trained in the physical regime yet have been under coached in skills and tactics. They look fitter than ever before but the basic skills seem not as sharp as expected.

    Seeing Eddie Jones’s reaction after the game really summed it up. It looks like he expected it. He knew he was tactically superiour and just needed his boys to pull it off, and my word were they brilliant.

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