Hi guys, a quick post after we watch the Bok game against USA. Just some thoughts and observations. It was a easy game so we must take this with some pinch of salt, but none the less there are lessons for us.
First I must say that I am UPGRADING my expectations of the Boks after watching the tape again. This is not base on the quality of the opposition, it is base on the inherent structure and fundamentals we observe in the Bok setup. As we see against Australia and NZ earlier this year (before all the new substitutes come on) the Boks plays in a way that is hard to defend…
What Boks do well is to “shorten the line” inside and create opportunities outside. A rugby game today is a world of “spread” defence. Teams like the All Blacks don’t like to commit to rucks. When we played them this year they tackled us 94 times, it only became a ruck 41 times, and of that 41 times they only sent in a second man to try compete 21 times. They just blerrie stand off!
[If you want to read a interesting theory about Rucks and Offside Lines, click here]
Boks is good at forcing a commitment – especially with our bigger carriers – and our shape can often force the defence to become narrower. In most of our phase play we will simultaneous present a Close and a Wider option, so defence cannot easily shift or drift. So, from the USA game, here is a example of Boks having just carried down the right, then they go wide with some good variation and play against the grain.
On this point, Schalk is a very effective and valuable presence in channel 1, and I make mention of it earlier in the year. The defence must mark his runs, so they are fixed, but he is able to distribute from there to Pollard or Le Roux continuing play out the back. Or as we see below, getting runners off his shoulders into space.
A good thing to see is that the Boks has their confidence back after going into the shell after Japan loss. After that game we consolidate and went back to basics. But the boys are showing lovely touches again… Look at the pop pass from Schalk to Malherbe, then a offload from Malherbe to Beast, and then Beast with a beautiful offload to Handre. This confidence is a good sign!
Some concerns. Handre worry me a little bit. Earlier this year I make mention that he sometimes struggle to distribute effectively when he is playing flat. It seem sometimes things happens bit too fast for him. A few times he pass poorly and cost the Boks. Those chances we will not get often… I am also worried about Handre’s tactical kicking and pole kicking. In his favour is fact that he defend well and present a inside attacking threat where our 9’s do not. Here is one example of some of Handre’s poor distribution against USA…
And another one below, after we see it a few times in the World XV game earlier this year. This is something that opposition players will study. They know that if they can rush Handre, he will make mistakes.
Another thing that we hate is slow ball, and sometimes the Boks was guilty of it. In the example below we see that Lood is a big boy, but maybe he think that is enough! Lood must start his run when FdP put his hands on the ball so that he can take it at pace and meet the opposition at the advantage line. Ireland have shown how to play with this kind of combination of power and pace around the rucks.
So in a conclusion, it was easy opposition but after looking at the tape the Boks is not as k*k as people think. We are potentially a hard team to defend against, not just because of our variation, but also because we have genuine big ball carriers who always makes yards and create precious momentum. And in the water tight arena of the World Cup, that is gold…