Springboks: Complete makeover needed

With the next game coming up, I must say, I’m not expecting much from the Springboks. Don’t get me wrong as a country, South Africa has a ridiculous amount of rugby talent. It’s just that were not using the best of it to compete. In order to win consistently, you need to be using the best ingredients=our talent and you need to have a baker that knows how to bake the cake in whatever time frame is applicable and to get the result. Also, you need to have the right system in place in order to have the cake rise correctly and not flop on the side and be overcooked or worse, under done. Neither of this is happening. Firstly we have several players who might have been very good once but they are now too old to play at the highest level. Duane Ver Meulen is one and he was a great player and I am actually a fan, but Rugby is a young man’s game and compared to even 3 years ago, his strength and speed have come down. He doesn’t have the strength and speed that makes a difference in a carry or a tackle when your tackling another guy who is in his prime and playing at his best. When it comes to this brutal game, you need the strength, the resilience and the fitness to be able to dominate. He’s not by any means the only one. The so called bomb squad needs to be replaced, not our best players and some past their prime. T Nyakane is not performing and does not have the physical strength to make a difference and too old, we have far better at home. Marx should stay, he currently is in his prime and physically is still dominating. Pollard is highly overrated in my opinion and not only does he kick poorly but he doesn’t have any tactical awareness or understanding of the game. He should not have been selected period. We need to get two top quality kickers to step in. Willie Le Roux, not performing, poor tackler and again, we have far better. Bongi Mbonambi and Kitshoff don’t have nearly enough physical strength and stamina. Again, we have far better at home. Some teams bring on 18 year old’s, why do we not do this? Yes, it will be a steep learning curve adapting to a test match but then again, they are 18, they are physically in their prime and the impact that they can make on a match, the energy they can add could be phenomenal. Talk about a bomb squad! We need young players in their prime. If they’re not in their prime and not performing then sorry, you don’t make the cut. That’s what New Zealand do and it works. That’s why they keep doing it AND keep winning.

Enough with the focus just on forwards. Their is so much that needs to be done at a basic level which is why the new coach Nienabers responses during post match interview were so enlightening and yet horrifying at the same time. He didn’t know what went wrong and mentioned from his area-defence they had much to work on. He’s the coach..So actually everything is his area. I’m afraid he was chosen for the role because he was in Rassie’s shadow and so some of the lime light landed on him and some deemed him competent for the role. In reality, he’s in way above his head, he’s not a coach and doesn’t have a clue about what’s wrong. There is no creativity and boldness whatsoever in his coaching and no tactical/strategic awareness either. No wonder the players are lost, their coach doesn’t have a clue what’s going on either. When you see that your old ‘ traditional’ and what many accurately call ugly rugby style is not working, then you need to adapt. You need to go back to the drawing board and know that the old style does not serve us any longer- if it ever did..and yes I’m aware we won the world cup-after losing to New Zealand and that we won the Lions tour- mostly due to their coach making some serious tactical errors but also because we wanted to win so much that the Boks made a huge effort which carried them through to their credit. Look at the difference that real true running rugby has on us. We can’t handle it. We have become a Northern hemisphere side. Our style is the same generally as the rest of Europe and the Wallabies ran circles around us and our defence was a joke, our attack non existent and of course we love to kick and give the ball away to our opponents with no real thought about why were kicking and they outkicked us too of course. We need to change to a running fast style of rugby similar to new Zealand and once and for all forget the idea of ‘traditional strengths and the forwards winning the game. That’s dead. It’s over, move on. In reality, we were out muscled anyway so that traditional ‘strength’ was found out to be just another weakness. Were not the strongest kids on the pitch anymore. Times have changed, other teams are dominating the physical side which is only part of the puzzle that we need to fix. Actually we haven’t been the strongest for a while, it’s just that our coaches and the pundits on Super sport who love to talk about the springboks without toes on the ground or actually offer hard hitting, hard to take but constructive criticism keep talking about how amazing they are. We need to move with speed and adapt and make our style a running style with speed and running at angles=something we seem unable to do to date. We need players who have a high work rate, tackle at the ankles, then get up tack again and again and then steal the ball without expecting applause. We need to completly change our defensive style, it’s flaws were clearly exposed by the wallabies and actually the Lions flyhalf in the last game very nearly caused us to loose the game by starting to expose the weaknesses.Even if by the Lord’s grace, we win a game or two, it does’nt take away the reality. We need a complete spring-clean of the the closet. If we truly do this and make the hard choices now, we have the opportunity to regularly, yes regularly beat the All Blacks and win consistent trophies. We have the talent but we need to use talent in it’s prime. So no players past their prime, think Habana, Matfield J De Villiers, Schalk Burger and a lot more etc at the world cup when we lost to Japan. They should never have been selected, they were far too old to play rugby, never mind against the best that each country has to offer! We should have a max age for international test rugby of 30. Maximum, and this should be a rarity that we play someone of that age. Come their 31st birthday, Thank you and all the best to the rest of your career. We should actually be blooding 18, 19 years olds. At that age, you bounce back quickly. We always like to talk of experience, well we can have a couple of more experienced players of course-subject to them being in the physical prime, and performing well currently so ideally 26, 27 years old, to balance strength with experience. We also need to drop this idea of legends. We kept playing V Matfield, long after he should have retired from rugby, never mind international rugby and yet still for some unbeknown reason, the coaches with no idea of reality kept choosing the man. Yes he had experience but no physical strength, vigour, staying power etc. It was an absolute embarrassment that we were still playing a player so very far past his prime, at least a decade before and in this, a young mans game which is about strength, speed, mental and physical resilience and tactical skills and awareness. Are you trying to say there were not hundreds, nay, thousands of locks from all over RSA who could not have slotted in within a second, with far greater effect with youth and experience between the ages of 18- 27 regardless of not having spent over a decade being stale in his position. That was an obvious time for fresh blood, but of course, no the coaches had to stick to the old guys who used to be great. Used to, well over half a decade or longer ago. If the man is playing at the top of his game and there is no one better, then play them. Otherwise don’t. Faf has not been performing of late and made a very silly mistake indeed costing us at least two tries against the Boks due to his arrogance and lack of discipline. He should not play for the next two matches. Players need to understand that their actions have consequences for the whole team. It’s not every man for himself. Also, this will give the other scrum half a chance and unlike Faf he’s not looking stale at present. Who knows, he may even transfer a bit of energy into the exhausted looking and stale Springboks. I am a Bok fan, but they are one of the hardest teams to support when you see the same mistakes being made day in and day out and the necessary changes never implemented. I hope that the necessary changes are made because believe me, then the rest of the world including the All Blacks will swallow twice when knowing that they are going to be playing us.

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