Shock, shock, horror!!! How could I accuse Nick Mallet of being a Domkragger?!! Nick has been vocal in his support of the Lions modern way of playing and highly critical of the teams playing Domkrag.
The type of coach I feel Nick is, is a Maximiser similar to Kitch Christie. When most of the pieces have been constructed by a previous coach but have yet to quite come together a maximiser comes in and makes it work. Kitch maximised the work that Ian McIntosh had done. Another example is how Eddie Jones has made Stuart Lancaster’s foundations work.
Carel du Plesis was trying to do the impossible and change the way in which the South Africans play rugby and was making strides in the right direction but what hurt Carel was the series loss to the British and Irish Lions in 1997. Even though the Springboks had outscored the Lions by 9 tries to 3 through the series, the short sighted public, media and administrators couldn’t forgive Carel for the series loss and he was got rid of, Nick was appointed in his place.
Nick went on to make history taking the Springboks on a 17 Test unbeaten run. A record which has just recently been equalled by the current All Blacks.
It’s when Nick found himself no longer being able to just motivate and stick with Carel’s systems and now had to implement systems of his own that things started going wrong. Nick had surrounded himself with what he felt at the time was all the rugby brains in SA. Alan Solomans, Jake White and Heyneke Meyer.
A year out from the RWC 1999 Springbok captain Gary Teichmann was struggling with his form and the young Bobby Skinstad was pushing hard to replace ‘Teich’. Nick handled that situation badly instead of dropping ‘Teich’ but telling him that he is still part of the plan, he must just go away from Springbok rugby and find form he chose to stick with his captain which kept the new kid Skinstad out.
By the time the 1999 RWC had come along the attack minded try scoring approach that had been such a feature of Nick’s early part of his tenure when he was still using Carel’s systems had been replaced by an all out Domkrag gameplan with Jannie de Beer at flyhalf.
Jake White’s influence had come to the fore with a premium on discipline and solid defence. The attack was a simple plan. Off first phase ball, the ball got slung out to burly inside centre Pieter Muller who bombed into the England defence sucking in as many players as possible while Jannie de Beer got himself set deep in the pocket ready to receive second phase ball. On second phase ball Jannie was kicking drop-goals.
The plan worked like a charm against England who, because of scoreboard pressure created by Jannie’s 5 drop goals, started taking chances that they wouldn’t normally. South Africa kept punishing them and the victory was sealed with a Pieter Rossouw try. Right at that point I seriously doubted that SA would go on and win the tournament. What SA offered on attack was too basic and if the other team had got ahead this type of rugby would not be able to reel them back in.
Ironically it was Stephen Larkham of Australia that won it for the Aussies against SA in the semi-final by a long range drop goal. Larkham never before having kicked a drop goal at international level.
Like all Domkrag coaches do Nick had gone into survival mode and when these coaches go into survival mode they resort back to SA’s default gameplan, Domkrag!