I contradict myself don’t I? I have just written a post claiming Heyneke Meyer was the 2nd placed ‘Domkrag’ coach now I write one saying he was a ‘Modern rugby’ coach. The three tests the Springboks played against the All Blacks in Johannesburg in 2013, 2014 and 2015 were all quality performances where South Africa played a much more attacking brand than what we are used to. In addition to those performances was an outstanding victory over the Wallabies in Brisbane in 2013. Brisbane a city where South Africa had not beaten Australia since 1971
In 2013 the Boks scored 4 tries against the All Blacks on the 5th October in a test in Johannesburg. From an article that Gavin Rich from Supersport wrote “New Zealand have always enjoyed a loose game more than South Africa has, and the five tries the Kiwis scored were testament to how much they love playing against an opponent that tries to play a quick game and thus makes the mistakes that they can feast on.” What annoys me about this quote is that it seems to imply that it is futile to try play rugby at pace where you are endeavouring to score tries because you would be playing into the hands of the Kiwi’s. I feel this is the attitude that has held South African rugby back for so long. There is an alternative attitude that could be adopted to the one Mr Rich holds, one that says, we are not as good as the Kiwi’s in playing this style of rugby but let us aim to play it better than they do and blow them off the park.
The 2013 clash at Ellis Park for me was a great rugby match between the two best teams in world rugby. I wanted the coach to build on this performance. The thing is as much as the Ellis Park tests against the All Blacks seemed like HM was adopting a more ‘Modern rugby’ approach he was never fully committed to the expansive game and proved his Domkrag credentials only 6 months later when with a non professional attitude underestimated a touring Welsh team. In the second test against the Welsh at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit South Africa stole a victory when referee Steve Walsh awarded a penalty try which won the game for the Boks 31-30.
In 2014 the Boks won a fantastic test match against their biggest rivals. It was really ‘squeeky bum time’ for the Boks until Pat Lambie slotted a 55m penalty kick to win the match. That was the match where Handre Pollard scored two tries but it was Francois Hougaards try that fooled me into thinking that the Boks were actually buying into the ‘Modern rugby’ approach. The move started 80m out by Willie le Roux and involved a grubber being put through and recollected and eventually given to Hougaard to score. Great try, really a great try, who doesn’t believe we can beat the AB’s at their own game?
After this historic victory against New Zealand ‘Domkrag’ unprofessionalism struck again. HM was talking about targetting the England game on the end of year tour of Ireland, England, Italy and Wales. At the time I was thinking to myself, has he been watching the 6 Nations because it is dangerous not to give every team their due respect. As it turns out Ireland gave South Africa a ‘klap’. Then to finish the end of year tour South Africa fell to Wales in Cardiff.
The two best performances by the Boks in 2015 were against the All Blacks. The test in Johannesburg was won by a Richie McCaw try 3 minutes from time. Every Domkragger was screaming ‘illegal move!’ and were whining on about forward passes as usual with people who can’t take responsibility for their mistakes.
The only way to get better is to critically analyse your own performance and ask , what did we do right? and what did we do wrong? Take ownership of your mistakes and that way you can work toward eradicating them.
Unfortunately the losses leading up to the RWC 2015 put HM in such a panic he didn’t really know where to turn instead of trying to build on the Ellis Park performances every single time, the Boks moved away from that model.
HM did give us 3 great performances against the All Blacks and an excellent performance in Brisbane against the Wallabies but the performances through HM’s time in charge of the Boks were not consistant and the committment toward ‘Modern rugby’ was half-hearted and HM when under pressure went back to default Domkrag.
‘klap’- An Afrikaans word meaning hit, strike, smack. In South Africa it is often how you say the word that helps to give it meaning. In this instance I would have expressed it in a way that would mean: ‘You received a smack out of the blue, as much as you are shocked and surprised at receiving it, you are also a bit embarrased’