PRETORIA - It is no secret that the Springboks have been stuck in a rut for the past month.
There have been various arguments put forward for why the sudden turn of results for the Springboks since their five match winning streak at the beginning of the season, to their two draws and embarrassing defeat at the hands of the All Blacks.
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee is the easy scapegoat and unfortunately will remain so for every one of his team’s losses.
At the same time, Coetzee must accept that his gameplan and selections will always be open to scrutiny, whether justified or not, because it has long been part of the DNA of a Springbok supporter never to be happy or agree with what the head coach does or doesn’t do.
And when the wins do come, Coetzee needs to also accept that he will never get acknowledgement for the hard work and planning done by his assistants and executed by the players.
I have a different take on things, especially after Saturday’s entertaining draw against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein.
The plan was spot on and so too were the selections but it came down to execution by the players on the field.
Why aren’t we interrogating those who were supposed to execute the plan of running the Wallabies off their feet?
Why aren’t we questioning the poor decision making of those that have the power to give the fans the result they deserve?
It can’t be that there are holy cows in our rugby and the players continue to evade the scathing reality of the state of SA rugby.
There has been a concerted effort from many coaches across the South African rugby landscape for our game to go into a different direction, one that sees the ball be in play for longer than it used to be and for fitter and more intelligent athletes.
In Saturday’s instance one could not fault the players for their commitment and passion to the cause and their will to want to win, however, they looked lost at sea and unable to figure it out for themselves what it is that they need to do to win.
As much as it was part of the plan to drain the Wallabies of every ounce of energy within their bodies by the hour mark, it didn’t help that the Springboks played most of their rugby in their own half and behind the advantage line.
If the tactic is to play running rugby, can the players at least make the decision to attack the advantage line and attack the spaces instead of running into opposition players?
I firmly believe that the run at all costs rugby would have worked had the players figured out how to play the game in the right areas of the field.
And it is the players that on the field that are responsible for making the right decisions, instead of religiously sticking to the gameplan even though it can be tweaked on the field to yield a better outcome.
The reality is that the revered All Blacks always have a plan but their players have the freedom to express themselves and have taken it upon themselves to also make decisions on the field.
The All Blacks hardly play rugby in their own half and they have mastered the art of keeping their game simple and executing the basics accurately.
The Springboks need to do the same, take responsibility for their actions on the field and make the right decisions.
It is then that they will be able to get themselves out of the rut they find themselves in and not hide behind Coetzee, and his lesser criticised assistants, when they lose.