COMMENT: Springboks must stick to their guns and let explosive backs run Ireland ragged

Springboks Manie Libbok will play a pivitol role against Ireland. prepares to kick a penalty. Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Springboks Manie Libbok will play a pivitol role against Ireland. prepares to kick a penalty. Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Published Sep 20, 2023


Now is not the time for the Springboks to veer off their attacking path and take the conservative route when they face world No 1 Ireland on Saturday in Saint-Denis.

The Boks are two from two thus far in the Rugby World Cup and have shown some magical touches on attack. It all came together on Sunday in the 76-0 whipping of Romania, and against Scotland, there were some good attacking touches that the team just could not finish.

It showed how their attack continues to evolve and how they have almost mastered the ability to vary their play – it doesn’t matter who they select, they can make it happen from all over the park.

That’s why the Ireland match provides them with another chance to go on all out attack to see if they can fine-tune those little stumbling blocks that have prevented them from finishing moves.

We all know that if the Springboks revert to their forward-dominated gameplan by overpowering their opponents at the scrum, line-out, and breakdown, it takes a determined side to halt them from getting any momentum.

But they’ve shown in the last four matches when they couple the strong-arm gameplan with the running rugby that the backs and forwards can dish up, it certainly becomes a title-defending combination.

They have the athletes in almost every position to play the type of running power game right through the World Cup, and they have the replacements in every position in the squad to back the starters up.

Ireland will surely be anticipating a forward-dominated game from the reigning world champions and there is no doubt that they’re slaving away this week to counter the Bok forwards – and they have the big players that can put up a fight.

So, why not try and catch them off guard by changing things up and sticking to what has been working? They ran Wales and New Zealand off their feet before the World Cup started and scored 12 tries against Romania this past weekend.

Why not attempt to run Ireland ragged as well?

The Springboks have little to lose in this match. They practically have one foot in the quarter-finals already and they can sound a massive warning to the rest of the teams if they can dominate the Irish while not playing a traditional Bok-strength game.

Let Manie Libbok make magic behind the pack of forwards, whether it’s with his boot or running with the ball in hand. Let RG Snyman off-load the ball in contact while taking one or two defenders out. Get captain Siya Kolisi out in the wider channels, where he has been thriving on the attack.

Now is not the time for the South Africans to crawl back into their shell and rely on the traditional power game. They have the opportunity to go all out and overthrow the topranked side by attacking them.

Should it not pay off and they lose, the Springboks will have the answer as to which blueprint to follow for the rest of the tournament.

Yes, one of New Zealand, France, or even Italy will await South Africa in the quarter-finals and a loss could halt their momentum, but the clash against Tonga on October 1 will provide an opportunity to gain some steam before they head into the play-offs.

By then, the Boks will know what works for them and what doesn’t, and they can hopefully kick on from there and achieve their aim of going back-to-back and winning the World Cup for a record fourth time.