DURBAN – Scotland’s rugby of old was as harsh and attritional as the weather in the deepest Highlands. They were always a forward-dominant team that would try and grind out small margins whenever possible. But, much like the evolution of their major cities, Cosmopolitan Edinburgh looks as chic and as slick as the Thistles’ playing style these days.
Through their evolution, they have had some Kiwi influence in the form of Vern Cotter, and he has taught them a raft of new skills and handling drills. The Scotland of new is a team of nip and zip, and not one to be taken lightly anymore.
But what does this mean for the Springboks, whose northern hemisphere tour has hardly been a dawdle so far with a close loss, and a close win, under their belts. England pulled out the hammer at Twickenham, and France the sledge hammer to try and batter the Boks, but in Edinburgh, it will be more of a surgeon’s scalpel to deal with.
If we were to examine just where Bok rugby has come since the days when Scotland were a bit of an easy win, and a total battle of the forwards, we can admit the South Africans have tried to not forgo any of their physicality. It is still something that precedes them in the reputation stakes the world over.
Regardless of the size or aggression of any opposition, there is hardly ever a time where the Boks will be blown away by pure brawn and physical assaults. This has led to the South Africans perhaps getting stuck in this mindset when the going gets tough.