The Springboks will be hoping that they can out-muscle and outwit England in the Rugby World Cup final. Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets
The Springboks will be hoping that they can out-muscle and outwit England in the Rugby World Cup final. Photo: Steve Haag Sports/Hollywoodbets

If Boks play one-dimensional rugby against England they will be playing for second

By Mike Greenaway Time of article published Oct 28, 2019

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Two years ago, the Boks lost to Italy and in those dark days who would have predicted that the South Africans would rise to contest the World Cup final?

It truly is an astonishing achievement and a salutation to South African rugby that we have the players and the potential to beat the best should the Boks have the correct guidance and backing.

That said, the Boks are now up against England for the Webb Ellis Cup on Saturday, and we need to set aside the celebrations and ask if the Boks are good enough to beat an England team that relegated the All Blacks to mere mortals. 

I cannot ever remember seeing an All Blacks team so utterly outplayed. The planning and preparation from coaches Eddie Jones and John Mitchell translated into the Red Rose army demolishing their adversaries to the extent that the 19-7 score-line flattered the Kiwis.

Ok, so we know that England are red hot, and that begs the question of whether the Boks can beat them. Based on the form of England and the Boks in the semis, you would have to say that there will be only one winner, and it won’t be in green and gold.

In my opinion, defeated Wales coach Warren Gatland summed it up perfectly when he said: “The Boks were really good at what they do in beating us but they are going to have to play more rugby if they hope to beat England.”

Video: Kim Kay/African News Agency

One hundred percent, Mr Gatland. My frustration with the Boks on Sunday was that when they had attacking momentum - after the forwards had done the hard yards - the backs still had the mindset to kick.

With wings Sbu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi begging for the ball, the backline playmakers put ball on boot with irritating grubbers or chips.

For goodness sake, when the opportunity is there to attack, take it.

The Boks have a simple game plan based on dominating set-pieces, aggressive rush defence, hitting it up the middle via the big forward carriers and Damian de Allende, and keeping the ball in the opposition half.

It is called playing to your strengths, and the reliance on unremitting forward domination won the day against Wales, with substitute forwards Vincent Koch (in a set scrum) and Francois Louw (in the loose) making match-winning contributions in the last quarter.

All this is great, and long may it continue in the final, but will forward domination and a territory game be enough to beat England?

My feeling is that it will give the Boks a shot of winning but if they are to get over the line they will need to take the blinkers off and have a go with the backs when they have established momentum.

I am not talking about reckless rugby ... I am just saying that against Wales the Boks showed no inclination to use the ball out wide and this must change.


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