Tips for Rassie’s Springboks
Discipline will be paramount to victory in tomorrow’s World Cup final.Two-time Bok World Cup winner and World Rugby Hall of Famer Os du Randt described it perfectly this week, when he said the Boks would need “ice in the head and fire in the belly”.
Owen Farrell and George Ford are among the best goalkickers and the Boks have to deny them target practise. The Boks, in the semi-final win against Wales, were penalised 12 times by referee Jerome Garces. The Frenchman will again be in charge and South Africa surely know what triggers his whistle and what doesn’t.
England’s pack has been outstanding at the World Cup and their lineout and scrum have been dominant features of their strength. The Boks have a pack even better than England’s, if not necessarily a backline with equal collective pedigree. England have to be denied at source, which is their set piece, and they have to be hit back in the collision. For the Boks to triumph, they simply have to boss the contact and they have to keep it simple and play to their strengths. World Cup finals invariably are dog fights and not easy on the eye. This one will be no different and there will be nothing pretty about this match.
Don’t expect the Boks to take risks or to be flamboyant, and don’t expect them to play much rugby.
This is a final that could well be won by the team that has the less ball, and by the team that plays percentage rugby and focuses on playing a territorial-based game. The Boks will back what has worked for them at the World Cup and Rugby Championship. They will look to their set piece, defence and imposing depth among their forwards to make statements.
The way England succeeded in shutting some of New Zealand’s key players down was seriously impressive. They shut that entire Kiwi unit down. The All Blacks looked like they didn’t have a plan, and that’s because England didn’t allow them to execute it.
Their ferocious linespeed was at the core of that pressure. For major parts of the game the likes of Ardie Savea, Richie Mo’unga and Scott Barrett were nowhere, and that’s because there was always an England player in their face, cutting down their options.
Overall, England were precise. They were clinical. Their game management was flawless and their physicality scary. They just got everything right. Semi-final performances and results are going to count for nothing when these two teams step onto the pitch tomorrow, though.
There are, however, lessons to be taken from it. For the Boks, it’s going to be key that they know their plan and execute it well. They need to stick to it, but also be able to adapt to whatever England throw at them.
That can be something very hard to do on the day, which makes strong execution of their own plans even more important.
Last weekend’s tactical kicking against Wales was way, way better, and that is going to be needed tomorrow as well. Handre Pollard’s radar in front of the posts is going to have to be on from the very start. SA’s quality on the bench among the tight five is insane, and another impactful performance from them is crucial.
The Boks also have to do much better at the breakdowns - things could turn ugly if they allow England to toy with them on the ground the way they did with the All Blacks.
Lastly, I feel a moment of individual brilliance can swing this game - and that’s where the likes of Cheslin Kolbe and Herschel Jantjies can be game-changers, so they should be given that chance.