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….and Boks must beware of Scotland’s All Black class


Scotland’s Kiwi edge is something the Boks need to be very wary of come Saturday

A NEW BREED: Stuart Hogg of Scotland reacts at the final whistle of the Six Nations Round Three match against England at Murrayfield Stadium, in Edinburgh in February. Scotland won the match. Picture: EPA / Robert Perry

The north/south divide has been a long traditional battle line across global rugby, with the south almost always having dominance in the past. But things have started to change, especially in the home nations of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

No longer are the November Test matches forgone conclusions. But what is this change down to? One clear possibility is the men who are sitting in the coaching boxes.

At one stage in the Six Nations, there was Eddie Jones – an Australian, Warren Gatland – a Kiwi, Joe Schmidt – another Kiwi, and Vern Cotter – one more Kiwi for good measure, occupying the head coaching roles of the home nations.

So, really, the change in approach from teams in the northern hemisphere cannot be all that surprising as they have always had the talent, and are probably more hungry to learn, they just needed good teachers.

This is especially true in the case of the Boks’ opponents this weekend, Scotland. They may no longer have Cotter in charge, but they have rather brought in one of their own to try and drive home the pride on top of the newly-built skills.

Gregor Townsend is as Scottish as they come, and a true bannerman of his nation’s rugby. One of the reasons behind Cotter’s exit was that there was much cavil from the Scottish players who did not take too kindly to his rigorous ways, but Townsend was not about to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Having been forced to work on their skills, to develop their attacking game plan, and get a bit of a Kiwi edge about them, it was up to Townsend to simply reinvigorate the Scots with their national pride and instill belief in them.

Scotland’s Kiwi edge is something the Boks need to be very wary of come Saturday. No team has tried to play that style of rugby, especially in the unfriendly wet and windy northern hemisphere conditions, as much as the Scots, and for that reason they are damn good at it.

If the Boks are expecting another slow and sedate game of ruck and rumble, they will be in for a surprise as the Scots are proud of their Kiwi class, and they will know it can be an unforeseen weapon against a team that is not prepared to face an All Black-styled threat.

Darryn Pollock