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Get back to basics


It's a no-brainer: If the Boks want to play exciting rugby, they first have to stop being sloppy

Willie le Roux is just one of the exciting players in the South African line-up. Picture: Deryck Foster / BackpagePix

While everyone was on the edge of their seats in the final minutes of the Paris clash against France last weekend, it was difficult to note the manner in which the Springboks got over the line to win the game.

A penalty clinically kicked into the corner left little room for the French to defend; a simple line-out was called and an easy maul formed, and a patient drive was enacted to get Bongi Mbonambi over the line.

All in all, it was a clinical move, performed precisely due to its basic nature. This really is a microcosm of an example of what the Boks should be striving for heading towards the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Champagne rugby

The Boks have not shown much clinical play in recent times. They have looked to up their excitement levels, to be more attacking, and even to try and play a style of champagne rugby that takes a lot to pull off.

That said, it is not that the Boks should abandon their plan to play this attractive rugby, but they should just get back to basics first.

Again, basics does not necessarily equate to boring rugby either; it is all about the one percenters.

A pass that is perfectly executed allows for a runner to keep his pace and momentum, compared to one that is slightly behind, which kills off a sweeping move.

A kick that reaches the five-metre line and goes out on a penalty brings in a much easier rolling maul than one that skews off and leaves 12 metres to go for any attempted maul.

Breakdowns, tackles, cleaning out and even support lines from the Springboks have been sloppy at best. More attention focused on these primary basics of rugby is what is needed from the Springboks so that they can start to enact their champagne rugby.

Looking after the ball is another sloppy area of the Springboks’ game that needs work, and if it is fixed, can lead to slicker performances.

The Boks conceded possession on 20 occasions against France, and even their finishing was off the mark, showing impatience in the red zone.

X-factor and incredible scenes on a rugby field are what drive the fans wild – and what every player wants to pull off to look like a hero – but at Test match level there is a lot to be said about hitting a ruck correctly and timeously to ensure safe possession.

The All Blacks are, and have always been, masters of the basics, yet watching them pull off the incredible things they do on the field, you would never call their game basic.

There has been a big drive in South African rugby to up-skill players and make them more slick and eye-catching, but that seems to have been to the detriment of the basics.

If the Boks are to beat a side like Scotland, who have definitely traded in their basics for some flair, it will not be about trying to outshine them with the flashy stuff – it will be about winning every mini-battle on offer; every dominant tackle, every secure ruck, accurate kick, direct pass, and finish over the line.