Do the Springboks have a Plan B?

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The Springboks game plan is about as old as the green and gold itself. Intimidate the opposition at the set pieces, boss them at the collisions and make them pay with accuracy.

The strategy is a no brainer – especially when you consider the anatomical superiority that a large percentage of South Africans are born with.

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And this plan has worked for us in the past.

But are we prepared for those rare occasions when someone is beating us at our own game? What do we do when a hungry Leprechaun is hell bent on dining on Springbok Carpaccio?  Do we have a plan B that we can seamlessly shift into on the field? I believe the answer is, and always has been, no.

I believe, that two factors are fundamental to a good, modern rugby team: planning (the game plan) and execution (the players).

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On the player side of things the talent available in South Africa is undeniable – it’s practically coming out of our ears. We seem to have a never-ending supply of youngsters just itching to get a shot, and this should ensure that we’re always competitive as a nation.

From a game plan point of view we’re in a good spot too. We’re still anatomically superior to opposition and as such, our game plan is still relevant.

We have both factors going for us, so say it with me: “it’s great to be a Springbok supporter.”

That said, there is a third secret factor in there. It’s something small, something that doesn’t need to be used often – but when the need does arise it’s usually the difference between winning and losing. It’s something that I believe could’ve helped us against Ireland on Saturday. It’s called flexibility.

Flexibility breeds a Plan B. It’s the pick and drive instead of the box kick; it’s the one off runner rather than the backline ball; it’s the small changes you can make to the game plan to beat back the opposition and rescue the victory – something that could’ve been salvaged at Aviva Park despite the abject beating.

At times it seems to me that all South Africa teams arrogantly defend their game plan, persisting with the same approach, hoping for a different result. It’s insanity.

So with the World Cup fast approaching, let’s hope the Springboks adopt a degree of flexibility so that we can quickly and painlessly overcome any speed bumps along the way to glory.

What are your thoughts? Which World Rugby team is the most flexible in your opinion?

2 comments:

  1. As much talent as the Springboks have available to them, I still think there are a few areas in which we fall horribly short.

    1. We have not been able to replace Fourie Du Preez (easier said than done), he is the one player we have that has this tactical flexibility (funny that he comes from the bulls). He always knows when best to kick, speed up or slow done the game; an area everyone else seems to be clueless.

    2. Tight-head prop – We are lacking quality. Jannie doesnt really have an competition. I think he is over played as well, his fatigue seems to catch up with him around year end, leading to mediocre performances.

    3. Outside centre – We are missing Jacques Fourie’s communication in defense. And playing 2 x inside centres does not help the situation. I think JDV and Jan Serfontein are top class centres but they are both 12’s. Maybe JP Pietersen would have been a better option on Saturday?(even though he is not a specialist either)

    4. Fullback is also a slight worry – especially in depth. If Willie Le Roux gets injured we could find ourselves a bit short, is Lambie good enough in that position?? Also as brilliant as Willie is, he struggles a bit in wet conditions when running rugby is ruled out of the equation.

    5. Fly-half – I think we have to be patient with the excellent young guys coming through (Handre and Johan Goosen – playing very good rugby over seas again). yes they will make a few mistakes along the way, but once they have gained some experience, we should be ok. At least Morne (1 dimensional) seems to be slipping down the pecking order, with Lambie being given an opportunity against the English.

    1. Howsit, Derek

      Some really good points in there – appreciate the feedback!

      You are spot on, however the one area I would disagree with you on slightly is the Jacque Fourie point. While he is an expert at marshaling the back line, he has been less than convincing since returning to the team. His talent is undeniable and I’d love to be wrong – but I think that someone like Juan De Jongh deserves a spot more or even a JP experiment as you mentioned.

      It will be interesting to see what happens in the centres when JDV steps down.

      Also, on the flyhalf comment – I agree 100%. There is a tendency to drop rookie no.10s due to small mistakes or poor showings but on Saturday, Hougaard made Pollard look bad. The chemistry between 9 and 10 is probably the most important relationship on the field.

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