The perception is the world champion Springboks know only one way to win, but the reality historically contradicts this ignorant view, according to MARK KEOHANE.
The Boks are well positioned to defend their World Cup title at France 2023, after an emphatic victory for Jacques Nienaber’s troops over England capped off a season that yielded eight wins from 13 Tests.
The Bok scrum dominated England in the set piece to lay the platform for the likes of Kurt-Lee Arendse to shine in a first win for South Africa over the hosts at Twickenham since 2014.
In his TimesLIVE column, Keohane argues that many of the Boks’ finest wins were achieved by teams that knew how to attack space and score exhilarating tries, when coached by tacticians who could marry SA players’ traditional strength with their innate flair.
“Players in this country have always had natural attacking skills, yet we only see it come to the fore internationally when certain coaches apply a mindset of picking players capable of igniting attack, as much as they do the imposing physicality of the stereotypical South African forwards,” Keohane wrote.
“Harry Viljoen, with all the teams he coached … played attacking rugby that was at times unrivaled globally.
“Jake White’s 2007 World Cup winners played the most expansive rugby throughout the World Cup and scored the most tries and points. In the final they reverted to the dour arm-wrestle needed to win the tournament.
“Those same players thrilled in beating the British & Irish Lions and the All Blacks three times in succession in 2009.
“Rassie Erasmus’s 2019 World Cup winners were brilliant in playing the perfect final in beating England 32-12, combining counter-attack genius with the necessary physical foundation.
“The ability to razzle as much as rumble is there when certain skilled players are picked. It may not be the style that wins a one-off World Cup play-off match or final but it is the style that makes you want to watch the Boks every Saturday.”
Photo: EPA/Sebastien Nogier