What we learned from the Springboks’ Test against Wales and the Dubai Sevens, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
Allister Coetzee’s tenure must finally be over
For some time now, there have been ongoing whispers in rugby circles that Coetzee’s tenure with the Boks is set to come to an end after this year. That fate was surely sealed as the Springboks slipped to a dire defeat against a weakened Welsh team on Saturday, with the hosts once again exposing a number of shortcomings in the Bok setup. That result was the 14th defeat suffered during the tenure of Coetzee, who has an overall 44% win record from the past two years. That is just not good enough, and there are certain to be coaching changes when the end-of-season review is conducted after the tour.
Boks failed to contend with Wales’ aerial tactics
Not for the first time this season, the Springboks were horribly exposed when it came to contending with the kicking approach of a tactically superior opponent. Once again on Saturday, Wales perfectly executed an astute kicking game that the Boks were unable to contend with. It’s also not the first occasion that an inexperienced Springbok back three has been exposed when it comes to the aerial battle, while it calls into question why a talented player such as Warrick Gelant was played out of position on the left wing. Unfortunately, the fact remains that the Boks were clearly outsmarted and outplayed in key areas of the game.
Springboks can’t solely rely on the power of their pack
One of the major factors that enabled the Boks to launch a meaningful comeback in Cardiff was the performance of a dominant pack. This ascendancy up front enabled the Boks to work their way back into proceedings after trailing 21-3, but they didn’t quite have the all-round tactical smarts and composure to ultimately finish the job. When the Boks have tended to perform impressively this year, it has generally been based around a dominant showing from the forwards. However, it’s clear that they need to add more to their game if they hope to be able to consistently overcome the top teams in the world game.
Dan du Preez, Gelant enjoyed satisfactory run-on debuts
On an occasion when there was very little to celebrate for the Springboks, it was at least encouraging to see Du Preez enjoy an industrious outing in his first Test start. The athletic back-rower looked very comfortable as he slotted in at No 8 in the absence of Duane Vermeulen, but it again begs the question of why such a talented young player has had to wait so long for his first real opportunity. Similarly, although Gelant was exposed out of position on occasions, the talented youngster would have generally been pleased with his outing, while claiming his first Test try. Unfortunately, there was very little else to shout about on another disappointing day for Springbok rugby.
Blitzboks provide cause for celebration
As they did so often last season, the Blitzboks provided at least something to celebrate in South African rugby on Saturday. The Springbok Sevens were once again highly impressive as they claimed a second successive Dubai Sevens title after outplaying New Zealand in the Cup final, which followed victories over Samoa and Fiji. It’s a result that sets the Blitzboks up nicely as they successfully begin their series title defence, while now heading into the Cape Town Sevens with confidence. Boasting a settled and experienced side, there is every reason to believe that the Blitzboks are set for more success this season.
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