Jaque Fourie has fired back at criticism of South Africa’s style of play which the legendary Springbok centre says is based on wrong perceptions.
The Springboks followed their 2019 Rugby Championship and World Cup triumphs by claiming a thrilling 2-1 series win over the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town.
However, plenty of media coverage out of the UK, New Zealand and Australia has been less than complimentary about how the Springboks have gone about winning their titles, criticising the team’s kick-oriented, forwards-based approach.
The day after South Africa won the second Test to level the three-Test series with the Lions, New Zealand head coach Ian Foster told reporters the match “put me to sleep”.
One week later, New Zealand-based writer Mark Reason wrote that the “Bore Boks” are “killing the game” and it was up to the All Blacks to save Test rugby during the 2021 Rugby Championship.
Earlier this week, former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen suggested the style of rugby employed by the Springboks recently produced a game that no one wants to watch.
When asked about the criticism ahead of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship matches against the All Blacks and Wallabies, Fourie said the game is about getting an advantage over your opponents and the Boks’ playing style does just that.
“I find the Springboks’ way amazing, inspiring to be honest,” said Fourie, who played the last of his 72 Tests in 2014. “But I’m not really surprised because it was the same under Jacques (and Rassie Erasmus) at the Stormers in 2010 and 2011.
“We really had a solid defensive system. Teams knew that they had to play out of their skins to score tries against us. It doesn’t take a lot. It just requires buy-in and responsibility.
“It wasn’t rocket science. It boiled down to having respect for the player inside and outside of you in the line. I’m doing my job out of respect for my teammate. I would expect the same from him.
“Solid defence is the predominant way the Springboks put pressure on their opponents. If it works so well, why wouldn’t you do so on a continued basis?”
“People need to understand that, yes, everyone wants excitement but if you can’t defend properly, you’re going to get slapped on the wrist too for not making your tackles. That’s a bit of an irony isn’t it?”
“I’ve always loved defence. The two years that I played under Jacques Nienaber at the Stormers was so enriching. We would pride ourselves on our defence,” said Fourie.
“They argued that you work quite hard on your attack and so does one’s opponents. So why would you want to give tries away?
“Our blueprint was defence had to be solid, and if that’s in place and you get your attack up to standard, then your opponent’s not going to reply in kind. That frustrates them.
“Rugby is about trying to gain every bit of advantage you can.”