Allister Coetzee doesn’t have an answer for why Ireland keep outsmarting the Springboks, writes JON CARDINELLI in Dublin.
Ireland produced a physical and tactical-kicking masterclass at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. The Boks battled to compete at the set pieces and breakdowns. The backline’s failure to handle Ireland’s high-ball tactics cost the visitors dearly.
Ultimately, the Boks’ slumped to their heaviest defeat to Ireland. Coetzee’s Boks have claimed another unwanted record. Two months ago, they lost 57-0 to the All Blacks in Albany.
‘There are no positives from our side,’ Coetzee said afterwards. ‘It’s a disappointing defeat and we as a group take full responsibility. We let ourselves and our supporters down.
‘Albany was tough, but we came back. We’ve got three games left on this tour [against France, Italy and Wales], and we have to bounce back.’
The Boks may have to do so without Coenie Oosthuizen. The tighthead injured medial ligaments in the first minute of the clash at the Avivia Stadium. Details concerning the severity of the injury as well as an announcement regarding a possible replacement is expected on Sunday.
Coetzee commended Ireland for their work at the breakdown and the execution of their kicking game. As for the Boks’ tactics, Coetzee felt the players did not stick to the plan.
‘Our discipline let us down. We need to be better there next time. I’m sure the players would have learned from this.’
The Bok coach sidestepped the question regarding his selection of an inexperienced back-three combination. Courtnall Skosan, Dillyn Leyds and Andries Coetzee failed to field the high ball on a wet night in Dublin.
Coetzee did concede that the South Africans were outsmarted across the board.
‘Ireland are the European All Blacks,’ he said. ‘If you look at the 2, 8, 9, 10 and 15, those are the decision-makers in the Irish side.
‘We haven’t won here since 2012. That’s not because of lack of effort. It’s because we’re getting outsmarted every time.’
Coetzee spoke about the side bouncing back in the lead-up to the next tour match against France. Exactly how the team plans to turn things around in such a short space of time, however, remains unclear.
‘Our good preparation didn’t translate onto the playing field this week. The players are working hard. The coaches are giving their all. But we have to look at things as a group going forward.
‘There’s always pressure,’ he replied after he was asked if he feared for his job. ‘The big problem for me is our consistency. At times we do play well, but you’ve got to make sure there is a plan. Are the players compatible? Coming from that southern hemisphere brand of rugby to the northern hemisphere, can we say we have adapted to local conditions?
‘Do we understand the kicking game? Do we understand what it means to continue to put pressure on the opposition? Ireland did that extremely well.
‘I can’t see things changing in a short space of time. We’ve got three Tests left on this tour, though, and we have to come out and improve. ‘
Meanwhile, opposite number Joe Schmidt was reluctant to criticise the Boks. On the contrary, he went out of his way to highlight the fact that the Boks have travelled to Europe at the end of a long southern hemisphere season.
‘We didn’t expect this at all,’ the Ireland coach said. ‘It’s mostly been one-score margins in previous clashes against the Boks.
‘In the changeroom the players will tell you that physically [South African rugby] is not going backwards. The margins in Test rugby tend to be exaggerated sometimes.
‘We would be naive to think that the next time we play the Boks there is a 35-point margin. That’s just not the reality.
‘They have a good coaching staff,’ Schmidt added, and I don’t think the Boks are that far away from clicking.’
Photo: Paul Faith/AFP Photo