Boks not boring, says coach after All Blacks boss ‘falls asleep’

Bok assistant coach Deon Davids insisted on Monday that the world champions are not boring despite a narrative that continues to question their style of play.

Earlier this week, New Zealand head coach Ian Foster spoke to reporters the day after South Africa levelled a three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions, and said the match “put me to sleep”.

Plenty of media coverage from the UK press corps has also been far from complimentary about the Boks’ kick-oriented, forward-based approach.

“There is a plan behind everything. When we execute stuff it is not about being boring, it is about understanding what we want to achieve,” Davids told an online news conference.

“In doing so, we create enough opportunities to play with the ball in hand and score tries. I believe in our approach and where it leads us.

“I was not with the team then, but the same narrative was there when the Springboks won the 2019 Rugby Championship. It was the same when they won the Rugby World Cup the same year.”

Foster, who succeeded Steve Hansen as All Blacks boss after the World Cup two years ago, told reporters that the second Test was not entertaining.

“It put me to sleep,” was his frank assessment of a match that lasted 126 minutes instead of the regulation 80 because of endless stoppages for disciplinary decisions, a mini brawl and injuries.

Foster said the series was one big arm wrestle because the Springboks and the Lions were employing similar approaches to the game.

“It has become a very tight, almost risk-free type of series. Teams are almost afraid to play, they are relying on a low-risk strategy.

“So we are seeing teams who desperately want to win a big series playing low-risk, highly effective rugby.

“Both of them are good at the close-contact stuff, the close-quarter fighting, the kick and chase, and the pressure game. We have two teams playing a similar style. It is a bit of a slugfest.”

Foster says neither South Africa nor the Lions are comfortable playing against linespeed, which is why they employ kicking games.

“That is Test-match rugby where stakes are high – it is the whole risk versus reward, is it not?” he added.

“You have got two teams whose linespeed is really strong.

“We [New Zealand] have been criticised in the past for not being able to play around and through linespeed, but what you are seeing is two teams that do not like playing against linespeed either.”

“So what do they do? They kick. That is the answer if you are not willing to play a slightly more risky game.”

© Agence France-Presse

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Craig Lewis