Top reads from 2019: Boks’ wily pre-match warm-up

As we continue to reflect on past highlights during a period of lockdown, we look back on our most popular stories from 2019, which included how the Boks may have misled England in the warm-ups of the World Cup final.

FROM THE VAULT: Top reads from 2019

It’s often interesting to see what stories are well-received by our rugby-mad audience and, in a record-setting 2019, this was one of our best-read stories:

Former All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith said the Springboks shrewdly sent England on a false trail during their warm-up before the World Cup final.

England were odds-on favourites to win the World Cup, but the Springboks produced a physically brutal display to dismantle the English and claim a 32-12 victory to secure the most-prized trophy in world rugby.

Smith, who was often described as a tactical genius behind the All Blacks’ long-standing success, believes South Africa excellently used the warm-up period before the title decider to fool England by having their scrumhalves Faf de Klerk and Herschel Jantjies put up a stream of high kicks.

‘South Africa showed in the final they were the best team in the tournament because they were able to adapt,’ Smith explained.

‘They changed from kicking every second ball to actually playing some footy and using the skills they’ve got. It was a clever plan.

‘I watched De Klerk and Jantjies warm up and they did half an hour of box-kicking with the English coaches watching them. They didn’t practice a pass, yet seldom box-kicked in the game. They sucked a few people in before the final.’

Full interview

Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images

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Craig Lewis