If the performances of the Welsh sides against SA teams in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship is a barometer, the “gulf in power” will be too great for Wales to beat the Springboks in the three-Test series in July, reports DEVIN HERMANUS.
So says coach Dean Ryan who, after the Sharks embarrassed his Dragons side 51-3 on Friday in Durban, reiterated his view that Welsh players and teams cannot match South Africans for pure power.
The Dragons will return home from SA having conceded 106 points and scored just 23, having also lost 55-20 to the Vodacom Bulls. Of the 13 matches between Welsh and SA teams in the URC, only two have gone the way of the former – Cardiff edging the Sharks 23-17 at Arms Park and Scarlets beating the Lions 36-13 in Llanelli.
This doesn’t bode well for Wayne Pivac’s Wales if they hope to win their first Test against the Boks in SA in two months’ time.
“In the last two weeks we got an education in power,” Ryan told the media post-match on Friday. “The basics of the game is based on power and at the moment there is a huge gulf between ourselves and South African opposition.
“Our scrum, midfield collisions, the breakdown … we’re losing scrums, we’re losing possession – they can march us up the field at will, and the fatigue rate in the final minutes [of matches] was telling.
“There’s still a gulf, and you cannot play little trick plays to breach that gulf. Collectively, we cannot answer the power. It’s a reality check for us, and a reality check for Wales come June.”
He added: “Wayne has had an opportunity to see all these games. The Wales challenge is a complex one … it is going to require some courage and require some people to lead.”
The Dragons lost 45-time-capped flank Ross Moriarty to a serious knee injury in Friday’s defeat, which is another blow to Wales’ Bok conundrum. Ryan said: “He’s one of the handful of players who can impose himself on SA sides; we don’t have many bodies like Ross and when we lose him, it’s huge.
“We are getting a good insight into the power at the top end of the game, both at provincial level and I am sure Wales will find out in June at international level.
“Outside of a few, we don’t have regions stacked with people who can handle that power.”