Thanks but no thanks, the All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks

Forum » Rugby » Thanks but no thanks, the All Blacks do not need to copy the Boks

Mar 22, 2024, 04:25

Ben Smith

The Springboks have not found a foolproof recipe for World Cup success that the All Blacks need to follow under Scott Robertson.

The Boks are a tough, gritty, resilient side that work hard and bring a relentless defence and rely on a healthy dose of luck. The games with them are nearly always close.

After riding their luck through two knockout wins over France and England, they were spoiled by fortuitous circumstances for a third straight game.

The 12-11 win in the final over New Zealand came against a team down to 14 men for a combined 64 minutes after Frizell was sin-binned for falling on the leg of an opposition player and Cane was red carded for a rising tackle.

Losing hooker Bongi Mbonambi to injury for the match was indeed a massive blow, South Africa’s lineout turned to a malfunctioning mess with flanker Deon Fourie throwing, but the undeniable absence of a player for 80 per cent of the World Cup final had a much greater impact.

The All Blacks played a man down for the majority of the game but still nearly won. That’s everything you need to know. One side had to cling on for dear life against an undermanned opponent, the other only lost due to their own mistakes, irrespective of the cards.

The night’s events unfolded with one side on the receiving end of some fantastic good fortune in the first half.

The Frizell incident cost the All Blacks a cheap three points inside two minutes and a man off the field for 10 minutes.

The second three-pointer for South Africa came after a sustained period of attack that deservedly won a penalty when Ethan de Groot didn’t roll away.

The third was a dubious call on Ardie Savea that Barnes admitted on the mic he “didn’t see the replay”.

It was by all accounts a textbook pilfer, hands on the ball with body weight supported by feet. The clean couldn’t disrupt Savea’s position. Instead of an All Blacks penalty, it was three more cheap points for South Africa.

Six of the first nine points were leprechauns’ gold, most teams would have loved to got those. By this point the rugby gods had blessed this side more than they deserved.

Minutes earlier the bounce of the ball gave South Africa a big break when Jordie Barrett’s chip kick found an empty backfield inside the 22.

The ball bounced out of the path of the leading chaser Ardie Savea, into the path of fullback Damian Willemse, seemingly saved by divine intervention.

The bounce of the ball cost the All Blacks a definitive two points, possibly four, with the rather straightforward conversion. They settled for a penalty goal.

But the coup de grace was still to come, Sam Cane’s first red card as a professional player that handed the Springboks an early Christmas present.

You see many of the innocuous moments that saved the Springboks’ bacon in Paris were largely out of their control. They had no sway over the bounce of Jordie Barrett’s chip, Sam Cane’s tackle height or Barnes’ view of Savea’s poach.

So when you look at what to copy from South Africa’s plan, you might as well buy some ladybugs, horseshoes, a four-leaf clover. Anything else that you think might bring the same amount of incredulous luck that this team was blessed with.

How many rabbit’s feet do you need to own for a TMO to operate outside their jurisdiction and overturn a try past four phases? Or for Mo’unga and Jordie Barrett to miss two potential lead-taking kicks? Or for a time-wasting warning to not go punished on a scrum feed?

Sure, every team would rather be lucky than unlucky, but to copy South Africa’s approach based on three one-point wins that could have fallen any way is totally senseless.


Jacques Nienaber now holds one of the best coaching record against the All Blacks in recent memory, with four wins from seven since his time as “head coach” from 2021-23. Rassie Erasmus finished with one win from four in his short stint as official head coach from 2018-19.

They have re-ignited the rivalry to be competitive, but combined they have five wins from 11, still less than a 50 per cent win rate against the All Blacks despite winning two Rugby World Cups.

They haven’t been able to post a winning record over the All Blacks and now Robertson is supposed to copy them? Spare us.

New Zealand rugby made the mistake of chasing South Africa’s style a long, long time ago, adopting 10-man rugby and becoming obsessed with size and power up front to match theirs.

The 1937 shock loss at home to the Springboks led powerbrokers at the time to believe the falsehood that 15-man rugby wouldn’t beat South Africa again.

It was an identity struggle for three decades until the 1967 All Blacks broke the shackles, taking the world by storm with attacking rugby and re-finding the national identity.

Over the professional era the All Blacks have dominated South Africa. The overall record is 44-1-19 in New Zealand’s favour since 1996.

1998 and 2009 are the only years since where the Springboks have been able to hold the All Blacks winless.

Thanks but no thanks, New Zealand does not need to copy South African rugby.


Mar 22, 2024, 11:34

The wee bs are looking at any event that faoured them but ignoring an that went against the Boks aside from Bongi being injured.

What they really need to factor in is that the worlds best hooker Malcom Marx was not available. They need to factor in that Lood De Jager one of the best lineout forward in the world and the guy who manages the Bok lineout was absent.

These two players were a huge loss for the Boks and irreplaceable. Had they been in the team the wee abs would undoubtedly have lost by a wide margin. Say 20 points.

The wee abs complain that weather conditions didn't suit them. The wee abs have always been a wet weather side and the land of the long dark cloud gets far more rain the the rugby season than our guys do, Bulls, Lions and Cheethas especially.

This article ignores the bad disciplinary record of the wee abs leading up to the world cup.

The wee abs think they have superior skills as they value Ballarino rugby highly. The subtle arts of teh scrum and defence sometimes elude them.

The Bos game style appear to be more suited to high pressure RWC matches than the fancy frills of the wee abs or is it just our players are more resolute.

It looks to be that Rassie has kept traditional strengths of Bok rugby such as set pieces, forward domination and outstanding defence and is adding a bit more attacking flair. The pace of our backline players today means the wee abs cant outrun our guys.

I am waiting for bigger and equally fast black players to emerge to further enhance our backline play. Its also time for another Danie Gerber!

No the wee ab supporters must stop talking about luck and ask why the Boks have won half of he Rugby world cups they have entered. In other words get real! Note also the various countries where we have won. The wee abs if memory serves me have won two of their 3 RWC at home. The away win being in England. We have won in England Japan and France.

The RWC also suits South Africa as refs tend to be fairer and the whole rugby world is watching. This fairness was never the case in the Rugby Championship.

Mar 22, 2024, 12:13

The All Blacks need to find new tight 5 forwards.

Without Retalick and Whitelock, and a half-decent front row - they are a team that will rely on turnovers. 

Not everything was Ian Fosters fault. 

Mar 22, 2024, 14:04

Well that article captures much of what I have been saying. Luck and events outside Eluckmiss’ control played a huge role in the Boks win. It never mentions Pollard with a perfect kicking record, the Kolisi red card not given, the injury to du Pont which made him half the player, the Steward kick when the match was there for the Poms.

We never played rugby, even against 14 men…we played the 1960s Bools rugby derided as Neanderthal back then.

I always said we needed to recapture Bok forward strength, but why abandon backline pay off of that forward strength.

Between the size of our Dutch locks and the blocky power of our African props….we have a unique pool of strengths. The third element is the electric reflexes and pace of the backs like Kolbe, Arendse and Habana. Magnificent talent, sold short by a cautious, verkrampte coach.

Mar 22, 2024, 20:35

The Allblacks can't come close to copying the Boks, even if they tried...both teams have their own style, strengths and weaknesses...why would they even want to copy anyone? would be boring if everyone playd the same...and changing rules and laws to force teams to favour certain styles is daft.

Mar 23, 2024, 01:03

An old cliche kicks in...."If it ain't broke don't fix it" ....there's nothing wrong with AB rugby and based on reaching the RWC final  and how horribly unlucky their RWC loss there was nothing wrong with coach, Foster. If you care to look at their results over the last ten years they remain the benchmark team for success. They ooze a great dynamic.......entertaining......exciting never boring.....and they win.....consistently.

Mar 23, 2024, 09:20

The ABs had the equivalent of Waugh's Australia for a while. They've since lost to almost everybody, including Argentina.

I said on here before the previous World Cup that the AB ship was creaking.

It was indeed. No shame in it, a great team is always followed by an average one. Laurels and all that.

I agree with VisKop, they need a new tight 5, or a better combination there of, and fast.

The next WC is likely theirs though.

Razor is an actual rugby genius...easily the best head coach in the world.

Mar 23, 2024, 10:13

When Rassie and Nienhaber took over they introduced a Gameplan that incorporated our forwards strength thru the slow poison pressure. The Boks has managed on many occasions to force this style onto our opponents….but as time went by the rest of the Top teams learnt to deal with the mighty Bok forwards and there counter attack. Now the tide is busy turning and Rassie has incorporated Coaches that can add that extra dimension in more Backline attack plays. So we might see a different Bok side starting and a Different gameplan introduced to give us the much needed extra edge against top teams. The AB will be amped to go under Razor and will be a handful like always….exciting season coming up Boys : )

Mar 23, 2024, 10:45

"When Rassie and Nienhaber took over they introduced a Gameplan that incorporated our forwards strength thru the slow poison pressure."

In other words there was nothing new in the was/is a 1950's forward dominated basic gameplan. The set pieces is where the Boks tried to impose themselves so as to milk penalties.

Mar 23, 2024, 11:09

Well I would say they have fine tuned that plan with our Warrior like Defence, our Kicking Game and incorporating our exciting new runners in counter attack. But the core structure of that Gameplan is the same as the 1950,s yes.

Mar 23, 2024, 11:41

It's a RWC gameplan but teams have chipped away at our rolling maul and rendered it useless, parity in the lineouts with the rucks a mixed bag. Their only advantage towards the end came from the scrum so you'd have to ask yourself how long before the opposition neutralizes that as well.

Change was inevitable and necessary. Rassie has a few trip wires as to how and how much he changes and also as to what he retains. He is in the fortunate position of having a great scrum, a must for any top team as it provides a good platform for the backs. But is he going to have a foot in the past and hang onto Faf and his senseless kicking? And then there's Pollard vs Libbok...two very different flyhalves? Interesting.

Mar 23, 2024, 12:54

I can see Libbok starting sometimes or used as a impact player of the bench but Pollie is the more experienced one and the Man for the big moments ….Scrum power we have in the Form of our incumbents but also in Wilco , Tank and Gerhard Steenekamp. Faf and his kicking was over the top but his ability to disrupt is second to none. We do have plenty back up though.

Mar 23, 2024, 13:09

Rassie being the Great coach he obviously is will adjust his tactics a d approach to the game as circumstances warrant. 

The biggest challenge is the fact he has to build a new team for the next RWC.  We are due for a dip as Plum pointed out but can Rassie find the new players and tactics to continue his great success. 

Mar 23, 2024, 14:28

Prospects for the next WC aren’t good…but can we win the RC while the team is still somewhat intact? 

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