I an often enough amazed b what members write on site claiming what they said are facts. Sometimes these myths are repeated on site continuously on site as gospel, Even though other members has repeatedly tried to correct the situation the myths persisted.in being posted,
I think it is always wise to get rid of obvious nonsense from site and a typical example pf such myths off site as it is a waste of space and time and constantly denied and rectified on site, For convenience sake I am quoting a recent posting So lets start and deal with one of the most persistent and the most ridiculous statements ever on site:-
"Really? Nobody placed importance on playing in the oppositions half? Nobody used patterns to play from the middle of the field? Careful now, because this was a long time feature of the All Black game. The plays and shapes, I can see them in every team during the Meyer era and in present time. Heck, we see in Rasse's Boks. You are making a complete fool of yourself Mike.
How did the ELVs affect rugby? The increased space meant attacking teams immediately began exploiting direct carries off 8 from scrums. Spies gave us guaranteed front foot ball right up the seam every time. This eliminated many of the more complex backrow moves we used to see."
In most of the threads dealing with the Springboks under Meyer used a flatter backline attack proves and that is a key element leading to the above statement, So what is the real situation in fact is one has to deal with a number of issues of which the flat attack myth is the moist important, The reasons why this myth is numerous and beyond any shadow of doubt:-
Meyer's own comments on use of the Springboks backline-
What did the classical backline play of Meyer comprises of:-
* The use of kicking by either the scrummies or flyhalfs as a key element of the Meyer game plan; and
* The use of the no 12 center for crashballing.
The problem was twofold, namely -
* instead of being strategic and effective, the overwhelming number of kicks were aimless and inaccurate, meaning that the kicks represented handover of the ball possession to the opposition - th All blacks were very efficient in using the kicks for counter-attack purposes..
* the crashballing was poorly executed and often resulted in loss of territory and or possession.
When Meyer was asked about the above he indicated clearly that THE SPRINGBK BACKLINE PLAYERS DIO NOT HAVE THE BALL SKILLS TO PLAY A BALL IN HAND GAME.
That statement was confirmed when on looks at his backline selections and the applications of the so-called game plan in the WC in 2015. In the WC Meyer apparently planned a similar technique used by him as coach of the Bulls,, but more about that later on.
Effectively Meyer himself denied the existence of aby flat backline play usage and if it did happen it must have been against his game plan and merely by accident.
The Morne Steyn Scenario
Fact is that Morne Steyn's whole reputation was built not on backline attacking play - but on his goal kicking and out-of-hand kicking story - the former was remarkedly accurate - the latter the exact opposite.
However, the main issue was that elements of Morne's lay has to be analyzed since he was the flyhalf in half of the tests under Meyer - the other half was shared between Goosen, Pollard and Lambie.
So why was flat backline attacks not possible with Morne at flyhalf:-
* One of the key elements always observed was his standing too deep in the pocket to allow for backline attacks or neutralized such attacks in advance - the other backline player had to form up outside of Morne in the line-up;
* Morne virtually never attacked the gain line in tests - if it did happen one woiuld count the cases on the finger of one hand in tests played from 2012 to 2014.
Because of the latter issue the situation developed that defenders ignored him from a defensie perspective and went for a potential recipient of balls so as to cut the play down. Flat attacks were accordingly not possible at all - since ball recipients was caught before the players could reach the gain line.
Be it as it may Morne was so poor in the 2012 tests that Meyer dropped him from the starting line up of the Springboks team after the Dunedin fiasco in 2012. Morne by then was a disaster in a number of tests.
In 2013 Meyer only used Morne in tests - but the latter went down badly in 2014 against the Welsh and Meyer dropped him in the Argentine tests in the RC. However, for some reason or another Pollard lost favour in those two tests and Meyer went back to Morne for the Perth test in 2014. In that test Morne was a total disaster and Meyer never used him again as starting flyhalf in the rest of the period he coached the Springboks.
The Pollartd scenario
Before dealing with this issue one has to go back to the situation when Steyn failed badly n 2012. Meyer replaced him with Goosen - who had a brilliant game in the Aussie home test in 2012 and got injured very early in the succeeding AB test. If ever there was a test where there was a variation in the Springbok play it was that test. However, that has had more o do ith change in the abilities of a new set of backline players used,
Now back to the Pollard situation of 2014. After another spectacular failure by Morne in the Wales tests in June 2014 - Pollard came on the scene against the Scots in June 2014 he was selected as Springbok flyhalf for the Argentina tests and what was surprising that he was very average and played a Morne Steyn style game in those two tests with minimal success, It was clear that Pollard did not fit into what Meyer expected from him and Meyer went abck to Steyn in the away tests against the AB's and th3 Aussies, with disastrous consequences,
So back to Pollard against the AB's - the only test the Springboks one under Meyer. Before the test Hansen said something very important - they know what to expect from Morne but they did not know what to expect from Pollard. It was really true words spoken sincerely. Pollard really did something that Morne near to never did - he attacked the gain line twice and scored two tries against the AB's. The Pollard hroism did not really effect the backline per se,
Everybody felt that the flyhalf issue was resolved and hoped for a better Springboks backline but it did not happen as expected, After playing in two of the EOYT tests Pollard was dropped from the starting line-up and replaced by Lambie. Th reason was clear for observers - Pollard did no fit into the backline plan of Meyer he was not able to adjust his natural talent to what Meyer expected from, him.
Pollard was used by Meyer in the RC tests - but then went back to Lambie in the Japan disaster in the WC. He as not very prominent in any of the WC games since the Meyer game plan uised in that series did not allow for use of the backline for attacking purposes. Although som people denied it, if you take the number of balls passed by the sccrummies - mainly Du Preez and compare the number of balls handled by the flyhalf - it was clear that more or less 80% balls passed by the scrummie DID NOT GO TO THE FLYHALF. The overwhelming number of passes went back to the forwards and the most identified recipient was in fact Burger who probably got near to 50% of the balls passed by the scrummie to platyrs other than th flyhalfs. I often said that Burger was the stand-in flyhalf in the WC - mostly in jest - but there was serious justification for that jest.
What was clear was that Pollard other than kicking played a minimal role in backline play in all tests he played in after the AB test in Johannesburg in 2014, He was not a shadow of the player used to be and what he is at present. What was clear is that he did not it in with the Meyer game plan for backline play - if indeed there was one.
Lambie also developed into a much less effective player he used to be as time went on. A very brave player - he did attack the gain line - but he was injury prone and in the end suffered from concussion.
The Springbok squad for the 2015 World Cup in 2015
The story must go back to what happened in 2013 - when the Cheetahs was the best all-round ball-in-hand SA team in Super Rugby. After Kirshner got injured Mayor called up Le Roux for the Springbok team. However although brilliant at times Le Roux mneeded support forom other backline players which was not forthcoming. By 2015 Le Roux wa sout of favour - even still being in the squad in the WC. He did play in the WC tests after the Japan fiasco where Kirchner was the preferred full back, The result was that Le Roux vanished from SA teams in 2016 and 2017
Now back to the Squad selection in 2015 for the WC. The most effective SA team in Super Rugby - most effective too in backline play - had one distinction. Meyer diod not pick a single Lions player for the World Cup squad
The latest quote about the 2015 Wallaby RC test
This was the first test in which Pollard, De Allende and Kriel played together as a backline combination. and there were indeed some positive back line play and the went ona crusade against De Allende and Kriel in particular lasting to his year. However, after that game the improvement in backline paly vanished from sight again.
If the above does not clear the air and prove the flat attacking backline story as a myth othing else will. I hope we will not have to put up with a number of wild statements like the above in future..