How dangerous are the Scots and Irish to our WC defence?

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Mar 13, 2023, 18:08

Saturday was a great rugby laboratory for the Boks. We face both these teams in the pools in the fall. What are the lessons from an epic first half and the Scottish fade in the second?

The first half showed that Scotland’s starters can be very competitive against the top teams. But the replacement pack was destroyed in the scrums and the lineout struggled throughout. With those two weaknesses the Bok pack should provide plenty of opportunities. Can the Scots fix them before the WC…certainly the lineouts should be fixable. And there are other front row options that could fix the sub scrum.

If they do that the Scottish backs were quite penetrative in the first half. But with the disciplined Irish defense as the game progressed, Russell was not really able to unlock the deference as in other 6 Nations game. Again  the Nienaber defense in 2019 guise should do the same….but do we still have that focus.

The most sobering thing for the Boks is how professionally Ireland defused Scotland, even with the loss of key players. The other interesting development was how effectively Hansen and Lowe played roving rolls to unlock Scotland. Hansen in particular. 

Ireland have multiple attacking threats, although the loss of Ringrose may hurt. Which pretty much means if we can’t establish forward superiority we are not favorites to beat Ireland. The Hansen try where he plucked the ball out of Duhan’s hands, also illustrates the threat from their wings on the high ball, which might have some implications for some our wing choices.

The chance that we will beat Ireland with the usual mix of penalties and mauls seems uncertain. Both the teams on Saturday defended the maul pretty well.

So some of our recent successful weapons…the high ball and the maul in  particular may not be as effective in these key pool games. I think the scrum and the lineout should still work for us particularly against Scotland. But we may find ourselves in very tight matches…hopefully we will have a few surprises of our own and hopefully we don’t have any liability players in key positions

Mar 13, 2023, 19:48

Teams started to handle the maul last season, but the lopsided penalty counts are still in our favour, and that can be very telling in knockout rugby. I don't think Scotland will beat us, though they certainly are capable of it. Our defence does need to improve, it was statistically outside the top 7 last season, and well off the even the average for a Bok side at 80%. What concerns me is our inability to breakdown an assertive defence. We can run at passive defences, and if they back off on the outside, we can pad the stat sheet. Not much else. The building of a micro-light backline with an ability to run exclusively at passively given space, with no distributors, is a problem. The confusion at 9, 10, 12 is a concern. There doesn't seem to be any real idea of where to take the team next. Also, what does Kwagga have to do to start? Start identifying as the reincarnation of Shaka Zulu? We should be heavily focused on his ability, as the best forward we have, and our best player by a fair margin. If we are going to make it deep in this World Cup, there can be no messing around. 

Mar 14, 2023, 10:03

By the way the above is a funny outline as to the Springbok defense and l'Grande Merde's contribution is pathetic.   The Springboks defense in 2019 centered around two key players who effectively disrupted the functioning of the English backline and those were Du Toit and De Allende.    Kwagga is good in tackling backline players - but not in disrupting their attacking game - but he is rather ineffectivce in ball protection and recovery.   In forward mauling and carrying balls in  traffic by forwards he is ineffective.   He is by some distance not the best forward we have at present.   

Du Toit missed most of the season last year and Mostert is just poor in defense in open-field play - backline players just ran through his feeble defense.     If Du Toit is not available we are in some trouble as to the number 7 position.   The other player that could play a role in overall defense would be the number 8.    In 2019 Vermeulen was excellent in some aspects of the game - such as ball protection and recovery and some carries in traffic - for real defense against backline players he was not a factor since he never had the pace to compete in that situation.      He is unlikely to make the starting team in future and may even be out of the squad altogether.     Wiese is a poor reflection of Vermeulen and to my mind the answer is Roos - a youngster with the necessary pace and strength abilities to compete in especially countering backline attacks and I would rather see him as the option at 8 then any of the other 2. 

In backline play I would rather see De Allende at 12 and Willemse at 13 - both are capable of wrecking the defense of the opposition - with good defense themselves.    Both Van Rensburg and Esterhuizen has pace problems making their defense poor and attacking very limited.  neither of them are likely to make it into the WC squad.                             


Mar 14, 2023, 13:46

RWC wins are mostly a matter of player availabity, quality of boot camp and calendar. Rugby is not football.

SA rugby have an excellent schedule: fixture list: vs SC, vs Ro, Vs Ir, vs To, alterning stronger side with weaker side, all set over a four week spell, which means they have one week more to prepare for the round of 8.

Could not have been better. IR will be better played in third position instead of first as IR rugby main problem that keeps them from performing in a world cup: too small a player pool to sustain their playstyle over a longer period.

 IR fixtures: vs RO, vs TO, vs SA and vs SC.
If an upset would be expected, that would be SC winning over IR. IR will in all likelyhood have three wins and might think of saving strength to secure a quarter final win and will come from their other stronger opposition game.

Considering how advantageous the schedule  for SA rugby is, quite hard to see them out since from the group stage. Nearly guaranteed to qualify with a loss against IR.

Group qualified: SA rugby, more likely IR, less likely SC.

The best opponent for SA rugby quarter final would be FR, as FR starts the group competition the first (against NZ) and end it the last (against IT, not an easy game) meaning the extra week provided to SA will play fully.
An opposition against NZ will be harder, NZ plays against FR, then vs NA, then against IT, then against UR. Except for the FR game, NZ B side is enough to secure a win in every other encounter especially as IT will target their game against FR as their WC main attempt.

 Basically, NZ has three weeks to prepare for their quarter finals, SA rugby extra week
advantage will be minor if even something.

In both scenarios, SA rugby are expected to lose: difference is that the loss against FR game will compromize FR chances to win the WC while NZ will come mostly unscathed from the encounter and still fresh enough to secure a final win.

Mar 14, 2023, 21:03

The Irish are playing damn good rugby.

Nice right mix of everything in their game.

They seem sharp on the counter and very decisive. Probably the best drilled team at this point and the bonus is that they don’t look quite 100% yet either.

Wouldn’t mind seeing them win it.

How will they go on the big stage in the semis and finals though? Any one of the French, Abs or Boks could beat them.

Up front I think the Boks have the edge over them but they’re better everywhere else.

Mar 14, 2023, 22:18

The Boks are highly reliant on a few key individuals, and penalties. They use the latter to dissolve the game into fractured 50/50 affair. We have a lot of players who are overpowered. In the backs, we have Am and Pollard who show physicality. Not many good back three players in the air. Of our forwards, most of the front rowers are average. Eben is a great lock, the only one when RG is not present. Wiese and Kwagga hold up the back row. Our scrumhalves are extremely poor technically, and Faf is beginning to look like a dumpy dwarf compared to his 2018 self. The Boks are strong at lineout time, and mauls; average to poor in the scrum; well beaten on the gainline all across the width of the field; have very meagre options regarding distributors, and many turnstile defenders such as De Allende, Kolisi, Lood, our wings. I don't like the way we played last season. It was the most scrappy looking attack I have seen since the worst parts of the Straeuli reign, but significantly less solid than at any other point under Erasputin. We don't look especially physical anymore. It would take a big overhaul in personnel to correct that. 

Mar 15, 2023, 00:10

Both these teams can beat us especially IRE ….there strong self believe as a team and Skill set, makes them formidable….Boks can beat them, but not with the current set up as proven in 22.

Mar 15, 2023, 13:55

RWCs are competitions on their own. They are too long to expect teams to play each game fully, they are too short to make squad rotation a required value.

NZ run is expected to be strong, they will be limited by the players availabity. If they do not miss too many key  players, they will be a favourite.

Mar 15, 2023, 17:50

I do think we can beat Ireland and Scotland if we stick to our strengths and dominate them physically like the bulls did against Leinster. I think the SA teams are holding back a bit this season or they have learned to become more physical. That said, the Irish backline attack has become predictable. If I was SA, I would look at how to exploit the dummy runners they use and see if we can get a penalty for obstruction. This is same play that all the Irish teams use. The compress the midfield, create a boot and the Sexton sits in the pocket with either an inside pass or a long loop pass to the wing which was their first try against Scotland. I did take not that there was minor contact but if I was SA I would run into these shields and try make a point that they are obstructing the defence, They also cut off the cover defence which creates the space. I can't believe that they get away with it. 

We may also have to play percentage rugby against these guys and try find scoring opportunities, but I think we have enough speed to trouble them out wide and if Am and Mpimpi can sync up we may have a great chance. 

We beat Scotland last year and we came close to beating Ireland in Dublin. 

So it will be an exciting World Cup

Mar 15, 2023, 17:51

Some good points Trad….but WC rugby is knockout rugby, which makes teams more conservative….that suits the Boks

Mar 15, 2023, 20:01

Just saw your post Corn. I hadn’t really processed the dummy runner  thing….although the Sexton wrap around is something I’d noticed. Good thinking!

Mar 15, 2023, 20:19

King this is exactly the point, teams like IRE and France, Eng, Wales, AB and OZ have all learned how to negate our Strengths…we can’t only rely on our Forward/ Hunting for Penalties game plan… as we also loose those tough grinds nowadays….we have to also attack more of our Forward dominance …bring new weapons to our arsenal. All our games running up to WC, should be used to implement these new Plans…if we win again with the old ballies and 1 game plan, it will be a bloody miracle.

Mar 16, 2023, 13:26

if we stick to our strengths and dominate them physically like the bulls did against Leinster.

Problem is the game happened after the CC final. CC finals usually are heavily brutal, leaving players diminished for days. As a rule of the thumb, club teams involved in CC finals lose the following game. Too much damage done and sustained to cope with a repeated beating.

This time, it is different. IR will come from the softer games which wont leave many marks and IR has their week off right after the game before the last game against SC?

Meaning that IR players will not be so diminished, bruised and stuff and will be delivered with a full week to recover from the brutality of the game.

Mar 18, 2023, 10:18

I would scarcely call that a predictable try or setup, that was actually an incredibly sophisticated play, with tremendous skill and poise in execution. It's a whole lot more than a simple dummy runner! The try was a masterclass in how to manipulate the defence to create space... legally. They compress the defence by controlling the middle of the field with their forwards, and then go wide when its on. They didn't cut off the cover defence, the defence had to commit flat with no cover, but they were overly stretched with the third layer of the attack exploding out of the blocks to attack the open space. We used to do things like this under Meyer. There was an unexpected opportunity after Australia lost the ball in 2015. We instantly set up with Eben as the point man with a 3 man pod underneath him, and a playmaker behind that pod. It was a similar kind of setup. We used to control the middle of the field. Our forwards and pods play passively, and do not force the defence to make a decision. That's why we get swarmed out wide, unless we face a passive defence which leaves a large area undefended as they sit deep and allow us to run at them, letting us pad out the stat sheet. We have speed, but nothing is happening to create anything. 

Mar 18, 2023, 16:10

It’s most obvious when we are in the opponent’s 22. Bash after bash…but there is never a cut runner…ala Joe Cool…to draw two tackles. Never the surprise wide pass or god forbid, an offload…no subterfuge. Single option rugby.

Mind you Scotland, Wales and England suffer from the same malady.

Mar 18, 2023, 16:22

The big gimmick on the EOYT was two three man layers, the second sliding behind the first, to try and get out wide. Of course, the defence just slid across with us. Against undisciplined defending, such as against England and when Italy gave up, you can get away with that. The EOYT before that was the big gimmick of the 4 man unit out wide stationed in the tamlines, to overload the outer channel. Scotland made a blunder with their compressed line and passive outside defence. They never adjusted. England blew it apart the following week. The England win last year seemed to ease concerns about Erasmus, but it has really been put in context this year. It said more about how poor England were than what we were doing. Of course, an objective analysis of the game would have been that England were a rabble. That hasn't changed this year. We need some guidance from a real coach and some serious personnel changes. 

Mar 18, 2023, 17:13

The rubbish beat the AB's in the 2019 semi-final convincingly - so according to your idiotic comment all teams must have been tripe at the WC.    Supreme idiocy is a non-talent you have developed into a fine art.    

Mar 18, 2023, 17:27

Stop the insults…if you have a point to make, make it in a civil way.

Mar 18, 2023, 18:10

2022 is a long way from 2019. Those two season are not even remotely comparable. Added to that, they were the best match up we could have had, regardless of how good they were against anyone else. We looked like toothless apes against New Zealand that World Cup. When they sent us down to 6th in the rankings. 

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