Allister Coetzee has officially become the worst Springbok coach in history. He took charge of the first South African defeat to Italy, first home defeat to Ireland and after the 27 – 13 defeat to Wales, the first Springbok team to lose 8 test matches in a calendar year. All this may be forgiven, he is a first-time international coach overseeing a difficult transition period for Springbok rugby where new blood must be introduced to replace old stalwarts and the long time CEO of SARU has resigned making the coaching job that much more difficult.
However, Coetzee has failed to take responsibility for the demise of South Africa by stating “Collectively, we’ve got to understand that it’s not just one person that can take responsibility for that.”. His lack of ownership is a trait echoed on the field as no one took the responsibility to change a game plan that was clearly not working.
South Africa stuck in the dark ages
The Boks stuck to a predictable pass and bash rugby, in an attempt to steamroller over the Welsh defence. The Welsh were up for the challenge however and attempted to rip the ball in the tackle at every possible opportunity, often succeeding. They met the South African one-off runners with ball and all tackles, creating mauls that they held up to win the turnover. The Welsh overpowered the Boks at the breakdown and man of the match, Justin Tipuric, was a step ahead at every ruck. He slowed down the Boks’ ball at every turn, allowing the Welsh defence to get into position before the next South African receiver attempted to plough through them.
The lack of a plan B for the Boks was evident as they kept on bashing and the Welsh kept stealing their ball. With three debutants, a retiring captain and no clear leader on the field the Boks had no one to guide them away from what was their only plan. The problem was further exacerbated when Faf de Klerk received a yellow card and the Boks ran around the field like headless chickens with no allocated scrum half.
Wales finally find their mojo
The Welsh scored their first try after a driving maul from the lineout 4 minutes into de Klerk’s punishment and held a comfortable 20 – 6 lead five minutes into the second half. It was not all bad from South Africa however and they showed a marked improvement on defence, they showed promise on attack but their handling still let them down and they only managed their first try in the 69th minute when debutant, Uzair Cassiem crossed the whitewash.
The try breathed new life into the side as they started their fightback with the score at 20 – 13. The game opened up and the Boks started creating opportunities in the Welsh 22. Their inability to hold on to the ball cost them a chance at redemption however and when the Bane of the Boks, Tipuric broke their lines to score next to the posts, the Boks gave up. The final score of 27 – 13 flattered Wales, but they did deserve to win and the Boks deserved to be beaten at the end of a humbling year in world rugby.
What do you make of Wales and South Africa’s years? What do they need to change? Let us know your opinions in the comments section below.