In April, in the shadow of COVID-19’s impact on rugby in the region, NZ Rugby announced it would undertake a strategic review in conjunction with each of its professional franchises.
In the frenzy of recriminations about all we’ve discussed about the Springboks v All Blacks match was …nothing. I had no dog in this fight so really just wanted an all kicks draw.
However, thinking ahead to the Wallabies’ encounter next week it appeared rather obvious that the All Blacks played right into the Springboks’ neon-lit trap.
They tried to play them up front and on the ground – mistakenly putting all their emphasis on the physical encounters. They predictably failed at the lineout. The scrums proved nothing.
They were totally shut down by the rush defense and could not establish any semblance of dominance at the ruck/maul encounters.
This of course was a bit of a credit to the Springboks for playing their game very competently. However, they were not even close to demonstrating greatness despite their supporters’ hyperbole. If they were great and the All Blacks so poor, where were the tries?
As I saw it, the All Blacks failed to impress because on the day they had no kicking game. As a result they simply couldn’t relieve the pressure.
They went from an impressive Haka to a disorderly, mistake ridden mess in a few minutes and never managed to get their composure back to a level where even McCaw looked like he had a clue.
With the exception of Steyn’s try the All Blacks’ second phase defense was very good. Their fatal flaw was the steady stream of first up missed tackles, dropped balls, stupid ‘tactical’ decisions, and again failure to relieve pressure.
Even when they had the ball they invariably tried to run the ball up or sideways in very close quarters rather than do some thoughtful short tactical kicking. I say tactical in contrast to the hurried, ad hoc rubbish that seemed to be the desperation option – that most often produced another round of pressure from the Springboks.
Did anyone else watch the same match?