Rugby World Cup champions, South Africa, are licking their wounds after Saturday’s mauling by the British and Irish Lions in the first test match of the series in Cape Town.
The Boks have made stark admissions that they were well-beaten and that their strengths were nullified.
It is a sobering loss which puts the Springboks on the back foot in the three match series.
Forwards coach, Deon Davids, notes that almost everything needs to be worked on in the coming week.
“We have to look for an 80 minutes performance in our next game. We identified different areas in terms of our kicking game our discipline also in terms of better execution in our set pieces and then better decision making are things that I think we are able to fix,” Davids.
Those are the sentiments echoed by replacement loose-head prop, Steven Kitshoff.
“The Lions did really well to take away some of South Africa’s strong points and there is a lot of work to work on in the week and we will try and iron out and fix but South Africans as a country and a people know how to fight back to stand up stronger so it is going to be a big week for us and we know what’s at stake it’s going to be a lot of work being put into our set piece and our kicking game” says Kitshoff.
However, delve a little deeper, and certain events conspired to make the first test a game of two halves. For instance, changing the front row at the break, a move that completely disrupted the Boks’ flow.
“At half time through the medical staff and the conditioning staff there were a few niggles, ox had a neck injury complaint I think Bongi complained about a hamstring injury and I think with all those things in mind the coaching staff made a decision about what’s the best thing to do in that specific situation” says Davids.
The Springbok assistant coach said there were injuries to the starting front row, but in the Monday press conference, when it’s the norm to give the injury report, none was forth-coming. Instead, Kitshoff, part of the replacement front row, was left to try and assess what went wrong.
“First half…we were tactically and technically very good. We got our scrum going we got a couple of penalties second half. I’m not one hundred per cent sure what went wrong but we could not get proper go forward in the scrum and our lineouts were badly disrupted and the lions put a lot of kicking pressure onto us” said Kitshoff.
As it turned out, the explanations for Saturday’s loss are simple enough, and the Bok camp was the first to make that concession.
“The lions were very smart in terms of not giving us lineouts and ensuring that we had to field high balls and then put us under pressure obviously in terms of our exit plays we had lineouts it’s one thing winning the ball but then you must provide a solid platform and ensuring that you give good delivery that is an area or aspect that we can improve on” says Davids.
Some work needs to be done on the training paddock, and off it. Meanwhile, director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, has launched a social media offensive, which may or may not pan out.