Springboks to improve game tactics for Rugby World Cup

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South African rugby is at a crossroads, struggling to keep pace with the leading teams in the game.

2017 underlined the Springboks slipping to sixth in the world rugby rankings for the year.

With too many interest groups pulling in different directions, it’s a state of affairs that may persist for years to come.

However, two teams in South Africa, the Blitzboks and the Lions Super Rugby outfit, prove that it is possible to remain at the forefront of the game and that’s because they do not follow the Springbok blue print.

2017 was a second chance for the Allister Coetzee led Springboks, a chance to bury the ghosts of 2016, a year that had been described as the Boks’ “Annus Horribilis”.

The international season started with plenty of promise, the Boks dispatched the French 3-0 in the June test series, and while one can never be sure when facing France, consensus was that the Bok team showed plenty of potential.

Allister Coetzee’s Springboks had not won a test away from home, and after beating Argentina in Port Elizabeth to begin the Rugby Championship, there was a chance in Salta to set that record straight.

In typically adverse conditions, the kind that Argentina thrive in, the Springboks beat Los Pumas 41-23, and still the future looked bright.

More of the same was needed, against stronger opposition.

“We need to improve a lot still but I am happy with what I see in all the areas but I think we need to get more clinical in certain areas of the game.”

Back home, the Boks recorded another draw against Australia in Bloemfontein, and then to Cape Town, to try and save face against the Rugby Championship champions, the All Blacks.

It was a performance that would warm the hearts of Springbok supporters the length and breadth of the country.

Perhaps the All Blacks were tired or it was a momentarily lapse in concentration, but the Springboks took their old rivals close, narrowly losing 25-24.

If anything, it proved that the Boks could raise themselves for the biggest of foes, but would they be able to do it week in week out.

The European tour would be the measure of the stamina in the Bok side.

It did not start well, Ireland thrashed the Green and Gold 38-3 another record loss for Coetzee’s Boks to stomach.

Ireland, a well drilled side, exposed the flaws in the Springbok game plan.

Wins over France and Italy, temporarily improved the mood, but another loss to Wales, missing a number of first-choice players underlined that that the Boks had not improved in the season.

If anything, the performance in Cardiff, proved they were stuck in a rut.

However it’s 18 months until the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Springboks are a shadow of the team they should be, they would end the year ranked sixth in the world.

For many, that optimism was cold comfort, so too was the outcome of the bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Despite World Rugby announcing South Africa as the preferred bidder, the country lost out to France when the host nation was announced.

The World Rugby Council had gone against the recommendation, a move that furthers speculation that the bidding process is more about horse trading than anything else.