So the Samoans, the Scots and the Italians have come and gone ...

Neil Jardine

Captained Rhodesia 1962 – 1969
Rector of Michaelhouse. (1978-1986)

"Rugby is a thinking game – its’ not a running or a kicking game. This mania for running with the ball and playing open rugby at all costs is stupid – you must adapt yourself to the circumstances and play to your strength"

Now 50 years later Niel Jardine writes for Frosty ...

30 JUNE 2013

The matches were interesting and at times absorbing, but on the whole the Springboks were hardly tested. In the match against Scotland, the Scots came out breathing fire and brimstone and played with determination and great courage. Skill was another matter. Once the fervour of the team talk and the embambarrassment of the massive loss to the Samoans, the Springboks were able to keep their composure and gave us a complete display of defensive and attacking play at a very high standard indeed.

In the match against Samoa, it was more of the same against the visitors whose infamous violence in the tackle failed to faze the national team who were prepared and outthought and outplayed the visitors. J.J. Engelbecht's try was a beauty but it resulted from four failed tackled by the Samoans. The match against Italy was the usual rugged and dour affair but the Springboks again showed an ability to absorb attack after attack at the tryline and respond with skill and initiative. So what's to complain about? Well it's difficult for any Springbok to perform poorly against this sort of mediocre opposition.

Those lucky enough to gain selection can easily cement their places in the squad and the final fifteen. This means that there is little chance of assessing the correct selection of players until they are up against real and powerful opposition. Morne Steyn for example played well but what chance did Pat Lambie have to continue where he had left off in the previous three internationals? In those he played superbly, thinking the games through from start to finish and made nearly all the right decisions at the right time. Flyhalf play is about planning and thinking at speed. There are three choices – to pass, kick or keep the ball. But how do players like Lambie regain their places when everyone played so well? They will have to wait until real opposition is encountered and flaws are shown up under more pressure exerted by the recent visitors.

The Super Fifteen matches continue to impress and entertain. One of the mysteries to me is the ongoing poor performance of the Highlanders who boast some of the finest players around. Something's wrong and I suspect it's in the management, coaching and leadership. The talent is all there so why is the finishing so poor and the fundamental skills so erratic? The Brumbies and Bulls coninue to dominate with consistent displays of strategy and the right tactics. They also understand that a rugby match lasts a full eighty minutes, not seventy-eight or seventy-nine as the Blues found to their dixmay against the Sharks. A last thought – of all the fundamental and vital basic skills required, passing remains the weakest. There's been improvement all round with the Brumbies setting the standard. While there will always be handling errors, a good seven of them at least result from poor passes. Have you noticed that four out of five bad passes are 'to the right'? Why? Because most players are right-handed and less sure with the left hand directing the ball. Do coaches know this? I see no evidence that they do. Twice as much practising should be pracitised passing 'to the right 'than ' to the left and this in open play and simulated pressure situations.

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