The big match has come and gone in many disappointing ways...

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 ...

So the big match has come and gone. In many ways very disappointing. No contest really although the Boks battled bravely for 50 minutes with 14 men against 15.Even taking that into account, our defence was just not good enough. Read's driving from the mauls and broken play was outstanding and the Boks can hardly be blamed for his try under the posts. Retallick's try was another thing entirely. Where were out defenders? I think Jannie du Plessis, who had a shocking game on defence, missing three vital tackles and Morne Steyn one on Retallick who went over from twenty metres out. I'm a great one for thinking the performance of the front five in the scrums is overrated in terms of what actually happens after the scrum. I'll stick with that attitude proudly but I did get a hell of a kick when we pushed them over and disrupted them in the first scrum. Alas there was to be little more of that after Bismarck left the field of play. I have no problem with the yellow card for the elbow to Messum's throat but the so-called high, 'no-arms' tackle in the first half was as bad a decision as I've ever seen. First, Bismarck DID use his arms, then they were BELOW the shoulder! Are you like me becoming a bit sick of the constant referrals to the TMO? It slows the game down, the refs have lost their confidence, they already have two assistants on the touch line and they STILL want to consult the TMO! That makes FOUR! The eyesight of all should be checked regularly. I mean how did the 'assistant ref' miss the perfectly legal tackle of Bismarck early on? He was five metres from it.

So, the refs have whistles, ear-pieces, intercoms - so now? White sticks and guide dogs?

From a Bok point of view best piece of play involved Steyn, KIrschner and Lambie. The diagonal kick by Steyn was perfectly weighted, Kirschner's back flip so inventive and then Lambie 'stayed' in his tackle, kept calm and reached over to score. (By the way, have you ever seen Lambie miss a tackle? I haven't.)

I found myself thinking about two things during the Test: one, what are the fly half's options In the 22 after 'pick-and-drives' have failed? Get the extra man in and swing it wide? Run different angles? Kirschner at full pace running straight? Grubber? (The grubber was used well in this match apart from one from Barrett which went twice too far and gave away possession). Two, why do the Boks give away so much possession? It's not just the aerial ping-pong which seems to even out during the game, but the mistakes in passing and handling, the answer? Get the basics right and the rest will follow. Question: If a side needs a try to win or draw a game in the last few minutes even when the final hooter has gone, how come they can keep possession of the ball up to ten or more phases in an effort to score but seldom do it during a match? It happens at the end because everyone is aware of the importance of the situation and concentration is great.Possession. possession, possession! If we don't control the ball and make our tackles in the next encounter, it's 'goodnight nurse'. (Jannie le Roux is a fine scrum manger but is he good enough on defence? I don't think so.) Passing remains a problem, especially under pressure near the touchlines. Rethink what to do! Francois Louw gave two passes to Jean De Villers at his feet when we were in a strong position to prevail.

Is Pienaar a better scrumhalf than Jano Vermaak? I don't think so. His kicks down the line are fish and his passing is pedestrian. Well a bit slow. Just a personal thought.

The 'first' ref decision on Bismarck by the refs and his so-called assistants, the ones without 20/20 vision spoiled the game.

Well done Argentina! Don't cry for me! The vaqueros are coming!

Neil Jardine 

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1 comment

A little belated , but a response to your match blog.

SA did not play well and yet even without their 2 big breekers, Bismark and Alberts, around whom the game plan is based, they held NZ to a fairly close score. They showed signs of rhythm late in the first half and it would not have surprised me if, even playing poorly, they could win such a game;

They are restricted to that type of plan because their error rate is unacceptably high for international level – Pienaar, Steyn, Du Plessis missing too many tackles; far too many high balls missed (were any caught ?) ; too many passes no-where near their ‘target’, poor off the ball support, few areas of genuine consistency week after week . I believe we do not have the handling skills necessary for today’s fast close quarter game and consequently adapt to our style of physical intimidation and broken play attack – which is great fun to watch when it works !! I wonder what happened to jakes ‘ hand / eye coordination’ specialist ??

I share your nausea at constant referrals and yet when one was needed it was not forthcoming. Why did he not check the ‘foul play’ as almost every other ref does even if he had a perfect view and precisely to avoid a hasty decision which at the best of times happens in a flash and could be mis-read ? ( Remember Habana being similarly wrongly penalised on a follow up later ?) Why did the TMO not intervene ? Why not the touch judge ? Hell , why not the tea lady ? I don’t think the ref has a choice but to refer even in the most obvious of examples just to avoid being exposed . Damned if you do , damned if you don’t.

The fault lies in the appointment system which allocates a given game / series to a country in rotation and that country appoints its chosen ref who could be No 30 in world rankings (if such existed). It is time the IRB adopted the SANZAR system of grading refs regardless of their country of origin and then appointing on merit as far as possible. Performance would determine ranking and movement up or down & would give the public a clear indication of the consequence of performance. As far back as my involvement in reffing the French have been a joke, choosing to ignore the laws or conventional interpretation and drift thru a game deciding which of the 2 in 10 offences they should blow. Foul play is either ignored or over-reacted to. Unfortunately they are aided and abetted by the IRB / Ref’s bodies who ignore so much law today that 80 % of application will not be found in the book – but that is another story.

It has to be a very capable, self confident man with great man management skills who refs today – if he missing one of those qualities he has a problem , two and he’s ‘dead’.

The grubber is definitely back and preferable to the interminable ‘bomb’ which is so haphazard , but until they sort out the so called rucks and prevent players spreading out to create a defensive wall, running is not a good option and can only be followed by yet another re-cycle.

The wind down protection of possession is greatly assisted by the side not in possession which does not compete for fear of a penalty.

Having been a long standing Pienaar fan I would be quite happy if Ulster refused to release him to the Boks. Vermaak – ok but still to prove at this level, but Fourie is back next time !

Nice to see a fly half who thinks about the game. Look forward to the next one. Have fun and best wishes.

Kingsley Went

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