The Springbok victory over France on Saturday brought very little joy to supporters hoping for something to really cheer about.
No Joy in Springbok Victory Over France
The game was being built up by many as some form of grudge match after France beat early favourites South Africa in the bid for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. At no stage did it live up to that billing. Two poor teams facing off against each other and the team that played the worst, lost. Maybe a little harsh, but not far off the truth.
The Springboks 17 to 18 victory was not pleasant to watch, but give them the fact that they closed the game out and won.
France – Tries: Anthony Belleau and Baptiste Serin; Conversions: Anthony Belleau 2; Penalty: Anthony Belleau
South Africa – Tries: Dillyn Leyds and Jesse Kriel; Conversions: Handre Pollard; Penalties: Handre Pollard 2
We consider a few thoughts coming out of this game.
The Flyhalf Conundrum
Handre Pollard took over the number ten jersey from Elton Jantjies, who has started the previous ten Tests. His kicking was poor and probably helped keep France in the game. A place kicking record of four out of seven is not good enough at Test level. On the plus side, he did inject a little more go-forward in the backline than has been evident in 2017. On his outside was Francois Venter, who was playing out of position at inside center and not his preferred outside center. Despite this, he had a fairly good game. It was the passing from that point that was really problematic and one could be excused for shouting ‘calling all pockets’ when the Springboks passed the ball it was so random.
The Odd Coaching Setup
This is where the tour might go just a little pear shaped. Forwards coach, Johan van Graan, was given the honour of handing out the Springbok game day jerseys as this was his last game with the team. He leaves the group halfway through the tour to take over from Rassie Erasmus as Head Coach at Munster.
Defense and exit play coach, Brendan Venter, is not available to the team as he is still a consultant to Italy Rugby, the Springboks opponents this coming weekend.
Roll this in with the fact that Head Coach Allister Coetzee is already struggling and we have to wonder how he will cope without two of his main support staff.
The Du Preez Family Record
The Du Preez family is currently making a significant on South African rugby. Robert du Preez Senior is Head Coach at the Cell C Sharks and made seven appearances for the Springboks. His son Jean-Luc du Preez made his Springbok debut at blindside flank and has made ten appearances. Twin brother Dan made his Springbok debut during this Test against France. The family will be holding their collective thumbs that older brother Robert Junior will soon find his way into the Springbok squad to make it four out of four for the family. Given his performances at Currie Cup level in 2017, that seems more a likelihood than a dream.
Congrats to Dan du Preez on making his Springbok debut in the 18-17 win over France on Saturday night in Paris. pic.twitter.com/N8WjfQUs37
— South African Rugby (@Springboks) November 19, 2017
No Change to the Status Quo
The result this weekend should not make any real difference to the current status quo in South African Rugby. The Springboks remain a team in crisis, with a coach who has no idea how to turn the ship around. His ‘consistency in selection’ mantra continues to deliver consistently poor performances.
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