How will the Springboks play against England?
England will have received and taken the lessons from their previous losses to Scotland (25-13) and France (22-16), however the Sharks Super Rugby Franchise delivered another very strong warning sign to England this week when they thumped New Zealand’s Otago Highlanders 38-12 in Durban. The Sharks physically outmuscled the Highlanders with their enormously physical forward pack before turning on their skill to score 5 tries to 2.
England selected their squad this week, and it will take a special effort to beat new coach Rassie Erasmus’ Springboks on home soil. This is a mouth-watering prospect, and should be an epic three match Test Series.
The Springboks will play quickly but they will be aiming to balance a power and speed game. The Boks will select a physical yet mobile pack, especially as the fixtures will take place at Ellis Park, the Free State Stadium and at Newlands. Two of the three fixtures are on the Highveld and the pitches will be quick, hard and (weather permitting) dry. England will need to defend very well as the Boks have plenty of ball players with real skill going around in Super Rugby.
Jacques Nienaber is a brilliant defensive coach, and has a watertight defensive system. The defensive system encourages gang tackling. Defenders tackle the ball, which tends to slow ball enough for recalibration of the impervious defensive alignment. This type of tackling, and defense makes turning over ball, and competing at breakdown more difficult.
Check out this example of Jacques Nienaber’s defence in full operation at the Stormers.
The Springboks’ kicking game is not as strong as they would want. The Boks lack a world class scrumhalf, and might struggle to win territorial game.
Finally, expect South Africa to take the ball through many phases on attack. If the Boks can control the ball, and stay patient England will be in for an immense physical battle. The attack will come in waves, but this England team have shown in Australia that they are more than capable of fronting up to physical challenges. If England can hold out against Boks’ power game, there will be opportunities to strike. I have no doubt that if these opportunities arise, Eddie Jones’s England will cash in.
Either way, this series is going to be an absolute cracker, a classic.
What do you think?