“It boils down to not being able to play at intensity and a lack of variety in the game plan,” former Springbok coach Carel du Plessis told The Citizen yesterday.
“Rugby is about much more than just being physical and intimidating the opposition, it’s also about speed, agility and a skill set and we didn’t display that. It’s about what you do with possession, and about field position and how you create pressure through those. In the last four years we haven’t improved in those departments. It’s been a dead-end road.”
Naas Botha, the flyhalf kingpin of the ’80s Springbok team, echoed his former teammate’s views on SuperSport.
“Tactically we weren’t that strong. What else did we put on the table apart from defence? In the whole 80 minutes we couldn’t surprise New Zealand,” Botha said. “They knew what we were going to do, we never looked like creating anything or outsmarting them. Where was the creativity? It wasn’t there and it hasn’t been there for four years. And that’s not going to be good enough to win a semifinal. We have to think differently if we’re going to take our game forward.”
The Springboks were always on the back foot against the All Blacks because they only had 33% territory. In other words, two-thirds of the game was played in their half, mostly because of poorly-executed exit strategies.
Former New Zealand coach John Mitchell pointed to the Springboks’ “inability to exit when it really mattered” as the main reason for their 12-7 halftime lead turning into a 20-18 loss in the second half.
“It was a brave, brave effort, but we couldn’t get out of our half because the All Blacks kicked intelligently and kept us under pressure in dreadful conditions,” Nick Mallett, another former Springbok coach, said.