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On the Brink: How to win a World Cup

Rob Brink, a member of the victorious 1995 Springbok World Cup squad, brings us his first contribution as a member of the rugby365 team, starting off with his view on how to win a World Cup. Brink also looks at the year-end tour, which is regarded as a World Cup 'trial run'.

Winning a World Cup is obviously very, very difficult to achieve, yet (to my mind) it can be done by using a 'simple' model:

1. Make no mistakes at all – mistakes lose big games.

2. Win your first-phase ball and win it well. Poor first-phase ball, generally results in mediocre phase-play – which doesn't win you a World Cup.

3. Ensure your defence is the best at the tournament. Tackle everything that moves in front of you and tackle it backwards ball and all – no tackle is to be missed.

4. Govern phase-play and dominate the collision area.

5. Kick every penalty and take your drop-goals when they present themselves.

6. Capitalise on turnover ball and don't kick it away like an idiot.

7. Hope for that bit of luck that the weird shape of the rugby ball sometimes favours one team (SA) and not the other. Invariably hard work equates to luck and I know the Boks will have worked exceptionally hard in the build up to the tournament.

I believe there is no side that can match us on being able to follow the above model, and it wins World Cup trophies.

We have a squad of forwards that, if playing at their best or close to their best, can dominate any other pack in world rugby, especially in Northern Hemisphere conditions in the month of October. Plus, I also believe our loose forwards (collectively, as Read is a bit special at the moment but it takes three) will outplay the New Zealand and Australian loose forwards in Northern Hemisphere conditions more so than in the Southern Hemisphere conditions.

It's a team sport, but that one moment of individual brilliance can determine the outcome of a game – i.e. that 50/50 pass which one player has the ability to complete and the other player might just not.

We have a few such players with that ability in our potential squad, but for now I have singled out two players that I believe will be crucial if we are to win the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time, and they happen to be part of that all-important spine (positions No.2, No.8, No.9, No.10 and No.15) that runs through any great team.

Fourie Du Preez, is the world's best rugby 'conductor' when he is on his game, as he has the ability to dictate the shape of a game. He is a player that has all the credentials to fit into the model detailed above.

* He is unpredictable and almost never makes a mistake.

* He has a full set of flawless scrumhalf skills and that's what makes him unpredictable because when in trouble he doesn't default to a particular strength.

* He passes quickly and accurately, he kicks brilliantly, he breaks (and keeps defences in place for that one second longer), he tackles and scores.

Finals are won on tiny margins and his service is marginally better than any other scrumhalf we have at the moment. That spilt second, due to his superior pass (quicker and more accurate), makes a huge difference to those around him, as they then have more time.

His performance in the group game against England in the 2007 RWC was one of the best I have seen from one player.

Francois Steyn at No.15 might not be every-ones favourite, but he is a very special rugby player and a match winner. He (like Du Preez) creates time and space for others and he scores all forms of points himself (tries and kicks).

Two Questions:

1. Dan Carter sends one high into the English sky (with the winds swirling all over the place) in the semifinal and who would you prefer to have underneath it Willie Le Roux or Francois Steyn?

2. Carter misses touch with two minutes to go in the semifinal and it's on the halfway line. Do you want Le Roux to counter attack or do you want big Frans to 'skep skop' it over from the half way line?

People forget how good he was at No.15 in the last World Cup and it seemed that his exit from the 2011 World Cup coincided with our demise, albeit (to some degree) due to inept refereeing.

Do we have a group of players that can win the World Cup? You better believe it!

The upcoming tour and all the games leading up to the World Cup have to be about this 'simple' model and Ireland is a good yet very tough place to start.

I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for Irish rugby – based on their very special rugby heritage, which is very similar to Springbok rugby.

Their success is built on the traditional evolution of a rugby player through the age old structures of school, club, province and country and all young boys embark on travelling that path with aspirations of one day possibly playing for their province and country. Yes, professionalism has changed the dynamic a little bit but the fundamental dream of most young rugby players is still the same – you grow up wanting desperately to play for your school 1st team, then your club or university and then your province and ultimately your country.

As much as I love Western Province Rugby, I have to say, that what I have experienced whilst residing in the province of Munster, is something very unique and special. They have supporters who will travel the world to watch and support their team. Find me a province (anywhere in the world) with more support than Munster and I'll buy you a Guinness in Baltimore, on the southern tip of Ireland but you'll need to get there first….

It is that fanatical provincial (Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connaught) loyalty and passion which is then replicated in the national team, which makes Ireland such a good rugby nation and an extremely difficult opposition, especially when playing against Ireland on the island of Ireland. Listen carefully to the lyrics of Irelands call and you'll get a good idea of this:

"……..We have come to answer our countries' call from the four proud provinces of Ireland. Ireland, Ireland together standing tall, shoulder to shoulder to we'll answer Irelands call."

Ireland's new era without Brian O'Driscoll, who was a colossal player for Ireland, is going to be interesting but I guess no-one is irreplaceable.

What continues to amaze me is that rugby is probably the fourth most popular sport in Ireland (with a relatively small population of about 4.5 million), behind soccer and the two Gaelic sporting disciplines, so their success as a rugby nation is quite phenomenal.

I think the Irish rugby players are a very astute bunch and they know exactly what it is they have to do during the 80 minutes and by all accounts their new coach is no fool. So don't give them any form of an opportunity because they'll take it in a split second and before you know it your team talk will have resulted in seven points against you – like Paul Honiss (Bryce Lawrence's best mate…) giving O'Gara the opportunity (which he promptly took and fair play to him) to slip over in the corner, whilst John Smit was in the midst of team talk. Final score Ireland 17 SA 12. First loss since 1965 – nice one Paulie boy…!

The game against Ireland is going to be a very tough clash especially if the weather isn't good and it really is the ideal way for the Springboks to start their next chapter in the pursuit of the ultimate rugby achievement – winning the Webb Ellis Cup. Ireland will come at you for 80 minutes plus, don't for a second doubt that, again Irelands call: "…….We will fight until we can fight no more for the four proud provinces of Ireland…."

So, I hope come Saturday, we can stand taller than Ireland and get in and amongst their shoulders, resulting in that all important right shoulder on our ball and then we might just get a win this Saturday.

For those at the game, you are very fortunate, as no city hosts a rugby international better than Dublin – so enjoy it and have a 'few' pints of the black stuff, before and after if you so wish!

I can't wait for both the game and that moment before kick-off where our children Emily and Daniel sing Irelands call in a solid South African accent, which doesn't quite work for my lovely Irish wife – so I always get off to the best of starts!

* Robby Brink, a member of the victorious 1995 Springbok World Cup squad, is a the former Western Province and Stormers loose forward, who also had a stint with Irish province Ulster.



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