Boks happy to be 'boring winners'
REACTION: Springbok assistant coach Deon Davids dismissed the notion that the three-Test series between South Africa and the British and Irish Lions is a ‘bad advert’ for the game.
Davids, addressing the media on Monday, described the series – currently tied one-all – as a “spectacle” and a “physical contest”, with the two camps trying to outsmart each other on and off the field.
He said the Springboks always aspire to improve and be competitive at the top end of the game.
Davids’ comments follow the remarks of New Zealand coach Ian Foster, who said watching the Boks play “put me to sleep”.
The All Blacks boss, who succeeded Steve Hansen after the World Cup two years ago, told reporters that the second Test – won 27-9 by the Boks – was not entertaining.
“It put me to sleep,” was his frank assessment of a match that lasted 126 minutes instead of the regulation 80 because of endless stoppages for disciplinary decisions, a mini brawl and injuries.
However, the Boks were having none of it.
Davids said the same ‘narrative’ was attached to the Springboks when they won the Rugby Championship in 2019, ahead of their World Cup triumph.
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“It is still the same narrative,” he said of the talk coming out of New Zealand.
He said he was surprised the so-called ‘pundits’ can’t see the effectiveness of the Bok gameplan – which is producing “good results”.
“There is a plan behind everything,” Davids told a virtual media briefing.
“When we execute stuff it is not about being boring, it is about understanding what we want to achieve.
“In doing so, we create enough opportunities to play with the ball in hand and score tries,” he said of having outscored the B&I Lions by three tries to one in the first two Tests.
“I believe in our approach and where it leads us.
“We must just get better at what we are doing.”
Foster said the series was one big arm-wrestle, because the Springboks and the Lions were employing similar approaches to the game.
“It has become a very tight, almost risk-free type of series.
“Teams are almost afraid to play, they are relying on a low-risk strategy.
“So we are seeing teams who desperately want to win a big series playing low-risk, highly-effective rugby.
“Both of them are good at the close-contact stuff, the close-quarter fighting, the kick and chase, and the pressure game. We have two teams playing a similar style. It is a bit of a slugfest.”
Foster says neither South Africa nor the Lions are comfortable playing against line speed, which is why they employ kicking games.
“That is Test match rugby where stakes are high — it is the whole risk versus reward, is it not?” he added.
“You have got two teams whose line speed is really strong.
“We [New Zealand] has been criticised in the past for not being able to play around and through line speed, but what you are seeing is two teams that do not like playing against line speed either.”
“So what do they do? They kick. That is the answer if you are not willing to play a slightly more risky game.”