Bok 'evolution' on show in Japan
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: The dramatic change in defensive systems from 2015 to 2019 has forced teams to “evolve” their attacking patterns.
This is the view of Springbok centre Damian de Allende, who suggested South Africa is evolving as an attacking force.
The Boks were forced to continue their build-up to next week’s quarterfinal in pouring rain at their training base in Kobe – as Japan braced itself for the potentially devastating Typhoon Hagibis.
The Boks, based in 450 kilometres to the south-west of the point of impact, relocate from Kobe to Tokyo on Monday to prepare for next Sunday’s quarterfinal – against the top team in Pool A.
The final pool standings will only be confirmed after hosts Japan play Scotland on Sunday – if the game is not called off because of the typhoon.
De Allende said the conditions at Saturday’s training session reminded him a bit of winter in of Cape Town.
“We were expecting to train at an indoor facility today [Saturday], but we couldn’t get in there,” he said.
“It was a bit unexpected, but it was very nice [to train in the rain].
“It’s always nice to get in the rain a bit and test your skills and intensity in conditions like this because, who knows, we might play a match in the play-offs in these conditions so it was very good.”
It allowed the Boks to work on their wet-weather skills.
“When you play in the rain it is a lot slower,” De Allende said, adding: “It also feels like the defence comes a lot harder [at you].
“It was very good that we trained in the rain and see how we handle the conditions.”
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He admitted defensive structures have changed dramatically since the 2015 World Cup, forcing the Bok attack to make adjustments.
“I think the whole of world rugby has improved immensely,” he said.
“Sometimes me and [flyhalf] Handre [Pollard] watch old World Cup games, from 2015,” he said, adding: “Back then there was absolutely no line speed on defence.
“There was no pressure on the skillset or anything like that.
“We’ve all developed in that sense.”
He said the key was to develop the skill to play under that kind of pressure, with the defence in your face and being able to make good decisions.
“I think the game has got a bit more structured as well.
“You’ve got to learn and accept that you’re not going to get a lot of turnovers and there’re going to be a lot more kicks on you and a lot more structured attack.
“I think that’s where we’ve developed in terms of South Africa going forward.
“In training, the whole backline has been working on our attacking kicking game,” he said.
“We have put a lot of time and effort into that and I felt this past week against Canada we got that right in the first half.
“I know the scoreboard makes it look like we dominated them physically, but I think a lot of decisions that were made on attack – whether to hold the ball of whether to put it in behind them – were good ones and I think that put them under a lot of pressure in the first 20 minutes.”
There has also been a burgeoning partnership between De Allende and centre partner Lukhanyo Am.
The pair have started as a combination in eight of the 17 tests since Rassie Erasmus took over as coach in 2018.
“The partnership has been going nicely,” said de Allende.
“We played together a bit last year, but we’re starting to get a real feel for each other and a lot better understanding of each other. It obviously doesn’t happen overnight.”