Boks must shift fo­cus from ‘the tackle’

Strong per­for­mance against France in Paris on Satur­day is the only way to atone for the loss against Eng­land

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Craig Ray Cape Town

Spring­bok cen­tre Damian de Al­lende ad­mit­ted that Eng­land fly­half Owen Far­rell’s tackle in the dy­ing em­bers of last week’s 12-11 Test loss at Twick­en­ham had been heav­ily dis­cussed among the squad.

Spring­bok cen­tre Damian de Al­lende has ad­mit­ted that Eng­land fly­half Owen Far­rell s con­tro­ver­sial tackle in the’ dy­ing mo­ments of last week’s 12-11 Test loss at Twick­en­ham has been heav­ily dis­cussed among the squad.

Far­rell’s 82nd-minute shoul­der charge on Bok cen­tre An­dré Ester­huizen has been dis­sected across the rugby world and there are few, if any, an­a­lysts who be­lieve ref­eree An­gus Gard­ner’s de­ci­sion not to award a penalty was cor­rect.

Bok coach Rassie Eras­mus and de­fence ex­pert Jac­ques Nien­aber even went as far as mak­ing a tongue-in-cheek video at train­ing in Paris on Sun­day, urg­ing Ester­huizen to hit higher and with­out arms. The video went vi­ral.

Eras­mus was mak­ing a notso-sub­tle point to World Rugby, who have re­mained tight-lipped about the call. In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of the game, Eras­mus dead­panned his way through a me­dia con­fer­ence, sug­gest­ing if Far­rell’s tackle was le­gal then the Boks would start tack­ling that way too.

On Tues­day De Al­lende, who had a su­perb game against Eng­land, fol­lowed the same script.

The cen­tre de­nied he had been through the same train­ing drill as seen in the widely dis­trib­uted video, but ad­mit­ted “the tackle” was a hot topic.

“We did speak about it, De Al­lende told the me­dia in Paris. “There was a lot of hype about the tackle. It is what it is, that s World Rugby’s prob­lem.

“If that [the tackle] is right, we should also start tack­ling like that. There was noth­ing wrong with the tackle so we can also start do­ing that.”

The Boks need to be care­ful they do not fall into a vic­tim mind-set. That they were wronged is gen­er­ally ac­cepted, but noth­ing will change the re­sult against Eng­land now and the only way to atone is with a strong per­for­mance against France on Satur­day.

As­sis­tant coach Mzwandile Stick was one mem­ber of the man­age­ment team who seemed to have rather fo­cused his en­ergy on the Boks’ short­com­ings against Eng­land.

The Boks squan­dered nu­mer­ous chances, so ac­cu­racy should be their main fo­cus at Stade de France this week­end.

“We cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties against Eng­land and as coaches we can be pos­i­tive about that,” Stick said. “The dis­ap­point­ing thing is that we didn’t con­vert them into points. We did that in the games against the All Blacks ear­lier this year.

“I don’t think we are go­ing to change much in our plan, though. If you can cre­ate 20 scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties against Eng­land at Twick­en­ham, you are do­ing some­thing right.

“It’s al­ways go­ing to be dif­fi­cult play­ing France in Paris. They’ve got phys­i­cal play­ers in the pack and mid­field and it’s go­ing to be tough.”

De Al­lende con­curred: “The coaches put a lot of em­pha­sis on prepa­ra­tion and we work hard dur­ing train­ing camps and fine­tune our game plan in the week lead­ing up to a Test,” he said. “Our ap­proach to the matches in the north­ern hemi­sphere has also changed a bit be­cause you have to re­spect the con­di­tions in Europe and the way the game is played here.

“We learnt a lot from the Test that we lost against Eng­land in Cape Town in June, in very wet con­di­tions,” he said.

“I think we are get­ting there, and we are work­ing on how to vary our game so that we can con­stantly look for op­por­tu­ni­ties on the field.”


Elu­sive run­ner: Damian de Al­lende gets away from Eng­land’s Mark Wil­son and Owen Far­rell, whose tackle on An­dré Ester­huizen late in last week’s Test has been a big talk­ing point.

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