Baby Boks are hulks, but are they in­cred­i­ble?

CityPress - - Sport - Dan Retief dan.retief@city­ Fol­low me on Twit­ter @retief­dan

The Ju­nior Springboks have re­ceived praise for their per­for­mances in the World Rugby Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onship cur­rently be­ing played in Italy – and the ac­co­lades are not un­de­served.

Af­ter con­vinc­ingly win­ning their open­ing three games, the Baby Boks are through to the semi­fi­nals and are favourites to take the tro­phy.

The young South Africans topped the over­all stand­ings quite com­fort­ably and will take on an Eng­land side that does not seem to be equal to last year’s win­ning out­fit in their last-four game.

The ju­nior All Blacks will be up against France in the other semi­fi­nal.

How­ever, for me the jury is still out.

I have been dis­ap­pointed at the brand of rugby dished up by our young­sters.

In their fi­nal pool game, the Baby Boks smashed the young Wal­la­bies 46-13 but the game said more about what’s wrong with South African rugby rather than how bril­liant it is.

It was ap­par­ent as the teams walked on to the field that when it came to the Boks, “baby” was a com­plete mis­nomer.

The South Africans were dis­tinctly big­ger than their Aus­tralian op­po­nents and they pro­ceeded to use this size ad­van­tage to bash and bat­ter their way to victory.

But that is ex­actly where my is­sue lies. Phys­i­cal in­tim­i­da­tion was at the heart of the Baby Boks’ play – and there was lit­tle else that was in­ven­tive.

This time it worked be­cause the wee Wal­la­bies just could not stand up to the brute force of Hanro Lieben­berg’s hulks.

Yet even with this dom­i­nance, the Bokkies kicked the ball too of­ten and crash-balled into op­po­nents too much, while their main method of attack re­mained the line-out driv­ing maul.

At an age when their play should be in­fused with joie de vivre, when they should be run­ning and switch­ing the ball around with speed and imag­i­na­tion that daz­zles, they pro­duced a fair imi­ta­tion of their se­niors.

So hold the hosan­nas un­til the side comes up against a team with a set of for­wards who can match them in the set phases and be as ro­bust in the hand-to-hand wrestling parts of the game.

We have seen the Springboks and our Su­per Rugby sides un­able to adapt when held up front, and that will be the real test of th­ese Baby Boks – to show that not only are they big­ger but also bet­ter.

The semi­fi­nals will be played in Calvisano, Italy, to­mor­row:

New Zealand vs France: 6.30pm;

South Africa vs Eng­land: 8.30pm.

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