South Africa clever tactic for All Blacks
The All Blacks’ decision to finish their 92-7 win over Tonga created plenty of interest, but the Springboks were also trialling some tricky tactics in order to prepare for the Rugby World Cup.
Specifically, the South African side had their opening match against the All Blacks in mind, during their 41-7 victory over Japan.
Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus revealed post-game that his side purposefully went significant stretches without possession of the ball, to prepare themselves for a clash against the All Blacks in which they expect dominating possession to be difficult. Coupled with that tactic was an attempt to prepare for potential slippery conditions - either simply from rain, or the heat and humidity, which can cause similar issues when trying to play a possession-first style of rugby.
“Playing without the ball was intentional. Just for this first game to see how it goes. Because we never know what it [the weather conditions] will be like against New Zealand,” said Erasmus.
“One of our first priorities was to adapt to the weather circumstances. The humidity meant the ball was wet, after 25 minutes all the jerseys were wet and the arms were wet. We are used to this sort of thing from games in Durban in February so we treated it like it was a wet weather game,” he expanded.
“It paid off a bit but there were times when Japan almost got away and scored tries. So I would say that there were stages we were really effective in doing it but also Japan could have capitalised on opportunities at other stages and then it could have been a different game. The Springboks remarkably only had 36 per cent possession, and made 164 tackles to Japan’s 69 as they attempted to absorb pressure and then attack on the counter managing to score six tries with that tactic.–NZ upon their departure to Japan, with the Australians delaying their flight because of the severe weather warning.
The English were met with clear blue skies when they landed, but their hopes of a smooth transit were soon dashed by the ensuing traveling chaos.
The 31-man squad were first forced to stay onboard the flight for an hour due to a lack of buses to take them to the terminal. That was followed by information that the two coaches that had been booked to take the players and management team into the city had not been able to reach the airport because of traffic congestion. Roads throughout Tokyo had been gridlocked in the wake of the typhoon, while all trains had been suspended.
A six-hour stint at the airport saw squad members form an impromptu game of cricket, with transport not arriving until 8pm – six hours after the side first landed. From there, a 40 mile (64km) journey to their accommodation in Shiodome awaited the team.