Khaleej Times

S Africa find belief in series rout of France

- Reuters

JOHANNESBU­RG — South Africa’s revival in 2017 has been built on their intensity in defence and vigour at the breakdown, which was on display again in the dominant 35-12 victory over France at Ellis Park on Saturday that saw them sweep the home series 3-0.

The past three weeks have been chalk and cheese with last year, when the Boks lost eight of their 12 Tests, including historic defeats to Ireland, Italy and Argentina, for the worst rugby season in the country’s history.

The calls from the public for Coetzee’s sacking were at times deafening, but the improvemen­t in the side, specifical­ly at the breakdown and on defence in particular, has been striking.

“It was great to see how we have turned things around. We’ve learned a lot since last year. There’s a lot of belief in the side now,” Coetzee told reporters.

“We needed to turn this around, we still have a lot to do, but the belief is back in the jersey again. That is a great feeling. A lot of small things combine to make the product better.”

The addition of World Cup winner Brendon Venter to the technical team as defence coach has paid dividends, with the side conceding just four tries in three Tests, a huge improvemen­t on their porous form of 2016.

“He will stay on as a consultant,” Coetzee confirmed. “The defence is not perfect yet. There were a few missed tackles. That said, you can’t coach players to get back on their feet and chase with intensity.”

Heading into the Rugby Championsh­ip, where they face world champions New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, starting with a home match against the Pumas on Aug. 19, Coetzee knows that tougher challenges lie ahead. “We have great rugby players and now that we have a shared value system, we are showing that.” —

 ?? AFP ?? France’s Uini Atonio is tackled by South Africa hooker Malcom Marx and wing Raymon Rhule. —
AFP France’s Uini Atonio is tackled by South Africa hooker Malcom Marx and wing Raymon Rhule. —

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Arab Emirates