Ireland beat the Springboks: Obvious Bok mistakes

Ireland defeat the Springboks

Ireland beat the Springboks in Dublin on Saturday. Ireland was better on the night, but there are some obvious Bok mistakes that cannot be overlooked and need to be questioned.

When Ireland beat the Springboks on Saturday, it was not a surprise. Most pundits picked Ireland to win by between five to eight points. Those opinions were based on a few undeniable facts.

Ryan Jordan highlights a few of these facts.

Ireland beat the Springboks

We cannot escape the fact that a strong Ireland team beat the Springboks riding a wave of confidence after their series win in New Zealand. They took the chances they created. They also had a little help from their opponents, who don’t seem to be planning for success in 2022. If this is not addressed, the dreams of a fourth Rugby World Cup title are nothing more than that. A dream.

Flyhalf selection

Damian Willemse is a talented player and his versatility as a fullback and inside center adds a lot to the Springbok squad. His game management on Saturday at flyhalf was poor. A kicking game to get his forwards in the right areas of the field is not his strength. The questionable Springbok flyhalf depth is not a new thing. The Frans Steyn experiment against Argentina in Durban during the Rugby Championship is still fresh in fans’  memories.

Some have their eyes on Handre Pollard. He isn’t popular with some as he is very much a kicking flyhalf. Although he is injured and won’t feature in the Autumn Nations Series, he is the best fit for the Springbok game. Getting the forwards close to the line.

Others look at Johann Goosen as the solution, but he has had limited game time and is unfortunately injury-prone. The Springbok brains trust has a real problem to work through before next weekend’s Test against France. Repeat the Willemse selection with the limitations it presents or hand a debut to Manie Libbok or Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu in such a big Test?


This was a turn of phrase used by Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick. The intent was to take the pressure off Willemse as the nominated goal-kicker. This is a bit of silliness coming from the brains trust and costs the Springboks heavily on Saturday. Willemse is a backup kicker when Pollard isn’t on the field and this showed. The Springboks had to revert to Cheslyn Kolbe to take the place kicks and he was also erratic. The next kicker in line would have been Faf de Klerk. All of these are adequate as professional club legal backup place-kickers, but they are not Test-level kickers.

The Springboks left too many points out on the field on Saturday. Considering they lost by only three points, the lack of a Test-level place-kicker becomes inexcusable.

Lineout maul

The Springbok lineout maul is not the weapon it used to be but it remains central to their attack. Ireland’s maul defense was superb on Saturday and negated the Bok maul. Without trying some variety such as transferring the contact point, quality opposition teams will get better at defending this aspect of the Bok attack. Currently, they are too predictable.

We can only hope that Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus reconsider their thinking on this. Too often they take failures as “learning experiences”. That doesn’t sit well with a local fanbase that is hungry for success. No team can expect to win every game they play, but dropping games like this one and the home loss to Wales in Bloemfontein is simply not acceptable as selections have played a pivotal role.

The good news though is that South Africa still has some time to sort their issues out before the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France begins on September 10, 2023.


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