The Springboks will struggle to beat like-minded teams like France and Ireland in November unless they correct their shortcomings in game management, writes Jon Cardinelli.
Rugby in the northern hemisphere is strong and local fans have concrete reason to believe that a European team can win the 2023 World Cup.
France and Ireland beat the All Blacks last November. England beat Australia and South Africa in the same fall series. Times are definitely changing.
It is important to bear in mind the cross-hemisphere results when evaluating the recently concluded 2022 Six Nations in a wider context. France carried their form from the Autumn Nations series all the way to the Six Nations and finally got their hands on some silverware. Ireland continued to grow and earned a reward in the form of a Triple Crown.
And yet, some questions about the quality of these teams remain unanswered. Both have proven they can take on the All Blacks and have the temperament to seal up great games. The two, however, are yet to beat the current world champions.
South Africa will face Ireland and France
In November, Ireland will face the Boks for the first time since 2017. France will face South Africa for the first time since 2018.
Both matches will show where the respective teams stand one year away from the 2023 World Cup.
The Boks beat the British and Irish Lions and finished the 2021 season top of the World Rugby Rankings. However, as the 2022 Test season approaches, South African coaches will demand a higher level of execution in anticipation of the team’s toughest schedule yet.
France have made an important tactical change in recent seasons. The influence of former Wales defense coach Shaun Edwards was evident, as was the input of former Bulls and Stormers manager Vlok Cilliers.
While the team often receives plaudits for an all-out attacking approach, their success is rooted in a powerful set piece, abrasive defensive system and precise kicking game.
France led the fight against adversaries in the trenches and in the air. When the opponents failed to cope with this pressure, the broken field wizards of the French back line converted counterattack chances into points.
France uses a style of rugby very similar to that of the Boks. What sets the teams apart at this stage is the level of execution.
After dominating their opponents and propelling themselves into good positions on the pitch, France pulled the trigger to score. The Boks, on the other hand, squandered hard-earned scoring opportunities and lost close games.
Lock Paul Willemse recently claimed that France have the best pack in world rugby. However, no one remembers a team’s exploits from the set piece and the win line if that team fails to translate that dominance into points.
It is here that the main French decision-makers – Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack – have particularly distinguished themselves. On the other side of the backline, they have players – the exceptional Gael Fickou and Damian Penaud to highlight two – who regularly take good options to ensure the team earns the maximum reward for their efforts. .
The Boks have enough depth to field two world-class packs and have very few peers at scrum, lineout, maul and breakdown. With that kind of artillery, they should blast teams on the scoreboard.
This is something they need to sort out in the coming months. Faf de Klerk and Handré Pollard have blown hot and cold in the 2021 season. when to pass – left a lot to be desired.
Half-backs, and another key decision maker in full-back Willie le Roux, will need to be more consistent in 2022. The Boks have Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and several other top finishers at their disposal. They need to create more situations where these players are running into space or into opposition going from attack to defense.
It should be noted that the Covid-19 restrictions and the time spent in bio-bubbles during the 2021 season had a detrimental effect on individuals and the collective as a whole. The team should be in a better mental space in 2022, and that may help their level of execution.
The Boks will have a chance to build when they host Wales for a three-Test series in July. Subsequently, they will host the All Blacks in two Tests as part of their Rugby Championship campaign. The news from camp is that they are desperate to win the miniseries against their traditional foes and claim the Rugby League title.
Even if the Boks achieve those goals, another step will be needed when they travel to Europe to face Ireland, France, Italy and England – the latter outside the World Rugby window.
Each match will present a series of unique challenges. The Boks will be looking for their first victory in Dublin since 2012 and hope to deliver a psychological blow against Ireland before meeting them in the group stage of the 2023 World Cup.
While the Boks haven’t lost to France since 2009, their next visit to the Stade de France will be particularly difficult. The Blues will be aiming for a Bok scalp a year after a World Cup staged on French soil. There is a chance that the two teams will meet in the quarter-finals.
The Boks must find solutions to their game management problems well before this November meeting. If they don’t, they risk losing more than a one-time result in Paris and plummeting down the rankings.
READ MORE: Six Nations: Five takeaways from the Championship as France meet pre-tournament expectations
The article Opinion: Ruthless France a shining example for South Africa after the Six Nations appeared first on Planetrugby.com.