SOUTH Africa might boast some of the most electrifying backs in rugby but they might not play much of a part in Sunday’s World Cup semi-final against Argentina.
As much as the Springboks might want to play a razzle-dazzle
brand of game, they believe the best approach to beating the Pumas is to employ a more simple, conservative game plan.
It might be dull, but as far as the Springboks are concerned, if it helps them reach the final then boring will be beautiful.
“As long as we win I don’t care what the spectators think,” South Africa flyhalf Butch James told reporters yesterday.
“We haven’t played much high-risk rugby while we’ve been here so we’ll be sticking to the way we play.
“The reality is that you’ve just got to get out there and somehow get more points than the other team. You don’t really need the perfect game.”
The Springboks’ strategy to beat Argentina is simple. They plan to play the ball in opposition territory through an astute kicking game and use their massive pack to put the pressure on.
It is the same game plan Argentina will use against them and lock Victor Matfield said it was the smartest way to play knockout rugby.
“They play a style that fits quarter- and semi-final style rugby,” Matfield said. “They have a very conservative game plan, they’ve got a great kicking game and a great defence and we all know that’s how you win World Cups.
“That’s why they haven’t lost yet and that’s the way you play test rugby when you’re under pressure.”
Matfield said the proof that a tighter game plan was more reliable than running rugby was there for all to see in last weekend’s quarter-finals when England beat Australia and France knocked out New Zealand.
“We’ve also seen it with England in the previous World Cup, they had the best defence and with Jonny (Wilkinson) there they had the best kicking game,” Matfield said.
“Everyone thought they (England) won’t be there but they just showed that once Jonny came back with his kicking game they’re a force to be reckoned with so if that’s how you win pressure games then that’s how you have to play. But you will still see some mix. There’s always going to be turnover ball where you’ll see some exciting rugby and that’s when you need game breakers.
“You need those sorts of players who can score from the opportunities they get, because the fact is there’s not a lot of opportunities in semi-finals and finals.” — Reuter