South Africa’s weaknesses Meczyki must exploit to shock rugby world next week

As Wells landed in Johannesburg on Friday morning, he might have done well not to pick up a copy of the local newspaper.

Few in South Africa credit Meczyki with any hope of winning against the Springboks, with a similar number back home likely thinking the same. The world champions go into this three-Test series as the heavy favorites, even if 2021 is by no means an old year. Sure, they beat Warren Gatland’s Lions, but during the year, their win percentage was just 61.53% – marginally better than Meczyki’ in 2021.

The Lions won the first Test, Australia beat them twice and New Zealand and England also won against them. They are undoubtedly a world class team, but there are areas where they can be targeted.

Read more: Top pundit Gwyn Jones loses faith in Pivac

Beyond the non-negotiation of coming up and matching them physically, here are some areas where Wells could have some success.

Kicking fight remains the key

Few things attract the anger of rugby fans more than kicking. Many see it as pointless, placing more stock in the ball in hand and trying to break tight defenses – an admirable, if not entirely practical, assumption in terms of risk versus reward.

Such disdain in the modern sport is endless kicking in, this week after American comedian Orney Adams went viral for a video accusing him of relentlessly pouring boot-to-ball. Adams, for those unaware of his work, is best known for his real-life example of a struggling comedian compared to the established superstar of Jerry Seinfeld in the 2002 documentary, Comedians.

It’s a tough watch when it comes to watching Adams struggle to work his way up the comedy ladder and refer to himself in the third person, but still, at least he’s got an eye for rugby. Has been. Unfortunately for Adams though, the kicking game will be crucial once again. Thousands of words were devoted to aerial combat during last year’s Lions tour. Nothing really has changed since then.

The Lions won that first Test by finishing on top of South Africa in the kicking fight. This Springbok side is unlikely to run against you in halfway tries, but they certainly won’t allow you to do that.

They’ll look into the air to claim their dominance, but if you beat them there—and they’re fallible in the back-three—you can get the upper hand. It’s certainly an easier way to gain possession and territory than trying to run through a green brick wall for 80 minutes.

Keeping the ball in the air gives Pivac’s team the best chance of receiving a front-foot ball from a knockdown or clean take, while if the ball is kept in park, it would largely negate South Africa’s leading lineout. Is. England made a stellar performance in the fall, starting the match with a boot to the top.

He kicked to compete, but changed his kick. He followed up with a simple up-and-under with a crossfield kick to chase down Joe Merchant, identifying where the spot was and manipulating the defense accordingly.

In Dan Bigger, Wells has the fly-half capable of doing just that. In the 2019 World Cup semi-final, Bigger changed his kicking well and Meczyki were more competitive for it. We probably didn’t always see that in the Lions series last year.

The crossfield bomb has been an aimless one for Meczyki when progress with the ball in hand has stalled – often with front-five forwards such as Alan Wayne Jones due to the pod structure. In South Africa, such a kick would probably come in first leg play and be better organized.

This type of kick would need to come out at the pace to win the initial aerial battle, rather than away from the back-foot.

Getting Smart With the Power of South Africa

One of South Africa’s biggest strengths is their defensive attack. His loss to the Lions came to light when, in last year’s first Test, he pushed back Elliott Daly – only to be caught man and ball by Lukhanyo M for the English centre.

The aggression of the Springbok center – and outside winger Makazol Mpimpi – is a clear force for the Boks. If they are winning the confrontation, as is often the case, the relentless nature of their attack makes life impossible for the opposition attack.

But, that aggression can be worked against them. England’s second try in the autumn came from England packing midfield with options around Henry Slade in the first leg, then it was fired to Freddie Steward when M and Mapimpi were drawn by those choices.

England draws with several options before firing wide in South Africa’s aggressive out-to-in blitz
(Image: Sky Sports)

The Lions also found success in the third Test there when Finn Russell tried to find a wider channel. If tourists had turned to those opportunities during that pressure, we probably would have viewed that series and Boks in a different light.

Even Wells and his faltering attack find ways to evade Boks’ attack. Had it not been for a foul-pitched attacker, their autumn meeting could have resulted in the other side.

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South Africa read the threat wrong as Meczyki pulled it back into the bigger, blitzing instead of flowing for cover for Johnny McNichol and Liam Williams.
(Image: Premier Sports)

But at least Wells identified how to find the edge, only for a stray bloc from L33 to effectively close the space as a springbok melee defense.

In fairness, the box’s cover defense does a decent job of closing things down. However, if you can be around them, there is naturally less time for them to set up again.

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Despite being around Meczyki’ South African edge, the Boks are well-versed – albeit with the help of a pitch attacker.
(Image: Premier Sports)

However, to go back to that, Bigger’s use of speed – one of Stephen Jones’ key phrases in the camp – and a proper connection between the forward pods and the back has to be on the money.

The second area of ​​strength is Springbox’s scrum. Given that Meczyki currently has two uncapped tight-heads in Johannesburg, this is an area that has to be thought about very closely.

Given South Africa’s propensity for dominance, it is difficult to see this aspect of the game any other way than to the advantage of the hosts. However, despite their dominance in this area of ​​the game, some sides have had success against them.

The Wallabies rose to the top last year, receiving calls from referees even when they were not driving the box out of the park, while England were smart enough to identify South Africa’s eagerness to engage early and the double penalty. was.

Meczyki only wants to get out of the scandal alive in South Africa, but there is clearly some narrative surrounding the Box set-piece, which could be bent to paint a more favorable picture for Welsh pack officials.

ignore the noise

A recent documentary from the two sides offered an interesting insight into the psyche of South African rugby. Despite their relatively reasonable insistence from the media that their national team sits in this unique niche as the best side in the world, playing a brand of rugby unlike any other nation, it was clear that the camp still believed that they Less seen from the outside world. ,

Rasi Erasmus was saddened by how Lions players were overhyped by the media, while there was a general ‘against the world’ mentality in the way the coaching staff communicated throughout the Lions tour. It’s understandable, given their brand of rugby and the ‘anti-rugby’ jibs they get hit with sometimes.

While, at times, this outright harassment bordered on premises, supporters quickly bought into the idea that referees were harshly judging the Springboks in the wake of the hour-long leaked breakdown of Erasmus’ substitute decisions.

Given the lack of respect the media has shown for Meczyki so far, the Boks will struggle to play the underdog card this time around. But, with Nienaber already calling Wells ‘desperate’, there is bound to be a lot of noise in the coming weeks.

How South Africa tries to move the story forward after being underdog for so long, even for the Lions series, as the recent documentary went on long enough to show, will be interesting.

Read further:

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Today’s rugby news as Meczyki takes flight to South Africa but Shaun Edwards misses France trip for summer tour of his own

Bob Norster, King of Meczyki’s lineout jungle at 65

The gifted 17-year-old and son of the famous Wells Locke selected as the top pro players in the making

The most important players of Meczyki, the fear over them and the back-up options that were abandoned

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