The 1993 Springbok tour to Australia
Second test - 14 August 1993 – Ballymore; Brisbane
This test was probably the test that made the biggest impression on me of all the tests I’ve seen in my life mostly because of the way Australia played and won the test. The tactics they employed and the extraordinary precision of execution were the aspects of this match that impressed me.
South Africa re-entered the international rugby community in 1992 with a test against the All Blacks on 15 August 1992 and one against Australia on 22 August 1992 at home. The springboks lost both tests (24-27 against New Zealand and 3-26 against Australia). Most people can probably not even remember the test against Australia but the test against New Zealand are remembered for the two Danie Gerber –past his best- tries. Under the Captaincy of Naas Botha and with John Williams as coach South Africa went on an end of year tour to the UK and France in October and November 1992. The won the first one against France but were heavily criticized for the 10-man style of playing they employed in that match. South Africa succumbed to pressure and tried to play running rugby in the second test against the French and lost badly. They also lost their next (and last math of the tour) against England (16-33).
The 1993 season started with Ian Macintosh being appointed as coach and the Springboks played two tests at home against a touring French side in June 1993 drawing the first one (20 all) and a losing the second one (17-18).
It was a pretty strong Springbok touring side and the Australian media praised the team afterwards as one of the best sides that ever toured their country. A number of Springbok legends like André Joubert, Joost van der Westhuizen and Henry Honiball started their careers. Robert du Preez and Joost was in a fierce competition for the No.9 test spot with Du Preez eventually playing in all three tests.
The Springbok team that played in the second test can be seen here.
South Africa lost only one of their tour games and won the first test which had the Australian media pulling the Wallabies to shreds. This produced an pretty intense atmosphere for the second test in Brisbane but the Wallabies under Phil Kearns came to the party that day and produced one of the best displays of rugby I’ve witness in my life.
The Wallaby tactics was interesting and as this first video indicate they started the match with a high kick and charge strategy. It is annoying sometimes to listen to the Aussie commentators lamenting about the Bulls and South African rugby’s high kick and charge tactics as if it is totally beneath them to even contemplate playing like that. Beauty is, like the truism goes, in the eye of the beholder and the Aussies had no problem with this tactics in 1993. To be fair though they used the tactic slightly differently namely they did it all league rugby style. The kick was hoisted so that it drop steeply just outside the opponents in goal area. Also they used the tactic sparingly and not ALL THE TIME like the Springboks and the Bulls.
See in the video clip above how the Aussies start the game off with a high kick and charge. Stransky find himself under immense pressure and drops the ball.
Aussies get a 5 meter scrum but South Africa prevents them from getting a right shoulder and not only moved the scrum sideways but also turned the scrum. The Aussies then try a set move involving No.10, 12 and Campese from back foot ball. The move basically consists of No.12 (Tim Horan) scissoring on the inside of No.10 who dummies in his direction but passes to Campese coming in on an angle. The South Africa defense hold and they force a turnover scrum. From the scrum Hugh Reece-Edwards make the fatal mistake of not kicking out and Campese hoist another league like up-and-under which Tiaan Strauss drops and Deon Lotter then falls over the ball to get penalized. Marty Roebuck succeed with the penalty and the Aussies lead 3-0.
South Africa gets a penalty just outside their 10 meter line when Francois Pienaar takes the ball up and Stransky succeeds with the kick to equalize the Aussie score. Immediately after this the Aussies win a South African line-out ball and then try a move where Tim Horan in pass to his right wing coming in on speed on his inside but Stransky intercepts and run the length of the field to score.
Almost the same backline move later produced Jason Little’s try. The difference was that with the intercept the Aussies did not first create depth on attack -like they did with Little’s try- before trying the backline move. See the intercept on the video below.
The Aussies moved over to a higher gear and produced this fantastic try by Jason Little.
This is one of my favorite tries for a number of reasons. See how the Aussies first create depth from the line-out. The throw is deep and the catcher drives it up; Phil Kearns then comes storming to receive the recycled ball from Nick Farr-Jones. They had one more runner taking it up after that and with whole South African team on the back foot they dispersed the ball to the back line. No 10 whips it to Horan who pops it back to No.10 who then cross behind No 12 (Horan) before he flat pass it to Jason Little coming straight but stepping of his left foot -the moment he receive the ball- he pass on the inside of the South African cross the defense.
This is a fantastic piece of rugby.
The speed, the depth, backline interplay and the options they had available once No.10 received the ball back from Horan is just incredible. If you stop the video on exactly 0.46 (ball is just leaving No.10’s hands on its way to 13) you can see that they had at that exact moment at least two other options they could have utilized. See the large opening on the inside of No.10 at 0.46 and if he at that moment flipped the ball the Roebuck (No.15) on an inside angled run Roebuck would have had a clear run to the goal line. The other option would have been to pass the ball behind No. 13’s (Little’s) back to Campese coming in on an angle and that would have produced a try as well.
Not long after this they did the same move but with two variations; one, in how they took the ball up from the line-out and two, 10 passes the ball to a different runner on a different angled running line.
See how No.4 plays the ball back to the scrumhalf (in this case one of the forwards) running as if to pass to the backline but he flips the ball back to a runner coming through on his inside. The runner takes the ball up to create front foot ball and they recycle at speed. Ball goes to 12 who pops it back to 12 just as in Little’s try but 10 then passes to 15 with 13 hanging slightly back. See the line that 15 runs namely angling to the outside but then flips the ball back to 13 coming in on his inside. A Springbok defender’s hand got in the way or this would have been another try.
There is depth, speed, deception and precise execution.
In the second half Jason Little scored a second try after some very poor defense by Robert du Preez, Francios Pienaar and Joel Stransky.
There is, however, more to this try than just poor defense. The try was created by first, the directional change made by Nick Farr-Jones and second, by the speed at which Little ran onto the ball but also the line that he ran.
Australia then tried the high kick and charge tactic again and it produced a try for Tim Horan. See, however, on the video clip how they attack the 9/10 channel twice, first Campese then Horan and the then ball goes to Little who straighten-up before they bring it to the right to Campese who hoist it for Horan. Again the kick comes from fast ball after they’ve forced the Springboks on the back foot. The kick is part of an attacking process and not a sort of escape option from poor ball.
South Africa kept on trying but ill discipline and frustration saw James Small being sent off putting the Springboks in a position where they had to complete the game with 14 men.
Notice in the beginning of this sent off clip another variation of the 10, 12 13 interplay that produced the first Little try. This time 10 hold back -after receiving the ball back from 12- and pass the ball behind the back the Springbok 12 coming through to his 13 who turn around once he receive the ball to play it back to 12 doubling around. The move probably did not go exactly as planned but demonstrate outstanding skills by the Aussie inside backs.
Jacques Olivier scores for South Africa in the dying minutes after some good running rugby by the Springboks and in the end there is only a 8 point difference between the sides.
All over a great game of rugby which I was only able to appreciate after I’ve made my peace with the loss and when I watched it a second time.
There are some great coaching tips in this video clips/match and it astounds me that South Africa -and the bulls for that matter- with their superior line-out cannot play rugby like this.