Before the match issues
The major issues before the match were the drug scandal that hit the SA team after the match against Wales; the injury to star winger Bryan Habana and the fact that Scotland could respond with a backlash after their dismal performance against the All Blacks the previous weekend.
Hooker Ralepelle and winger Basson tested positive for a banned stimulant following the Springboks' 23-21 win over Ireland in Dublin on 6 November. The South African Rugby Union was told of the positive tests late on Sunday after the next weekend’s match against Wales. Coach Peter de Villiers feared the whole squad may have taken the banned substance and the team's energy drinks were sent for testing. He told South African broadcaster Supersport: "We don't want to put the players at risk. If there is something that we are taking as a squad that might have caused this then we must find that out now." Both players have tested positive for methylhexaneamine, a "non-specified stimulant" on the prohibited substances list of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). Springboks doctor Craig Roberts said that the players had been taking medication for flu symptoms.
The major issue was whether this was a genuine mistake (hard to accept for most supporters even if it was) or whether it was just the tip of the iceberg. When Pierre Spies withdrew shortly afterwards from the Scotland match and when Bryan Habana were out of the tour because of a hand injury it didn’t help to curb any suspicions of a deeper laying drug problem in the Springbok squad.
Coach Peter de Villiers on the Thursday before the match called up three replacements to the Springbok squad for the final two matches of the team’s end-of-year tour against England and the Barbarians – both matches at Twickenham.
Experienced wing Odwa Ndungane, hooker Bandise Maku and uncapped scrumhalf Charl McLeod joined the squad in London on Sunday. They are replacements for injured wings Bryan Habana and Bjorn Basson and hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, who has been suspended from all rugby activities (along with Basson) following a positive test for a banned stimulant.
Scotland went into the match under an injury cloud and confronted by a reality check which forced some changes to their side (Four changes to the Scotland side that played against NZ).
The general feeling was that if ever there was a good time to play the current world champions now might be it. South Africa have been rocked by the news that two of their players have been sent home after failing a drugs test and that star winger Bryan Habana has swiftly followed them after breaking his hand in training.
Scotland entered these autumn internationals in fine fettle and confident of ruffling a few southern hemisphere feathers. On their best run of results for nearly eight years and buoyed by their 2-0 series win away in Argentina, their clash with New Zealand was supposed to lay down a marker. But 80 minutes, and a 49-3 thumping later, familiar questions were being posed. Coach Andy Robinson was livid at their display and sat down with his coaching staff to analyse position-by-position exactly what went wrong. The result is four changes to his side and one positional switch. The Englishman says Saturday's clash at Murrayfield is all about "getting back on the horse and showing what we can do".
Forwards coach Gary Gold said the Springboks are on high alert for a backlash when the team meets Scotland in the third international of the Springboks’ end-of-year tour at Murrayfield, Edinburgh on Saturday.
Scotland lost 49-3 to New Zealand on Saturday and their coach, Andy Robinson, has challenged his players to restore national pride against South Africa.
“They will be hurting after Saturday’s defeat and they’ll want to erase that memory as quickly as possible,” said Gold. “We’re not reading too much into it – as Graham Henry (All Blacks coach) said himself, the All Blacks hit a real purple patch and not many teams are able to live with them in that mood.
South Africa has won the last seven encounters.
The average score between the sides is 25-11 to South Africa.
Scotland's best run since 2002 of four matches without defeat was ended by New Zealand last week.
The Scots have not won at Murrayfield since beating Australia nearly a year ago.
Nathan Hines, Chris Paterson and Nikki Walker played in the 21-6 win over South Africa in 2002, with Walker scoring a try.
Springboks won 15 out of 18 matches against northern hemisphere opposition under coach Peter de Villiers, including the last six.
The Springboks are now second in the world rankings.
Adrian Jacobs and CJ van der Linde started in South Africa's loss to Scotland in 2002. Bakkies Botha was on the replacements bench.
Scotland: 15-Hugo Southwell, 14-Nikki Walker, 13-Max Evans, 12-Graeme Morrison, 11-Sean Lamont, 10-Dan Parks, 9-Rory Lawson (captain); 1-Allan Jacobsen, 2-Ross Ford, 3-Euan Murray, 4-Scott MacLeod, 5-Richie Gray, 6-Nathan Hines, 7-John Barclay, 8-Kelly Brown.
Replacements: 16-Dougie Hall, 17-Moray Low, 18-Richie Vernon, 19-Ross Rennie, 20-Greig Laidlaw, 21-Ruaridh Jackson, 22-Chris Paterson.
Replacements: 16-Scott Lawson, 17-Alasdair Dickinson, 18-Nathan Hines, 19-Ross Rennie, 20-Rory Lawson, 21-Ruaridh Jackson, 22-Nikki Walker.
South Africa: 15-Zane Kirchner, 14-Gio Aplon, 13-Francois Steyn, 12-Jean de Villiers, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Francois Hougaard; 1-Tendai Mtawarira, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 4-Bakkies Botha, 5-Victor Matfield (captain), 6-Deon Stegmann, 7-Juan Smith, 8-Ryan Kankowski.
Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-CJ van der Linde, 18-Flip van der Merwe, 19-Willem Alberts, 20-Ruan Pienaar, 21-Patrick Lambie, 22-Adi Jacob
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Touch judges: Alain Rolland (Ireland) & Federico Pastrana (Argentina)
TV: Tony Redmond (Ireland)
Match – Scotland 21/South Africa 17
An article entitled: “Boks’ Grand Slam hopes end” provide a description of the match.
Some extracts from the article include:
Scotland produced one of the most stunning fightbacks in their history to wreck the European grand slam quest of the world champion Springboks with a deserved 21-17 victory at Murrayfield on Saturday.
I am not sure what the article means with comeback because we were never really in control of the match or clearly in the lead.
Parks not only bagged all his side's points, he outshone opposition flyhalf Morne Steyn.
Does anybody outside Scotland rate Parks as a flyhalf? I don’t think so. What does that tell us about Morné Steyn playmaking ability and his ability to dictate the match? I believe if Naas Botha or Gerald Bosch played we would have won the match. It is probable that the moment FdP returns that there will be more direction and flow in the bok team. I however do not take comfort from that thought, we cannot rely on one player to control and steer the team. Rugby is a team sport and this Springbok team is no longer playing as a cohesive unit. Morné Steyn is not the problem; the problem is the lack of clarity, poor coaching and an outdated approach.
The entire SARU management should be fired. It is they who have put us in this dilemma by appointing PdV; a coach who would not have got more that 20% of the rugby publics support at the time he was appointed.
"Our physicality was superb. They were tough conditions to play in... Scottish conditions."The whole side played their part”, said Andy Robinson the Scotland coach.
Robinson is exactly right the Springboks did not show-up physically and the major reason for that is that we still play an arm wrestle style instead of a blow-over style with structure and precision at the breakdowns like most of the other teams are currently doing. We had two tough arm wrestle matches against Ireland and Wales and physically we just couldn’t man-up yet again with that energy sapping and bodily fatiguing style we use to estabish domination at the breakdowns.
His South Africa counterpart Peter de Villiers couldn't disguise his disappointment. "All credit to Scotland, but we only had ourselves to blame "Some of the refereeing decisions were puzzling, however we did not respond the way we should have done.
I am so tired of this referee blaming bullshit I want to vomit when I hear it. The problem is not the referee the problem is the gameplan, the execution, the lack of structure and the way he uses his bench.
This match demonstrated two primary problems in Springbok rugby. One, the way we play is outdated and two, the current coaching staff is clueless and does not have the capabilities to lead Springbok rugby into the future.
The Springboks lost the battle at the breakdowns and it is hard to tell what exactly the game plan was. At one stage -the 60th minute of the match- the Springboks mauled 30 meter with the ball after a lineout. Pienaar at no9 take the ball and box kick it Scotland caught the ball and started running, eventually, kicking for the opposite sideline upon which Zane knocked the ball on, 20 meters behind –on the other side of the field- the place where the Springboks started to maul with the ball, originally. This prompted one of the Scottish commentators to say: “What was the purpose of mauling for 30 meters if you are going to kick the ball away. The Springboks appears totally clueless.”
The only thing that sort of worked for us, in the entire match, was the mauling of the lineout. We scored our only try by driving from a lineout on the Scottish goal line; in fact it was a bit of a muck-up that resluted in a try. The throw was to high for Matfield and Alberts caugth it in the back and plunged over; a lucky break really as the defenders were fousing on Matfield. Apart from that I still feel the lineout was our best option to create pressure ad put point on the board. Why didn’t we kick more for the corners put pressure on and force lineouts in their 22? That would have been the perfect game plan in the pelting rain. Yet, we kept on trying to run with the ball in our own half and demonstrated very poor energy, impact and attrition at the tackle area. We just couldn’t get over the advantage line and our backline play was nonexistent consisting in entirety of smashing the ball up.
SMASHING THE BALL UP IS 1990 ALL BLACK RUGBY. Ian Macintosh had the Springboks imitating and copy capping the All Blacks’ smash-up style during his tenure in the nineties with disastrous results. The Springboks toured to NZ under Macintosh and couldn’t win a single test match; managing only a draw in the last test of the three test series.
For heaven’s sake nobody plays like that anymore. Why the hell are we playing Macintosh rugby again?
This lost against Scotland –who played poorly- is a blessing in disguise because a won here in the last minutes –like against Ireland and Wales- would have been yet another layer of paint over the cracks.
For the first time in my life I am actually hoping that the Springboks lose badly next week against England. This rubbish has to stop now. I have great empathy for the players; they are trying their hearts out but the structures and basics are just not in place. There is no constructiveness at the breakdowns, we are struggling in the scrums, our backline play is essentially non-existent, neither our flyhalf or scrumhalf’s can dictate, we don’t seem to have a gameplan and we look scrappy, clueless and have no ability to keep our own possession.
Some pictures from the match
The Springbok lineout was not as excellent as usual but by far the only thing that we could do reasonably well on the day. We mauled reasonably a couple of times and the only try of the match was scored of a lineout close to the Scottish goal line; this try actually resulted from a miss throw; Bismarck missing Matfield and Alberts catching it in the back to plunge over. It is hard to understand why the boks didn't play more to the corners and used the maul more as an attacking weapon.
Some thoughts by Dan Retief that summarises this match:
I’ve asked it before and I’ll do it again – where is the brain power in the side? I see nothing new – no innovative moves, no adjustments for specific conditions, no rectifying of problems that have been apparent throughout the Tri-Nations and this tour.
At Murrayfield the substitutions were again incomprehensible. Francois Hougaard, behind a struggling pack, battled to come to terms with the conditions but just when it seemed he was getting into it he was subbed. In the 46th minute? Why not then just have sent Pienaar on at halftime?
Why send on Pat Lambie, a mobile flyhalf adept at running onto the ball and taking it up to the line, in a game we were not winning the ball, in conditions not conducive to moving it, with a referee not allowing us to set platforms? Or was that a concession by the coaches that they are as worried about Steyn’s enduring inability to take control as the rest of us?
Makes no sense… seeing as the Boks know how to do it. Remember how we praised them for adapting to conditions in Dublin.
The weather at Murrayfield was almost certainly worse than it looked on television but when I saw the sheets of rain I thought we would be rubbing our hands in glee. Instead we got our approach badly wrong and lost to an ordinary Scottish side. Even our try, by Alberts, was a fluke because the lineout throw was intended for Victor Matfield.
As the correspondent for the The Scotsman, the incongruously named Tom English, so aptly put it: “There are days in rugby when things get primal, when the weather is Biblical and the game is ugly and when the winner and loser are determined not by line breaks or tries or moments of genius but by altogether more straightforward qualities. Scotland achieved a famous victory because in the maelstrom they managed to keep their heads better than their celebrated opponents. They were smarter. When the rain was coming down in sheets their game management was a level above the Springboks and their discipline was streets ahead. Sometimes it's not about who is the most aggressive and the most passionate on days like this, but who is the coolest in the madness.”