Running Rugby A Fairy Tale – Coetzee

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says running rugby is a myth and not what one can expect to see at Test match level in order to win matches.  Coetzee’s South Africa ground out an 18-10 win in the Rugby Championship against Australia in Pretoria on Saturday with all the points coming courtesy of Morne Steyn’s boot.  Steyn landed two drop goals; one early and one late, either side of four penalties.

The visitors enjoyed massive territorial advantage in the second half which Wallabies boss Michael Cheika says should have resulted in more points:  ‘We had many visits down in their territory and we didn’t pick up any points and that just about sums it up.  We worked quite well to get down there and we should have scored another two or three tries.’ Coetzee could empathise with his opposite number, drawing parallels to the first encounter between the two sides in Brisbane three weeks ago:  ‘That’s the same reason we lost that side.  We didn’t take our chances.  I must give credit to Chean (Roux, SA defensive coach).  He’s worked helluva hard this week getting the guys on the same page.’  Aussie skipper Stephen Moore says the outcome has nothing to do with the so-called Loftus jinx:  ‘It was just our shape was little bit out.  We came to the game wanting to play our style.  It’s nothing to do with the ground.’

But it was Bok boss Coetzee who was defiant in his post-match comments.  The former Stormers chief was unconcerned by the way his side won:  ‘I’m very happy, I must say.  Never underestimate any Test win.  Any Test win.  For a side that has been under pressure and to get the belief back and the way we want to play, this shows we are on track.  It’s important to win at home.  Character you can’t coach and it showed again tonight, this team has character.’

However there might be some bad news for the likes of flair players and mavericks like Elton Jantjies, who has hitherto failed to stamp his authority on the Bok pivot position, and on the strength of Saturday’s showing, is unlikely to get a look in against the All Blacks.  Coetzee says:  ‘ There’s no style about running rugby at Test level.  That’s fairytale stuff.  You have to win.’

Man of the match Adriaan Strauss, who enjoyed arguably his best game in a Springbok jumper, was pleased to silence his critics but says his showing on the day has nothing to do with his pending retirement:  ‘I will always do things for the right reasons.  No doubt about that.  The team will always be first.  I made the decision with the team in mind.  I think the last three games have gone better and I’m still my own biggest critic.  I’ve never been fully happy with the game I’ve played and I’ll work until the day that I hang up my boots.’

Photo credit: Gallo Images