That’s the problem with turf.
It’s not like the real thing…
That’s the problem with turf.
It’s not like the real thing…
I would say that Ireland have finesse + brute force. It is what makes the Irish game so compelling at the moment.
I hope you’re right Carti, but here was the view from the Emerald isle before the tournament began (sorry about the “demolition” bit ). I’d still be of a similar view. We’ll see what happens on the 23rd
Giant challenge: South Africa have a plethora of huge forwards on whom to call, including RG Snyman and Jean Kleyn. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
South Africa have not ruled out using a 7-1 split on their bench during the Rugby World Cup. Head coach Jacques Nienaber suggested they would be keeping it under consideration following their recent demolition of the All Blacks. Nienaber admitted that he took a huge risk by only having one backline substitute and seven forwards but was happy it worked out.
That kind of “big boy” thinking pushes innovation in one direction and can only mean one thing. The Springboks, if they believe they can monster a team with an abundance of kilo power, will do so.
It might come across as an arcane point, how the bench of a team is divided, but in rugby replacements are tactical and active components, not fallback options. The bench is no longer a group of players waiting for injuries to occur.
“The safest option is a 5-3 split. There is a risk to a 6-2 bench, and a 7-1 bench is high risk. We were fortunate that we didn’t get any injuries in the backline. I don’t know if we will take that risk going forward, but it’s something we’ll look at and consider,” saidd Nienaber, Stuart Lancaster’s replacement at Leinster for the coming season.
The gamble meant if more than one of the backline players were injured, South Africa would have to replace them with forwards. That can be challenging, but flankers, particularly, playing in the backline or out on the wing is not an unheard-of ploy, even in Irish teams.
It has always been part of rugby for players to actively seek out mismatches and exploit size disparities, although this time Nienaber has ruffled collars by doing it on an industrial scale.
In 2005 the then Munster coach Declan Kidney, in an experimental stroke, selected openside flanker David Wallace to play on the wing against Scottish side Border Reivers. Wallace was known for his pace and power. It seemed like a logical experiment, and one week later Wallace was back playing openside flanker.
Kidney similarly held the opinion that Irish flanker Denis Leamy was of more benefit to Munster on the pitch than off it, so he picked him to play centre on a couple of occasions. Part of Leamy’s DNA was that he had played in the backline at underage level.
In 2013 Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony was as surprised as anyone when he was asked to play over half of Ireland’s defeat by Italy on the wing. On that occasion injury thinned the Irish depth. Wing Keith Earls and centre Luke Marshall departed in quick succession and were soon joined on the sidelines by Luke Fitzgerald after the substitute winger incurred a knee problem, so coach Kidney again innovated, shifting flanker O’Mahony to the left wing.
Jonah Lomu also started his rugby union career in the backrow before switching to the left wing, while Sam Burgess made the move amid huge controversy for the 2015 World Cup in England.
The cross-code star from rugby league came into rugby union after playing in the backrow for Bath in the Premiership. England, coached then by Lancaster and Andy Farrell, started him in the centre in the World Cup. Later that year he returned to rugby league.
The Springboks’ more extreme benching may trigger alarm bells in other camps because a repeat would have the effect of supersizing the World Cup. South Africa are blessed with naturally big players, where Ireland are not, although the 6ft 6ins and 262lbs Joe McCarthy’s inclusion in the Irish squad is perhaps a practical nod by Farrell and his team towards providing size and strength in the second row.
Try again: South Africa’s Kwagga Smith scores against New Zealand at Twickenham despite the best efforts of Ardie Savea. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
But bringing on an almost entirely new group of forward players, as South Africa did against New Zealand, will set a string of different challenges to other teams.
Not least is how to align smaller players, especially in the latter stages of the match when they are tired and hurting, against a refreshed pack of forwards without having to commit large numbers to simply stopping the ball carrier.
South Africa have made a statement, which is that director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and Nienaber are prepared to be risk takers and are ready to turn the World Cup into a series of stadium-sized arm wrestles with bigger men flooding into the arena in the second half. Less beauty and more beast has now had a proven test run.
Then again, perhaps people are also over-thinking the strategy as backs are much bigger now, some on a par with forwards. Fiji demonstrated in their recent win over England that the differences can be slight. Inside centre Semi Radradra is 6ft 3ins and 100 kilograms while outside him captain Waisea Nayacalevu is 6ft 4ins and 105 kilograms.
There are no laws against using seven forwards on the bench, the only deterrent being that there is jeopardy in the strategy. Except for three frontrow positions, where safety demands that the technical positions of the props and hooker must be specialist, teams can bet the house, as the Springboks did against the All Blacks, on a forward-dominated game.
First up for the ‘Boks is Scotland in Marseilles next week. They are the canaries in the coal mine, another 7-1 airing on the bench not yet discounted by Erasmus and his tactical boffins.
“In many ways this weekend’s game in Paris pits two teams with similar mindsets, strong and focused, but vastly different styles to oppose one another. Ireland employ a fast, high tempo approach predicated on lots of short passes and primarily looking to retain possession in making territorial gains.
South Africa also seek to dominate possession but primarily through their set piece and in building pressure by winning all the collision points.”
I’m sure I’ll regret not being there
Should be a cracker. I’d love Ireland to come out victorious, but having seen how SA seem to be peaking, I really do have my doubts. They have some absolute monsters, and coupled with that, the monsters are fast! Eagerly awaiting the kick off
I think it may be more of a thwacker than a cracker Anyway
France was always going to beat Namibia. What a match! But everything is overshadowed by Antoine Dupont’s injury. Fingers crossed that there is no fracture.
It’s not looking good, not good for France and the World Cup
Bad news. La FFR annonce “une fracture maxillo-zygomatique” pour Antoine Dupont, qui reste toutefois dans le groupe France.
La Fédération française de rugby (FFR) a publié un communiqué, ce vendredi, dans lequel elle donne la nature exacte de la blessure d’Antoine Dupont, sérieusement touché au visage, jeudi. Le demi de mêlée reste avec les Bleus dans l’attente d’un avis supplémentaire.
“Suite au match entre la France et la Namibie, qui a eu lieu le 22 septembre 2023 à Marseille, Antoine Dupont, le capitaine du XV de France, a subi une fracture maxillo-zygomatique. Un avis chirurgical spécialisé a été demandé pour définir précisément la durée de l’indisponibilité. Antoine Dupont demeure avec le groupe France.”
Big games for the home nations this weekend, I think the only one I’d feel more or less certain about would be Scotland beating Tonga. The other two…………well
You think Chile might beat England ?
Ooops, overlooked that one perhaps as didn’t think it would be that interesting to watch, compared to the other games
I doubt that it will be interesting, as you say. Sadly, the Rugby World Cup suffers from massacres like the France Namibia game. Contrast that with the football equivalent. You don’t get 12 nil score lines in that. It’s a difficult balance to accomplish. Do you give the smaller teams an opportunity against the giants where they will probably be crushed? Or have a sort of Plate competition where they stand a chance of winning something?
Rugby World Cup 2023: France captain Antoine Dupont has surgery on fractured cheekbone Rugby World Cup 2023: France captain Antoine Dupont has surgery on fractured cheekbone - BBC Sport
Well done Ireland
Absolute nailbiter and lived up to expectations that’ll be difficult to match.
Brains beat brawn, thank goodness. Any coach that goes into a World Cup with those kicking skills needs to be kicked himself.
Exactly, and going into a World Cup with one specialist hooker (now injured and out) too. I wonder if Rassie has lost the plot a bit?
What’s this traffic lights from the sidelines thing? I’m not sure Francois Pienaar would have put up with that.
That’s just Rassie being Rassie I don’t think he can come the field carrying water any more. I have great respect for Francois Pienarr, not the sort of chap that would put up with these sorts of shenanigans.
This morning I’m wondering what EJ, has up his sleeve for the Wales game. Like Rassie I think he’s thrown caution to the wind in key positions for this World Cup but at least I can see what he’s trying to do for the next one. I hope he keeps his job after. I think Gats, has taken the right approche and done well in the time he’s had, a good mixture of experience and exciting young players. With Biggar at the helm Wales should hedge it this afternoon dewch ymlaen Cymru!