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Sat May 28 02:05:51 CAT 2016

Time to unite and conquer

Brendan Venter | 01 March, 2016 00:26
Brendan Venter. File photo
Image by: Supplied

The expanded Super rugby format has drawn a slew of criticism. Its detractors have stated that the competition is convoluted and difficult to decipher.

But, despite this , the players must be credited for dishing up an excellent product after the first round of action.

There was an effective blend of attack and defence, and running and kicking. It's amazing how fast the game is at Super rugby level, how talented the players are and how good the spectacle is to watch.

And, despite some disapproval regarding the new bonus-point system - teams have to score three tries more than their opponents - on the evidence of the first week of fixtures, it has actually brought an exciting new dimension to the series. Sanzaar must be commended for its introduction. In total, 52 tries were scored across nine matches at an average of 5.7 tries a match.

At one stage I flicked channels and watched Italy versus Scotland in the Six Nations. The quality of rugby on display was simply not of the same standard as Super rugby. After three rounds, only 30 tries have been scored in the Six Nations at an average of3.3 tries per match. From a practical point of view, when you are watching a provincial tournament, you are witnessing teams that have been together for years.

One of the reasons I believe the Six Nations teams in general lack attacking fluency is because they are composed of players from a number of different clubs that employ diverse styles of play. In contrast, New Zealand have remained at the summit of world rugby because they unashamedly utilise a similar style of play across their five Super rugby franchises. While there are obviously slight variations from team to team, there is a unified belief in a ball-in-hand and territory-based approach.

In a South African rugby context we have never been in a better position to embrace a uniform philosophy in terms of playing pattern because all our young coaches have bought into a more ball-in-hand approach.

I'm not suggesting that every South African side should play the game in exactly the same way. But if we were to introduce a standardised attacking and defensive system, it would shorten the training time required at Springbok level as far as putting a certain playing style in place.

Moreover, because our current mentors are pliable and open to change, Gary Gold's idea of all six South African franchise coaches sharing information on the international sides they will face in Super rugby is a brilliant concept. It's about putting aside egos and working together without any agendas.

In terms of bringing SA rugby together, Allister Coetzee is the perfect man for the Springbok post. Few coaches in this country have come through the system the way in which he has and it's his time. He is SA's most qualified coach and a real people person.


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