Attack is the name of Boks' new game

29 June 2017 - 07:06 By Brendan Venter
Rugby ball
Rugby ball
Image: Cameron Spencer

Some pundits have attempted to downplay our series whitewash over France. Their argument is that we faced a poor French team at the end of a draining European season. However, in my experience of rugby, you are only as good as your opponent allows you to be.

Over the course of the three-Test series, whenever we had France under pressure we managed to capitalise on our opportunities. To be a competitive rugby team you need to possess a strong set-piece, be able to defend well and play for territory. However, to become a great team you require an effective attack. For an inexperienced Springbok side to have scored 12 tries over three matches against France, at an average of four five-pointers per game, is testament to where this team can go.

We prevented France from scoring a try in the third and final Test, which was a positive.

However, for me, the most pleasing aspect to emanate from the trio of Tests is our new-found attacking vigour. I believe Springbok attack coach Franco Smith's influence with the national team cannot be overstated. There will always be teething problems along the way when it comes to an inexperienced team honing their attack, but it's apparent that the attacking adventure is there from the men in green and gold.

Having worked closely with the players for the past month, there is a genuine energy about them when they attack, and their execution on offence is improving with each Test. An effective attack takes time to hone and is underpinned by an offensive mindset and the ability to strike when the opportunity arises.

Retaining the ball and going through 150 phases is definitely not the definition of a well-functioning attack. You can enjoy more possession than the opposition, but if your decision-making in the red zone is ineffectual and your game management lacks maturity, you won't break down defences.

France enjoyed periods of sustained pressure against us during the series and completed more ball carries, passes and offloads in the third Test. However, the visitors couldn't capitalise. In terms of attack, scoring tries has to be the object of your preparation. How teams notch five-pointers may be up for debate, but the need to score tries is not.

We will face altogether different challenges and opponents in the upcoming Rugby Championship from August. However, the positives that have stemmed from the French series cannot be underestimated. The three victories against France over consecutive weekends instilled a sense of confidence within the group and we have forged a tight-knit family unit. The fact that we beat a team that have been together for two years under Guy Noves and came third in the Six Nations is no mean feat.

We don't profess to be the finished product at this stage and are aware that 10 tough Tests still lie ahead this season but, as a team, we have taken a significant step in the right direction.

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