Scrum coach Daan’s Human touch a hit for Boks at the World Cup

12 September 2023 - 09:26 By Liam Del Carme in Toulon
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Springbok scrum coach Daan Human.
Springbok scrum coach Daan Human.
Image: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Daan Human's views on scrumming are as firm as his handshake.

A steely stare from under his now trademark bucket hat accompanies a granite grip.

It was also from under that hat he delivered halftime words of wisdom he claims are not for publication.

He brought his Human touch to a situation that demanded it. The Boks conceded two scrum penalties just before halftime in their Rugby World Cup opener against Scotland with the second giving Gregor Townsend's team the opportunity to halve the South Africans' lead. The Boks, however, wrested back the initiative in the scrum and other key areas of forward combat.

Asked what his emotions were like just before and after the break Human said: “That is quite a personal question. Obviously we lost that scrum just before halftime. It was the right thing happening at the right time in the game.

“Just after halftime the momentum swing was towards us. I suppose one could say we were a bit lucky.”

He believes the timing of those Bok indiscretions allowed for quick intervention.

“Unfortunately we gave away that penalty. The halftime talk was very important in the change room. I don't think I can repeat what I said in there.

“We all know what we are capable of doing. We must stick to what we do. We mustn't think things will happen by itself, never. If you do it is time to move on.”

Human had high praise for Scotland's pack who he believes have improved immeasurably over the last while under scrum coach Pieter de Villiers.

“We were up against a pack that was in sync and I think Pieter de Villiers is doing a helluva job there. Maybe we are at 65%, maybe 60 after this performance. We gave away penalties and free kicks too. We can definitely improve.

“Their mentality must be close to ours. Pieter is a world class coach. I told Pierre Schoeman [one of Scotland's South African-born props] from the end-of-year tour 2021 they are 200% better.

“We got it right and we walked away with a lot of penalties in that November Test. It was not the case tonight.”

Though they gained the upper hand in the second half, hooker Malcolm Marx agrees the Boks have some revision to do this week.

“There are a lot of things we feel we can improve on,” said Marx who momentarily had to leave the field to have three stitches in his forehead.

The second half turnaround, though, has given them a base to build on. “The scrum was pretty unbelievable in the second half. We wanted to rectify that.

“Every scrum is different. You can't ponder on a mistake or when something went wrong. You have to pick your head up. They were physical and they did make it tough for us.”

Human was asked about tighthead prop Frans Malherbe and his anchoring role in the squad.

“It is hard to talk on behalf of him. Frans is a very solid tighthead in world rugby. In a way he was disappointed, maybe in himself and for the team. We never have a go at one guy. It is a team thing.

“That is one of the greatest front rows in my opinion. It is awesome to be able to put them on. We just had a little luck in the second half but we are very happy with the win.”

And the way they scrummed in the second half?

“I think there is still room for improvement. We must look at ourselves. We can look at the opposition but there are a lot of things we can rectify in our own system.”


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