'It is not up to us to change the way we play because it's not attractive' - Mallett
Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett has defended South Africa’s brand of rugby, which has been pilloried in recent months for its conservative nature and emphasis on kicking.
The Springboks beat Argentina 29 – 10 in the second of a two-match series in Port Elizabeth yesterday, with the boot of Handre Pollard playing a major role in the victory. The Springboks have won five of their last six Test matches, their sole loss coming against the British & Irish Lions in the first game of the series in July.
Yet their style of play has been heavily criticised by pundits and even rival coaches. All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said the Lions series ‘put him to sleep’ and even former Springboks have criticized the turgid brand of rugby that the Boks play.
Mallett, who coached the Springboks between 1996 and 2000 said that the crucial point is that Jacques Nienber’s side are winning and shouldn’t be ashamed to play to their strengths.
“Test matches are there to win, and what Rassie and Jacques have done is they have gotten the team to win,” said Mallett on Super Sport. “The Springboks play within the laws, we were penalised far less than Argentina, even with the passion with which we play the game.
“So don’t criticise South Africa for playing this type of Test match rugby when they can win. If they lost, then you can criticise them. 57-0 in 2017 against the All Blacks, 38-3 against Ireland, with exactly the same group of players.
“In 2017 we suffered humiliating losses when we tried to run the ball, it didn’t work much. Now we’re beating the teams that beat us by plenty before by playing to our strength.
“It is not up to us to change the way we play because it’s not attractive. You play the way you play best in order to beat the opposition. If people want to change the way we play, they have to change the laws. Because we’re the best at what we do.”
Mallett laid down the gauntlet to New Zealand.
“So let’s get New Zealand over here, they’re the best at running the ball. We’re the best at tackling people who run the ball and turning them over.
“We’ve got a far better set-piece than them, we’ve got a better maul than them, we’ve got a better kicking game than them. It’s a clash of two different styles of play.”
The Springboks will remain in Nelson Mandela Bay until a decision is taken on the re-scheduling of the Rugby Championship’s remaining fixtures and Nienaber said they were ready for any eventuality. SA Rugby have offered to host the remainder of the games, all on South African soil.
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