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Scott Robertson's view of the Springboks and whether the All Blacks have to emulate them

By Ben Smith
Beauden Barrett of New Zealand scores his team's first try during the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade de France on October 28, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Michael Steele - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

New All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson has offered his view on whether the All Blacks have to change and become like the Springboks in order to win World Cups again.

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South Africa claimed a fourth men’s Rugby World Cup title after defeating the All Blacks 12-11 in the final last year after goal kicking misses left points on the pitch in a tight affair.

Former All Black Sir John Kirwan said that the Springboks had completely “changed the way they play” just to win World Cups.

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While Robertson stopped short of saying the All Blacks had to change everything and follow South Africa’s approach, the new All Blacks head coach said he wants the team to evolve in order to win in multiple ways.

“Test football is a game of strength, the World Cup is a game of finals and strengths,” Robertson told Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown.

“That’s what they [Springboks] play too. They are a great defensive side, great kicking side, great set-piece side, and they kick the goals to win.

“The majority of major events with ‘kicking’ involved, finish with a kick to win it. Soccer, [American] football, rugby, league, the critical ones are won from the foot.

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“And they won it off the foot. They made the kicks. Incredibly tight margins at that level, they went back to what they were good at, and that’s the shape of the game.

“The big part for me this year is to win and evolve, so we can win in two to three different ways. That’s the key to bringing success over a four-year period.”

The champion Crusaders coach listed winning in wet conditions, winning away from home in different environments as key milestones to tick off, while embedding the “game management” understanding within the team.

Robertson wants different defensive structures for the different opponents the All Blacks will face, which will likely take time to master.

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The new head coach was optimistic about the squad he has inherited after having the chance to work with the players in January in camp.

“We’ve got a great balance of players that are in their late 20s that have been there and done it,” Robertson explained.

“We know that every World Cup cycle you are going to lose, guys are going to move on, that’s part of it.

“We’ve got a great group that are still hungry. Haven’t quite got there but know and experienced it, care deeply about the All Blacks.

“There is a young group coming through that are ready to take that opportunity as well.”

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