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Springboks drag All Blacks into boring rugby row with kicking barb

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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The Springboks have fired back at their critics in the tempestuous boring rugby row, accusing the All Blacks of using similar kick-dominated tactics in general play to help them during their 2017 Test series with the Lions. After two games in the three-match series in South Africa, the ESPN statistics show that the Springboks have kicked on 72 occasions from the hand compared to the Lions’ 51, the hosts kicking a whopping 37 times last weekend to draw level in the series with their 27-9 win.


This sparked an avalanche of criticism about their style of play, not only from the touring Lions but also the All Blacks who have been watching developments unfold from afar. Their coach Ian Foster claimed in the wake of the low frills second Test: “It put me to sleep… two teams playing a similar style, it’s a bit of a slugfest.”

It was Friday afternoon in Cape Town when the Springboks’ riposte eventually materialised, backs coach Mzwandile Stick using a query about the changes to the Lions’ back three for the series decider to refer back to the 2017 series where the All Blacks kicked from the hand on 77 occasions across the three-game series compared to the 63 kicks put in by the Lions in a series that ultimately ended in stalemate after a third Test draw.

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The latest RugbyPass Offload looks ahead of the Lions series decider
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The latest RugbyPass Offload looks ahead of the Lions series decider

The All Blacks’ tally was made of 26, 30 and 21 kicks, enough for Stick to suggest they were talking out of turn by criticising the Springboks approach to the Lions. “With the aerial contest, it’s not a secret – we always talk about it from the beginning that it is going to be massive in this series.

“Even if you go back to 2017 when they played against the All Blacks, it was very, very massive and it’s funny when some coaches now all of a sudden are saying the Springboks are playing boring rugby because of the kicking whereas if you go back to the 2017 series there was a game where a team like the All Blacks has more than 30 kicks in general play and they won the first game.

“Unfortunately kicking is part of the game unless there are new rules that we are not allowed to kick. We are looking forward to the aerial contest. It’s going to be massive and Liam Williams is one of the best guys, he is very tough, very physical, he doesn’t go away so it is going to be tough for us and we are looking forward to that challenge.”


The Lions have made six changes to their starting XV following their second Test loss and Stick also name-dropped midfielder Bundee Aki as someone whose inclusion has been noted by the Springboks along with full-back Williams.

“Having a guy like Bundee Aki in a partnership with (Robbie) Henshaw, we know those gentlemen are very physical and also having a guy like Liam Williams in their backline and (Josh) Adams, guys that are playing together for Wales for a while, so we know they are trying to select their best possible combinations.

“If I had to summarise everything, what we are guaranteed to face is they are going to want to give their best when it comes to the physical side of the game. We know Bundee Aki is one of the toughest players to play against but we are not going to focus too much on that. It is something that we have analysed, something that we have mentioned to our players, but we just need to make sure we get better from last week. I feel like we had a good last 40 minutes and finished well.”



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