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What it will take for the All Blacks to 'starve the Springboks'

By Ned Lester
Shannon Frizell runs through drills during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Mt Smart Stadium on June 30, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The Rugby World Cup final is upon us and the pundits’ predictions are incredibly tight. Neutral heads are relatively evenly split while of course, the two competing nations are backing their respective teams to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a record fourth time. History is inevitable in Paris.


The Springboks’ world-renowned forward pack will come up against a much improved All Blacks unit in the final, and neither side is underestimating the criticality of the contest up front.

It was the set piece that put the Springboks so comfortably in the driver’s seat the last time the two met, a comprehensive and historic 35-7 victory for the reigning world champions.

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WATCH as the All Blacks talk about ‘taking the gas out’ of the Boks bomb squad

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WATCH as the All Blacks talk about ‘taking the gas out’ of the Boks bomb squad

Winning a scrum penalty in the opening minute, the Springboks entered the All Blacks’ 22 and held them there for 20 gruelling minutes, winning numerous penalties and eventually leaving the red zone with seven points and a two-man advantage.

That fixture was two months ago, a long time in international rugby, especially in the Rugby World Cup. Exactly how much has changed in that two-month period will be exposed in what promises to be a blockbuster final for the ages.

“I think the All Blacks win,” James Parsons told the Aotearoa Rugby Pod. “And where? I think it’ll be their defence, but more importantly their discipline.

“I think we know both sides are going to go hard at each other in the collision areas and I think that’ll be an arm-wrestle for the whole 80 (minutes).


“But, I just think seven penalties on the weekend, they seem to be getting less and less each week. So, I think that discipline will hopefully starve the Springboks of any opportunities to go into the 22 for a maul or chipping away with three points.”

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The improvement in discipline has been stark and played an unmistakable role in New Zealand’s quarter-final win over an Ireland side that had overcome South Africa in the pool stages.

Ireland’s discipline was a tremendous strength entering the tournament, and it was a huge vulnerability for the All Blacks. New Zealand turned that on its head in the first round of the knockout stages.

“Well, the (All Blacks) were the most penalised team and they’ve come into the knockout stages and been very, very clinical around their discipline defensively and it’s been the difference for them so far.


“A clear, dominant difference in the semi-final. I just think both these sides are so evenly matched across the board and they have their strengths and weaknesses so it’s just how many opportunities you are going to give the opposition that will decide this game.”


Parsons’ analysis was echoed by his co-panelist, Bryn Hall. The former Super Rugby champion was equally as adamant that discipline would determine the game and also highlighted the importance of matching the Springboks’ imposing bench unit.

“The only thing that will get us in trouble is our discipline,” Hall said.

“We’ve lost Test matches, especially early on, if we give four or five penalties away and they have that scoreboard pressure, being able to tick away, whether that’s (Handre) Pollard or (Manie) Libbok in there, getting the three points, six points and being able to build pressure.

“I think that’s when we feel like we’re under a bit of pressure but we’ve got our discipline right, it seems, in this knockout stage. But, there’ll be plenty of those what-if moments if they don’t get it right.

“Being able to stop that bomb squad in that last 30 minutes will be massive as well. If the game’s close, we’ve shown enough with our bench coming on that we can nullify that, and being able to stop them and try and win set piece penalties or build scoreboard pressure or getting into that 22m zone and go to that lineout maul or building with their forward pack.

“I feel if we get those things right, it’d be a good result for us.”


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GailPaste 268 days ago

Springbok fans are some of the most opinionated crybabies going around. Anytime they're beaten, it's the refs fault or someone was cheating or that girl stole my lunch money, which made my team crumble. I don't fully blame them for this mindset as their coach sets a very very poor example. Listen, sometimes the Springboks lose, and sometimes the All Blacks do too. That's sport people. The refs don't have an agenda. If you think they do, it says more about you or your society. The issue is, and I’m going to address the elephant in the room now, saffas egos can't handle the fact that a better rugby team exists outside SA. The AB’s even hold an advantage over them at a number of their own grounds. And it kills them! Don't pretend it doesn't. Saffas, it's just a game! Try to enjoy the occasion, and stop with all the excuses and elocution lessons. Nobody likes a smart arse. Let's hope for an amazing final whatever the outcome. Go the Wallabies!!!

Flankly 269 days ago

“What it will take for the All Blacks to 'starve the Springboks'“

That's easy: 1/ cynical breakdown play to stop SA getting fast ruck ball, and 2/ cynical breakdown play to stop SA from getting ruck turnovers.

SA will be hoping for very strict application of the laws.

Wal 269 days ago

Please let’s speak the King’s English not that Pidgin stuff the Yanks drawl. Penalties can be counted so it is impossible to have less penalties. Fewer penalties, please!!
Barnes is no friend of the All Blacks. One-third of his All Blacks matches result in the Kiwis coming second. He does not like anyone outside the 6N but he reserves special dislike for the Kiwis.
This RWC will go down in history for all the time-wasting by England, their Celtic colonies and the Bokke. Why don’t they get fit??? Sexton and Farrell could barely walk in the second half of their final meltdowns.
The French will be right behind the Kiwis as they are the only team in the finals attempting to play any rugby. I met a Frenchman in Qibao Carrefoures, (Shanghai), once and he explained to me that the French love the Kiwis, “Because they play like us”.

Flankly 269 days ago

A lot will turn on whether or not Barnes allows the usual NZ breakdown obstruction.

BMac 269 days ago

The Referee to stop all the time wasting delibrate ploy from South African water carriers and medics running on every scrum…its getting a joke

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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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