Every week we give readers of BOKzine the opportunity to ask questions of South African rugby personalities. Simply sign up for our weekly fan newsletter, BOKzine, by clicking here!
Your Question: Hello John, Is daar 'n plan in werking om ons spelers op dieselfde vlak as die All Blacks te bring? Ons bokke "Klim" nie met dieselfde vasberadenheid as hulle in nie. All Blacks wen altyd ten minste 5m terwyl ons teruggedryf word!! - Dirk C le Roux
John answers: Hi Dirk – every game comes down to collision domination and it’s important that we have a midnset to be physical and agrressive. I believe it you’re good enough you’re old enough and we certainly have the players that can do the job for us this weekend.
Your Question: Why do we kick the ball away all the time? It allowes the opponent to run back at you ball in hand. Aus scored after a terrible kick from Ruan. Rugby is not all defense. You actually have to carry the ball in hand to score tries as well. A kicking game plan against NZ on Saturday will be suicide with their back three some of the best in the world under the high ball, attacking from there! - Frikkie Olivier
John answers: Our aim is to only kick if we can regain possession Frikkie, by contesting the ball in the air, or to force a lineout where we can contest and turn it over. If you watched at the weekend, our three best attacking chances came from contestable kicks which we won back and then basically you are playing 15 players on one. Having said that, up until now we have the highest percentage of kick regains in The Castle Rugby Championship and we have not kicked as much as the Wallabies or Pumas in our recent Tests. Even the All Blacks kicked more in Sydney than what we did in Perth.
Your Question: Greetings Why do we still tackle opponents around the shoulder when defending at the rucks? NZ and Aus shows how to tackle low and the go for the ball-when will we start doing the same?? - Irwin Jubber
John answers: That is a good question Irwin – everybody nowadays is double hitting. The aim is to stop the offload and get numbers onto the ball carrier. We also try to tackle the carrier back to prevent them from getting momentum.
Your Question: WE MIGHT NOT HAVE THE HOTTEST BACKLINE BUT FOR SURE WE HAVE VERY HOT WINGS, WHY DOES THE HARDLY GET TO THEM TO SEE THEM IN ACTION OR USE THEM TO CUT TO THE INSIDE. THE UP & UNDER IS BECOMING HISTORY OF LOSING THE BALL. – BOB HARTLIEF
John answers: Bob, we will always try to get our speedsters into the game when the opportunity is there and we’re in the right position on the field. These days, wings must also go looking for work and run support lines on the inside as it’s getting more difficult to spread the ball wide as most teams drift very well on defence at this level. About the kicks – see my explanation to Frikkie in an earlier question.
Your Question: Hi John In the 39 matches since the beginning of the prof era the AB`s have won 27 tests to the 12 of the Boks. This is a very poor record! Bok coaches over the last 18 years including HM, have been predisposed that we play to "our strengths" this does not work against the AB`s. We play predictable style of rugby, while the AB`s play "total" rugby. The stats prove it! – Tony Korsten
John answers: I can’t comment on what happened in previous years Tony, as we’re a new team and what happened in the past has no bearing on us. Playing to our strengths have worked before though – at Test, Vodacom Super Rugby and Absa Currie Cup level.
Your Question: John, great work despite all the critics currently. My concern is why not playing Elton Jantjies which is currently the best defensive and attacking flyhalf we have. The A/blacks is surely going to attack that channel, as always. Once a Bok, always a Bok & good luck any way. – Martin van As
John answers: Thanks for the compliment Martin. I can’t comment on team selection, as it doesn’t fall inside my scope of work, but Elton is really playing well this year and he’s been part of the squad before, so I’m sure he will be there again at some stage. He has also really improved defensively this year.
Your Question: Does the Bok coaching team use game theory to analyse play & decide on strategy? The use of game theory is widespread in American football & its usefulness for rugby seems obvious. An analysis of mixed strategies may impact, say, how our pivot plays. In the Championship, e.g., Steyn has received 88 balls, of which he has kicked 36%, passed 55% & run 8%. Is that optimal? Game theory would help. – Michael Meadon
John answers: Yes Michael, we do. I’ve been to the USA before to visit NFL teams and learn from them. We analyse everything to the smallest detail and ensure we get the core messages across to the players.