The Springboks being boring is a common theme brought up by fans and the media in 2022. But what do the stats tell us? Are the Springboks really boring? Or is it just a stereotype that goes with South African rugby?
Every year or two we’ll see articles about how mauls “kill the game”. Mauls are considered a boring way to score points. But there is no doubt that mauls are a very effective option for scoring tries.
Many of this year’s top try scorers are prostitutes. It is true that in 2022, South Africa has done its share of mayhem. They maim more than any other side, but not drastically. The Boks average 8.5 mauls per game, Ireland are close behind with 7. They have also scored more tries than any other maul team with 11.
But do they only depend on mauls? The answer here is clearly no. Winger Kurt Lee ArendseSeven tries in 2022 make him the Springboks’ best man, and in fact more South African tries this year have come from backs than forwards.
do it Springboks typing too much? Do they kick at times when they should be looking to change direction? I think the answer here is yes and no.
The Boks definitely use the box kick effectively, sending their wingers to contest the ball in the air. However, South Africa’s numbers actually dropped from 2021.
Interestingly, it is the French, who have given more than 30 kicks per game this year, with the Boks closer to 24.
Part of the criticism seems to come from the timing of the kicks. In 2022, there have been several times where we have seen the Boks get into a great attacking position only to lose the chance by giving up possession with a kick.
In these situations, the players seemed to return to the stated game plan, rather than supporting each other to play a bit of one-on-one rugby.
Saying that, we saw what I believe to be South Africa’s only try this year by directly kicking the opposition when Arendse scored against England. So maybe the players have a little more leeway to support each other.
This is the area where I received more angry messages from my father than I can remember. “Why don’t they rotate it to their fucking wingers?” is the main line I hear from him, and sometimes it’s hard to argue against it.
South Africa don’t pass the ball much, in fact, they pass the ball less than any Tier 1 team.
Part of that is taking the most direct route through a great unit like Damian de Allende in midfield. This means that Bok wingers often wait for a chance to chase a kick rather than receiving the ball wide.
We can see this by looking at the average number of times wingers ran the ball per game. Some of the lowest numbers belong to guys like Makazole Mapimpi and Canan Moodie. Both of these players are incredible athletes who have scored tries this year but really had little time with the ball in hand.
Arendse was a revelation with his test run, but more importantly he was able to get his hands on the ball.
In the end, is South Africa a boring team? I would say that the fact that teams can set themselves up to win games in different ways adds to what makes rugby union interesting.
They have a stingy defense and can certainly tear teams to pieces when given half a chance. Hopefully we’ll see a few more guys like Arendse and co. get your hands on the ball to complete a few of those big mauls.
READ MORE: South Africa’s Welcome Pack to Europe: Teams heading into battle
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