The game has changed significantly over the past few years. The Springboks have been a powerhouse in world rugby because of their particular brand of rugby. It is this style of rugby that they have returned to under coach Rassie Erasmus.
“Our strength is a big pack of forwards that can bully the opposition into submission. It is about a big, strong defensive pattern where we go and knock guys backwards and we’re physical and we win the battle of the game line, we win the confrontation,” says World Cup winner Joel Stransky. “I think our game has evolved to a point where it’s in a nice, ready position to go play in World Cup 2019.”
Former Springbok Victor Matfield believes that the more rugby changes, the more it stays the same. “You still need a forward pack that gets you over the advantage line, that dominates set pieces. You need a special number 9 and 10 that can dictate the game, and then you need special players on the outside.”
Matfield says this World Cup will see a lot of tactical kicking, because of the humidity, but as the tournament progresses teams will start opening up their game plan a bit more.
Former Springbok winger Breyton Paulse says the success of any team will depend on the depth of the squad.
“You can’t just do with 15 in-form players. You need a squad of 30 players in any given year to be able to complete at the highest level all the time. You need four good wingers, you need four good scrummies, you need three good number 10’s, and I think Rassie has created that,” Paulse said.
The Springboks have been in Japan for a few weeks now, acclimatising and preparing in all conditions – with a game plan and a squad capable of winning the World Cup.
This article first appeared on EWN : Beyond the Touchline: How has South Africa’s style of rugby evolved?