The 2013 year has been a good year for Springbok Rugby and the cherry on the cake could be placed on the season should the Springboks manage to beat France in their last Test of the year.
Heyneke Meyer is however frustrated about the amount of Cards as well as the amount of penalties his Bok charges have conceded in 2013 and is constantly striving to better Springbok dicipline as he goes along, something (dicipline) he values intensely.
Pieter de Villiers, the former France prop, who is a South African born and bred specimen and current scrumming guru of the Springboks is plotting and working towards Springbok domination in the scrums against his erstwhile team. Pieter knows the French systems and some of the French key players for the weekend well, the question is, can he strike benefit from that in favour of the Springboks.
Dicipline & Cards:
SuperSport reports if you want to see Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer get emotional, then it seems that mentioning his team’s disciplinary problems might just be the button that you need to push.
Meyer’s commitment to discipline verges on the passionate, and it came through strongly when he was asked a question at the team announcement press conference in Paris on whether or not he was concerned about the number of penalties being given away on this tour, as well as the number of times this year his team has had to play a man down because of yellow cards.
The coach knows that against France at Stade de France on Saturday, on a night when Le Bleus will be determined to sweep along on the momentum created by the French national soccer team’s win over Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier at the same venue, his team cannot afford to give the hosts anything.
As scrum coach and former French prop Peter de Villiers has warned, the French like nothing more than to knock over big southern-hemisphere teams.
Every year they seem to get it right at least once, with Australia reaping the whirlwind in 2012, while the All Blacks were pushed like they seldom have been this year two weeks ago and were fortunate to escape with a draw.
“We know that France are going to come at us hard and that they are going to have a big crowd behind them, but we have faced down similar challenges this year and we really believe that if we just stick to what we do, and do it well, then we will be okay,” said Meyer.
“I could write down our game-plan and give it to you to give to France on a piece of paper and it wouldn’t bother me. I don’t think the way we play is any secret.
“No disrespect to France, who are a good team, but if we play to our ability and get our plan right, it doesn’t matter what the opposition bring. The key for opponents is to stop us, and I really feel that if we get our discipline right and play to our structures, we can get what we have come here for.
“We haven’t come to Paris to do sightseeing. We have taken a lot of bogeys off our shoulders this year, such as by winning away games in the Rugby Championships and by winning in Brisbane, and we want to break the losing sequence we have against France in France that extends now to 16 years.
“That would be a great way to end what we feel has been a good year for us.”
But Meyer knows that in the 50/50 game that he believes the France match will be, his team cannot afford to keep shooting itself in the foot with indiscipline.
YELLOW CARD PROBLEM
Yellow cards have become an almost constant for the Boks this year, and on this tour two loose-forwards, Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee, have taken turns to spend time in the bin in consecutive matches against Wales and Scotland.
“I think everyone knows that discipline for me is a non-negotiable and the yellow cards and the penalties are a source of great frustration for me, and I know that we cannot afford a repeat against a team like France,” said Meyer.
“The players know I am strong on discipline, and while I don’t want to mention other teams and what they may have been through, at least we don’t have any major discipline problems off the field.
“I can’t remember one incident off the field since I took over as coach. And even on the field the penalties and the cards against us haven’t really been for foul play, but more for professional fouls.
“I know though that that isn’t good enough, and we need to take the emotion out of it and take a good look at solving the problem. I am not sure why it has happened, but we seem to be conceding a lot more penalties here in the northern hemisphere than we did in the southern-hemisphere season.
“I am not happy with the penalties, I can tell you that, and I am also not happy with the unnecessary yellow cards.”
However Meyer stressed that even though there had been indiscipline that had cost his team momentum through conceding penalties and being one man down, the disciplined attitude shown in sticking to the defensive structure under pressure has been a major plus.
“We’ve given away more penalties than usual at the breakdown, but we haven’t conceded a try in the last five away games in the northern hemisphere, and I think that is a major achievement that has come about because Duane Vermeulen, Bismarck du Plessis, Francois Louw and some of the other guys have become very good at slowing down opposition ball.
“And we’ve also become good at facilitating quick ball from the breakdowns, and that has contributed to the massive improvements in our attacking game.
“You just need to look at the tries Bryan Habana scored against the All Blacks at Ellis Park to see the improvement in the skill levels shown by Duane and Francois, as they both featured prominently.”
Pieter de Villiers:
Sport24 reports that former France prop Pieter de Villiers will return to Paris for the first time since becoming the Springboks’ forwards coach, to face the country he represented on 69 separate occasions.
De Villiers played almost his entire club career in France, winning the French title five times with Stade Francais, where he spent 14 years.
He made his debut for France in 1999 against Wales, five years after his arrival at Stade Francais.
He retired in 2008 and returned to his homeland where he joined his brother in a business venture before beginning to coach a team in Cape Town.
In April 2012, Meyer called De Villiers and asked him to join the Springbok set-up.
It will be his first time facing France.
“It’s a big change! It’s a great pleasure to return to Paris, seeing people I know, but it’s very different to find myself up against France,” said the 41 year-old, who scored two tries with Les Bleus.
And he will be well placed to offer scrum advice to his players as he knows a number of the current French squad from his playing days.
“Rabah Slimani was in the youth team when I was at Stade Francias, Pascal Pape, and I also knew Nicolas Mas from the France team,” he added.
Meanwhile, Commenting on the return of Mtawarira, Du Plessis, Etzebeth and Steyn, as well as the inclusion of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi on the bench, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he had rotated the squad during the final three Tests of 2013 in order to keep the players fresh.
“Gurthro, Adriaan, Bakkies and Pat did very well last week against Scotland and will have an important role to play this week,” said Meyer.
“We have been quite fortunate with injuries this year and I’m very happy that we’ve managed to keep the continuity in selection.
“Most of the players have received ample game time and showed they have what it takes to perform at Test level. Our aim is now to keep on improving against France and hopefully end a very successful season on a high note.”
The Springboks have won nine of their 11 Tests in 2013, losing only to the All Blacks, and 12 from the past 14, including last year’s November tour.
South Africa and France have played twice at the Stade de France in Paris with France winning both (20-10) in 2001 and (26-20) in 2005.
Overall, though, South Africa have the edge with 21 wins to France’s 11 and six draws.