South Africa v New Zealand, Rugby Championship
Springboks target breakdown dominance
October 1, 2013
Duane Vermeulen saw yellow against the Wallabies, and the Springboks are determined to improve discipline © Getty Images
Modern rugby demands success at the breakdown and that is where the Springboks believe their greatest chance of success lies in the Rugby Championship decider at Ellis Park on Sunday (AEDT). Springboks forward coach Johann van Graan said the breakdown would be the key to the outcome.
The South Africans have improved significantly in this area but the prospective return of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw to the contest would only heighten the battle for dominance.
"Any team in the world would like quick ball and, as we've shown this weekend, if we get quick ball we are a very dangerous team," van Graan said. "Both teams are very good at the breakdowns on attack and defence. After scrums, it is where the most penalties are conceded."
He said the improvement achieved by the Springboks resulted from changes in the way they approached the breakdown and it was about all members of the squad being able to make the right decisions.
"When a guy like Gurthro [Steenkamp] and Jean [de Villiers] start stealing ball, that is where you want to be," he said.
South Africa had 100 breakdowns on their own ball and won 96 of those in the most recent encounter between the sides, but van Graan said the aim was to achieve 100 percent.
There was also a desire to improve discipline in the side. While the two yellow cards against Bismarck du Plessis have entered the halls of rugby infamy, the South Africans also had Flip van der Merwe and Duane Vermeulen given spells in the sin-bin during the win over Australia in Cape Town at the weekend.
"We want to keep improving on our discipline and [have] as few penalties as possible," he said. "In the last three Tests, we conceded fewer penalties than our opposition. There were some incidents where we were unfortunate and some where we have got to take a hard look at ourselves."