Mon, Jun 12, 2017 - Page 11 News List

‘Brotherhood’ among the Springkboks rejuvenated


Springboks fullback Andries Coetzee on Saturday breaks the French defense during a Test match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.

Photo: EPA

One of the most pleasing aspects for South Africa coach Allister Coetzee of the Springboks’ comprehensive 37-14 victory over France at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday was the final five minutes when his team were pinned inside their own 22.

France pushed hard for what would have been a consolation try, but despite having already won the game, the Springboks threw tired bodies into the defense of their line.

It was something that had been missing for much of a disastrous season last year, the worst in their history in which they lost eight of their 12 Tests, suffering historic losses to Ireland, Argentina and Italy.

“It was not a perfect performance, but what I can say is that there is a fantastic team environment that has taken shape,” Coetzee told reporters. “The last five minutes of the game, which was basically won, was spent in our 22 and we didn’t concede a try. There is a brotherhood building, about putting your body on the line for one another.”

The Springboks scored four tries and were noticeably more willing to keep the ball in hand rather than the aimless kicking that characterized their game last year.

“We have closed the chapter on 2016,” Coetzee said. “I was very happy with the performance. We are moving in the right direction. This is the first step of 13 games this season and our defense, attack and kicking game were all improved.”

“We had enough width to attack, the breakdown was unbelievable, in the physicality and the collisions, I thought we were ahead,” he said.

Unlike last year’s Springboks that looked fearful in the face of the opposition, Coetzee said there was a new “attitude” and positivity around the team.

“You can fix mistakes, but it is harder to fix attitude. That is what the players showed. When there was a mistake, there was a scramble to fix it and a lot of positivity and encouragement,” he said.

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