Rugby Union: S Africa learn the hard way

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The Independent Online
South Africa. .3

Australia. .26

AFTER being badly exposed by a superb Australian team performance when they proved themselves worthy world champions, South Africa have been left with little time to rebuild. They also need to adopt a new approach if they are to have a successful tour of France and England, which begins at the end of next month.

Their recent performance confirmed that they have fallen badly behind during the years without international competition and drastic changes are needed in coaching. Unfortunately, they have already appointed a tour management from the old guard, who will find it difficult to make the necessary changes.

Alex Wyllie, the former New Zealand coach who is now a director of coaching in Port Elizabeth, believes South Africa still possess many outstanding players but agrees they have not been taught how to cope with the changes which have taken place in rugby.

'They are a proud people with a passion for the game, but a new style cannot be achieved overnight,' Wyllie said. 'Many of those in charge here only understand the type of game as it was played in their days, which means fresh faces and ideas must be introduced.'

Bob Templeton, Australia's assistant coach, made another significant point: 'The present Springboks were seriously handicapped by their own referees, who have failed to interpret the laws correctly. This led them to giving away numerous penalties in both Tests.'

Naas Botha, the 34-year-old South African captain who is contemplating retirement, backed up criticism when he said that even after winning good second-phase ball it was impossible to launch attacks due to the swift defensive regrouping of the Wallabies. There seems little point Botha leading the forthcoming tour as he is unlikely to change his style. Also, his disappointing performance here suggested he would make little impact in France and England. Instead of trying to make openings himself he moved the ball on, which left a colleague at the mercy of a determined defence.

It is now obvious that the South Africans were not ready to take on the might of New Zealand and Australia in two Tests within a week. At least they are now aware of the challenge ahead, but it is likely to take them a few years to find an effective blend. They should be ready for the World Cup due to be staged here in 1995.

Before the Test, Nick Farr- Jones, the Australian captain, suggested his team could walk off the field if the crowd failed to respect a minute's silence for those who have died in the violence. He did not receive 100 per cent support, but it did not matter as the 42,000 spectators honoured the call and politics was forgotten in the cause of rugby.

Heavy rain and a series of curtain-raisers left the pitch treacherous and it was difficult for either side to compose a game worthy of the occasion. Australia adapted far better through the ability of John Eales to win line-out ball and a fast back row who won twice as many ruck-mauls as their opponents.

In view of the conditions, the Wallabies concentrated on driving mauls. These frequently led to penalties when they were collapsed by the South Africans, especially the flanker Wahl Bartmann. This tactic would have been punished more severely but Michael Lynagh, like Botha, missed goals frequently because of the insecure footing.

Without sufficient ball, South Africa were unable to exploit the first-half wind and defeat seemed obvious when they trailed by five points at the interval. It was a tribute to them that this margin remained until 12 minutes from time. Then the Wallabies took over and scored 18 more points. During this period, David Campese registered his 50th international try and the other wing, Paul Carozza, added another to the one he had scored in the first half to inflict the biggest Test win over the Springboks.

South Africa: Penalty Botha. Australia: Tries Carozza (2), Campese; Conversion Lynagh; Penalties Lynagh (3).

SOUTH AFRICA: T van Rensburg; P Hendriks (Transvaal), P Muller (Natal), D Gerber (W Province), J Small (Transvaal); N Botha (N Transvaal, capt), R du Preez (Natal); J Styger (Freestate), U Schmidt (N Transvaal) L Muller (Natal), A Geldenhuys (E Province), A Malan (N Transvaal), W Bartmann, (Natal) J Breedt, I MacDonald (Transvaal). Replacement: D Hattingh (N Transvaal) for Geldenhuys, 65.

AUSTRALIA: M Roebuck; D Campese (NSW), T Horan, J Little, P Carozza; M Lynagh (Queensland), N Farr-Jones (capt); J Daly, P Kearns, E McKenzie (NSW), R McColl, J Eales (Queensland), W Ofahengaue, T Gavin (NSW), D Wilson (Queensland).

Referee: D Bishop (New Zealand).

SOUTH AFRICA were yesterday cleared to visit France and England in the autumn by the African National Congress. 'There's no doubt about the tours,' Steve Tshwete, the ANC's sports spokesman, said. The ANC had threatened to withdraw support for the tours and the hosting of the 1995 World Cup by South Africa.

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