Gary Gold says the Springboks’ performance against the All Blacks at Newlands proved that their 57-0 loss in Albany was just a blip.
The former Bok assistant coach, who is set to take charge of the USA Eagles next year after his role as Worcester Warriors director of rugby comes to an end, believes that the Boks’ one-point loss to the All Blacks in Cape Town is evidence that South Africa remains a powerhouse in world rugby.
‘The Boks showed a tremendous amount of character and proved we are still a strong rugby nation. To a man, everybody played well and we can now see that the 57-0 drubbing in Albany was a blip on the radar,’ he wrote in his column for The Times.
‘Allister Coetzee’s charges can extract plenty of positives owing to the fact that they not only lived with the All Blacks, but put the visitors under sustained periods of pressure during a match which spanned 90 minutes. The Boks enjoyed 56% of possession, which in today’s day and age is substantial.’
Gold added that the Bok coaches deserve credit for the team’s positive response and for inspiring a different approach against the All Blacks.
‘The coaching group should get a huge amount of credit for understanding what does and doesn’t work against the All Blacks and, in terms of tactics, they hit the nail on the head in Cape Town.
‘The Boks are comfortable playing a confrontational, direct game and coupled with their set-piece firing on all cylinders – the men in green and gold won nine lineouts and seven scrums – they were able to build phases and ask questions of the All Black defence.
‘It’s disappointing that the Springboks didn’t finish second in the Rugby Championship, but the bottom line is that South Africa never lost to Argentina or Australia and ran the All Blacks close during the return leg.
‘There is now a good base from which to build, and we need to keep this group together and consolidate. Other teams could have capitulated after recording their heaviest-ever defeat, but the Springboks didn’t.
‘The Boks exorcised their Albany demons in the best possible way by putting in a character-filled performance in Cape Town. We can go round in circles and constantly look to find fault, but the reality is that the players have now delivered.’