All Blacks Are Dirty, But Good At It

Well the game against the All Blacks in Soweto was lost. The All Blacks won quite easily in the end, after it threatened to be a close game.

Their were two differences between the sides on that day. The one is that when the All Blacks had the opportunity to score then they did. The other was that when South Africa had the ball the All Blacks used dirty tactics to slow our ball or win it.

Please don’t get me wrong, the All Blacks deserved the win and were the better team, but the one thing I do have an issue with is how they manage to get away with playing dirty so regularly. No daylight in tackles or holding on to the tackled player. McCaw always slowing the ball down by lying on the wrong side, etc. The one thing the All Blacks are masters of, and will probably always be masters of, is the bending of the rules on the pitch.

Now the All Black fans might take offence to this but the All Blacks are cheats, and bloody good at it. We deserved to lose the game against them because what the Boks couldn’t do in the second half was adapt to the spoiling tactics employed by the All Blacks. Once the All Blacks realized that just playing the game wasn’t working they changed tact in the second half and it worked.

That shows up one of the big problems in the Bok game. Their is no deviation from a plan. There was no switch in tactics when we were being outsmarted. When Heyneke and the media talk about us being behind in development then the only thing that comes to mind is smart rugby. On an equal footing, playing fair rugby, I believe the Boks and the All Blacks are almost equal. However when it comes to using your brain we are far behind.

Two people should shoulder the blame for the All Blacks getting away with “murder” on Saturday, actually three to a degree. Ruan Pienaar mostly, he hardly “pointed out” the issues to the ref. Scrummies are meant to be chirpy fellows, however Ruan is, in my opinion, too quiet and more could have been done from his side to point out the problems ala Joost. He should have been like a Kevin Putt on Roland’s shoulders. Jean is the other culprit. He was also not trying his best to point out the obvious spoiler tactics used.

To a lesser degree I blame Roland. I have reffed and the one thing I can tell you is that it is difficult to spot everything. You have split seconds to make decisions. However to miss that many obvious transgressions so often… I think he was concentrating on other things a little too much. As a ref I have experienced this. You go into the game with a mindset. Sometimes that mindset can be to focus on particular areas of the game. This sometimes impacts your ability to spot other transgressions as you are not as focused on them.

All in all we deserved to lose. Meyer has been weighed and measured in this tournament and as the national coach I have deemed him wanting. He seems short sighted and prone to knee jerk reactions. He can’t decide on a team but the one thing he has proven is that he has favourites and that he has players he would rather not want to pick.

Lambie and co can be felt hard done by a man who believes he has all the answers even if evidence of their talent and form stares him right in the face. He is steadfast in his decision that Lambie is not a rugby player of note. I would have started with Lambie at flyhalf in every game.

Another person who should be singled out as a failed favourite is Taute. The kid can go far, of that there is no doubt. But his inexperience as an outside centre was showed up by the All Blacks. His defence was rubbish at best. Someone like de Jongh who has given anyone no reason to doubt in his abilities, should have played. He tackles like a demon, he has a vicious step and hand off and more importantly knows how to defend in the centre channels. Taute is a fullback, 13 is not his position.

When you look at the All Blacks one will see that they value skill and creativity. Israel Dagg is not a heavy chap, Cory Jane only weighs about 88 kilos or so. Yet they are chosen on formand the skills they possess. Dagg made Taute look like a fool on two occassions. Our coach is so besotted with size he seems to forget that a level of skill is needed to play the game. That doesn’t bode well for the players like Lambie, Aplon, de Jongh, Daniel and co who have all the skills but lack the “size” requirement.

Anyway I will now take a stab at the match day 22 that Meyer will most probably pick for the tour to the northern hemisphere.

Meyer’s too obvious match day 22:

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etsebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtwarira.

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Patrick Lambie, 22 Juan de Jongh.

Here is the team as I would like to see it:

My pick for match day 22:

15 Jaco Taute, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Brian Habana , 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etsebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtwarira.

16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17, Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Marcell Coetzee, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Francois Hougaard

I would also like the following guys to tour with the main team:

Tim Whitehead, Keegan Daniel, Rynhardt Elstadt, Jean Deysel, Wille le Roux, Paul Jordaan, Marnus Schoeman, JC Janse van Rensburg, Jan Serfontein, Francois Venter, Ryan Kankowski, Joe Pietersen, Martin Muller, Raymond Rhule, Pieter Labuschagne, Craig Burden, Pieter Steph du Toit, Lwazi Mvovo, Bjorn Basson, Siya Kolisi (if not injured)

I’m sure there are a few other that we can add to that list.

40 thoughts on “All Blacks Are Dirty, But Good At It

  1. Thanks for the Great view. nice article yes I also feel that the AB get away with lots of dirty tactics at the breakdowns, But thats how you play the game. Sometimes you try something, sometimes you get away with it but the other times you get penalise. But I would really love to see Gio Aplon getting a fair chance on FullBack and Lambie on Flyhalf with De Villiers and De jongh in the mid. The obvious choices would be Habana and JP on wing with cover in Basson and Mvovo. And my Scrummie would be Hougie. That is the team that will match the AB in terms of the perfect balance when it comes to attack and defence. I like the current loose forward combination and the tight five is solid with Bissie to return we can dominate. And with the next generation on the bench like Kolisi, Coetzee Pat Cilliers, Juandre on the bench we can groom those youngsters and rotate the team. But It is just my opinion.

  2. Big difference between dirty play and illegal play. I didn’t see any dirty play by the All Blacks, or the Boks for that matter.

    And calling players cheats for playing the game on the edge is daft. Then you should call Brussouw, Bismarck, Schalk, Flo, Coenie, etc. cheats as well. To the ball players always play on the edge an sometimes they get caught, sometimes not, just depends on how clever they are at it.

        • ok… but it wasn’t meant in a that’s why we lost because they are bloody cheats way. We lost because we couldn’t adapt. They adapted and used spoiling tactics. It worked a charm. All I am really trying to say is that when it comes to playing the game, they are bloody clever.

    • Richie is not a dirty player but deff is a cheat. I think he and Nz are proud of the fact that he is a cheat.

      Look Read, Hore, Flo ect all play on the boundries but Sir Richie are way beyond them.

      And on a personal level I do not like it. Just like I do not like Elstedt’s dirty tactics. It wins you games but is it worth it?

      I might be alone in my stance but I would have rated McCaw much higher if he wan’t such a cheat. But thats just me.

  3. I believe markus is right, although there are always those who take offense to the truth. NZ are better than us when it comes to influencing the ref, and this gives them the edge. The word cheating is a bit strong maybe, but how else can you describe it when the players play outside the rules. I don’t “blame” anybody when it comes to this, especially not the players, as it is their job to do that and push the boundaries, but if someone has to take responsibility, it should be the refs and the IRB. They allow themselves to get influenced on the field and even by the reputation of some players. This “they are human” excuse is really a weak cop-out, when professionalism should be the order of the day. It’s like politics, when an individual wields power or some reputation, people will look the other way when transgressions are made / those transgressions will be squashed and covered up. Also depending on the type of player they are and how the refs perceive them ie. McCaw vs Bakkies types of players. There is no denying certain players benefit unfairly from this type of influence system. The constant law changes to benefit / stop the type of play some players bring to the game is also confusing the main points of the game ie. the breakdown etc, and creating “grey areas” where the players can take full advantage if they are clever enough to adapt. People would call it “purist” and “daft” if people complain about this, and they would rather opt for the entertainment value of this type of rugby, but i cant see it being good for the game as a whole in the future. If it goes on like this, i can see the on field moaning, arguing, falling down and manipulation of the referee like we see in soccer today. I will rather see a player blown to bits for his transgressions and a “penalty-fest” than to watch where there is blatant underhanded tactics, no matter if it is one team or both.

  4. markusaurilius – good article. I agree with you 100%, but would go one step further, they are cheats, with Richie McCaw being no 1 culprit. Has he ever had a yellow card in 112 tests? He is immune to sanction.

    I see your point, should SA learn to cheat and not get caught too? For me, it means there is something wrong with the game. I don’t like cheating and manipulation.

    • Being clever and being a “cheat” these days in rugby is very close to each other, and i believe there lies the crux of the matter. The IRB and refs should come to conclusion that no manipulation and reputation is above the game and will not be tolerated. Simple. Richie and the guys have the reputation that benefits them, and this to me is wrong. Would be just as wrong if this was the case toward the Boks or any other team for that matter. This is not their fault for it to be so, and i respect them as players, doing what they have to to win. The refs and IRB should take responsibility for what they are doing to rugby from an administration and rulemaking and enforcement standpoint.

  5. Do yourselves a favour, watch min 65 to 67 of Saturdays game again.

    2 collapsed mauls, Woodcock hand on ground, multiple offsides (not behind last mans feet at ruck when defending on line), McCaw plaing ball on ground when lying on his back. Ref blows Strauss for a knock on. All within 2 min, no wonder the Boks couldn’t score a try.

    And this is not uncommon for years now.

  6. Yes there is something wrong with the game. It should not be allowed to happen. The problem with rugby is there are too many rules, it’s far too complicated, at each breakdown, the ref can make many contrasting decisions and justify each one. So naturally he will go in favour with the team he is best manipulated by, and here NZ are masters. But there are also some blatanat decisions like Bryce Lawrence in the RWC semi and Joubert in the final. These should not be tollerated, and I feel it is our repsonsibility as fans to shout as loud as we can about these.

  7. Did’nt the All blacks get heavily penalized in this game and yellow carded? The Springboks were’nt penalized once in the first half, so while i agree that the All blacks got away with a few penalties, its not as though they played an entire 80 minutes unpunished. The players in my mind are not to blame, the standard of refereeing is very poor and from a supporters point of view all we want is some consistency.

    • True… but what I am saying is that the spoiling tactics of NZ were brilliant. They bent the rules to help them. They effectively killed off any possession the Boks could use… or slowed it down well enough to get there defences organised. They did a masterful job. The intention of my blog post is not to liable anyone. It is to point out that the tactics used by the All Blacks were better than anything the Boks could dream of.

    • Yes, but the culture of their game is to spoil, and even though they did get punished, they still saw some benefit to their tactics through it and the refs allowed it to benefit them further, even after the cards and penalties. The fairness of the game is being sacrificed for the flow of the game, and thats wrong. The way refs blow these days are if the warning has been given and a player gets sent off, the warning and subsequent cards are then reset for that offence. They should blow and chuck the players with cards, even reds for multiple and blatant offenses, until they realize what they are doing is illegal and will not benefit them further in the game. Reds , as used these days, shouldn’t be reserved for dangerous play only.

  8. The rules constantly evolve, and are decided by the IRB at the end of the day, and a collective of referee’s policing them, they should be where the fingers are pointed at if your going to accuse anyone of cheating. If they are being accused of being influenced, then congratulations to the coaching staff of the winning team, and the obedient players that listen to their coaches and adapt the game plan on the day. The game plan might be catered to specific referees interpretations.
    The top rugby nations obviously adapt better to new rules, and the smarter coaches devise their tactics better dependent on which team they are going to face, weather that be to add some niggle, tactically slow down the pace of the game..etc. The All Blacks coaching staff have proved to be better tacticians, and the players are like machines who just adapt, as they have with their coaches from grass roots rugby to professional. It’s possible that All Blacks have great influence on the referees, and certain players have great respect and admiration. Take for example, Richie Mccaw. He’s targeted every game, accepts the punishment from players, questions the referees if he has to but listens to the ref, and commands respect. It’s common sense to not give attitude towards the referee, as they are human to errors and influence. It’s just smart, professional and most importantly a necessary ingredient in a top teams game plan, to WIN a game, and that’s all that matters. Don’t blame the team, blame the refs.. otherwise blame whomever is coaching the team. Adapt, and evolve with the game or you are gonna get left behind.

  9. Yes i guess you right, the All Blacks did it better, but a lot of what they’re able to do comes down to their experience and knowing how and when to bend the rules. The Springboks are a young side and will learn how to be better at doing this with more time and experience.

    • Yes true, but i wouldn’t want this trend in rugby to continue as it is now. Imagine if the players get more influencial, more and more underhanded, to keep up and to top the other team’s underhanded tactics, with the refs not changing some attitude towards this type of play, giving more respect to the guys like Richie and the likes than to respect the game’s fundamental rules… Will the pure quality of rugby and the rules written for a reason not degrade into a state where the players can do what they want because of who they are and not how well they play the true game? Maybe im just paranoid… but who knows.

  10. That is why I personally loved old Stuart Dickenson he was not afraid to penalize the shit out of the AB’s and Crusaders for that matter.
    Thing is the AB’s are smart they leave all their dirtiest tricks for when they are really in trouble. Ala Read collapsing our mall 3 m for their try line. Thats why they get away with it we do right in front of the ref.

  11. Also the All Blacks just like any other team tries to bend the rules as much as possible. I have no problem with that.

    I just draw the line at hold back defenders or sneakily pushing the ball out of a ruck ect. That’s why I will always stand by my point Richie is a brilliant rugby player but he is also a common cheat. And it is true. You cannot get away from it.

    I have said it for year they should watch the game on video afterwards and all deliberate cheats should be sighted like foul play. And banned accordingly


  13. Disagree with your pick of loose forwards. They would fare well against the Northern teams, but another reason we lost so heavily is that we had 3 slow loosies playing. We need the faster guys in that department. Daniel and/or Kanko would have been great, but as you pointed out our coach has too much of an obsession with size

  14. The reason we lost Saturday’s game was purely because unfortunately we cannot match the All Blacks on skill, particularly in the back line. Our defense was absolutely pathetic and we made the ABs look good. We simply let the ABs make space by running around us. One or 2 extra steps were enough to create and overlap and off they went. We need to employ a rush defence that Jake White made us famous for but we also need good defenders and we missed Francois Steyn big time on Saturday. As for Habana, how many tries will that guy give away coming out of his line? I’m afraid JdV is out of his depth these days too.

    However there are some more fundamental skills lacking and I see this every time I play touch rugby in the UK where the players are mainly Kiwi, Aussie and Saffas. Saffas don’t know how to use an overlap. As soon as we see one we skip pass and the defence simply drifts. Problem 1. Problem 2 is we can’t off load like the ABs, 3, we can’t pass accurately like them. Our rugby mind set is darkage stuff, that’s why when I play touch I see all the Saffas trying to run arond the whole team whereas the kiwis and aussies are recycling and letting the ball do the work. Something is fundamentally wrong with what we are taught at a junior level. We are still trying to bash our way to the try line and have not learnt how to play intelligent rugby. If you look at the skills the Kiwis and even the Aussies have in their back lines at the moment, sorry but we’re nowhere near. It’s sad but true.

  15. What a load of rubbish. A cheat could not have survived at the top level to play 112 tests. The brilliance of McCaw is that he knows the law intimately and assesses what he can get away with on the very edge of the law. Every year as the law interpretations change, Sir Richie reinvents his game to stay at the peak. This is what makes him brilliant. In no way is he a cheat, any more than Heinrich Broussow, Rob Louw David Pocock or any other openside flanker is a cheat. Their job is to slow down the opposition ball or steal it if they can. The law says they can do it. The difference between doing it legally and being penalised is often simply a matter of timing and how the ref interprets that timing. To call the world’s best player a cheat is simply saying that the game cannot be played without cheating. That is not the case, these players simply play to the edge of the laws and becuase the laws are interpreted slightly differently by different refs sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don’t.

  16. Actually the problem with Bryce Lawrence was not that he made some bad decisions, but that he didn’t make any decisions. This allowed a free for all at the breakdown, which ultimately favoured Australia because they had a better fetcher on the field. In essence Lawrence was fair to both sides in the way he ruled and SA lost because a player in one position was better than his opposite at playing to the ref’s interpretations on the field. Had Broussow not got injured early on, the result could have been completely different as he was a better fetcher than Pocock. South Africans probably would not have been complaining then but they would still have lost by 20 points to the All Blacks the following week as the Wallabies did.

  17. The All Black culture is not to spoil, it is to create. This is how they won on Saturday, by creating 4 brilliant tries. Had they only spoiled SA’s attack, they would have lost 16-6. Their defence was brutal as well. Count the number of times Bok attackers were driven back in the tackle. But it was their brilliance on attack that won the game, not their spoiling at the breakdown.

  18. Stuart Dickinson was an awful ref. He just liked to blow his whistle full stop! There was virtually never a free flowing exciting game under him. He simply killed games. There are so many rules in rugby that a pedantic ref like Dickinson can spend his whole time simply policing the rules and a game will never actually break out. The players simply trudge from penalty to penalty. This is why players are able to get away with infringements, because if they didn’t there would be no rugby played. I prefer this style to the Dickinson style. Do what Joubert did in the WC final. Penalise major infringements but let other things flow. Years ago this was how the game was played to a much greater degree. Anyone playing outside the rules, being on the wrong side of a ruck etc, was sorted out by the opposition. You didn’t lie on the wrong side of a ruck as you’d get hurt – badly, but the game would go on without a penalty. Without this natural justice the game has become too penalised and small infringements can be ignored. Get used to it. As Markus says, the way to compete is to get better at it. The Boks are suffering from not having Broussouw to match it with McCaw.

    • So you are saying that the same type of game that was played years ago is what should be played now, where the opposition rather than the ref should sort out the infringements made by the other team? How do you “counter” this type of illegal play WITHIN the rules when the opposition plays outside it? Years ago it could work, because you were allowed to tramp players when they do that, taking the law into your own hands. Do you really think the refs would allow stamping to happen now? You are not even allowed to stamp the players hand when it is illegally wrapped around the ball at the bottom of the ruck ala McCaw style… You are not allowed to do this, but Richie does. He is a good poacher i would say about 70 persent of the time, but the other 30 persent i would think is just illegal type play, very blatantly, this is where the “cheat” label comes from. I would be inclined to rather blame the ref for not being “able” to see his infringements, bu this label couldn’t have come from nothing, and certainly not just from those wanting to label him because of “naargat” intentions. There are some of us that look at it unbiased and still come to the same conclusion.

  19. I don’t think that Sir Richie McCheat would’ve gotten away with the crap that he pulls had he played 25/30 years ago with raking allowed.

    He would’ve “fallen” over the ball once, and then he would’ve been raked/cleared ‘good and proper’ – probably never to do such crap again.

    I doubt that he would have been nearly so good ‘back in the day’ – some of the new rules really do suck … just saying ‘cos too much is left up the ref’s that do NOTHING !!!

  20. No there’s no way that we’re going to get back to the previous way where the players sorted it out on the field. Every player on the field at this level is trying to get their hands on the ball and slow it down if they can. You watch some of the camera angles during last week’s game and you see the Beast at one stage lying in the ruck with his hands accidently all over the ball. Habana was there doing it on another occasion. It’s not a thing that McCaw invented or that he does exclusively. The only reason you focus on him is because he’s so regularly the first player there and therefore the only one with the regular opportunity to get his hands on the ball. If he was a second slower you would have no problem with him. It’s not actually illegal to get your hands on the ball, it’s simply a matter of timing. Because McCaw is usually there early, on occasion he gets away with leaving his hands on too long. You see him as a cheat because your timing interpretation is different to the ref’s. Sorry – but that doesn’t make him a cheat. That makes him a master of the game.

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