Lambie and Hougaard Being Turned into Carbon Copies

I have been reading a few blogs and one thing that keeps on rearing its head is the why Lambie seems to be failing. Most people are of the opinion that it is down to the game plan being implemented by the Boks. I strongly agree with this fact but at the same time it cannot be the sole reason for not just Lambie’s performance but the back line play in general.

On Uysh’s blog he does an interesting piece of statistical breakdown featuring our Lambie versus guys like Carte and Beale. The stats are very interesting. Our flyhalf receives much less ball compared to our Southern counterparts. The other interesting fact is that even the scrumhalf receives less ball than our Southern brethren. Another interesting titbit is that percentage wise our flyhalf also receives less ball from the scrumhalf.

How can one expect to run a game when you get to use less than 50 percent of possession.

Yes the stats centred around Lambie mostly but that got me thinking about another talent, one that had us all licking our lips at the prospects he offered the green-and-gold, Francois Hougaard. Why did Hougie fail. Well if one wants to answer that question I guess one will have to look at how he plays.

He made his name as an attacking scrumhalf. Always keeping the opposition guessing around the rucks, having quick feet and immense strength for his size. He had flair!!. His defence was even outstanding. Yet when he finally donned the green-and-gold in the June tests a person didn’t see that player. What we saw was a copy of Fourie du Preez, albeit a broken one. His kicks from the base of the ruck were abysmal, he never asked question of the defence and never seemed intent on doing anything that even required a minuscule of flair. His rugby took a knock and he was moved to the wing where his “magic” could truly work.

But why hasn’t it? Why when he did play did he struggle? I once again come back to a point I wrote about a few months ago. He was playing against his natural urges, his instinct. He wasn’t asked to play towards his strengths but curb them and improve his weaknesses. This was obviously counter-productive. He hasn’t featured on the wing either because his role has merely become that of a chaser of kicks. His role has basically become one of defence and no more.

When you look at his body language you don’t see a guy strutting his stuff.

Look at Lambie’s body language pre-Bok games. He was raring to go and when he got back to the Sharks he showed why he should be a serious number 10 contender. Meyer seemed to bow to pressure and gave his Lambie his shot. In the Irish game he didn’t play badly but was not his “I am the general” self. The biggest shocker for most watching the Scotland game was also how he was playing like Morné Steyn. It was almost carbon copy. His body language wasn’t showing confidence. It was almost like watching a person go through the motions instead of playing with intent.

Basically what I am trying to say is that our guys don’t seem to be given any freedom to play. It was the whole reason Francois Steyn left the country to. His creativity was being stifled. It seems to be happening again. Our players seem like they are being asked to ignore their strengths if it doesn’t compliment a forward orientated approach to the game. This in turn has a chain reaction where our wings are nothing more than chasers and our outside centres are nothing more than extra defenders. And when the ball does seem to leave the flyhalf’s hands to reach another player via pass rather than kick, it is for no more than that player to crash it up and have it contained in the forwards.

Our under 20’s showed what could be done when using the ball. Our Boks are showing us what we can expect with containing the ball. We play for penalties and tries are a very lucky intercept bonus.

18 thoughts on “Lambie and Hougaard Being Turned into Carbon Copies

  1. I fully agree with you !! Lambie should be allowed to play his (own) natural game and only if that happens, he will control the game and be the brilliant and exciting flyhalf that he is for the Sharks.

  2. Look you guys, i hear you, but lett me tell you, if Lambie cant kick, he is not a fly half. Look at Carter, yes he run etc, but wow can he kick !!!!!!!!! His line kicks are miles, and tactical kicking when needed excelent !! So Lambie wake up, you play one dimensional rugby if you cant kick. Thats why Goosen will be the man, he can bring variation. So stop this debate

    • Lambie can kick… he showed it in the Currie Cup games for the Sharks. Anyway my argument isn’t about kicking. My argument is asking guys to play a certain way that does not compliment them. Hougaard is a fantastic player but being asked to slow the game down and play someone else’s style isn’t his style. Why curb their natural abilities when it can only benefit the Boks?

  3. That last post is as narrow-minded as heyneke meyer’s game plans. Lets kick and kick, and if it doesnt work he doesnt even attempt to let our backs into the game. Why dont we just appoint o a backline of tackling zombies because all we do is kick the ball to opposition and let them run at us trying to force them to make a mistake. Like nick mallet said last week, naas was a kicking flyhalf, yet there were rugby greats that were on his outside. We wouldnt know about them if naas didnt pass.

  4. Markus, you cant compare CC with International rugby, the same for Hougaard, if you cant kick even as S/H you not a s/h. You cant be one dimensional. I am not saying we should play a kicking game, but really, none of these two got a full armour of rugby in them. Fourie Du preez could do both and he was the best in the world, so was Naas, and so will Goosen be. We just havn’t got a proper S/H that can do this . Therse two possitions are crucial for all round play.

    • Agree but again my point is about chosing a scrummy who can run against one who can kick. My point is asking guys to play against their instincts. Lambie can kick, Hougie too, otherwise he would have been crap at the Bulls. My point is that when on the field they seem to be robotic. This is how we are told to play and this is how we will play. I agree with what Met Uysh says and that is that our backs look bad because they generally receive less ball to use than any other team. I’m sure if we received more ball to decide what to do with guys like Lambie, Hougie, Steyn, Goosen, and Jantjies would have better games because then they could exercise more options. Why has Steyn’s game suffered? Kicking is his thing yet he has played badly for the Boks. But how did the bulls manage to put 50 points past teams a year or 2 ago, even with Morné at flyhalf? It was because at the Bulls the flyhalf tends to get more ball and thus has more options at his disposal. He is allowed to be the decision maker. At the Boks the decisions look like they get made by the forwards, our backs are mere passengers and play as that. Morné was never allowed to control a game.

  5. Frans also left to get his head clean, he complained that he could not even go to the movies without being ambushed.

    But I agree fully that we are forcing structures on players and not letting them use the talent that got them into the Bok 15.

    I watched the France vs. Argentina game, what a match! Players running and attacking, not wastefully kicking the ball and supposedly putting the other team under pressure, ball in hand rugby.

  6. My take on the current situation is that HM is building and he will find that general mix that we need, he did it with the Bulls. I for one was calling for his resignation in the beginning years with the Bulls, but he proofed to be right in the end. That Bulls side could adapt to any type of rugby, and i think HM is building the Bokke towards that goal.Look i dont like this high kick and charge game, and i told HM this before he got to be the Bok coach, but he explained it to me and it made sense then. Once he feels that he can trust the players , he will lett go .

  7. A very important point i missed, is that remember we had Fourie Du preez, who took the stress away from the fly halves, he could protect them. none of the current guys can do it, not even this young Reinach from the Sharks. All our current s/h ‘s is one dimensional. we need another Joost or Fourie Du Preez, i just hope that Ruan can develop into it, but his time is running out.

  8. I agree with alot being said, but most importantly with players being allowed to play according to their instincts. Yes, there must a broad strategy, but to an extent you also have to play the situation. If players are selected for certain positions its because they proven themselves for their unions. Hougie was a better scrumhalf than wing. Lambie’s style is different to Steyn, so let him play the Lambie way and not be soooooooo structured in your game plan that our players can’t express themselves (yes I said it) in their positions. For gosh-sakes, give the backline some go-forward ball. DeJongh got one touch from opposition error and not because he was passed to. Kicking has its place, but that is one dimension of a multi-faceted sport. HM should use the abundant talent he has wisely and let the boks play to their strengths.

  9. I saw this comment and it make sense “No excuse but 2nd phase ball in the North is reaaaally slow. They commit more guys to slow down the ball. Look at a ruck. You hardly see the ball. Everyone has their hands on it for a few seconds longer. In the south you’ll be blown to pieces. This means that their defences get time to get into position which in turn puts pressure on the backline… Not an excuse but certainly puts Lambie outside of his comfort zone. If we can get quicker ball we will be more attacking”

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