Marshall: Boks ready for Ellis Park showdown

JUSTIN MARSHALL
Last updated 05:00 17/09/2013

Relevant offers

Opinion

Mehrtens: Crusaders get a shot at redemption Randell: Could 2014 be the year of Waratahs? Gifford: Nine reasons why Crusaders bet safe Wilson: Crusaders will win - All Blacks say so Wilson: Bledisloe may still be beyond Wallabies Gifford: NZ Sevens winning off and on the field Snook: Supporting cast key to team's success Knowler: Sharks far from toothless on the road Super Rugby is simple, just KISS Mehrtens: Tahs, Crusaders may rue week off

OPINION: It's notable the Springboks have scheduled their rematch against the All Blacks for Ellis Park - the most intimidating rugby ground I've ever played at.

I'm sure the Boks will be smarting from Saturday night's defeat to the All Blacks, and not just because they got the raw end of the officiating.

Though there's been a lot of talk around how the Bismarck du Plessis dismissal robbed the Boks of any chance of knocking over the world champions, my view is that the All Blacks had already made their physical statement before then.

The Springboks will be annoyed with what happened at Eden Park, where they were out-muscled. When they run out at Ellis Park on October 5, I'm sure they'll be looking to make a pretty serious statement.

The All Blacks were more confrontational, and won the physical battle in Auckland. The Boks will be smarting from that. It will have hurt them deep down.

I believe the Boks were already beaten by the time their rugged hooker was marched. If both teams had stayed with the full complement, I feel sure the All Blacks would still have won.

But the Ellis Park factor could be huge in the competition finale. It's interesting they've taken the fixture from Soweto, which generates more revenue, to a smaller stadium where they've had success against the All Blacks. That says to me they're driven by results this year.

Even the drive to Ellis Park on the bus is daunting, where often supporters push the bus, and certainly make it very clear you're in enemy territory.

On the field it's an atmosphere like no other - hostile and very passionate. No coincidence that the Springboks play better there than at any ground in the country.

They're different beasts when they run on to Ellis Park. Something in them stirs.

A lot of these All Blacks would never have even been there, with the Lions out of Super Rugby and New Zealand not having played there since 2004.

It's going to be a heck of an experience for them.

There's a lot stacked against the All Blacks, especially with Dan Carter and Richie McCaw absent. But I believe they can still win. That's how impressed I was with them at Eden Park.

Though most of the focus from that match was on the referee's blunder with Du Plessis' first yellow card, perhaps it shaded a more pressing concern - the scrums.

We've got to sort these out. I'd imagine the referees are as frustrated as everybody else. It's not their fault, it's the new regulations.

The players are just not coping with the new engagement process and the result is a shambles. Instead of fixing a problem area in the game, it's become worse.

Ad Feedback

Here's my view: It's a restart, designed to give one team a possession advantage after the other side has made some form of mistake. It should give you the chance to attack.

I understand traditionalists want every scrum to be contestable. But why should a team not have some form of advantage? If the ball goes in your side of the scrum, is that such a big problem?

With the emphasis now on the straight feed, hookers struggle to reach the ball with the pressure in the front row, and teams putting in lose the initiative because the referee tells them when to.

The attacking team is disadvantaged because their hooker is depowered, then their No 8 is depowered as he inevitably deals with difficult ball. All of a sudden it's no advantage to put the ball in, and that's just wrong.

Bugger tradition, I say. The game is now professional, and people need to move on.

The scrum has become a tedious part of our game, sucking up minute after minute with no discernible positive result. People want to watch the ball in play, not two packs grind into a stalemate.

Let's make it less of a contest and more of a restart, so we see moves off the scrum, backline attacks and the ball in play. We got none of that at Eden Park.

A final word on the Log o' Wood. What a pleasure it was to walk into ECOLight Stadium for a shield match on Sunday, with a full house and that special vibe the Ranfurly Shield creates.

When it came up on my work list I'd figured on a run-of-the-mill provincial game in front of maybe 3000 people. But the atmosphere the shield generates, and the people it inspires is the essence of our game.

The shield demonstrates palpably what rugby means to New Zealanders and what it brings out in us. It's unique to this country and long may it continue.

- Stuff

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

Where should Super Rugby's 18th franchise be based?

Japan. The country has a real rugby history

Singapore. You have to factor in travel demands

Here's a novel idea. How about somewhere in the Pacific?

Auckland's big enough for a second franchise

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content