Bok coaches reveal why they kept France guessing ahead of World Cup quarter-final

Bok coaches reveal why they kept France guessing ahead of World Cup quarter-final

Springbok coaches Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have explained why they moved from their traditional early team announcements for the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France.

Leading up to Test matches, teams typically announce their matchday lineups 48 hours in advance.

However, since the 2019 World Cup, the Springbok coaches made a point of revealing their hands early and naming their teamsheets on the Tuesday before a Test match.

The move was to stop media speculation around team selection, and with the Bok coaching team already deciding the lineup by that point and having already announced it to the team, they believed it might as well go out early.

However, they changed this tactic ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against France with Nienaber and Erasmus revealing that it was the sheer size of Fabien Galthie's coaching and analytical team that led to the change.

"We normally get to the team out nice and early but this time, we only did it on the Thursday. We changed our team announcement from doing it earlier in the week, to only doing it later or 72 hours before the game - like all the other teams do," Nienaber said in a Betway exclusive snippet from the Chasing the Sun 2 documentary.

"And the reason was we didn't want our team to get out and them to prepare because they have like 14 analysts.

"So the moment your team is out there, they can take a player and just pull the profile."

The Springboks would also make a few surprising selections for the crunch fixture, returning to a more traditional 5-3 split for the match despite the firepower the French had, particularly up front.

While many predicted that Handre Pollard would start the match, it was Manie Libbok who started instead, along with another shock in Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf instead of Faf de Klerk.

In episode three of the series, Erasmus reveals that the Springboks purposely made themselves a difficult team to analyse by keeping oppositions on their toes with their selection calls, and he reiterated that sentiment again in the new snippet.

"I thought the mixing and matching of teams not always playing the same [players], even when we played the All Blacks at Twickenham that was with a totally different team," Erasmus said.

"That definitely must have made it tougher on any team who had any kind of data on us.

"When you play with four nines and a nine at 10, then at 10 at 12 or 12 at 15 and the flank at hooker and lock at flank and so on. It makes it a little bit difficult for that [analysis] to have any impact because you don't have as many minutes to pick up a trend."

Nienaber added: "From the teams we selected leading up to the quarter-final, they couldn't say it is going Manie [Libbok], Handre Pollard, Damian Willemse at flyhalf or Faf [de Klerk] at flyhalf. Because at the World Cup, in the build-up to that quarter-final, all four of those guys play flyhalf.

"So their resources were split because we rotated so much.

"That's why we postponed our team announcement so late, so they only had two days to now know 'Ok, this is the team we're going to play against' and profiles on them."

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