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Mallett slams 'boring' and 'unattractive' South Africa rugby
ESPN Staff
July 31, 2014
Former South Africa and Italy coach Nick Mallett, Southern Hemisphere XV training session, Help for Heroes Rugby Challenge, Twickenham, England, December 2, 2011
Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett hammers South African rugby following their poor Super Rugby showing © Getty Images

Former Springboks coach Nick Mallett has slammed South African rugby as "boring" and "unattractive" in the aftermath of the Sharks' hammering by the Crusaders in the Super Rugby semi-final last weekend.

The Sharks are known for their kicking-based game plan, which Mallett told SuperSport "can only be excused if they win every game they play" but "without the win, it's a flawed game plan".

In a disappointing season for South African franchises, the Sharks were the only side to make the top six, while only one other side made the top 10. After just scraping through a home qualifying final against the Highlanders, cracks began to show in the Sharks' defence and game plan. But it was the Crusaders' near-perfect performance over the Sharks in Christchurch that illustrated the holes in the Jake White game plan.

"Their game plan relies on territory and a huge defence," Mallet said."It depends on the dominance of your pack and especially the accuracy of your kicking game. If you don't have all those things working for you and you don't have the ability to fall back on playing the situation and skills, then you fall short. And they fell short badly."

Crusaders raised the bar: Jake White

Mallett criticised not only the Sharks' game play following their semi-final loss, but all the South African team's attacking game plans and said their lack of attacking strategies creates little pressure for the opposition and is likely to affect the Springboks during the Rugby Championship.

"You have to have a varied attacking game. The one thing that we in South Africa haven't got at the moment is a team that plays with a varied attacking game," Mallett said. "Our attacking game is based on driving mauls, pick-and-goes and forwards off nine. The New Zealanders and the Australians use pick-and-goes, driving mauls, play off nine, play off 10 and they have the wide patterns to the wingers."

Only days earlier former All Black and Eastern Province Kings coach Carlos Spencer hit out at the conservative nature of South African rugby, saying South Africa was guilty of not allowing players to express themselves.

"There is definitely talent in this country, they just need to have the freedom and the abilities to show it," Spencer said. "The thing that frustrates me at the moment living here is to see these players not having the freedom and licence to express themselves. Hopefully I can give it to the players, I definitely know I can, they just need to make the most of it."

With the Rugby Championship kicking off in under 20 days, the Springboks have little time to come together and work on their attacking game and Mallett believes their unattractive attacking style will result in a loss of fans and Test matches.

"It's not attractive, not successful and ultimately is going to drive supporters away. Perhaps this [Sharks loss to the Crusaders] is just an orange light for South African rugby going into the Rugby Championship."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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