It’s Time for People to Stop Criticizing the Springboks’ Style of Play

Listening to Steve Hansen talk about the Springboks this past week, one couldn’t help but have an out-of-body experience, such was the level of hypocrisy coming from the burly Kiwi. 

Indeed, one was left scrambling to make sense of the 62-year-old’s claim that South Africa’s style of rugby put a lot of people off the sport during their victorious series against the British and Irish Lions. 

Hansen seemed to be inferring that rugby should be eye-catching above all and that winning was a mere added bonus. If you too feel yourself floating and able to observe the world around you after reading that then don’t worry, because as previously mentioned, you’re not the first to feel that way.

The former All Blacks coach, you see, oversaw one of the most dominant sides in world rugby for eight years, which included a World Cup win in 2015. Over his time as head coach, however, New Zealand were renowned for doing everything they could to win. From flooding the breakdown to killing the ball, Hansen’s men infuriated fans around the world with their calculated tactics.

In fact, can you even say you’re a rugby fan if you didn’t threaten to throw the TV out the window after Richie McCaw arrived at a breakdown to ‘secure’ the ruck? What followed was the most cynical foul play you’re ever likely to see and astonishingly, the referees were none the wiser thanks to the skill that the All Blacks captain and his teammates operated with. 

So, for Hansen to now wade into the debate about the Springboks’ style of play by expressing how unsporting it is because the game plan is only designed to win, well, it’s nothing short of hypocrisy.

Perhaps the message to the former All Blacks coach from the majority of level-headed fans around the world should be: Pull the other one, Steve. We all watched the All Blacks side under his leadership with begrudging admiration, but no one is interested in listening to him take the moral high ground about how rugby should be played. 

Obviously, the 62-year-old isn’t alone in his condemnation of South Africa’s style of play and has just added his voice to the chorus of disapproval around what is being dubbed the ‘boring Boks’. 

In reality, it’s a grossly unfair tag when you consider that this South African side has won the World Cup and beaten the British and Irish Lions, as well as winning the Rugby Championship. In fact, they could do so again. 

Their odds of 21/10 in the latest rugby union betting puts them just behind the All Blacks as the favourites to win the 2021 edition. 

Therefore, the question has to be what do the Boks need to do to earn the respect of their detractors when they’ve won every trophy imaginable whilst supposedly playing ‘boring rugby’? This South African side is arguably the greatest of all time and sits proudly at the top of the world rankings. Unfortunately, calling them boring is extremely unfair at best, and empty-headed at worst.