All Blacks coach Foster claims Lions’ match ‘put him to sleep’

‘It’s become very tight, almost risk-free type of series. Teams are almost afraid to play’

British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones following the second Test match at the Cape Town Stadium. Photograph: Steve Haag/PA

British and Irish Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones following the second Test match at the Cape Town Stadium. Photograph: Steve Haag/PA

 

The British and Irish Lions and South Africa have been ridiculed by the All Blacks head coach, Ian Foster, who said the second Test sent him to sleep. The Springboks levelled the series on Saturday with a 27-9 victory but both sides have been criticised for their turgid style of play.

The Lions, who drew the 2017 series in New Zealand when Foster was an All Blacks assistant coach, failed to score a point in the second half of a Test for the first time since the 1980s with the outhalf, Dan Biggar, making just three passes all match. It was a stop-start, ill-tempered contest with the first half lasting 63 minutes and the Springboks pulling clear after the break.

South Africa have already faced accusations of being boring of late from their former head coach Pieter de Villiers and the attritional fare on show has been a turn off for a number of supporters.

Foster, whose All Blacks host Australia in the first Bledisloe Cup match of the year on Saturday, said: “I watched it between 22.00 [New Zealand time] and 01.00, it put me to sleep. The Lions series, the one we had here, the one over there, it’s become very tight, almost risk-free type of series, aren’t they? Teams are almost afraid to play, they are just relying on a low-risk strategy.

“So we are seeing two teams who desperately want to win a big series playing low-risk, highly effective rugby. Both of them are good at the close contact stuff, the close-quarter fighting, the kick and chase and the pressure game. Two teams playing a similar style, it’s a bit of a slugfest.”

The Springboks brushed off any suggestions they are uninspiring to watch. They head into Saturday’s decider hopeful the No 8 Duane Vermeulen will be fit to return but have doubts over the world player of the year, Pieter-Steph du Toit, and the scrumhalf Faf de Klerk with Jacques Nienaber due to name his team on Tuesday.

Asked if their suffocating gameplan was a bad advert for the game, the Springboks assistant coach, Deon Davids, said: “Not at all. It’s a spectacle. I think it’s fantastic. Rugby has always been about a physical battle on-field, but also a battle where opponents try to outsmart each other, whether that’s on or off-field.

“The competitiveness and talent shown by both teams on-field – it’s good for world rugby. And if we can continue being competitive at this level and aspire to be better, then rugby in South Africa will just get better.

“The same narrative was there when the Boks won the 2019 Championship. The same thing was there when they won the World Cup.

“It’s surprising that the effectiveness of this in terms of getting good results is not seen. There’s always a plan behind everything. When we execute stuff, it’s not about being boring, it’s about understanding what we want to achieve. By doing that we’ve created enough opportunities to be able to play with the ball in hand and score tries.

“I believe in our approach and what it leads us to. We will just get better in terms of what we’re doing.” - Guardian

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