How the Boks turned it around at Loftus

Springbok coach Jake White has revealed that a stern, but calm, chat at half-time helped his team to turn around at two-point (17-19) half-time deficit and record a 55-22 victory against England at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria at the weekend.

England stunned the Boks when a Dan Scarbrough intercept try on the stroke of half-time gave the visitors the lead in a game that was meant to be another cakewalk for the Boks.

However, the South Africans came out after the break and produced a more clinical performance, especially the first 15 minutes, which saw them race clear and eventually record a 55-22 win – with a second half score of 38-3 in favour of the Boks.

“When I spoke to them at half-time I said, ‘what is it about South Africa? You almost have to shout and scream and perform …’,” the Bok coach said.

“I’m not going to do that [shout, scream and perform].

“The reality is this is a bunch of talented players, and I think if a coach has to get personal at half-time in the change room to get the best out of your team, then we’re definitely not on the right track.

“I was stern, they understood the message and I though John [Smit, the Bok captain] spoke really well at half-time as well.

“Then again it was up to the players.

“I can’t overemphasize how proud you have to feel of a group of players who were down at half-time and turn it around.

“I thought the 10 minutes after half-time were probably the best rugby we played in the two games.”

White made it clear that he was confident his team could turn it around.

“You got to feel that you are confident. We had an experienced team out there, we haven’t been in that situation for a while [trailing at half-time]. I had full confidence with John [Smit] as a captain and Victor [Matfield], he was a good leader at the Bulls, that if we jut stuck to what we said we were going to stick to that it would eventually come, which I’m glad in the second half it did.”

White said the value of coming back from trailing at half-time will be felt later in the year in the more demanding Tri-Nations tests and the World Cup.

“Players learn from a talk that you give them at half-time on a day like that and that sort of thing gets put in your memory bank.

“That sort of thing in the World Cup change room is going to be a huge positive.

“It is not just the result, it is the psychological impact, it is the case of coming back from half-time, where we were with that intercept try just before half-time, and with 14 men on the field – it is probably like having 11 men on the field when you have no Bryan Habana – but all credit to them.”

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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