South Africa captain Siya Kolisi admits not everyone enjoys his team’s kicking style but says beauty is in the eye of the beholder and their reasons for going to the boot are well thought out as they face Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
The Springboks use their forward pack to grind down opponents and kick for territory with the boot, which is likely to be a key feature again in their opening autumn international clash this weekend.
They have been criticised at various points over the last few years for what is perceived by some as a boring style, but World Cup winning skipper Kolisi is unrepentant and says to the Bok players, it is a “beautiful” way to play.
“People say we kick. Well, we kick for a reason,” he told reporters on Friday. “We kick to get ourselves into places so we can play rugby. The way we play, to us, we think it’s beautiful.
“We say rugby is a game for all shapes and sizes. Our way is focused on the scrum and the maul, which is also beautiful in its own way.
“Ireland are very good with their set plays and they’re technical, so it’s going to be a good game to watch with two different plays.”
Another key area will be the breakdown, where the Boks have a number of players who can disrupt Ireland’s quick ball and stifle their backline.
“Tadhg Beirne is very good at the breakdown. We will try to slow their ball down. We know they like to go to 15 phases and more,” Kolisi said.
“We trust our defence, it will be about patience in the game and who will be disciplined. (Ireland flyhalf) Johnny Sexton has a big boot, we can’t give away penalties.”
The teams will meet in the World Cup pool stages in France next year, but Kolisi says there cannot be too much read into the result, whatever happens on Saturday. The pressure of a World Cup adds an extra dynamic.
“For us it is more about momentum,” he said. “World Cups are different, it is a different atmosphere when you get there.
“But it will tell us where we are as a group to play against the best team in the world right now.”