The rugby world is witnessing a series of high stakes rugby tests in South Africa that All Blacks head coach Ian Foster says has been relegated to low risk rugby that teams are “afraid” to play.
Speaking to the media ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup Test against the Wallabies, Foster admitted seeing the second Test in the series between the Lions and Springboks, but joked dryly that watching it put him to sleep.
“I saw it between 10pm and 1am last night, it made me fall asleep,” said Foster.
The All Blacks coach said the last two Lions series are going to be very close, while this current one has become a hit as both teams use similar tactics in search of a series win.
“The Lions series that we had here, the one over there, has become a very tight, almost risk-free series, hasn’t it? The teams are almost afraid to play, they just rely on a low risk strategy, ”he said.
“So we see two teams who are desperate to win a big series, playing low-risk, highly effective rugby.
“Both are good at close contact, hand-to-hand combat, kick and chase and pressure play. Two teams play a similar style, it’s a bit of an exchange of blows. “
Springbok’s rugby director Rassie Erasmus stole the show during the series with his off-field antics on social media and as the team’s water boy, but Foster insists the All Blacks won’t do their business like that.
“Well, I think I could run the water on Saturday,” joked Foster. “Looks like a pretty effective strategy.
“Look, he is who he is, they have their strategies for how they approach things, it is certainly not ours.”
Re-examining the rugby style that seems to be ubiquitous in the Lions Tests, Foster said the two teams don’t like playing against line speed, and then the obvious answer is to kick repeatedly.
Foster added that the risk-reward equation has been skewed in this direction because of the nature of the defense used.
“This is rugby test match where the stakes are high, it’s all about risk versus reward, isn’t it?” he asked.
“There are two teams over there that want to get up, their line speed is really strong. It’s all about stopping.
“We have been criticized in the past for not being able to play around and through line speed, but what you see are two teams that don’t like to play against line speed either.
“So what are you doing? They kick. That’s the answer when you’re not ready to play a slightly riskier game. Everyone will choose a different path. “
After coming under fire after the first Test, Foster tossed his support behind the referees, saying that there is “no doubt” the teams need to support the men in the middle.
He said coaches need to do the right thing and make sure they support the game without making it “impossible” to referee.
“We have to support the referees, there is no doubt about that. We can complain behind the scenes and that’s fine, we felt like this sometimes, we felt a little like this last year, but we know the guys in the middle are trying to do their best and it is a tough job.
“We just have to make sure we support the game and do the right thing.
“The media and people want us to have opinions, so we have to balance what you say and what you really think and how much we make sure we don’t make it an impossible game to referee . “
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