We take a look at South Africa's massive forwards reinforcements
Who are the Springboks Bomb Squad?
On their way to triumph in Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, South Africa’s director or rugby Rassie Erasmus – then the head coach – adopted a system of setting up his bench for maximum impact. By using a six-two split (with six forwards and two back on the bench) the team could maintain a level of physical output up front. This group of six massive reinforcements in the forwards came to be known as the ‘Bomb Squad’.
It is something that has been talked about at length ahead of the British & Irish Lions 2021 tour. Would the hosts maintain this tactic?
In the South Africa team to face the Lions in the first Tests Boks boss Jacques Nienaber has had to change tack somewhat. The coach has spoken previously about his desire to stick with this, however, with the disruptions a Covid-19 outbreak in camp has caused in recent weeks, the South Africans have opted to forego the use of a six-two split. For now.
“We went against the six-two split purely because of the situation,” Nienaber said. “When I refer to the situation what I am saying is that Handre (Pollard) has not had a lot of rugby recently. And Makazole Mapimpi too. Both of them are just back from Covid so we decided that maybe this wasn’t the right time to go with just one back covering on the bench because if we had a problem with one of those guys we could be in trouble.
“The thing about a six-two split is that we will go with it when we feel it is available to us and we are comfortable with it. We have chosen Rynhardt Elstadt as the extra loose-forward and he does provide us with the luxury of having a player who can cover all three back row positions as well as play in the second row should he be needed there.
“Having Rynhardt to do that does mean we can look to that six-two split again in the future, but in this instance, it was all about the readiness of certain players. I am referring to some players perhaps having niggles, other just coming off covid. If we are not certain that all the players can go 80 minutes then we won’t go six-two as it is too much of a risk. So, we feel that option wasn’t really available to us this week.”
Can’t get to the shops? You can download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.