Autumn International preview: Part IV – Baa-Baas look to pile pressure on Coetzee


As a rugby entity, the Barabarians are such a wonderful institution, and this match against South Africa at Wembley is an exciting way to kick off the rugby action this weekend. The Barbarians actually have a winning record against the Springboks, beating them on their last two meetings in 2007 and 2010, so the South African coaches should not underestimate their opponents.

South Africa have not endured the greatest of starts under new head coach Allister Coetzee. They finished 3rd in the Rugby championship, losing to both Argentina and Australia. More worrying was their final match against the All Blacks, which saw them collapse in the final 10 minutes. The Barbarians have several South African players in their ranks who will have a point to prove after being passed over for selection for the Springboks, including the trio of Akker van der Merwe, Ruan Ackermann and Kwagga Smith who formed part of the Lions team that reached the Super Rugby final this year. Other notable inclusions in the Barbarians squad are centre Seta Tamanivalu who has played three times for the All Blacks this year, and Ulster fan favorite Ruan Pienaar at scrum-half.

The South African team will be lead by Pat Lambie, who has taken over from Adriaan Strauss, due to the latter being rested against non-international opposition. Strauss will be retiring at the end of the season, so this match will allow others to step up into the leadership role. The Springboks will also be missing a third of their squad for this match, due to their European clubs not releasing key players such as Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies and Willie Le Roux.

The Barbarians could easily cause issues for the Springboks if they commit to their usual philosophy of attacking rugby. The South Africans thrive when they get to play to their physical style of rugby, and if the Barbarians opt for their more freewheeling sevens style approach then they could cause an upset. South Africa really need a confidence boost before their big match against England at Twickenham next weekend, and these upcoming fixtures are massively important for the future of South African rugby. If they can draw the Barbarians into a power battle between the forwards, then they should be able to control and close out the game.

Photograph: wikimedia.commons

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