Rugby will be dead in five years if more teams copy South Africa’s approach to the game, England’s World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward said, criticising the world champions’ reluctance to run with the ball and heavy reliance on the set piece.
South Africa, who play Australia in the Rugby Championship on Saturday, lost 28-26 to the Wallabies last week after the Australians beat the Springboks at their own game with a similar determination to not run the ball.
“Positive, imaginative, attacking rugby is the way forward generally,” Woodward, who coached England to World Cup glory in 2003, said in the Daily Mail.
“I looked on in horror last weekend at the sheer poverty and boredom from the South Africa team against Australia. Rugby was not — and is not — meant to be played like that and I’m just pleased Australia won.
“It should worry everyone involved in the sport that rugby is going down that route. It will be dead in five years if it does.”
Woodward doubted that even South Africa’s players were happy with the way they played the game.
“The ball must always be your friend, not a ticking time-bomb,” he added. “What is the point of neutralising your best players, kicking the leather off the ball all day?
“I’d love to sit down with the South Africa team and ask them, ‘Do you really enjoy playing this way?'”