Much has been made of the imposing Green Hulk which are the current crop of Springboks that is all the news these days. They have an arms length of accolades to rival something out of Greek mythology. The world cup, a Lions tour, a Super 14 title and what is starting to look like, dare I say it a Tri-Nations title
Yet, I can't shake this feeling that I have seen it all before.
A "Beastly" front row that can and will squeeze all and sundry like an olive in a Sardinian press, a physical and speedy backline comprised of what looks like a line of open side flankers, all balanced around a number ten with a metronomic boot that doesn't know the meaning of the word fail.
It reminds me far too much of the Woodward or should I say Wilko era, whereby forward dominance, a solid backline defence and a scary ability to receive penalties and punish oppositions with it were the order of the day.
This worked splendidly against southern hemisphere teams with better attacking line-ups (Yes this is true), however when the Brits needed to score tries they did this too, in any case this was not often required. Interestingly enough the winning class of 2003 never really could convincingly beat inferior sides as their gameplan never aloud for it, what it did allow for was winning with a capital W. The game of suffocation does not allow for many attacking opportunities which the Springboks can attest to.
Retrospectively, the boredom that was English rugby of that era has bloomed into the now recognised genius of the South African winning formula. All who deny it, do so at your own peril.
Alas as history has shown once Wilkinson was felled by injury and the larger backline players like the Greenwoods and Coens retired this style of play for England was no more and have since been relegated to an almost embarrasing identity between world cups.
Should the Boks incure similiar losses, for instance an injury to Morne Steyn they would have to adapt as you see, it is quite like our solar system it does not work without the sun.
c Reuters Images