Hurricanes wary of growing South African menace
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has said that it is clear that South African franchises have improved across the board, saying that it was defence that was evident as the biggest growth, even though the Stormers remained the benchmark defensive team.
Hammett, who some said used the wrong tactics against the Bulls, said that he made the right decision, saying that sometimes the only way to beat the South African sides was to play up tempo rugby.
And more to the point, that it either worked or failed terribly.
Other factors are in play, movements within South African rugby which indicate perhaps the strongest ever level of co-operation between the Test back room team and the respective Super Rugby franchises.
Head coach Heyneke Meyer isn't a new coach this year, and is not trying to haggle his assistants out of their contracts with the Bulls. The former Super Rugby winning coach and his immediate reports have had time to survey the rugby landscape, and have named Test squads and held training camps well before their SANZAR counterparts.
Further to this South African Rugby's technical advisor, Rassie Erasmus, who is working specifically with each Super Rugby side.
Erasmus is considered arguably South Africa's finest rugby brain, and if he is spending exclusive time with all Super Rugby sides, then results will be evident - especially considering that Rassie had a hand in the now infamous Stormers setup.
Hammett said it was clear South African Rugby had the best systems, even if individually he felt they didn't have the best one-on-one players.
“South African teams at the moment have probably got the best defensive systems at the moment,” Hammett said.
“I don’t always think they have the best defensive players – one on one – but their systems are very very good.
"Now you see them populated across the board and they are hard to break down. They do offer certain opportunities at certain places but I think it suits South African teams rather than going hard, to muscle up and not give a lot of gaps.
"The only way you can stop that is to play tempo, to play quickly and use turnover ball quickly at the back. It can be broken down, but it is a big positive about South African rugby at the moment.”