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Booth: South African teams raising standards of attacking play

11 Oct 2022 3 minute read
Ospreys head coach Toby Booth (Credit: Inpho Photography)

Ospreys boss Toby Booth has been speaking about the challenge of matching the standards set by the South African sides in the BKT United Rugby Championship as he prepares to take on the DHL Stormers.

The four teams from the Rainbow nation are all in the top half of the BKT URC table having won ten of their 12 matches against European opposition so far this season.

Reigning champions, the DHL Stormers from Cape Town, have picked up maximum points having secured late bonus points in victories over Connacht, Edinburgh Rugby and Zebre Parma. So it will be a real test for Booth’s Ospreys at the Stadium on Friday night.

“I think the involvement of the South African teams and the way they play means you can’t get away with certain things that you probably got away with and you’ve got to be better at certain aspects,” said the head coach.

“They are raising the standard of, for example, attacking play and athleticism. So I think the challenge for us all is to try and meet and match that because they will have good set-piece, they will be defensively sound and the way they are set up lends itself more to an attacking game. I think the inclusion of the quality of those South African teams has certainly meant that everyone has got to embrace that sort of style and be better at it themselves.”


Reflecting further on the way the new season has started in the BKT URC, Booth said: “I think people have definitely wanted to be positive. Speaking to coaches, I get a general sense that people want to be positive, so I think there’s a mindset element to it. It’s not just in our competition, if I look across different competitions, there have been high scoring games.

“I think people want the game to speed up, which is why the biggest animosity I hear in different circles is around length of time on TMO decisions, stoppages and teams that want to slow the game down.

“We have to accept that we are trying to provide entertainment and enjoyment, not just play a game of rugby, and that means making the game quicker, with less stoppages in it and keeping tempo.

“We have had a couple of first halves that have gone close to 55-60 minutes in actual duration. Of course, some of that is injury and you can’t legislate for that, but there is still a lot of dead time in the game and the more we can quicken it up the better.

“The attitude of the teams seems to be more edging towards that way and I think we will get a better product, better games and as a result better entertainment.”

Following his team’s home victory over Glasgow Warriors, Booth made a number of changes for last Saturday’s trip to Belfast to take on Ulster and was forced into two more alterations when hugely experienced duo Dan Lydiate and Stephen Myler had to pull out late in the day. They ended up losing 47-17 and will now be looking to bounce back when they host the DHL Stormers, with some big names likely to return for the meeting with the champs.

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