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South African sides have raised URC standard, says Ospreys boss Toby Booth

11 Oct 2022 3 minute read
Toby Booth. Photo Nigel French PA Images
The South African quartet – Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions – have won 10 of their 12 games between them against European opposition this term.Half of the league table’s top six positions are currently filled by South African sides, with Cape Town-based Stormers leading the charge behind early pace-setters Leinster and Ulster.

“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,” former Bath and London Irish coach Booth said.

“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.”


Booth welcomes a positive approach, and he says it is important that providing “entertainment and enjoyment” is a key requirement.

“Speaking to coaches, I get a general sense that people want to be positive, so I think there is a mindset element to it,” he added.

“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 (television match official) 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.”

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