Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made six changes to his backline for the second time in the space of a week for the second Test against Argentina, and 11 changes in all, underlining the Boks’ growing depth.
Sustained excellence in rugby cannot be achieved with only 15, or even 23 high-quality players any longer. The confrontational nature of rugby, which has become a collision sport in the modern era, means that only teams with supreme depth will sustain prolonged brilliance.
Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is only five Tests into his tenure, although he has been with the squad since 2018, and his personal mandate is to build depth while winning.
So far, so good. The Boks have won four of the five Tests they’ve played in 2021, after missing the entire 2020 season due to Covid-19 restrictions. This has included a 2-1 series victory over the British & Irish Lions and a winning start to the Rugby Championship.
Over the course of the five Tests, Nienaber has used 36 different players while still maintaining an 80% winning ratio. And in Saturday’s sixth Test under his guidance, the Bok coach has introduced tighthead Thomas du Toit as the 37th different player used…