Modern rugby is ‘frustrating’ and lacks ‘enforcers’ : PlanetRugby

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Legendary Springboks lock Bakkies Botha says modern rugby is “frustrating”, adding that players can no longer express their “true nature”.

The former Bulls, Toulon and Springbok forward hit out at the lack of consistency from officials and added that the game needs more personalities.

Botha represented South Africa 85 times between 2002 and 2014, winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup and the 2009 British and Irish Lions series.

Lack of personalities and consistency

Renowned for his abrasive playing style, Botha was notorious for controversial incidents throughout his career and earned the nickname ‘The Enforcer’.

Speaking to the French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique, Botha lamented the lack of consistency from match officials and the playing variety of teams while also touching on a shortage of characters in the game.

“I understand the problem that World Rugby and its officials have at international level, they have to protect the players, but our game has become frustrating, ground down and inconsistent,” he said.

“From one match to another, referees’ interpretations vary, and in the stands or on the TV, people understand nothing.

“In my day, it seemed as though there were more personalities on the pitch. Today, players are all the same as each other. People called me an ‘Enforcer’; I loved that!

“I found that it added spice to the spectacle because professional sport is also that, a spectacle, isn’t it?”

 

Rugby today doesn’t suit Botha

Botha added that he felt that he would not fit into today’s game, a feeling he had during his playing career, which prompted the move to France.

“The evolution of the laws has rid the sport of ‘enforcers’ in my mould,” he added. “You cannot get away with scrapping in rucks like I did anymore. I don’t think that rugby today would suit me.”

It wasn’t just the stricter officiating of the rucks that led to his move to Toulon but also his contempt towards the structured and expressionless direction the international game was heading.

“I left for France in 2011 because international rugby no longer suited me; it had become too strategic and too cautious,” Botha added.

“It no longer allowed players to express their flair or their true nature. However, I discovered that the Top 14 did suit me, as it was brutal but within the laws.

“I loved it. I loved going to Agen, Brive, and Grenoble, scrapping on greasy pitches.”

Broken arm and 18 stitches

He also said he sustained his worst injuries in France, recounting two incidents in the Top 14.

“The worst injury of my career, I experienced in the Top 14. In Brive, someone broke my arm. The Top 14 was slower than Super Rugby, but it was also a lot more physical,” he said.

“If you aren’t ready, the Top 14 chews you, breaks you, and spits you out. One day, in Agen, I tackled a guy. He didn’t like it, and as he got up, he stuck his boot into my head – I left the pitch with 15 stitches.”

Botha enjoyed a trophy-laden career at the Bulls and Toulon, winning 12 titles in total.

With the Bulls, he won three Super Rugby trophies and four Currie Cups – sharing one with the Cheetahs after a drawn final.

He helped Toulon win a hat-trick of Champions Cup titles between 2013 and 2015 and added a Top 14 trophy to his tally in 2014.

READ MORE: Bakkies Botha: Everything you need to know about the Springboks ‘Enforcer’



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